An Alert for an 11-y.o. Missing for 2 Hours?

Hi Readers! Just got this note from “Emily in Ohio.” Loved it! And her! — L.
Dear Free-Range Kids: Last week, at 4pm, I received an automated call from the police station about an 11-year-old that was missing.  When did the boy go missing you ask?  That day at 2 pm.  That’s right, he was missing for TWO WHOLE HOURS before the police called every single person in the city, asking for any information whatsoever regarding his whereabouts.
A whopping five minutes later, I received another call — he had been located. Yeah, that’s right.  Why is it the American standard that if our children should ever leave our sight for a microsecond, that we need to issue a lockdown over the whole country?  Kids don’t need to be supervised every hour of every day. Did it ever occur to anyone that maybe this boy wasn’t abducted and murdered but decided to go out with his friends and didn’t have a cell phone with him?
I could understand if the boy had been missing for two or three days, but two hours?  And since the call went out two hours after he went missing, I’m sure the police were notified less than hour after he went missing.  It really annoys me that people are going so crazy about child safety.
I guess I have been raised “Free-Range,” more out of necessity than principle, having been raised by a single mother for most of my life.  I’m only 16, but I already appreciate the style with which I was raised.  I started staying at home alone when I was about 7 or 8, and have turned out perfectly fine and probably more independent than most kids my age.  However, my own extended family still treats me like I am 5.  Over the summer, I was at the mall food court with my aunt and cousin.  I wanted to go to a restaurant that was on the other side of the food court. My aunt asked me if I thought it was okay with my mom if I walked across the food court by myself to get food, which really irritated me.  Apparently I am capable of driving a car but not old enough to walk by myself.
My mom’s brother has two daughters, 7 and 10.  His wife balked at the concept of allowing the older one to walk two miles home from school alone.  Even in my government class, when we were talking about issues that concerned us, and I shared about the fact that crime rates are as low as they have been since the ’60s, but that parents are attempting to make their kids too safe, everyone stared at me like I was crazy.
On a final note, I feel compelled to share something I read on a “mommy blog.” This woman was talking about her new house, and how her almost 10 year old still sleeps with a baby monitor because she fears that “he is going to be sick or hurt in the night and need her or someone will break in and abduct him” and she won’t be able to hear any of this happen because he sleeps a floor lower than she and her husband.  I rest my case. — Emily

160 Responses

  1. Was there anything written about this incident? I would like details. I am very free-range with my children but there is no way I would wait 2-3 days to report my 11yo missing. He is very responsible and if he failed to check in and I knew where he should be and he wasn’t, I would get nervous. Not saying I totally disagree but I would like to know more.

  2. Wow. Three thoughts popped in my head near simultaneously when reading that last bit, about the mom who watches her ten year old on a baby monitor at night.

    First thought: she’s going to get the surprise of her life pretty soon, when she finds out first hand that teenagers do masturbate.

    Second thought: if it is considered ‘pornography’ if parents photograph their toddlers in bath (remember how a couple nearly permanently lost their kids after a Wall Mart 24 hour photograph booth employee reported them for taking photos of their – shock! horror! – naked kids in the bath?), how much worse is it to watch your kid masturbate in bed? (*sarcasm*)
    Peeping Tom Mum!

    Third thought: I watched a tv programme not long ago about the American prison system and a famous break out of one of the highest security prisons of the country, where inmates are watched, by camera, near 24/7.
    What are you Americans doing, turning your kids into virtual prisoners? You tag them with electronic ankle devises, so they ‘can’t get lost or abducted’, you watch them, electronically if need be, 24/7 and you keep them locked indoors, all for the sake of ‘safety’.

    The police is even alerted faster, and responds faster, after a twelve year old is missing then when an dangerous criminal is missing from a high security prison. Jeez!

  3. I tried to find something written about this, but I couldn’t find anything. Sorry for the confusion, I didn’t mean everyone should wait 2-3 days to report a missing child, I was just saying an hour or two is crazy.

  4. PS, when I asked above, “what are you Americans doing”, I thoroughly realise that ‘Peeping Tom Mum’ with her baby cam is but the exception, not the rule. I know that most of you recoils in horror with that kind of obsessive behaviour. But apparantly, this kind of OCD behaviour is applauded in main stream American culture (any over-the-top behaviour is applauded, as long as it’s ‘For The Children’s Safety’) and that’s creepy.

  5. Assuming they had checked the usual places, and he was supposed to be home at a certain time and was over due, I don’t see a problem with the police starting a search. When I was a kid it wouldn’t have been an auto call – but the parents would have started the school calling tree. Then we would have been in a huge amount of trouble.

  6. The auto call is the part that seems odd to me. There are circumstances where it’s reasonable to call the police that soon when a child goes missing, but unless it’s believed that the child is likely in danger, it seems fast for auto calls around the area.

  7. I kind of feel sorry for the woman who keeps tabs on her 10 year old with a baby monitor. It must really suck to live with that kind of paranoia.

  8. I don’t think ignoring the fact that an 11 year old has been missing for a couple hours is the right answer, but an automated call to EVERY person in town seems a bit much for a child missing a short time. There were many times when I was a kid when someone stayed out passed curfew. A police search and rescue party was not arranged until way more than 2 hours had elapsed. Mom called the kid’s friends, who called their friends, etc. until the kid could be found. Since this kid was “found” within 5 minutes of the alert going out, he wasn’t very lost and the parents probably could have found him without police involvement. But many people’s instinct seems to be to call the cops immediately these days.

  9. Two hours does seem a bit extreme for an 11 year old.. we’re talking a 6th grader here, who probably just went to a friend’s house without permission… and I’m thinking that the reason that the cancel call went out 5 minutes later is probably that the parent at the house where the 11 yr old was went.. oh you AREN’T supposed to be here right now! LOL at least that’s my take on it 🙂

  10. Maybe they called the cops to avoid a Casey Anthony comparison (or a law, passed yet or not as media coverage, to some, means it already passed– and I’ve been guilty of not paying close enough attention to actual passage vs. coverage at times.)

    Not to justify it as I think that police involvement is not necessary unless there’s true cause for immediate concern– the kid was seen being abducted or something of that nature. Otherwise, calling the most likely parties would seem to be the first course of action. (And some serious discipline might be in order too, for not being where he was supposed to be!)

    As for the baby monitor… I worked with a teenager whose mother used a baby monitor in his room when his girl friend was over. Except, they just put a pillow over it and got busy anyway. I think I would be hurt if my mother showed that little trust in my ability to survive in my OWN BEDROOM. And what a way to teach the kid that the world is a terrifying place– someone could scale to the second floor and abduct him? Really? And I’m going to be appointed CEO of Microsoft…

  11. I’m sorry, I agree that we need to let our kids explore more, but with all the crazy stuff that happens these days, I would be calling the police after an hour. 10 is still very young, do you know how many horrible crimes happen to 10 year old boys all the time? I cannot identify with your posts. How can you compare a 10 year old going possibly missing with someone who makes their 10 year old sleeping with a baby monitor? Not even in the same boat. I’m sure parents whose 10 year olds have been kidnapped, some wish they had contacted police earlier. I get the feeling you are trying to be outrageous with some of your posts,

  12. And what if the boy was handicapped in some way; physically and/or mentally? What if there was some tragic event that meant missing for two hours was a bad thing? Yes, I know chances of that aren’t all that high but It would be nice if these sorts of posts had just a little more details. At least if we knew that were no unusually circumstances we could berate the parents and police appropriately.

  13. I remember being 10 and let me tell you that is an age where you want auditory privacy at night. Poor kid!

  14. I shared all the info that the police gave me, apart from what kind of clothes he was wearing. I’m sure the parents would have notified the police if he did have some type of disability.

  15. “I kind of feel sorry for the woman who keeps tabs on her 10 year old with a baby monitor.”

    I feel sorrier for the ten-year-old.

  16. I find it shocking that the police would notify all the residents. I’ve never heard of anything like that. When a kid goes missing in our area there is a SARA alert that goes across the bottom of the TV screen, but no personal calls! 2 hours seems soon to alert the town, but if I was the parent I could see alerting the police within 2 hours. It would depend on the situation. My son is only 7, I may feel different when he is 11. He is frequently gone for 2 hours playing in the neighborhood. He tells me who he’s going to play with and I tell him a time to be home. I don’t worry while he is gone. If he never showed back up and I called the friend and they had never seen him, or told me he left their house an hour ago, I would call his other neighborhood friends and check the subdivision myself. If a half hour went by and I couldn’t find him I would probably call the police. Again I may feel differently 4 years from now. So I could see alerting the police if this was out of character for him and the parents had checked with all his friends and looked around town at usual hangouts themselves, but I can’t see calling all the residents!!!

    I do remember once as a kid playing hide and seek with a friend. I had a really good hiding place and wouldn’t come out even when I heard my mom calling that this was no longer a game and I needed to come out. I also remember the spanking I got when she found me 🙂

  17. “I’m sorry, I agree that we need to let our kids explore more, but with all the crazy stuff that happens these days, I would be calling the police after an hour. 10 is still very young, do you know how many horrible crimes happen to 10 year old boys all the time?”

    Such as…? Anecdotal evidence is not representative. Crime is DOWN. Teach your child to pay attention and defend him/herself. Yes, ten is young, but go back a few decades – ten year olds were doing a hell of a lot more things requiring a lot more responsibility than we dare expect out of our children now because it’s ‘too dangerous’.

  18. “do you know how many horrible crimes happen to 10 year old boys all the time?”

    No, tell us. How many? (I’m betting the number will be astonishingly low)

  19. That baby monitor is going to get a little problematic in a year or so once the boy in that final anecdote discovers… er, himself. Just saying.

    Meanwhile most police departments won’t take a lost child report seriously for at least 12 hours. Where I live, we saw the aftermath of that process going amuck — this girl WAS reported missing in a timely manner and the police dismissed it for a couple days as a runaway despite her having no history of such behavior. Misty’s never been found.

  20. I am thinking there may be more to the story (it is common for developmentally disabled kids to wander). Here we get auto calls for everything imaginable, it is the new phone tree. So while, depending on the circumstance, it may have been over the top I do think their are many situations where it would be warranted. It also may have saved resources by helping locate him quickly.

    Oh, and if I couldn’t locate my kid, and it was a situation where he should here I would probably report him missing pretty quickly. My worry would more be along the lines of fell off his bike and got a broken ankle than abducted by strangers, though.

  21. While it probably is reasonable to call the cops if your pre-teen is an hour (or more) lost, it’s NOT reasonable for them to immediately start calling the neighborhood if the child isn’t known to be specially at risk.

    Informing the cops? Good!
    Calling up the entire neighborhood? That could wait!

  22. Uly, I agree. It could very well start a “Boy who cried wolf” situation, and people will start ignoring those robo-calls if they are overused.

  23. I’ve been gone awhile, but I am still very much here.

    Lenore is right. When did this country become a place where one has to know where your child, whatever their age, is located at every single minute of every single day. When would one have a chance to go to the bathroom?

    True story: last week my wife & I were dining out and a friend joined us. This friend has a child about 8 years old or so. They were playing with our 2 & 4 year-old insider, they had a gameroom. Our kids, somehow, with my wife and friend there otherwise watching decently (we thought), left the restaurant & crossed the street (thankfully, a rather un-busy one) to where the park was, about 100 yards away.

    How did we find this out? The 8 year-old came & told us.

    What was my response? I calmly asked the 8 year-old “can you go get them for us?” She did exactly that.

    A few observations.

    One, I didn’t beat myself up over the fact that this happened, although inside I was thinking “we need to watch a little closer.” (Which we subsequently did.) Second, I trusted the 8 year-old to be able to retrieve our kids herself (although my wife did follow her apparently), as did her caretaker (our friend). Third, I didn’t flip out, I stayed completely calm, rather than going “OH NO! OH NO! OH NO!!”.

    We got them back safe & sound, totally un-harmed, but we kept a closer eye on them for the rest of the evening, without thinking of ourselves as the worst parents ever. No police got involved, nor did they need to be. Needless to say, when we eat there again, we will be aware of the possibilities and aren’t apt to have a repeat occurrence.

    It’s all about staying calm and adjusting as you go, and being reasonably diligent without doing the whole 24/7 thing. It’s not necessary, and like one poster said, it’s worse in the long run to do the 24/7 thing.

    I let these same 2 & 4 year-olds of mine play outdoors ALONE for an hour or so at home, in a fenced-in area in our yard, and haven’t let this close call cause us to cease that either.


  24. I consider myself a free-range parent, but I think if I had exhausted all my own possibilities of where my 11-year-old could be after about a half-hour, I would probably call the police as well. There is a difference between allowing your child freedom and not knowing where s/he is. For example, it is reasonable for a pre-teen to ride a bike alone to the park AFTER s/he says “mom, I’m going to the park.” I’d like to know where this child was “found” and why he hadn’t checked in for two hours or told anyone where he was going.

