A Walmart Abduction Attempt — And What the Video Means

Hi Readers! By now, you probably have seen the shocking video (below) of 7-year-old Brittney Baxter fighting off a would-be kidnapper in the toy aisle of the Bremen, Ga., Walmart.

What you may not realize is that this is a scene you will be seeing forever — replayed on the news and then re-imagined on “Law & Order” (though the show will change the name of the store, or maybe the guy will be kidnapping twins). Then you will see it playing again in your very own brain when you wonder to yourself, “Is it safe to let my child play in the toy aisle while I get some fruit?”

And the answer may well be: “No! Are you kidding? It only takes a second for someone to snatch a child! Let’s go to the videotape!” And your brain will be right — and also very wrong.

First, let’s give props where props are due. Brittney did everything right. Snatched by a stranger, she screamed and kicked, making the guy almost immediately drop her and run. This is a textbook case of a kid realizing that someone is out to hurt her and making a big scene. Most criminals hate scenes. So what I’ve taught my kids and others is to recognize abuse and resist it. This same knowledge also will help them in the 93 percent of abuse cases that involve not a stranger, but someone they know. So that’s all good.

What is not so good is the fact that Brittney’s attempted abduction is going to be the file many parents call up when they think about whether their kids are ever safe apart from them. As Brittney’s mom said in an interview, she doesn’t want to take her eyes off her daughter ever again.

That’s understandable — what a horrible thing the whole family just lived through! The other thing they just lived through, however, is proof that their little girl can handle herself in a terrible situation that is, thank goodness, rare.  How rare?

Rare enough to make news across this country and, thanks to that video, the world.

When we base our everyday decisions on exceedingly rare events, we are not making ourselves safer. In fact, as David Ropeik — Harvard instructor and author of “How Risky Is It, Really?” — points out, after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, many people canceled their plane reservations. They didn’t feel safe flying, even though the attacks were an extremely rare event.

So instead, they drove where they were going. And according to separate studies at Cornell University and the University of Michigan, highway fatalities jumped by roughly 1,000 for the last quarter of 2001. People felt safer taking their cars. But they weren’t, because airplanes are safe.

So are Walmarts. So is turning your head away when you are out with your 7-year-old.

It’s hard to believe after seeing this video. It’s even hard to write, because I’m so glad the girl is alive and well. But the truth is that there will be millions of parents at Walmart this weekend, along with millions of kids. They will shop, pay and leave (probably with some extra chips they promised themselves they wouldn’t buy).

When we worry about the safety of our loved ones, we won’t flash on videos of those mundane shopping excursions, because we never will see them. Never. What we see are the plane crashes. The towers falling. Brittney. And instead of saying a little prayer and going boldly forth, we press rewind and live in fear.

The news shows bring us this story ostensibly to celebrate the little girl’s bravery. In reality, it is one of the many assaults they make at our own. Fight back as if your own soul was being abducted. — L.

370 Responses

  1. You are so right, Lenore! (You were also the first person I thought of when I saw this video.)

  2. This little girl did exactly what she was supposed to do – kick and scream. I hope that people heard that message and not that it’s never safe to leave your child unattended. Even when you’re a couple aisles away. I certainly remember my parents letting me wander around Target or wherever when I was a kid. I even did it at Home Depot. It was much more exciting to me looking at model kitchens than sticking by my dad while he was grabbing paint or manure or whatever else he was doing there.

  3. I hadn’t heard about this but you’re right: she did exactly what she should have done (and what I was taught to do in a similar situation).

    I hope parents see the whole situation as a learning tool for what to do in a (rare) situation like that……but I know they won’t.


  4. I hope that people apply some perspective to this situation and realize how ill-fated it was to begin with – the would-be kidnapper had to have been out to win the 2012 Darwin award for trying to snatch someone in a store with cameras, monitored exit ways, and dozens of by-standers and employees. You can’t even get away with shoplifting a pack of gum there much less a 60 pound girl. Stoopid.

  5. I have seen all the comments now about the Mother being crazy to leave her 7 year old all by herself while she was halfway across the store. Way to blame the victims! It’s always easier to try to do that so that we can feel better about our safe little helicopter havens.

    I will admit that this incident crossed my mind when I let my 6 1/2 year old take her 4 (almost 5) sister to the restroom at our local grocery store. This particular store has a small “cafe” area and we had all our food settled to eat dinner. So, I let her take her sister while I waited with my other 4 (almost 5) year old daughter for them to return. The bathroom is probably 50 feet from where we were sitting.

    Guess what, they returned unscathed. I was more worried about someone saying something to them (or me) about them being alone for all of 5 minutes.

  6. My mother-in-law lambasted the mother for leaving the girl alone, and also the media for supposedly not noticing that the girl was alone in the first place. I didn’t tell her that I completely plan on leaving her grandsons in the toy aisle for a few minutes when they’re old enough, just like my parents did with me.