  25. On a side note, No..I would not let my 10 year old walk 2 MILES home from school…

  26. @Dawn-Then your 10 year old would be missing out on some fantastic adventures and learning some life lessons that can only be learned outside of a parents watchful eye. My kids walk, bike and ride buses everywhere and they ar better for it.

  27. I would say 2 MILES is a fair distance for a reasonably fit, healthy ten-year-old to be able to walk. It’d do ’em good after being cooped up in school all day.

    If it was something like 5 MILES, that might be asking a bit much. And I wouldn’t expect my seven-year-old to walk 2 MILES every day. But for a ten-year-old, I’d say 2 MILES is just about right.

  28. I walked to and from school 2.5 miles everyday from age 10 until 15 (and had friends with licenses!). I’m 30 so this was 1991-1996… not that long ago. I also lived in southern California. (You know, the scary place with all those “gangs” just waiting to offer up a young and impressionable girl free drugs, of course!)

    I happen to be a child-free, former teacher who now, on occasion, works from home. I live in an suburb where my particular neighborhood is quite cute… Lots within a 1-mike radius (schools, park, a pool with awesome slides, a grocery store, several convenience marts, etc). I was ASTOUNDED when I realized how many people drive their kids LESS THAN A MILE to the bus stop that is my front lawn! I couldn’t (and CAN’T) believe it!!!

  29. Dawn, 2 miles for a ten year old is only about a half-hour walk. Maybe as much as 40 minutes. It’s really not that far away. At that age, I regularly walked (I’m checking Googlemaps now) 1.3 miles to school every day, and 1.5 miles home. (I walked two different routes, that’s why.)

    And then, when I walked in the door – I called my mother at work! Sometimes I asked her if I could go into the city, and then I’d take two tokens and take the bus another mile to the Ferry, and then walk up to the world trade center or take the train to union square. Yes, at 11 years old. (Okay, so not ten. Eleven. At that point, let’s just say “same difference” and have done with it.)

  30. An 11 year old totally missing for 2 hours would be a concern… I might wait a bit longer before informing the police… depending on the time of day… but by 2 hours I’d be thinking about it. I guess if “everyone was calm and the robocall was a ‘non-hysterical’ communication the way I might call one of my kid’s friends parents and ask if they’ve seen him I would feel that this was less “big brother” and more “family”. Whatever happened to the “it takes a village to raise a child” idea?

    I live in a small town where everyone knows everyone and after 2 hours a robocall wouldn’t be necessary… either someone would have seen my kid or everyone would tell him as soon as they saw him or her that s/he better get home because their Dad’s looking for them.

    To me part of what the free range movement is looking for is moderation and common sense and to not be judges. It seems it would be best to extend the same attitude to others who may react a bit sooner than we might. I see no cause for criticism or alarm that folks were aware and soon. If there was some accident then a response is best earlier than later.

  31. […] View post: An Alert for an 11-y.o. Missing for 2 Hours? […]

  32. A robo-call for every 11 yr old who goes missing for 2 hours is not a proportionate response. I already screen most calls and would probably stop paying any attention to calls from the police robo-call line if that were to happen. But since Emily doesn’t mention that this is a daily occurrence, I wonder if there is more to this particular case than was revealed by the call. The kid being found within 5 minutes might be because he wasn’t very lost, or it might be because the calls worked.

    Missing kids who are in danger generally need finding quickly – 24 hours is often too late to save them from harm. Trying to distinguish which cases fall into the forgot-the-time/wanted-to-go-somewhere-I’m-not-allowed/getting-away-from-the-parents category and which into the real danger category (especially since they can overlap) is impossible to do accurately every time.

    The mom with the baby monitor for a 9 year though – I can’t find any way to see that as reasonable.

  33. Emily, hold on to this feeling. I think so many kids feel this way, and then completely lose hold of it when they themselves are parents. But you don’t have to–Lenore obviously didn’t, and neither did I. Keep your writings!

  34. Off topic but figured I pass it alone really quick

    how walking to school benefits kids.

  35. I have a few thoughts about this. First, we are relying way too much on our kids cell phones. If he had one and did not answer it, I’m assuming the parents would have no idea what other phone to call. That is a total assumption on my part, but as a mom with kids that don’t have phones I ask them for numbers of where they will be, just like my mom used to do with me.

    Second, we heard about a woman with Alzheimers that went missing. First the police reverse 911’d the initial area where she went missing, and only later, the next day I believe, did they phone the whole town. Then the next day I saw it in the newspaper. Maybe the 2 hours was only in the immediate area, there’s not enough detail to know. But as others have said, if it gets used too often it will be ignored.

    Oh, and the baby monitor, I never had one even when my kids were infants. I sure don’t want to know what my son does in his room alone. Sheesh.

  36. Michelle – thanks for the link. It should be on the Good Morning America type shows instead of how we’re in danger with packed lunches. I won’t hold my breath.

  37. As for a 10 yr. old missing, I hate that everyone involved thought worst case scenerio immediately. We had a boy in my son’s class last year go “missing” for several hours while I was away with my husband on a work trip. A friend texted us that someone was missing, and hoped our son was OK. We called home, son was reading, but the whole neighborhood/community was freaking out. Here the boy was being bullied on the bus, and decided to get his thoughts together alone at a playground . There were search parties, etc. My son said they were not allowed to talk about it at school.

    As for the link above on walking/biking, I totally agree it is great for kids. My son practices his speeches (current events) in his head on his 1 1/2 mile trek each day. It is raining today, so they chose to walk in their rain gear. They are wide awake and ready to learn by the time they reach school. Going home, they can decompress and have fun with their friends (and jump in every puddle, if they want.) These are kids that are not clogging up the roads with more cars transporting short distances and they should be commended for being self sufficient at providing their own transportation.

  38. It all depends on circumstance.

    If the kid is allowed to and normally does go over to friends’ houses or to the shops or park or playground by himself, without telling the parent beforehand, then no, no need to worry at all.

    However, if the kid never has gone missing like that before, i.e., is not allowed to go out by himself and hasn’t snuck out before or always tells a parent when and where he goes out (which is completely reasonable – and any clever kid wanting to go somewhere he’s not allowed to go would simply lie about where he’s going rather than just sneak off) -then maybe it is reasonable to suspect foul play fairly quickly.

  39. Sera – Even if a kid hasn’t gone missing before I don’t think it’s reasonable to suspect foul play quickly. They are more likely to have got lost or had an accident than be prevented from going home by someone else. That doesn’t mean they don’t need help, just that it’s not evil people at fault all the time. In general, people are good and helpful. I think assumptions about bad situations always being caused by bad people really eat away at the trust we need for good communities.

  40. This ALMOST makes me feel guilty… My kids (7 & 10) frequently “run” the nighborhood with their friends and I don’t see them for several hours… But I did say “almost”… they love their freedom, and always come home before heading off to another neighbor-kids house. I love my kids independence too, and since they have been punished in the past for not letitng me know where they are going, they know that there are consequences for not keeping me informed. But as long as I know where they are, then they are allowed to go… pretty simple.

  41. It could also be that he had a medical condition they didn’t want to broadcast, that didn’t affect his mental state but meant he really needed to be home by 5 or 6 to take his medicine, and they were worried that if he had lost track of time he might not get it. That’s another scenario I can see that would lead to a quick choice to start calling out.

    If the parents had already called his known friends – then I can see the response as potentially reasonable. We simply don’t know enough to be sure it’s not, or that it is.

    The baby monitor for a 10-year-old…I *boggle*. And here I was debating whether I should remove the baby monitor from my son’s room now at 2.5 or wait until he turns 3. (Even now it is only there so that when he wakes in the night and calls for us, we can hear him, as our rooms are also on different floors and he doesn’t yet handle stairs all that well while half-asleep, though he’s largely mastered them awake. I’m thinking maybe I can move it to the hallway outside. At the moment it’s a moot point as he’s been insisting on sleeping in our room while he gets three molars in at once, poor guy, and as that means everyone DOES get to sleep, I’m very inclined to let him stay.)

  42. We don’t have a baby monitor. We chose a nice, small home so we could hear jr. from wherever. I read a book last year about an AZ family of ten (that’s *eight* kids) who live in a very roomy 1400 square feet. Sensible people.

    When I was 10 I went camping by myself, drank from artesian wells and creeks, fished, and generally had a great time. Obviously if this particular 10-year-old wasn’t usually off by himself it might be cause for concern, but the police? I’d also argue if your 10-year-old can’t be AWOL for 2 hours then either:
    a) he has a skills deficiency
    b) you have a parenting deficiency

    _Pippi Longstocking_ should be required reading for all new parents. As should _Huck Finn_.

  43. I find the shift in mentality interesting.

    In my childhood, if a kid was late coming home from somewhere, the parents were looking for him to beat his butt. The assumption was that the child was at fault for his own lateness – lost track of time, went somewhere he wasn’t supposed to go, was doing something that he wasn’t supposed to be doing, etc. Nobody thought foul play unless there was some indication of foul play. It was just a kid being a kid and not following rules.

    Today, foul play is suspected immediately. Kids haven’t actually changed. They are still prone to occasionally disobey rules. But society seems to jump over that fact and move immediately to foul play.

  44. I’m surprised that people aren’t separating “when the parents might reasonably start worrying and call the police” from “when it becomes a city-wide emergency incident.” Even assuming that unstated circumstances made it reasonable for the parents to become seriously worried within a couple of hours, it takes a pretty exceptional situation for it to merit putting an entire community on alert. And the fact that the alert was cancelled in five minutes means that it’s quite likely some pretty obvious possibilities weren’t checked out before the alert was issued.

    It’s important to remember that there’s always a cost to things. Putting a large area on alert for one thing, means other things are more likely to go unnoticed or unattended to. Just because it might be valid to be concerned about a child within two hours in certain circumstances, does not mean that that the degree of risk incurred in putting out a community-wide alert is justified, unless there’s credible evidence the child is actually in danger, either due to personal factors concerning the child, or an observed circumstance of the child being endangered.

  45. If my 9-year-old weren’t home when I expected, I’d call around to her friends, and if I still couldn’t find her and she were late enough I’d call the police, but I wouldn’t expect a robocall to everyone in town. I would be nervous if I hadn’t seen her for two hours after I expected her home, though. She runs around the neighborhood, but I have a pretty good idea generally where she is and it shouldn’t take that long to find her.

  46. Someone’s comment about the boy who just needed some alone time on the playground reminded me how nice is the feeling that NO ONE on earth knows where you are at a particular moment (nice, assuming you are not in need of assistance). It’s an especially delicious feeling in a foreign country. It’s sad that kids have to work so hard to be alone.

    The baby moniter thing floors me.

  47. @ helenquine –

    Sorry, I misspoke. Probably better to say, “suspect that something has got wrong”.

    It still depends on the circumstance. Kid went out to the shops or to see a friend or to the park, having told his parents, and hasn’t come back in a timely manner? Yeah, it’s more likely that he’s gotten hurt (sprained ankle, etc), or lost, or even just distracted and changed his plans. In those cases, he’s not in any sort of life threatening danger, generally. Well, not in the U.S, anyway. Australia is full of snakes that will KILL YOU (even in suburbia), and two hours is plenty of time to die if he gets bit by one of those and doesn’t get help. Snakes aside, even if a kid getting lost or broken-legged or whatever in a population center isn’t going to be dog food, even after dark. As long as the kid knows their home address and phone number, they should be able to easily find somebody to lend them a phone or give them directions (or tell the ambulance officers how to contact his parents, in the broken leg case).

    Kid was supposed to be somewhere within the home/yard and has suddenly and mysteriously vanished, and that’s not something he’d do? Yeah, then it’s time to worry about that one-in-a-million abduction, and to act fast.

  48. “My son said they were not allowed to talk about it at school.”

    This floors me. This should be the kind of situation that should be addressed at school (not with flags waving and an army of counselors and a big hoo-ha, but a brief comment from each homeroom teacher and a limited opportunity for the kids to discuss things might be in order.)

    All this stuff about what to do about bullies all over the media, and when a kid runs off to get some alone time to deal with the situation, and worries his parents, not only is it not addressed but it’s FORBIDDEN as a topic of conversation?

    How about just having the teachers tell the kids that it’s perfectly fine to need to be alone, but make sure you do it in a way so that people you trust don’t need to worry about you?

    The rationale for *forbidding* discussion of a subject that’s clearly on every kid’s mind and affords an opportunity to tell kids how to constructively deal with a situation blows my mind. Not that the kid’s response of running somewhere private was generally a bad one, but “letting someone know where you are if you’re doing something unusual” is probably worth mentioning as well.

  49. Talked to my son on Sunday. He’s 19, he’s been pretty free-range, and is now living thousands of miles away for university. This had been his first weekend in his new apartment. The one thing he was most blown away by? The number of kids his age (incoming freshmen – he’s a junior. Been living independently since 17, in college since 16) that were dazedly following their parents around, looking totally lost. He saw one kid get hit up for spare change by a random guy on the street, and the kid freaked out, and ran for Dad. This both cracked my kid up, and deeply disturbed him. He can’t envision getting to college age and never having dealt with that. He’s known how to manage that since he was about 13! He related watching parents attempting to hold every conversation FOR their kid, not letting their kids answer direct questions, taking over in the bookstore – “Wait out here with Dad, honey. I’ll go get your books for you.” Whooo boy. Yeah. Prepared to deal with independence. *eyeroll*

    At 11, I know I was leaving the house on foot or bike with the coming home instructions being, have fun, stay out of trouble, be home at a reasonable hour. I didn’t have an ‘end time’ at which I had to be back. My husband had the same type of instructions, and thus would ride his bike for 15 or 20 miles, poke around a creek, or in the woods in the areas outside the town he lived in. My kids had the same general instruction when they were middle school aged. And no cell phones. Thus, I have kids who are completely capable of handling themselves in just about any situation they might encounter. It all transfers over. Point being, if you have fairly open, ambiguous freedoms to adventure and explore, when do you become ‘missing’ for 2 hours? We were much more the ‘when the streetlights come on’ than the ‘be back in 2 hours’ type parents by this age. But even then, it gets dark faster than one expects in late summer in northern latitudes. So, do you wait 1/2 hour after the lights come on? 1 hour? Two? There are just so many variable with what the expectations are, what will set a parent’s panic button off, when is ‘missing’ really missing…

  50. Way to go, Emily! You’ve rocked my house with another hilarious freak show of bizarre ‘rent behavior! :O

  51. The only ‘logical’ reason I can think of to do a robo-call like that would be if the parent was pretty sure the kid had gone somewhere with someone he/she knew, but didn’t know who. And the parent had political connections. *wink*

    On another topic: Just read this in my insurance newsletter on the subject of Vitamin D: “Your body creates vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. It only takes about 10 minutes of sun exposure a few times a week to make enough. But, since this also exposes you to cancer-causing UV rays, some experts believe it’s not a healthy way to get it.”
    Does this give other parents a feeling of crazy, or is it just me? (Ok, I tan really, really easily myself, which is why I carefully cultivate a tan in my lighter-skinned toddler– I’m not going to immediately think “Put on SUNSCREEN!” all the time. But somehow suggesting that 30 minutes of sun exposure a week in the US would be dangerous seems wrong.)

  52. Sera – “Kid was supposed to be somewhere within the home/yard and has suddenly and mysteriously vanished, and that’s not something he’d do? Yeah, then it’s time to worry about that one-in-a-million abduction, and to act fast.”

    Still – not really. It could be. I’m not saying it’s impossible. But *still* the most likely situation is that the kid decided now was the time to try the thing they’ve never done before. Not that the parent shouldn’t worry (I don’t know a parent who wouldn’t worry in that situation) but it’s still not the likely course of events. I know parents *think* they know their kids, and they probably do know them better than anyone, but kids change all the time. Pretty much every kid who does go off unannounced etc. was a kid who didn’t do that at one point, they all had their “first time”.

  53. @ gramomster

    I suppose having to deal with “getting hit up for spare change by a random guy on the street” is a must have skill where you live but I’ve never heard of that in my life so I would be pretty freaked up myself… I agree that the teenagers you describe seem rather poor at handling life in general but I wouldn’t be so quick to judge them on that. Chances are that they come from another town.

    I also think that if you don’t let your 10 year old walk 2 miles, he’s not free-range!

  54. Part of the problem i have with free-range parenting is often those kids who are allowed to roam the neighbourhood (from age 2 to 10/11 on our block) often end up at our house or yard and we have to entertain or feed or supervise them as they wander across the street and back. They get bored and/or hungry and look to my wife and myself to fulfill their needs because their parents are doing god knows what and asks jenny and johnny to “disappear” for a few hours so they can have the luxury of adult play time or chores. We are left as the only adults on the block to effectively watch their kids for free.

    THAT”S what infuriates me – free rangers leave the “parenting” to all the other sucker responsible parents on the block

  55. And to add to my comment – I often ask myself why these parents ever had kids if they don’t want to spend any outdoor time with their kids on a beautiful Sunday afternoon? Oh but they are so independant?? How about delusional? All those questions and needs are just directed to other parents on the street and you still think their independant? The jokes on you!

  56. @brad- why would you feel responsible for those children? The kids on my street often end up at my house playing but I figure if their parents thought they could handle getting to my house then they can certainly make it home on their own as well. Also, at lunch and dinner time I call my kids in and tell the other kids they’ll be back out when they are done eating. I don’t mind giving drinks to kids who are playing in my yard but if they say they are hungry I just tell them to come on back as soon as they have eaten. No one thinks twicce about it.

  57. Brad – you don’t have to. Really. Just turn them away. Stop watching them cross the street. Don’t offer them food or drink if you don’t want to. They will do just fine without freeloading off you. If they are rude or misbehave kick them out and/or tell their parents. But don’t blame other people because you haven’t learnt how to set effective boundaries.

  58. No, Brad, we don’t leave parenting up to other parents. YOU take it upon yourself to do what you choose to do for other people’s children. Maybe you should ask yourself why you choose to entertain, feed and supervise kids that don’t actually need entertaining, feeding and supervising from you.

  59. @pentamon- yes, I felt that was the worst part of this. There was a huge teachable moment missed because legally they couldn’t talk about it. This kid was a transfer (was bullied) and was bullied again, but they are afraid of being sued, so no talk. I did talk to my kids about it. Asked them, what went wrong here? They said-tell someone where you are going and for how long, speak up about the bullying. Perhaps addressing the problem would break the cycle. Uggh.

    @brad- you made me laugh! I am that house on our street, but I am actually proud of it. It’s the one with all of the bikes on the lawn or clogging the driveway with chalk designs, bases, and balls everywhere. I having neighbors that host the kids back and repay me with favors all the time. I don’t resent it, right now the little girl across the street stays here almost every day- her dad is getting cancer treatments at home, and I know that she’s scared. I’m happy she has a place she can go to when she needs it.

    I recommend you use this word- NO!
    Kids at my house know they can get water at anytime at the water cooler in the garage, but as a rule no inside our house unless it’s raining or thunderstorming or need a bathroom break. I send out food sometimes, not always. If I buy a giant watermelon, its food for a crowd and not much out on me. We also bake a lot (mostly fruits that we picked way too many of) and I like to send treats out so we don’t eat it all up. These kids play a lot outside so they are burning the calories up like crazy.
    So, try saying “NO” to these kids you don’t like. They will appreciate it WAY more than your current passive/aggressive hosting at your house that you seem to not enjoy.

  60. gramomster, I’m not as free-range as you describe, but I’m getting more appalled with each passing year as I watch my friends send their kids off to college. Only, they don’t just send them. Of course we took our daughter down and helped her move in, but that’s because it’s a job that warrants having people to help. But I’m just about in shock when I hear about parents buying books for the kids (not supplying the money, but doing the buying) and all kinds of things like that. Calling the school to set up this, that and the other thing. All things that, when I started college, were my responsibility — and my parents were pretty protective by the standards of the 80’s. They’re just not things that it should be even challenging for an 18 year old to do, let alone actually *needing* someone else to do them.

    And I’m not talking about the crazy cases you read about where parents show up and do the laundry and nonsense like that — I’m talking about pretty “normal” people — but the bar of what is “normal” to do for sending your kid off to college has gotten ridiculous.

    I have to agree with Cocinelle, though — depending where you grew up, being approached and asked for money can be scary. With the rise of the mall culture, fewer people who live outside the heart of large cities are used to going downtown and seeing that kind of “urban sight.” Probably the kids were being overly helpless, but if you grow up somewhere where you just don’t see panhandlers, and if your only association with homeless panhandlers comes from TV shows where they wind up being the suspect in a murder case or something, you might over-react.

  61. brad – I used to feel the same way about people having kids and then not wanting to spend time with them. Then I started thinking about it. I don’t want to spend every minute with my husband. I want to spend quite a bit of time with him (hence why I married him), but we both spend time apart and it makes us much more interesting people. We go out and do things and then come back and share what we’ve done with each other. Maybe I teach my husband something new because I went on a tour of Flushing Meadows park or he got to meet a celebrity at Comic-Con. When you spend every waking minute with a person, it can get boring. So it seems like it would create a better adult in your kid to be able to send them out to do things without you. Send them out to play for two hours on a Sunday. You can bake a cake to share with him when he gets back and he can bring you a lizard (or tell you about the new kid down the block, or about that cool bicycle he saw, etc. etc.)

    Also, I agree. Don’t be responsible for those kids. They’ll go home. My grandma used to have this ceramic basket of apples (both basket and apples were ceramic) sitting on her kitchen table in her apartment, in full view of anyone who came to the door. One day when a group of kids were playing outside, one came up to her door and said, “I’m hungry.” My grandma told him she didn’t have anything to eat and he said, “What about an apple?” My grandma said, “I don’t have any apples.”

    It’s a funny story, but even if those apples were real, I doubt my grandma would have given him one. He had a home and parents nearby. They took care of him.

  62. brad, just to add to what everyone else is saying — you seem to be assuming that the kids need to have someone’s parents, if not their own, watching over them and feeding them.

    Now I’m aware that there are some situations in which parents do, in fact, “dump” their kids on the neighborhood, NOT giving them any attention or taking care of their immediate needs, and figuring they’ll get taken care of some other way. Those situations are sad, and tough to deal with. But the mere fact that they’re showing up on your lawn on a Sunday afternoon does not mean they’re being dumped — it means they are playing at your house, instead of their own. If you’re concerned that they’re showing up to freeload instead of playing somewhere else where they can’t freeload, quit letting them freeload. But if you’re just plain concerned that they’re in your yard instead of their own, or that they’re out of sight of their own parents, lighten up. If the two year old is roaming the neighborhood without a significantly older sibling (over six, I’d say) or a neighbor child who is used to looking after younger kids, then that’s a problem. But it is NOT a problem for most of them that their parents are letting them be somewhere else, playing without them, on a Sunday afternoon. It is not your responsibility, because it’s no one’s “responsibility” — it’s just fine that they’re doing it.

  63. […] Lenore Skenazy and Emily in Ohio: An Alert for an 11-year-old Missing for 2 Hours? […]

  64. @ pentamom – Some of the college kids are getting bit on the ass for interfering parents now. I live in a college town so I am acquainted or interact with many professors. One day this summer at the pool, a professor was talking about a student who did poorly on a test or a paper (I can’t recall which). He fully intended to allow the student to make up the grade if asked. Sadly, the student didn’t ask. Instead his mommy called the professor and demanded that he be allowed to make up the grade. Professor said “no” and the failing grade stood.

  65. On my way to work last week I watched a mom and two 18+ boys (yes, BOYS) get on the bus. They were all scared to DEATH that they would get mugged. The mom got up and got two bus schedules, asked the driver if they were on the right bus to go to [one of the local universities] and sat back down.

    She put one schedule in her purse, gave the other one to one of the boys with the instruction “give this to your mother”.

    I was HORRIFIED. That exact bus, to that exact stop is the bus that my (then) 9yo took to go to school. She then crossed a busy 4 lane road and caught another bus…. and did it all in reverse at the end of the day too. She had to know the schedules, and know how to figure out when the next bus was going to be well before there were iphone apps to tell us these things. These boys weren’t being trusted to do that alone at TWICE that age with all the technology at thier disposal.

    Add that to the mother’s fear. Sigh. I know some bus systems are not as safe as ours… but our buses are mostly suburban professionals commuter buses. It is not uncommon to see Rolex watches and $1000 suits, diamonds and fur coats on our buses. Really, her and the kids were the worst dressed people on the bus, lol!

  66. In Edmonton, Alberta last month, an amber alert was issued for a “suspected child abduction”. A “suspicious looking” man met up with a 10-12 year old child at a playground, and the child left with him. Turns out the man was the child’s uncle, who met him at the park to pick him up and take him home.

  67. Brad, if you resent feeding them – don’t feed them! If you resent entertaining them – don’t entertain them! (Seriously – don’t. You’re not helping them.) If you don’t want to supervise them – send them home!

    It’s not rocket science.

    As far as “they never want to spend a Sunday afternoon with their kids”, I don’t believe you’re that credible. Not about the ENTIRE neighborhood. More likely the various parents spend some time with their kids and some time NOT with their kids, and it doesn’t always overlap so you claim it’s all parents all the time.

  68. Brad, the kids and other parents aren’t the problem- you are. If you can’t tell them no on the food, drinks and entertainment that is your issue. If you want them not to play in your yard, tell them to go. It really is that easy. And if you don’t want to supervise them, don’t. Again that simple. I have kids in my yard all the time. A couple years back, before I had kids, they were leaving trash in the yard. I told them if they wanted to hang under my our trees they needed to pick up after themselves. They did. No problems. I don’t feed, entertain or supervise them. They have homes and parents for that. You might want to try reading “Boundries”. I think it’s by Henry Cloud.

  69. @Brad – my kid goes to their houses, and their kids come to my house. We all reciprocate. And it isn’t just Sunday afternoon. My older kid plays outside every single moment she dons’t have another commitment and the weather cooperates. I have responsibilities inside the house, like cleaning, cooking, and supervising the toddler while she naps. The 9-year-old shouldn’t have to stay inside all the time I’m working. She has the ability to play, and she therefore has no interest in rotting her brain watching TV. She’s healthy and active, as are all the other roaming kids in our neighborhood.