  7. I don’t blame the mom at all for wanting to keep her daughter closer. You need time to recover from that kind of a scare. Hopefully they move past it in time.

    As for me, my kids will continue to wander the aisles of the store when we go there, so long as they’re behaving themselves. They’ll continue to run on ahead when we go for a walk. I think the lesson from this case is that making a fuss can work. Make it difficult for the kidnapper and you improve your chances of being all right in that very rare situation.

  8. I don’t have a blog, but if I did, I’d post this story as “Child Not Abducted at Walmart.” Might I suggest that FRKers who do have blogs that discuss this kind of topic, do that? A dozen or so of that headline, and Google might even notice it.

    And I agree that I feel only sympathy for the Mom being afraid to let go of her child right now. We can just hope that in time, she’ll gain better perspective. But she wouldn’t be quite human if she didn’t have a sort of flight (as in flight from all possibility of such a thing happening again) reaction to something like that.

  9. The only thing this video and story made me think, is how intelligent and collected this little girl was to know what to do. Honestly, I didn’t feel fear for her, or even concern. I actually felt proud. The same pride you get when you see your child walk on their own for the first time, when they hit their first home run or get their first touchdown. Even when they take their first spill on their bicycle, stand up and dust themselves off, laugh and say “that was clumsy of me”, and carry on. She succeeded where many parents never give their children the credit they deserved. Mark one up for the kids. I hope more children have more opportunities to be empowered, so that they can feel confident to face any challenges they come across and succeed. I just hope that the mother’s new found fear does not escalate and rub off on her daughter.

  10. The reaction I’ve seen has been mixed. The child was seven, not three. I think most finger-pointers were more concerned about whether that particular store was the best place to let the child exercise independence. (People do love to hate Walmart).

    Personally I let my kids putz around in certain stores, and have since they were around 4. I am guided by instinct and common sense. There are places where I would not feel comfortable doing that. I notice things like whether there are multiple public exits, whether I can hear my kids from where I am, whether there are enough people around to notice if anything weird happened, etc. My kids are also developing their own sense of what feels safe in a public place (though mine doesn’t always agree with theirs).

    One thing to remember is that while stranger abduction is rare, it is more common for people to do nasty things to girls without physically removing them to another place. So I don’t think people are crazy for keeping their girls (or boys) in sight when a place doesn’t feel all that safe.

    But yes, this girl’s action is a great reminder to parents to teach kids how to react in the unlikely event they are ever grabbed. One commenter on another site said it well: there are 2 crime scenes in an abduction: (a) the abduction spot and (b) the place they take the victim to do . . . whatever. The goal is to not get to crime scene (b). Whatever it takes.

    Good job, Brittney, and whoever taught her what to do.

  11. When I ask myself exactly when this insanity began between the time I was a kid and my kids were born the thing I keep coming back to is the Adam Walsh case. Horrific thing to happen. But again, extremely rare and blown up EVERYWHERE in the media. And the one thing that has always struck me is when they talked to John Walsh the one thing he regrets is that he didn’t teach his son to make a scene like this girl did. That’s all it would have taken to save his life. Instead he apparently went quietly even though I’m sure he had to have known something wasn’t right.

  12. P.S. The video will not be playing over and over again in my mind. I haven’t watched it. When I read the location after the headline I stopped reading after that. That’s another problem that we have in this society. Yes, it’s a horrific news-worthy story. But not living in that area, it has no direct effect on my life. If there were a known kidnapper on the loose within 3 or 5 towns of me I’d like to know and be vigilant. But if it’s not in my local geographic area I don’t want 5 minutes devoted to it on my local news.

  13. The video showed a kid properly fighting back, and instead of lambasting the mom for being one aisle over, we should be PRAISING her for teaching her kid real life skills for rare “what if” situations. This child was NOT abducted.

    As a mom who has felt like the Old woman in the Shoe” at the grocery store at times, carting the 18-wheeler bench cart with a baby, toddler, and capable older child; I HAVE sent my 7 year-old to the next aisle alone to retrieve an item, so I don’t take out an end cap display with the giant cart. I’m sure I’m on surveilance video at my store for all of the displays I’ve taken out.

    The surveilance video is just sensationalism at it’s best. Now if they showed the real amount of fatal auto accidents involving kids captured on traffic cams around Georgia at a proportional rate…..