  70. I’d report a kid missing in an instant if I had reason to believe someone had snatched her (such as, someone saw her getting into a car that wasn’t mine). Within a couple of hours or less, if we were in a place that could be inherently dangerous and where I could think of no good reason for her to be absent. (Such as if we were hiking at a national park and she’d wandered off from her group.) Or if my kid had special needs such that she should not be wandering about for such a long time.

    Other than that, I might be worried or upset, but I wouldn’t involve the police until it had gotten late. I would be oiling my paddle, though. (Just kidding, I don’t own a paddle – yet – but you get my drift.)

  71. Not sure why I came up as Anonymouse. Sorry, that was me!

  72. @brad – There is a huge difference between being free-range and being an irresponsible parent. Part of free-range parenting is teaching children to do for themselves and be responsible (and for us, to have appropriate manners when out and about without mom or dad), not just turning them out into the world for someone else to deal with. My kids come back home to get themselves a snack or drink if they need one when playing in the neighborhood – they have done so since they were pre-schoolers. If a neighbor offers them a snack, they are allowed to take it, but they aren’t supposed to ask for anything, unless it is a family we know well and have that kind of relationship with. I regularly entertain and feed the neighborhood kids at my house, but it is completely by choice, and I feel entirely comfortable in turning them away or telling them to run home for a snack (some of the neighbor kids will even go home to use their own bathroom). It’s up to each of us to set boundaries with our neighbors about what we are and are not willing to do – if you don’t want those kids in your house, don’t let them in – you are under no obligation to do so. I have returned small neighbor children home whom I thought were too small to be wandering safely by themselves – the parents are normally grateful, if not a little embarrassed.

    As for the 11 year old – I have an 11 year old son, and if he was two hours late in coming home, and calls to school, neighbors, friends, his usual hang-outs, etc. didn’t turn up anything, I probably would contact police. While I do think as a society we panic too easily and resort to worse case thinking, I also don’t think it prudent to not take action when something unusual and potentially troublesome occurs. He’s probably fine – but in the case he’s not – for example, if he’s lost or hurt, rather than abducted – waiting many hours, or even days, to sound the alarm doesn’t sound smart to me. We regularly have the police department helicopter flying above our neighborhood, broadcasting information about “missing” kids or teens – an automated phone call seems a lot more effective and less costly, and it looks to have worked in this instance, with minimal time and resource investment. We don’t have much information in this case, but unless this is a regular occurrence, I don’t know that it sounds too over-the-top.

  73. Completely off topic, but has anyone given any thought to how to ensure a free-range kid grows into a focused adult employee? I myself am terrible about this – when the cat’s away the mice will play, and then I make up for it by doing an all-nighter now and then, which is hardly ideal. I wouldn’t wish this on my kids. I am sure not all free-range kids grow up to be like me, so what is the transition process? Or is this the dumbest question ever posed here?

  74. My first reaction is to be shocked at the two-hour window. Sigh. I think there are better first reactions than calling the police. Call a few neighbors. Call the kids’ friends’ houses. At that point and no luck, I figure there might justification for calling the police. But in my head there was parents all “I can’t find my kid” and immediately calling the police. Not cool.

    I wonder what will happen when Baby Monitor Boy goes to college. That range of baby monitor can’t be cheap.

  75. On my way to work each day, I see several parents who drive their children to the corner (in one case, from a cul-de-sac – they literally live two houses from the corner) and either sit and wait with the child in the car until the bus comes, or wait in the car while the child stands at the corner. It never fails to crack me up. I asked my daughter (11) why so-and-so’s parents drove him two houses down to wait at the bus stop – are they afraid he’ll be abducted by aliens? Is he carrying large amounts of cash on his person? Is he made of granulated sugar and suceptible to melting in the heat?

    Also @ Brad: That’s not a free-range parenting issue. That’s a parenting issue, full stop, and on both sides. Kids will go where they’re allowed and will eat what they’re allowed and will stay as long as they’re allowed because they’re still learning to self-regulate. They’re kids; that’s what they do. You’re the adult here, correct? So…if you’re not comfortable with it, stop allowing it. If you think you’re being taken advantage of, then address it with the kid and the parent.

    I work, so in the summers, my kid is constantly the one at someone else’s house. But after school and in the evenings, guess where they all congregate? (And we just have one child, so imagine how it feels when suddenly we have eight or ten!) We got a second fridge just for popsicles and lemonades and installed a drinking fountain outside. I may grouse a little at the grocery store and gripe about a front lawn covered in bikes and Ripstiks, but then my husband reminds me that these kids have someplace to go where they feel safe and comfortable. People who complain about “kids today” who “loiter around neighborhoods” and “don’t do anything productive” and then in the same breath complain when the kids are spending time at their house…I mean, make up your mind, yes? Be part of the solution, not part of society and bemoans shiftless youth and really thinks they ought to have someplace to go…as long as it’s not your house.

    The upside is that I know a WHOLE lot more than some other moms about who is doing what with whom, who is in a fight, who’s starting to bully, who’s needing help with math, who’s sprouting boobs and who’s jealous of it, etc. Sometimes they come to me for advice. That right there is worth the price of a couple of extra lemonades and popsicles. Sometimes they just want an adult to listen and NOT offer advice. Some of these kids may need an adult in their lives who is not a relative and who is non-judgmental. They may be absorbing how your family works because their family is broken. I know that’s what I did.

  76. I have to laugh at the college kids that can’t do anything for themselves. In 1982 I started college. My mother (parents divorced, dad not around) did NOTHING to help me. I filled out all my own applications, decided which one to attend, went by myself to campus the first time to the registrar and financial aid offices. My brother and sister helped me move in. I was only 45 minutes away in the city but to me it could have been Mars. Needless to say I bought my own books, I had a checking account and a MAC card. The worst moment for me was the first weekend I stayed on campus and realized that the cafeterias were not open so my meal plan was useless. It was a very long, hungry weekend, but it sure was a learning experience.

    Unless my kids ask me to intervene, they will be on their own when they are in college. That may sound harsh, but they are both in high school now and are very independant. I also do not intervene with teachers unless asked to even though it’s quite expected.

  77. I too did everything for college myself, other than getting a ride since I didn’t have my drivers’ license yet (and no public transportation available there). That wasn’t much – applied to 1 school, filled out financial aid forms, took the tests, figured out my schedule with the dean, did my own work, graduated, did it all over for grad school. It was mostly easy, and it didn’t teach me self-discipline, I’m sorry to say. Maybe I’m just a hopeless case as far as that goes.

  78. As for talking to the teachers – even at age 4, I expect my kids to tell me what I need to hear from / about their teachers, and to tell the teacher what she needs to hear. Of course, if there are problems, I will step in, but that will be the exception. (I also expect the teacher to tell me if there’s an issue to address, not wait for me to address her first. But that’s a different issue.)

  79. I am amazed to hear that some of you as adults have never been hit up for spare change! Okay, I grew up in Denver, then lived in San Francisco, but then I moved to a small town (1500) in Northern CA. I got hit up all. the. time. there. Possibly even more aggressively than in SF.
    These kids are going to school in Ann Arbor, MI. So, yes, some of them have definitely grown up in other towns, many of them suburbs of Detroit. Now, if you’ve not been to Detroit, let me tell you, it is a fairly uncomfortable city to be in. The population dropped precipitously as all manufacturing jobs went away. There are, for instance, zero grocery stores (chains… Safeway, Albertson’s, Meijer etc) in the city, which now number 900,000. Then you cross one single street, and you are in a suburb called Grosse Pointe where there are large homes and immense wealth. Nearby there is Brighton, Royal Oak and other very wealthy suburbs. Many of these kids come from there, so yes, in their insulated world, perhaps they may not have had these experiences. IMHO, being so close to such destitute poverty, and yet having no idea it existed or how to navigate it, is a travesty. It was crucially important to me and my husband to make sure that our kids had the opportunity to develop some street smarts, as we didn’t know where they’d end up for college, or end up living, but we wanted them to be prepared with the necessary skills for living in any city anywhere in the world. This meant bus schedules, train maps, and yes, walking city streets and experiencing panhandlers.

    Still… seriously… it boggles the mind to think that there are actually still places where people don’t do this? Where are these protected enclaves? I’ve lived in a lot of places, large, small, giant, minuscule. I’ve never lived anywhere with NO panhandlers.

    @Donna. Yes with the professor you mentioned. I’ve taught college. I have been stunned by the number of students who have no clue that they themselves can speak to a professor about an issue. I have also been stunned at the number of students who seem to believe that they (or their parents) are buying a degree, not a seat in a classroom with the opportunity to EARN a degree. Again with the boggled mind. Students I’ve had who have worked as Resident Advisors have reported calls from parents asking if someone waited with their child at the bus stop (shuttle from on campus location to another) to make sure they got on the right bus. Was the vegetable intake of their child monitored? Did they get walked to class on the first day to make sure they didn’t get lost. I am, sadly, completely serious. Mind you, every student has an orientation which they are required to attend, including campus tour, bus orientation, and building maps.
    But really?! Is my kid eating their vegetables? Yes. Really.

  80. “obviously not a free range mom”‘s comments hit right to the heart of the problem. She states: “do you know how many horrible crimes happen to 10 year old boys all the time?”

    That’s what the masses are led to believe by the media industry. They think these bad things happen “all the time” because that’s what the news reports. These things do *not* happen “all the time”. It’s just that you hear about *every single occurance* because they are *all* reported on the news. People don’t stop to consider all the other millions of children that horrible things didn’t happen to for each one that gets abducted. The fact of the matter is that your child is more likely to be struck by lightning than abducted by a pervert. To live life in utter paranoia over such odds is highly irrational and will be detrimental to your child’s upbringing. They are being taught to embrace the same paranoia and will live a sheltered existence as a result of being scared of the world.

  81. I would totally let my 8 year old walk two miles, I wish he would, I wish he could! NOBODY around here lets their kids out in the neighborhood, and while I consider myself free-range, I do know that there’s safety in numbers, so I wouldn’t let him walk far away on his own. Play outside, on our block? No problem, but otherwise I’d want him with someone at least the same age. I think it’s unfortunate that even though some of us want desperately to let our kids do things we did at their age, we can’t because they have no one to do it with.

    On a side note, my 15 and 18 year olds plus a few friends between those ages have been building a treehouse/fort or something in some woods about a mile from my house. Their friends thought I was so cool because I helped them get the wood over there (in my mini van) and their parents would never have. I just feel bad that I wasn’t asked to help build a fort when they were 10!

  82. @ gramomster

    You want to be flabbergasted? I don’t know anybody that experienced that. Never heard of that expect on movies and such… If you want to know, I’ve lived in two places in my life: a 40K town and a 500K city, both in Canada.

    And I can tell you that I walked alone at any hour of the day when I was of school age. (oh and I’m a girl…)

  83. Chuckling at the tales of the clueless college students- my friend, who works in college services, told me not long ago that “if you’re looking for a growth industry, you should try kids who can’t get their shit together. Plenty of growth there!”

  84. Gramomster, I didn’t say I’ve never been hit up for spare change. I have, in fact. It probably only happened to me a couple of times per decade before I started shopping at the seediest Walmart in town, where it tends to happen to me *indoors* about once a year. Outdoors, it doesn’t happen hardly at all to me. I have little call to walk around downtown here, though I’m quite “aware” of people panhandling in this city.

    But then again, I don’t live in the Michigan UP. Some of those kids might. Some of them might live in small little towns where anyone who had to live hand to mouth like that wouldn’t figure it was worth sticking around, or coming to in the first place. They needn’t necessarily be sheltered, privileged, and unaware of poverty in their backyards. They might live somewhere where there is little of that kind of poverty — poverty, yes, but not a good atmosphere for someone to try to make a living on the streets.

  85. I have a real-live Facebook friend (an Internet only acquaintance) who just sent her first off to college. She 1) posted on her news feed, reminding him of his first week’s schedule and 2) posted a status complaining to her friends that he’s not doing his laundry.

    She’s a nice person, so I’ve just gently been teasing her and letting her know that he’ll be fine without all this. He’s the one who has to smell, he’ll do his laundry when he’s good and ready, and I’m sure that he’ll find his way to class. But she’s making herself so crazy over this — why would someone do that to herself, let alone to her child? It boggles.

  86. Sounds like this mom had the police on speed dial and her finger surgically attached to the dial button. Did she ever … oh, I don’t know … call any of his friends’ parents to see if he was there first?

  87. @gramomster: I grew up outside of Detroit (Royal Oak – which was/is actually more middle class than upper class like Birmingham or Grosse Pointe). In the 1970s I had friends who had NEVER been south of 8 Mile Rd, even as seniors in high school. And yet, we were all pretty free-range (walked/rode home from school on nice days, went to friends houses, etc). But people had different perceptions of danger. I can remember the fuss when I took a friend to the Ren Cen at age 18 for lunch one day. Her parents had a fit. Mine were bemused that they had a fit.

    But kids ARE too overprotected in some ways. I was amused in college by the kids (usually boys) who had to learn to do their own laundry and ended up with pink underwear. But they were smarter than the numerous kids in my children’s experience, who took their laundry home to mommy every weekend.

    Eldest daughter worked freshman orientations and open houses while in college. She had stories of helicopter parents that gave me headaches. Parents who brushed their kid’s hair for them. Parents who threw a fit when the kids left (without adults! GASP) to create their schedules. Parents who messed up their kid’s schedules by going into the online system and trying to change classes for them…

    My kids did their own schedules, bought their own books (or with help, if I could get them more readily), and did their own laundry. We helped when needed. Otherwise, I figured they were adults and were on their own. Even adults can ask for help if needed, but they don’t need to have their hands held constantly.

  88. @triskelethecat
    Birmingham! That’s the one I couldn’t think of! Yeah, Royal Oak is more middle class. That was a lovely town to go see music in. My kids mostly grew up in Grand Rapids.

  89. “But people had different perceptions of danger.”

    That’s so true. I’m frequently brought up short because I live closer to, shall we say, the less affluent parts of the city than many of my friends, and I’ve long been accustomed to going anywhere I need to go in the city to do what I choose to do (with some exceptions.)

    They, on the other hand, view the entire city other than the commercial downtown (during the broadest of daylight only) and the nicer residential areas on the edges of the city, as a generally scary place. The ballet school my daughters used to go to was a in a less than stellar location, but the suburbanites who took their kids there were always making nervous comments about “the part of town” it was in — I never recall hearing of any serious criminal incident in the immediate neighborhood; I think their perception was based on the neighboring houses being evidently low-rent, and sometimes seeing rather seedy (but not dangerous-looking) characters walking nearby, which they simply weren’t used to. People really *are* too sheltered — but it’s not necessarily because their kids are locked up in side all the time, or kept unaware of social conditions. They just don’t rub noses with it and have an exaggerated perception of what it’s like to live in relative proximity to non-affluence. It’s not that they don’t know it exists; it’s that they think that coping with it is scarier than it is.

  90. The part about the nine-year-old with the baby monitor is deeply disturbing.

  91. I teach 6th graders – 11 and 12 year olds. They have no concept that 5 minutes have passed, let alone 2 hours so I think this is pretty ridiculous. This to me sounds like a mom who doesn’t really know her kid or any of her kid’s friends. Are you going to know all your kid’s haunts and where all their friends live? Probably not, but at around 2 hours you’re probably just exhausting you’re resources.

  92. I’m still waiting on the figures that validate all these horrors that befall the hordes of 10 yr old boys…and on a daily basis, we would be led to believe.

    I suspect there was no such data. Never is when talking panic justification.

  93. “It’s not that they don’t know it exists;”

    Yeah it is. Those of us who work with the poor on a regular basis are amazed at the lack of true understanding in the general public for how poor some people are in America. Amazed isn’t the right word because prior to being a public defender, I also had no real understanding of poverty. If you had asked me then, I would have told you that I grew up poor. We had very few luxuries but I had a stable, albeit not upscale, roof over my head with all major utilities (no AC), running vehicles (many years old) and 3 healthy meals a day. I was practically Bill Gates compared to many people in this country.

    I’m also amazed that people here don’t run into panhandlers more regularly. Do you never leave suburbia? I’ve traveled to or lived in about 2/3rds of the states and I can’t recall ever being in an urban area without homeless people and panhandlers being prevalent. Granted my family has been known to take day trips to south central LA, but this just seems like a routine part of life in a city (of any size) to me. My 5 year old doesn’t think anything of us being approached and asked for spare change. I can’t imagine an adult being freaked out about this. Maybe life is just richer in that 1/3 of the country I haven’t seen.

  94. The alert for an 11 year old missing for two hours probably is an over reaction, but I would like to give the parents the benefit of the doubt. As a free range parent I would say there is a difference between a child being GONE for two hours and the same child being MISSING for two hours. For a parent (and child) that is not free range, maybe there is no distinction. For me, I can think of numerous scenarios where a few hours “gone” would not be cause for alarm, and other times, when even 30 minutes would make me worried. Calling the police (AFTER looking myself and making calls) might be reasonable. I assume the police and not the parents decided to issue the robo-calls…

    I don’t recall ever seeing a homeless person asking for money before I went to college (grew up in small town MA). My kids ride the nyc subway and walk around and see people asking for change (which they give them or offer leftover uneaten snacks) on a regular basis. When I first came to nyc for grad school, I still remember giving someone 5 dollars after he told me a very sad story about a health clinic being closed and needing to get back to brooklyn…he was standing on the same corner with the same story a few weeks later…good lesson learned…I figured he needed the $5 more than I did anyway, but did help me gain some street smarts.

  95. On the college admissions thing, my SIL is going through that with her son. Actually, I should say she’s doing everything for him, which she quite literally is. Narrowed down the school selection, got the applications, filled them out, hired a consultant (!!!), etc. We’re not talking Yale – we’re talking state college. And she called me last week saying that her head was about to explode from all this. I said, “So don’t. Let him do it.” (Seriously, this is a perfectly capable, intelligent, 17 year old boy.) She could not wrap her mind around that concept and gave me a lecture on what I would be facing in 6 more years. (Yeah, right. Not in my world, honey.)

    Then again, this is the same kid who got his first car at 16 (brand new), totaled it a month later, and she told everyone it wasn’t his fault (it was) and bought him a new car just like the wrecked one just so the extended family wouldn’t know about it.

    I’d send her a FRK book, but sadly, it’s too late for her. She is my Cautionary Tale. 😉

  96. There are more than a few students where I live that could end up at UofM (we’re about 20 minutes north of A2 anyway). And many of those would never have run into a pan-handler, depending on how or where they spend their time. I’ve never seen one in town or at the local malls that I can recall– maybe once or twice at Meijer, but they don’t last long before management shoos them away. There is very much a sense in this community that “those problems” only happen in other places, like Metro Detroit.

    I wish people would stop assuming all wandering children must be free-range kids. Some may be, and some may be children of absent parents. And kids will ALWAYS try to see what they can get away with! Adults in the community can teach proper behavior, such as explaining that it’s impolite to ask someone for food– you have to be invited instead. When repeated by others, it reinforces what the parents have taught, showing that the rules really are ‘universal’ rules, as opposed to just a home rule.

  97. I know everyone kind of jumped on Brad for his comment, but I think we could also learn something here. If your child is old enough to be wandering around unsupervised, then they are old enough to know manners and proper social behavior. They should not be going to others homes and asking for food. They should be taught to go home when they are hungry to get a snack, UNLESS it is offered. It sounds like the kids on Brad’s street are not doing this. Also, he mentioned children as young as 2 wandering around. I think we can all agree that is WAY too young to be going all over the neighborhood unsupervised. Sure he should set limits, but first and MOST IMPORTANTLY, those children’s parents should be setting the limits and finding out if it’s OK if their kids can go to his house for food and entertainment. Not everyone want to have 20 kids hanging around their home all day, and that’s OK and should be respected without making anyone feel guilty. I also agree with his point of adults need to get out more with their kids. My mother talks about when she was little she lived in a neighborhood where the kids would play with each other outdoors everyday and ride bikes in the streets, but there seemed like there was always at least a couple of parents outside that kept an eye on things. They weren’t there to directly supervise, but they might be working in their garden, playing football or basketball with the kids, walking their dogs, or sitting on their front porches chatting over tea as they kept an eye on the littler ones. The neighbors all knew each other well because they were outdoors more and got to know each other more. We adults spend way too much time indoors today, as well. And the kids knew their boundaries, as well. We need a free range community effort. 🙂

    disclaimer: In no way was I saying that anyone on this list has not taught their children proper manners or boundaries when it comes to roaming the neighborhood. I was strictly speaking about Brad’s situaltion and in general of situations I have personally observed. 🙂

  98. Would a partial solution to the “missing child” issue be to have the child always have a cell phone on them? That has helped with my free range ways. Oh and the 2 mile walk thing…I would be fine with it if she was with a friend…just not alone…it wasn’t the distance thing..

  99. It depends. If an 11 year old or any age person is missing under very suspicious circumstances where you know that something odd or bad has happened then that alert NEEDS to be sent out immediately because every second counts. However just missing and could be just fine is a little jumping the gun.

    When a child is little enough that they would not have gone off on their own safely or with parental approval like a toddler or small child then the issue should be sent out right away if you feel the child is in danger.

    If an 11 is spotted getting into a car with a stranger then I would expect

    the alert to go out right away. But if he is just not in the house and could be anywhere they need to wait and look first.

  100. In Brad’s defense as well I do know the type of parents he is referring to and yes, they do exist in abundance. They are not just free rangers though. They are more like just lazy. So I am on your side Brad, but it is not the free rangers to blame.

    I have encountered these kids my entire life and I feel oh so sorry for them. I had them around when I was a kid and I have seen them as an adult. I don’t see them as much now, but I have met my share. The parents will just send the kids out to play to leave them alone and not care if the kids end up bothering someone else. There was a sweet little girl in my cul de sac when hubby and I were first married. I talked to her and would sit out on the porch with her and play board games or do puzzles, etc. I was afraid to invite her into my house because you never know what someone might accuse you of. She was knocking on my door everyday. She often smelled of pot smoke. I know the smell.

    One day she shows up at my door asking if I would walk or drive her to the McDonalds down the road because her mother told her to ask me because she needs lunch but her mother doesn’t want to be the one to go with her. I don’t believe the child was making this up. Her mother did not want to get off her own lazy ass and walk her down there herself. I knew they didn’t have a car. I told her that she needed to get her mother to do that and sent her off. I hope she managed to get lunch that day. I eventually had to start distanceing myself because she started showing up at my door too much and the whole McDonalds request freaked me out.

    So I validate Brad that those type of parents DO exist. I have met several in my lifetime. But it is not free rangers that are responsible for it. More like the lazy druggy parents.

  101. Also in Brad’s defense to Anonymouse, it is really really REALLY hard to ignore a child when you feel sorry for them. If a sweet kid is lonely and wanting to hang with me or us as a family, I have a hard time turning them away. I can tell when they are truly truly lonely and it kills me to send them away even though I have done it. It is also really kinda awful to give for example my kids a popsicle right in front of another kid and not offer one to that kid. Not that this has happened since there are not any kids like that around here currently, but you get the point.

    So just telling Brad to send them away or not give them food is not as easy as all that.

  102. Some of the comments about college kids not being able to do things for themselves (or parents not letting them) had me laughing.
    For part of my career, I was instructor at a millitary engineering school, and the number of stories that my collegues who instructed the younger students (18-20 yr olds) told me of parents who called them to complain about grades, lack of sleep, and who was supervising them on their time off, really made me laugh. Really, these are grown men and women in thier first full time employment, my one friend would calmly reply, “ummm you know they are in the military, and you cannot fix anything for them right? one mom wanted to call our CO to complain that her son was living in a room with 3 other people. I fear there may be a whole generation of completely helpless people in the making.

  103. In my neighborhood, my daughter knows what snacks I have that are available to share with friends. I buy stuff in bulk that she can share, and other parents do the same. We all know each other and whose kids have what allergies, and buy and distribute snacks based on that. But it’s my kid who is in charge of getting snacks. If someone else’s kid approached me asking for food, I’d send that kid home to eat.

  104. “Yeah it is. Those of us who work with the poor on a regular basis are amazed at the lack of true understanding in the general public for how poor some people are in America. ”

    Donna, I was referring to specific people. They DO know it exists. I realize many people don’t. I agree with everything you’re saying, about people in general. But the people I was talking about, they do know these things exist. There are reasons why I can confidently say that. But their perception of what it is like and how scary it is to be close to it, is somewhat distorted due to lack of close familiarity.

    “Do you never leave suburbia?”

    I know this wasn’t directed straight at me, but answering for myself, I live in an outlying part of the city itself, but I have little reason to go deeper into the city — at least to go to the downtown area of my city. (I go plenty of other places.) Retail is leaving downtown in most places, and most of what is downtown has more convenient locations closer to my neighborhood. I’m a SAHM, so I don’t go downtown to work. The only real reason for me to go downtown has to do with doctor and/or hospital visits, and my primary physician is in the suburbs. The major medical buildings downtown all have parking areas within a block, sometimes on the same property. I suppose if I had business to do with the city or the county, I would have to, but I haven’t ever had city business that can’t be handled by mail or online, and the last F2F county business I’ve had was jury duty, three years ago. We’re a small city, so the panhandling problem is small enough to be discouraged near government buildings and during the times I’m likely to be downtown, anyway.

    So without “avoiding” going downtown, there’s actually little reason to take me there anymore. I don’t think I’m that unusual.

  105. The problem with the defenses of Brad is that they require the assumption that the kids in question are there because they aren’t getting appropriate attention at home.

    And I acknowledged in my comment that that’s *possible.* The problem is, Brad gives us no positive reason to think that. The underlying theme of his comment is that it is a problem *because the kids are there instead of at home or being watched by their own parents,* not because he has any actual reason to think they’re being neglected — except that he seems to think that if kids are roaming the neighborhood without their parents, they’re neglected or at least inadequately supervised. So they wind up in his yard eating his food because he tries to solve a problem *that may not even exist* except in his own mind.

    If he comes back and explains that he has an actual reason to think the kids are there because if they went home, they *wouldn’t* get fed, or *wouldn’t* be wanted, then I’ll gladly concede. But the tone of his comment was much more “there are kids outside without their parents, therefore by definition there is a problem, therefore I have to take responsibility for them.” Perhaps he left something out, perhaps I’m reading something in. But from what I read, there’s at least an equal chance that he needs a caution against taking responsibility to solve a non-existent problem, as that there’s really a problem. And his past comments on other threads indicate that his attitude *is* that kids shouldn’t be out and about without parental supervision.

  106. You do also have to consider that regardless if the children can get food at home or not, they should not be there begging for food and an adult to play with them. They should be getting those things from their own parents. They should be taught that they should not be asking for food at others homes. Parents should be involved more and talking with Brad and knowing the situation. If my kids told me they ate cookies at Mrs. Jone’s home, I would ask, “Did you ask for a snack or did she offer first?” I would also make sure I know Mrs. Jones well enough that the next time we are chatting I would bring up the fact my children ate cookies at her house and thank her for graciously giving them a snack. Then I would confirm that they weren’t asking for food and that she was offering. It is hard to turn down hungry children if you have a heart and if you aren’t sure whether or not their parents are meeting their needs. I would also mention to Mrs. Jones if my children ever did ask for food, to please send them home, because it’s not her responsibility to feed them. That way she feels comfortable knowing what our policy is and that we are taking responsibility for own kids. It’s like I said earlier, we need, as adults, to get to know each other in our neighborhoods better. Then there is no question about certain situations. And I still stand by my original observation that 2 years old is too young to be roaming the neighborhood. Brad did say he had children as young as two coming to his home. That in and of itself is an issue and shows bad judgement on the parts of the neighboring parents, unless they are with a responsible older teenage sibling who’s sole duty is to keep an eye on the toddler. Two year olds can just get into too many situations where they can be seriously hurt or killed in the blink of an eye and can’t just be randomly tagging along throughout the neighborhood with an 8 year old sibling who is busy playing – as it should be.

  107. “You do also have to consider that regardless if the children can get food at home or not, they should not be there begging for food and an adult to play with them.”

    Right. But Brad can only control Brad’s reaction, not the parents’ behavior in failing to train their kids how to behave to the neighbors. So, the initial advice to simply not let them freeload is the solution. Again, the problem is not that the kids are out there, unless there is a problem that has not been stated. And, they may only be begging for food and attention because Brad saw them out there, and began assuming the responsibility of food and attention before it was even asked for. As I said, his past comments on other topics indicate that this may be the case, since he seems to believe that kids being out without parents is bad in itself.

    The two year old might be a problem. But Brad was portraying *the whole situation* as a problem. I contend that the situation in general is not a problem, unless there are things that Brad did not tell us. IOW, the situation he described is not a problem, therefore it should not have been presented as one. The situation he failed to fully describe, might be.

  108. I also wanted to add that I think it’s the automated phone service that everyone thinks is going too far. I think we all agree it’s reasonable if your child was told to be home at a certain time and then two hours past and they didn’t show up it would be unreasonable NOT to call the police. Also, if you were personally calling the neighborhood asking if anyone has seen your child, I think everyone would agree that would be reasonable as well. If the police were going door to door asking if anyone had seen or heard from the child, that would be reasonable as well. It’s just the automated system that costs $ that is perhaps going over the top.

  109. Very true, pentamom. And in this particular situation, he should be telling them to go home for snacks/attention. I was speaking more in general about how we could all learn something from this and try to improve our own neighborhood experiences. The more we can have neighborhoods where everyone knows everyone else, hopefully the more free range attitudes will be accepted. 🙂

  110. It’s been quite a while since I was a college freshman, but I can’t imagine parents acting in the manner described above. We did have a male friend who started to stink by the beginning of October, and shamefacedly admitted to my best friend that it was because he had no idea how to do laundry, and was too ashamed to try to just figure it out. My friend gave him laundry lessons at the weirdest time they could agree on, something like 2 a.m. Tuesday morning. He stopped stinking after that.

    But yeah, back then, the involvement of parents pretty much ended at move-in day. To keep buying books for your college kid, sorting out their schedule, micromanaging their academic progress, that’s just insane. In four years, they’re going to wonder why their kid just boomerangs home and will complain about their unwillingness to even do chores, let alone get a job. Though I’ve heard stories that it doesn’t even end there: these same parents will then call employers on their kids’ behalf.

  111. “You do also have to consider that regardless if the children can get food at home or not, they should not be there begging for food and an adult to play with them.”

    I agree. But we have only Brad’s perceptions, and Brad seems to have a problem with kids wandering the neighborhood without their parents. It could very well be that the kids are not begging for anything. Brad willingly offers attention and food and then feels put upon for doing so.

    Based on Brad’s tone and previous posts, I get the impression that kids end up in Brad’s yard to play with Brad’s kids because Brad doesn’t let his kids free range over to other people’s houses. Brad then feels compelled to entertain and feed these kids rather than simply letting everyone be. Accepting food when offered is a far cry from begging for food. Going to Johnny’s house to play and having Johnny get bored and ask his father to entertain them is a far cry from begging for adult companionship. Since Brad is very negative towards free range parenting in general, I tend to think that his viewpoint is a bit clouded as to what is actually going on and what these children coming to his house really want.

  112. “I think we all agree it’s reasonable if your child was told to be home at a certain time and then two hours past and they didn’t show up it would be unreasonable NOT to call the police.”

    I don’t agree with this statement at all. It would depend on the situation and the child in question. There are certainly cases when I would call the police immediately and other situations where I would not even after 2 hours. And I don’t think it’s ever reasonable to call the police if you haven’t done sufficient legwork yourself to find the child based on your own resources. Sufficient legwork may be none in the case of some evidence of foul play or dangerous situation (hiking in the wilderness, for example). Other times it would involve calling your kid’s friends, going to the place they were supposed to be, talking to neighbors — actually looking for your errant kid yourself before you bog the police down in what is likely a discipline matter.

    “If the police were going door to door asking if anyone had seen or heard from the child, that would be reasonable as well.”

    Depends on the situation. Is it likely that any of the neighbors would have heard or seen the child? Why didn’t you just ask them yourself before calling out the police?

  113. Sorry, I guess I did not clarify myself enough. 😉 We would all assume after 2 hours the parents would have exhausted all their resources of telephoning neighbors and friends and driving around looking for their child. I would think it would go like this:
    6:00 – child supposed to be home for dinner
    6:30 – child still not home, parents call all the friends and neighbors they can think of to try and locate child.
    7:00 – After no success parents spend the next hour driving all over the town looking for the child
    8:00 – After still not finding the child they phone the police for assistance
    Also, even if the parents already spoke to the neighbors, police would still talk to them, as well. It would be funny to think that the police were going to the neighbors homes to question them and then mother spoke up and said, “But we already did that.” and the police say, “Oh, well then we won’t bother.” 🙂 It’s just protocol in situations like this. 🙂

  114. Donna – I agree with you on this. The original story said the missing persons announcement was recalled after just 5 minutes. That means the child was somewhere that had a phone that got the call. I have to wonder how much leg work the parents did prior to calling the police.

    One day this summer I dropped my daughter off at the movie theater at 4 in the afternoon to meet some friends. She does not have a cell phone. At 10 that night I logged onto her facebook page and started asking where she was. Instantly 3 of the kids she had been at the movies with told me she was still there with a few other kids. Within 10 minutes she had borrowed a phone and called me. She got in trouble, not for being out that late, but for not checking in to tell me she was hanging out for longer.

  115. There is a prompt on every night with our evening news that says, “It’s 10 pm, do you know where your kids are?” and it’s usually sponsored by a company.
    My husband and I always laugh at who they are asking this question to, their target audience is probably NOT watching the news.
    If they were, they would have already called police!

  116. Robin and Donna,
    It’s hard to say how much leg work was done. However this program that was used is FREE to use and literally takes less than a minute to activate. No big deal at all. Plus, I’m guessing unless the parents were extremely lazy people, they were out looking for the two hours prior. If you are worried enugh to call the police, you are worried enough to be looking. We don’t know the circumstances and shouldn’t judge accordingly. There’s a myriad of circumstances that we couldn’t possibly know about.

  117. Pentamom don’t feel bad. I am a SAHM too and we live in outlying suburbia/rural. I also rarely do downtown unless we need to go to the hospital, the zoo, the children’s museum. Why go all the way downtown when there are much closer restaurants and banks, etc with ample parking?

  118. “If you are worried enugh to call the police, you are worried enough to be looking.”

    That’s not necessarily true. Many call the police as a first resort, not last. They may have looked for themselves. They may have also did nothing for 2 hours and then dropped it in the lap of the police. Considering the whole thing was cancelled after 5 minutes, the kid was not difficult to find and was not dodging his parents.

  119. I thought missing person(s) wasn’t suppose to be filed until after 24-48 hours? Or is there exception to children? Hmmmm…double standard or just plain ol ignorant paranoia?

  120. I think Brad feels obligated because deep down inside, he feels guilty for “locking up”/helicoptering his own kids. So when his own kids get bored from being cooped up in their home, they look to the parents. Parents are too paranoid to let them go out and play, so they compensate by paying more attention, or giving them things to get preoccupied (pretty much called spoiling). So when their kids’ friends come to play (obviously in their home because Brad’s kids aren’t allowed out), Brad and his wife automatically feel they need to do the same with the neighborhood kids. Brad, this isn’t about YOU, and how YOU feel. This is about your kids, and how THEY feel.

    Free range parents are not neglectful at all. Most work hard to provide for their family, which sometimes means coming home later. When I was growing up, me and my siblings learned to cook, do laundry, clean, and pick up after ourselves by the time were 6-7 years old. Coming home after school and no parents home from work yet, was normal to us. As was the routine that if they weren’t home yet, and dinner wasn’t made, we made dinner for ourselves. Of course it wasn’t a full on meal, but breakfast food is good anytime you have it. lol ie. eggs, bacon or sausage, oatmeal, even cereal. We ate, we got full, we did our homework. Then we’d go out to play with our friends…outside, sometimes even after the light posts went on. We learned to be street smart at a very early age, and we kept that with us as we got older. We had far more confidence, and self esteem than most kids our age. And we were also far more capable of taking care of things by ourselves. I instill those same core values and knowledge with my own. And I see the difference between them, and over protected kids. I also sometimes even see the envy in some of the parents eyes, when they see me with my kids, and how they are. Because I’m not constantly paying attention, being paranoid, and panicking at every little thing. Some have even asked me how come I’m not stressed out with my kids doing things on their own. I tell them, they understand (I know they do), but they let their fears over power them. It’s not the kids, it’s the parents. The kids just have to pay for the parents’ fears. Which is extremely unfair and cruel of the parents to put their own feelings ahead of their children’s. And no matter how they justify it in their heads, they all know they are in the wrong. Just because your a parent, doesn’t make you right all the time.

  121. I guess I’m a minority here. 😉 I don’t know. I just prefer to think the best of others. After all, free ranging is all about trust. Trusting your kids and trusting others. Not about being judgemental. Especially when we don’t know someone else’s situation/circumstances. I just think sometimes on this site WE tend to overreact to others and assume they are helicopter parents (or ironically, overreacting), when we don’t really know them or what the individual situation is. 😦

  122. *whistles* Brad! Brad, please come back! We need clarification! LOL

  123. EricS, I think there are specific rules for missing children. And that’s not really a double standard. If a 2 year old is missing from where she’s supposed to be for 2 hours, that’s more serious than if a 10 year old is in the same situation – and much more serious than a 24 year old!

  124. @Sarah, maybe your community is light-years ahead in terms of reverse 911, but I work for the agency that does it in my community and it certainly isn’t free (think taxpayer dollars, equipment costs, personnel costs, etc). And, while it may take “less than a minute to activate” it takes significantly longer than that to set up the area to be called, program it, and record the message.

  125. What Elizabeth said.

  126. Erics: Being free range has ZERO to do with being a working parent versus a stay at home parent. That is doing a huge disservice to all the stay at home parents out there. If you or your kids were latch key kids that is all fine and dandy but that does not make your parents any more free range than the stay at home mother who allows her kids to go down to the corner store and buy something alone or lets her kids play alone outside, etc. Both can be equally free range. If I have to work a job and never be home and not see my kids as much to be a free range parents than I guess I would rather not be free range.

  127. “It’s hard to say how much leg work was done. However this program that was used is FREE to use ”

    NOTHING that consumes time and resources is free. Maybe no bill shows up at the police department, but that does not mean it is free. And as I said, there is a non-economic cost — if people are all running around on high alert looking for a kid who was at the wrong house and didn’t call home, that’s a bunch of other stuff the police, and the general public, is less closely watching out for.

    And yes, Free Range is not about outside work vs. stay at home. Kids who have a parent at home can be Free Range, and working parents can drive themselves crazy thinking they have to be with their kids every moment they’re not working, and do everything for them. You see both types, and their opposite numbers, all the time.

  128. Thanks, Dolly, but I don’t “feel bad.” I was just explaining the circumstance to gramomster — how it’s possible to be comfortable with the downtown, but just find little call to be there and therefore not be exposed to specifically urbanized issues. But really, thanks. 🙂

  129. What this also says to me is that the parents had no connection with the community in which they lived. WHy call the police instead of friends? Why not call Jimmy’s folks and billy’s folks first? Even in our urban neighborhood I realize I could walk a 4 block radius and ask, “has anyone seen my son?” Even if they don’t actually know me, they visually know us – me and my kids. THey know who we are because we participate in the world around us. We are visually known by the store owners, cafe employees and residents alike. Get outside folks and meet your neighbors!

  130. I don’t think the parents overreacted. I think the police overreacted. I think a robocall alerting the entire town is an overreaction. I simply disagreed with you that is it is unreasonable to not call the police after a child is missing for 2 hours – meaning the only reasonable response would be to call the police.

    I don’t, however, see a point in filling in blanks in any story with only one set of possible facts and believing that must be the case. It’s not being judgmental to say that we have no idea what happened and A is as possible as B. Yes, it is totally possible that the parents exhausted every avenue to find their child themselves before calling the police. It is equally possible that they did not and simply called the police. I see no reason to choose one interpretation over the other based on the facts that we have. I don’t know the parents so I’m not going to assume that they are reasonable or not.

  131. The only time I have gotten a robo call from the police was when a mentally challenged adult was missing. I have to wonder, is that the case with this?

    And if something had “happened” say, along the lines of the 4 year old with autism who drowned, would the parents have been charged with a crime for not reporting it? Or the police held responsible had the child drowned or been hit by a car or something. (That is, assuming the child was not developmentally normal.)

    Without knowing more facts on this one, I have to say….it all depends on the facts we don’t know to say if this was overkill or not.

    As to the 10 year old with the baby monitor….that mom needs serious help. Granted, if something does happen to the kid, fingers will all point to the parents first as though they did something wrong, (Jon Benet, and Elizabeth Smart being cases where the moms/dads were accused, which was unacceptable police work in my opinion.) But those are NOT likely to happen to 99.999% of the families in the US.

  132. Cheryl, you hit another element to all this fear right on the head. The Nancy Grace “Blame Game”. I do believe (know for a fact) that many parents are sociologically gripped in worst-case-scenario-fear. It is shoved down their throats both with sledgehammer media soundbites and a more insidious subliminal intrusion…and it is taken as outright gospel. But equally troubling is the fear that SHOULD something happen to their kids (even a tragic household or traffic accident) then they will be subject to unspeakable gossip and accusation – by authorities and neighbors alike. Definitely an internal self-preservation. And the way we see parents attacked in the media (and subsequent comment pages) when something happens, who can blame them. Talk about a double does of paranoia.

    The monitor for a 10 yr old is an example of a greater pathology that is troubling this country. But these fears are so generally unfounded. Perceived “stranger danger” as opposed to genuine danger occurrence, to wit: how many kids are killed by house fires each year as opposed to the rare home invasion stranger abductions? And how many of the homes destroyed and lives lost had baby monitors…perhaps even security cameras?

    Paranoid parents WILL produce paranoid kids. The apple from the tree, if you will. Watch the kind of laws that are surely to come from this generation. All will be suspect. Eric Arthur Blair (Orwell) may have underestimated how bad this could become.

    I believe we ought to stay out of how someone raises their kids. After all, by today’s standards any “baby boomer” parent would be now deemed a horrible – even dangerous – parent for the way we all were raised and the freedom to roam and learn for ourselves that we all enjoyed.

  133. Hey Lenore,

    I have no way of contacting you, so I’m posting this link here.

    David Hembrow, who, with his family, emigrated to the Netherlands from Britain because of the Dutch cycling culture, posted a new entry on his blog about Dutch children cycling to school, complete with a video. Go check it out!

    This is how I grew up and how all Dutch children *still* grow up, and note please how David, a stranger who quite videos and photographs these kids, is greeted and then ignored, both by the kids and by ‘the authorities’. No one arrests him for ‘being a pervert for showing an interest in cycling children’ and no policeman would EVER arrest a kid for cycling alone to school. The idea!

  134. If I started getting automated phone calls every time some kid in my city was missing for a couple of hours, I’d stop answering the phone when that number showed up.

    It might sound heartless but that’s reality and I’d be willing to bet that many parents would just start ignoring the calls if they became a daily occurrence.

  135. I have a friend who freaks out if her 8 year old goes to the next aisle in Walmart screaming “brian” at the top of her lungs till he runs back her excuse is that Walmart is where all the crazy people shop my response has always been “he’s right there nothing is going to happen to him” but yet I was at her house the other night and i noticed that she has his bed backed into the corner against 2 windows on the second floor I made a comment about it since she also has a 4 year old that many kids have fallen out of windows and i know her 4 year old is an active child who does jump on beds. Her response was “nothing is gonna happen to them” same mom threw away the booster seat the day the baby turned 4 claims its ridiculous to use it any longer, but same mom freaks if her kids are playing in the yard without constant supervision claiming that kids get abducted everyday and she doesn’t know who her neighbors are. Meanwhile this is what is in our local new

    Deputies: Girl fabricated Clermont attempted abduction

    and this

    Deputies seek to prosecute girl, 13, for fake rape report

    No real reports lately though there are alot of “there was a strange man walking down the street” reports.

  136. Jennifer: see that is what I don’t get. Car accidents and childhood accidents are things that do happen everyday to everybody. I am way more cautious when it comes to those type of things than worrying about someone abducting my kids or molesting them or attacking us.

  137. It is easy to judge without knowing all the details of that family’s life. My child was abducted at age 3. She was recovered almost 3 months later halfway across the country. Throughout her life she has been at risk, as this was a parental abduction case where the abductor was not jailed. When my child was found back in ’01, she was with strangers the abductor had known for minutes before leaving her with them and leaving the state. He also left her in the care of different strangers when he was arrested and jailed on unrelated charges.

    During her younger years I would absolutely have called the police if she were unaccounted for- even if only a short time had passed. Why? She was in danger. When she was found, the police discovered evidence that her abductor was planning to leave the country with her within days. If she had disappeared at age 11 for an hour, I would have called the police and they would have reacted. I doubt the police would have publicly announced all the reasons for concern, and people would have judged me.

    I wish people would really try harder to look at things from another person’s point of view.

  138. A friend of mine brought to my attention this website. I did not know anything about this site and to be honest I had only thought about the term “free range” as applied to chickens. However, from reading the description on your site, I am a free range mom, I guess. My kids go to library, school, friend’s home, and parks by themselves quite frequently. (After around age 8, at least.) We are very involved in our neighborhood and community. The reason I am commenting now and that my friend showed me this site is because it was my child, I believe you are talking about. My 11 year old was told to be home at a certain time, 2:00pm, and did not show up, which was very much out of character. This can be concerning, because my child has asthma. We called everyone we could think of and drove around looking for almost 2 hours before we called the police. Thankfully, we recieved a call from the hospital right after this. He had been biking along some trails in a nearby park and had an asthma attack and had lost his inhailer. (He thought it might have fallen out of his pocket.) Thankfully someone came across him after some time, (who we did not know), and called for an ambulance. They were able to take him to the hospital and he is doing fine now. Actually the automated phone call system did not get a chance to do anything to help our child. The hospital called at that time out of coincidence. But of course right after we recieved the call, the officer at our home canceled the automated calls. Now you know the whole story. I would like to thank the few people on this site who chose to take the higher ground and not judge us when they had no facts. As for the rest, I hope you will be more compassionate in the future. Even though I will be continuing my “free range” ways, I will not be participating in this site, as it seems to be entirely too judgemental of others. We can show examples of being community connected and pass the word around without passing judgement on others.

  139. It’s good to know what the situation was.

    Anna, few of us were criticizing your decision to call the police, but instead the police’s decision to then call every home in the community (unless there was a special reason for concern, which it turned out there was).

    I’m certainly glad your son is all right now!

    her excuse is that Walmart is where all the crazy people shop

    I guess she would know…? I mean…? I don’t even…? Well, there are a lot of jokes I could make now at her expense, but I won’t.

  140. No one is judging anyone, Rebecca… Anne. The entire point is to guard against living in total panic that that type of occurrence is as common as a trip to the mall. While certainly horrifying to those it happens to, the fact is that It IS an anomaly.

    I had a friend whose young son was killed when a large truck tire fell off a flatbed and crashed through their windshield. Should I not let my kids anywhere near a car because, well…IT COULD HAPPEN? Sounds extreme, but that is becoming a conventional – albeit regrettable – thought pattern. I could totally understand if my friend was to be real jittery about driving his other kids around due to to what happened. I can’t walk in his shoes. I can only walk in mine, and I choose not to let fear rule.

    Stranger abductions are extremely rare, but that doesn’t stop the Chicken Little Society from there daily rounds. Spider bites, down tree limbs, bicycle accidents, trip and fall resulting in severe head injuries… so many scenarios that lurk around every real world turn, yet we give them little or no thought. If we did afford them the kind of thought we save for the strangers on the mind we wouldn’t ever leave the house. Stranger danger has become a national psychosis. Serious mental issue. Fear will do that. And as long as “it COULD happen” means “it WILL happen” in the minds of many of today’s parents, the fear will only intensify. All the people here are trying to do is create a sane environment where fear doesn’t rule the roost.

    I, like all, are glad your two events turned out ok and your children were fine.

    And as long as we’re talking about being judged, let us not forget that the founder of this site was referred to as “the worst mom in the world.”

  141. “And as long as we’re talking about being judged, let us not forget that the founder of this site was referred to as “the worst mom in the world.”

    EXACTLY, Lee! So why are we turning around and justifying judging others? The whole story that started these posts was about why it was overreacting to call the police after your 11 year old is missing for 2 hours. After hearing the whole story we can all agree it was NOT overreacting. She had an asthmatic child who was not home 2 hours after being told to be home, which was completely out of character for her child. Knowing your child was asthmatic and usually very responsible, I would bet you might be worried, as well that he was hurt. She was not afraid of abduction. Yet that was the conclusion everybody drew from the story in which we had no details. And she certainly does not seem to have irrational fears, as she mentions he goes all over the neighborhood by himself daily. That is not fear and calling the police showed good judgement.

  142. Thanks for letting us know the circumstances. I am glad your son was okay. I said it would depend on the circumstances to know if this was overkill or not and in your case, it wasn’t. I have an asthmatic child as well as another special needs child and like you, I have more cause to be worried if my children go missing since they are a little more fragile than other kids.

  143. Elizabeth,

    Because it has little to do with a specific circumstance. The gist (at least as far as I can tell) of the entire FRK movement – as it applies to the speed-dial mentality of the panicked – is NOT to punch a ticket to the land of worst-case-scenarios when a child is late upon arrival. Granted, there is always justification when there is a medical issue in tow, and if it were my child with such a grave malady, yes, I would be of heightened concern. Such actions should spurn little debate. The bigger picture this quick trigger phobia promotes, though, is one that will soon take us from 2 hours to 2 minutes before the 911 is made. Other words, we are treating ALL tardiness or out-of-sight moment as though it is imminent danger – medical or otherwise – and soon we won’t be able to discern innocent from the true emergencies. Crying wolf at the drop of a hat is going to come back and bite all parents eventually.

    ALL kids, all people, are precious. And they were when we were growing up. The Nancy Grace soundbite phenomenon latches like a pit bull to a specific case for months and years at a time. Ignoring the thousands (millions worldwide) of children who are subject to home abuse, starvation, no medical aid, and those we lose to drugs, alcohol, guns, and speeding at sixteen. They just don’t make for the same compelling and riveting copy. To wit: The tragedy in Norway. 68 teens were mercilessly and brutally gunned down, yet it got bumped to page 3 below the crease in a matter of days and out of our consciousness in a week. 68 cold blooded murders! I submit that if that lunatic had lined them all up and touched them in anyway…then released them unharmed…there would have been an international outcry that would be the lead story for a year.

    We have created a mental epidemic with no antidote. Not judging anyone. This fear, though – left unaddressed – will touch us all sooner or later.

    If only we could keep the frantic calls to those who need them. I believe that horse has left the barn.

  144. “The whole story that started these posts was about why it was overreacting to call the police after your 11 year old is missing for 2 hours.”

    Not exactly. Here’s the the original writer’s complaint:

    “That’s right, he was missing for TWO WHOLE HOURS before the police called every single person in the city, asking for any information whatsoever regarding his whereabouts.”

    She was complaining about the quick reaction time of the police, not about the parents’ reaction.

    So, no judging of parents in sight, but rather a complaint about a perceived excessive police procedure. And I think in light of the “whole story,” that complaint continues to have validity. Would it not make more sense to check medical facilities when you have an unexpectedly missing child with a known health problem before sucking the entire community’s resources into a hunt for a kid who was actually *not out in the community?*

  145. When did having a different opinion become synonymous with judging someone? Seems that no matter how it is worded, if the comment is not “Oh, I agree 110%” then it’s judgmental, amongst other things.

  146. “Would it not make more sense to check medical facilities when you have an unexpectedly missing child with a known health problem before sucking the entire community’s resources into a hunt for a kid who was actually *not out in the community?*

    Pentamom, that’s a bit harsh, don’t you think? We can always look back as afterthoughts on what we shoud have done differently. (A child drowns and why didn’t the mother watch him closer?) Besides, who says she didn’t call the hospital first but he was not there yet? She didn’t say either way. Also from what she said, he WAS out in the community for a while, at least before taken to the hospital. Again, let’s not ASSUME anything. Besides, she was not “sucking the whole community’s resources”, or anywhere close to it. Google “A Child is Missing” and research it for yourself. It is a COMPLETELY free program offered to communities. Your community pays NOTHING for it. One officer is all that is needed to activate this automated service. That’s it. It’s actually more productive and less expensive than sending several officers out scouring the neighborhood.

    “When did having a different opinion become synonymous with judging someone? Seems that no matter how it is worded, if the comment is not “Oh, I agree 110%” then it’s judgmental, amongst other things.”

    Socalledauthor, this does not have to do with opinions. This has to do with judging someone’s circumstance unfairly without facts. If you read through the comments, you’ll find many of them (not all) were saying how ridiculous it was to call the police after two hours and how ridiculous it was to have automated phone calls put out. However AFTER we found out the details, I think most everyone agreed in this situation it was a good thing. There’s nothing wrong with stating an opinion on something you know the details about, but when we have little to no information about the situation, then it becomes wrong. Can you imagine thinking you are doing a great job teaching your children to be self sufficient and giving them the old fashioned childhood they deserve and then to have something bad happen and find out through a friend that the very people who should be supporting your way of raising your child, (free range parents), are taking your situation and assuming your are an overprotective helicopter mother who freaks out when her child is out of her site for 2 hours? I would think it would hurt. I’m also sure it’s a very real possibility that this poor woman has gotten criticism from others who don’t believe in a free range phylosophy telling her that she should have kept her fragile child closer and not let him out alone. She just can’t win either way. 😦

  147. Sarah: I will defer to you now before forming my own opinions on what issues a situation has to do with, as you are clearly the authority.

    No other opinions are valid. And all people who feel judged by differing opinions, regardless of how worded, are correct that the whole word is out to get them. I’ll keep that in mind.

  148. “It is a COMPLETELY free program offered to communities. Your community pays NOTHING for it.”

    That is physically impossible. Someone has to pay for everything that occurs that requires time and technology, unless you manage to get the electric and phone companies to work for free and have an all-volunteer police force and staff. If someone other than “your community” is paying for it, you are still sucking up someone’s resources, and probably eventually your own, in the form of taxes to some higher level of government.

    My point wasn’t that they should have known that the child wasn’t in the community. But here’s the situation: you have a child with a known health problem. You have police who should have a protocol in a situation like this. Which makes more sense as a protocol in a case like this: first, check medical facilities to see if anything is known about the child, or first, contact thousands of people, 99.9% of whom won’t know anything, even if a couple do?

    It just seems obvious that FIRST, you check the health facilities. In fact, that’s what people used to do on their own if loved ones on the road weren’t heard from — start calling the hospitals. IOW, first, you check all the possibilities that are reasonable given the circumstances. There should be a protocol different from, “The first thing we do is cast a wide, untargeted net.” As others have said, if you make this the first response every time, people stop listening to the messages out of fatigue or a sense that they’re run of the mill.

    And as for “sucking up resources,” it’s simply a fact of human nature that if everyone is attuned to looking for amassing child that chances are they will have no contact with (whether they’re aware of that or not), there are other things they won’t be doing/noticing/prepared for. Is it likely to create some kind of nightmare scenario? No, it’s not. But the cost has to take these kinds of factors into consideration. There is no free lunch, either economically, or with citizens’ and a police force’s time, energy, and attention.

    And it would not have had to be done if someone had thought, “There’s a missing child with a medical problem. First, call the hospitals, THEN put out a general alert.”

  149. Sorry, “if everyone is attuned to looking for amassing child”/”if everyone is attuned to looking for a missing child”

    Can’t even blame that one on spell check.

  150. “It just seems obvious that FIRST, you check the health facilities.”

    I agree with this. If I had a child missing, I’d hope that that’d be one of the the places on my list to check before calling in the police and should clearly be the first place the police check before notifying an entire town 99.9% of whom will likely know nothing. I don’t have a child with asthma or any other medical issues but the likelihood of my child getting hit by a car, falling off her bike or being seriously injured in some way, while very low, is still monumentally higher than her being a victim of something that requires police attention.

    A worried parent can certainly be excused for overlooking an obvious place to look and defaulting to the police. The police should have procedures that require contacting places where the child likely can be found before sending out the bat signal to the entire city (thus getting half the people in a panic that there may be some crazed pedophile out there stealing children since that seems to be where many minds go first when a child is missing).

  151. I was not going to get back on here, but when people are talking about your family and assuming you did the wrong things, it’s hard to stay away. Just so everyone is clear, the medical facilities WERE CALLED FIRST. It’s just that our son was not there yet. He was still on the trail trying very hard to remain calm so he could breathe and praying someone would find him. We even checked some of those trails around the park that he normally used but he was on one he hadn’t riden on before. In retrospect we should have checked them all, but at that point we were trying to cover the areas he would most likely be since we were beginning to be very worried, as this is NOT his personality. (He’s a very responsible kid and his asthma has not even historically been that bad.) As soon as he arrived the hospital knew we were looking for him and phoned us immediately. Why is everyone trying to justify themselves by assuming I was overreacting and following the wrong steps to find my child? I’m an educated person and I feel I am qualified to judge what is best for my child. Please don’t assume otherwise. Also, just to clarify, “A Child is Missing” alert system is run on a completely donation basis, to the best of my knowledge, and as for the 2 police officers we worked with, I know they are paid and we were taking them away from the community, but I feel in this situation it was justified. Also, the police did get one phone call back from the automated system from a kind gentleman, (that we did not know and would not have called), who mentioned seeing a boy with our son’s description biking on those trails earlier. At this point, someone else had already found him and he was recieving medical attention at the hospital. But if he hadn’t of been, then that phone call very well may have saved him. So I think this system can be a good thing, if it’s not abused, which I don’t believe we did. Again, thanks to those who assumed the best and showed my family compassion.

  152. Thanks for sharing Anna! I’m sorry for all your family has had to go through and we’re so glad your little boy is safe! 🙂

  153. I guess I don’t see much value in robocalls at all. They reach such a small subset of the community so as to not be likely to generate much meaningful information at all.

    I think these things just call land lines. I can count on my fingers the number of people that I know who have land lines. You dwindle that number down to one hand by just counting the people who actually use their land lines. You’re down to about 2 that answer their phones at all when they don’t recognize the number calling. Even if you call cell phones, I don’t have a local area code on my cell phone and 40,000+ people in my town are definitely in the same position – college students – and it’s pretty standard for people to keep their cell numbers when they move now (at one point in my office we had 4 attorneys who all lived within a couple miles of each other and yet we had phone numbers from 4 different states).

    Just because something is subsidized by donations, doesn’t mean that it’s a good use of money.

  154. Anna, again, I, at least, and I think most people here, weren’t saying *you* were over-reacting.

    We were saying the police’s response of an immediate robo-call was not warranted. And remember, *it didn’t help,* so if you realize that we’re not criticizing you, I hope you don’t feel the need to defend it.

    I never suggested *you* didn’t call the hospitals, but I would still contend that another alert should have been sent directly to the hospitals *by the police* before it was broadcast to the community — the police have the means to do that faster and more thoroughly than you do. If Sarah’s description that it takes only a very small amount of time to set up and issue a robocall is correct, then the likelihood is extremely high that the hospital would have responded positively to a police call before they had a chance to call you eventually.

    I know a lot higher percentage of people with landline phones than Donna does, but even given everything she said, here’s the other kicker — since it’s a landline, you have to be home *and* able/willing to answer it for it to do any good.

    So I think it’s fair to question whether robocalls, which sound like a good idea, justify the expense. Remember, even donations are money that could have been used more effectively, if in fact the thing they’re being used for isn’t efficient.

  155. I don’t know about the robocalls being worth it or not. I figure if people want to donate to such a system, it’s their business. And if the hospital hadn’t called, like I said, a gentleman that we did not know and would have never called DID respond back saying he had seen our child, which I think would have been a blessing if he had not been found by another person we did not know. Which beings up two points: 1. Our child was seen/rescued by people we did not know, and therefore all the phone calls on our part would never had helped. and 2. They were strangers! And yet our little boy was fine. Better than fine. He was helped. This is the story that should be published on here. Child in trouble and yet he is helped by strangers. Not taken away. I truely believe that most people are good of heart and want to help. As for the dear police who assisted us, the first thing they did was take his description. Then they asked us who we had contacted/called and where we had looked. Then, since finding out he was asthmatic, they called the local medical facilities again for us. Of course he was not there quite yet. After that they told us about this system that would call all local homes AND businesses to make people aware so they can keep their eyes open for him. They activated this, which took a phone call and then about 15 minutes later, the calls were issued. So apparently it was protocol for them to call the medical facilities before calling the neighborhood. Now the next question for our family becomes where we go from here since we know his asthma has the ability to get this bad. We’re discussing either getting him a cell phone, (which I just hate the thought of kids carrying around cell phones), or make a general rule that he always needs to be either somewhere there are other people or with a buddy if he chooses to go out riding somewhere not quite as populated. I’m leaning towards the second, but I also know my son is a very deep thinker, meaning that he enjoys solitude to think things over every so often. (Most of the time he’s paying with his siblings and friends, but still he likes his quiet time to ‘mull over ideas’.) He loves writing stories and he often comes up with his ideas biking alone. So maybe the cell phone? I just don’t know. :/

  156. Anna, I totally believe you belong here. 🙂 I think most comments are going to be meant *in general* and not always going to apply to individual situations. Lenore is very supportive of parents doing what works best for them given the options they have, with tools to try and change those options (no sidewalks = install sidewalks; “walking school buses” as examples of barriers to walking or riding to school).

    I’m very glad your son was found and that these strangers were willing to help! Lenore has shared a past story where a man in England, out of fear of being accused as a molester, didn’t stop to help a very small child and she ended up drowned.

    Please do stick with us. We may get loud and vehement, but we’re all after the same goal. 🙂

  157. “I figure if people want to donate to such a system, it’s their business.”

    Sure it is. But when you donate to something, don’t you like to know that the money is doing the *most* possible good?

    And what Laura said — in your case, the robocalls didn’t hurt anything, I know. And they might have helped, had the situation been different. But the question most of us are asking is, “Is this a good policy, in general?” Does it help *enough* to be worth the cost (to whomever) and the risk of using resources inefficiently?” Asking those things is not meant to reflect in any way upon you, or take away from the difficult experience you had.

  158. Anna,

    Thank you so much for coming here and sharing.

    Reading your posts reminds me about point often made here about Free Ranging, we have the right to trust ourselves and our children and to make the right choices for our situations.

    You responded great. Your kid is safe. If that first person had not come to his aid, the robocall did offer one lead, so that potentially worked.

    As mother of asthmatic 2 year old that wants to free range, I’m glad to know there are parents out there from whom I can learn.

  159. “I figure if people want to donate to such a system, it’s their business.”

    That depends on how the system was funded. Was it a specific donation to get a robosystem? In that case, sure, people can spend their money however they want. Was it from a general donation fund? In that case, the money needs to go to the most beneficial uses.

    “Now the next question for our family becomes where we go from here since we know his asthma has the ability to get this bad.”

    I used to like to go walking in the woods by myself and I wouldn’t have liked being required to have someone come along every time. I usually went there when I didn’t want anyone yaking at me.

    If I remember correctly, you said he lost or forgot his inhaler which made the situation worse. Hopefully this scared him enough that he will be very careful with his inhaler from now on. Since he likes to ride alone, I’d suggest maybe getting some pants that his inhaler can’t fall out of (cargo type pants or shorts with a secure pocket). Or a pack of some sort that he can attach to the bike to put his inhaler in. As for the cellphone, you could limit its use to just when he’s out riding by himself.

    It is a difficult situation. Your son seems like a very intelligent and responsible young man. Involve him in the decision. He may give you compelling reasons to go one way or another or come up with something completely different on his own.

  160. […] charges if she lets her 5th grader ride bike to school (more); “An Alert for an 11-y.o. Missing for 2 Hours?“; “As recently as 1979, a first-grader […]

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