  14. My youngest daughter will sometimes practice being abducted. She has to do it outside because her scream is soooooo loud.
    I think there’s a little part of her that almost wants someone to try, just so she can really let loose. I don’t worry about her.
    When she was four she disappeared at a park. Completely disappeared. I knew that as a “good mother” I should be worried sick, but I hadn’t heard her scream so I knew she was okay. I got her big sister and we started looking, and listening. Sure enough, she was just fine. She was hiding under a picnic table in the shade, taking a break from the sun.
    After that I let her know she needed to tell me if she was going to go somewhere other than where she was supposed to be.
    Now days I send them to the park together without me. And I still don’t worry because my youngest practiced once, and I know I can hear her scream from my house. (And she now knows the story of the boy who cried wolf, so… no more unannounced practicing lest I fail to come running when it matters.)
    I’m proud of this girl for being brave and bold and smart in that situation. I hope all kids are so well prepared. I’ve had a conversation going on my facebook page and the consensus among my friends is that prepared kids are protected kids.

  15. Someone should be proud of knowing that he or she did a good job of teaching that little girl what to do if someone grabs her. That’s where the media focus should be. But instead, I’m sure the ensuing news coverage will be about the dangers of leaving children out of your sight for a second. People will use that incident as yet another excuse to restrict children’s freedom to be anywhere on their own.

    This incident was a one-in-a-million coincidence of a criminal encountering an unattended child. The reason it’s getting so much airplay is because of its rarity. If 1000 kids a day were getting snatched from Wal-Marts all across America, those abductions wouldn’t be newsworthy anymore because they would be so common. It’s like the difference between plane crashes and auto accidents. Plane crashes get airplay because they are so rare and graphic. Car accidents are commonplace and hardly ever rate making the news.

    @Ross, great comment about the would-be abductor being a Darwin Award candidate.

  16. A little off topic but my local news has a story about an apparent “rash” of deaths caused by TVs falling into kids. The solution? Never ever take your eyes off your kids for even one minute, even at home. And oh yeah, don’t put TVs on top of dressers.

  17. I hear that story and I think that, as awful as the situation was, how wonderful that it happened to a little girl who *knew what to do* and did it, and that she is safe and fine.

    I wouldn’t leave my son alone in the toy aisle at Walmart, but he’s three, and I’d be more worried about him wandering off and/or opening all the toys than I would about a stranger doing anything to him (other than, perhaps, corralling him when he started making a mess).

  18. I heard about this but haven’t watched the video and don’t intend to. It hasn’t affected my parenting at all. In fact we were at Wal-mart (in SW Washington State) the other day with our 1yo and 5yo. I was using the bathroom and my husband said he was going to go look at the books while they waited. As I was leaving the stall I found my 5yo daughter walking in. All I did was ask where Daddy was. He was still in the book section so she had walked herself over (about 30 feet). I waited outside in case she didn’t know how to get back to the books (it’s not an area of the store we hang around usually). She gave me a look like, “why are you waiting?”

    In fact she just left the house to go play with her friend. She lives down the street. Not worried at all. She does it all the time.

    Yesterday we were at Red Robin with the 1yo and our oldest (11 1/2). The older one forgot her book in the car and was bored so I told her to quit whining and go get it. She was like, “all by myself”. I just kind of stared at her. If she can’t handle walking across an almost empty restaurant and out to the car at almost 12 years old then I have failed as a parent. Finally she went and came back all proud. I just shook my head because the 5yo could have handled that (except maybe opening the door because it’s heavy). But the oldest has all sorts of anxiety issues.

    That little girl in Georgia did everything right and should be praised and feel awfully proud of herself. But what’s really going to happen is the mom will be vilified and become a social pariah who never lets her daughter have an ounce of freedom again. Poor kid.

  19. wow–very hard indeed. I remember as a kid several attempts to take me. Each time I did the right thing. Even when once, I had a gun pointed at me–telling me to get in the car–I ran. I was a young adult by that time–But My father’s words stuck forever in my subconscious:
    My brother and I use to travel by plane to visit our father and he’d always tell us to scream, kick or bite–if someone approached us in public–It’d be our only chance–once he got one of us alone–it would be over.

  20. This is off-topic, but I can bet there will be parents who will never let their kids ride a school bus again. You just never know when one will burst into flames. That’s what happens when we take our eyes off of our kids and let them ride a school bus without us. (that was sarcastic)

  21. On another forum where this came up, one person brought up the story of how “just last week” she looked out the window and saw a three-year-old neighbor walking down the street, barefoot and alone, two blocks from home. Her father thought she was napping, and this goes to show that “anything can happen” and after all, children get “raped and abducted and killed every day”.

    To which I had to ask which of the three happened to this little girl, and why the commenter didn’t walk her home.

    But what I’m really wondering is what on earth a three-year-old wandering off with her parents not realizing it has to do with a seven-year-old being left alone by her mom on purpose.

  22. Ask the victims of people like Jerry Sanduski if they don’t wish their parents had watched them a little more closely and not put blind faith in strangers. It’s not as rare as you may think. The potential harm a child may suffer hugely outweighs the extra effort it takes as a parent to keep an eye on your child. The world has changed since we were children.

  23. This must have been a really hard post to write. I think your message is so important. These events are frightening enough. Seeing them on video is hideous (though like some of those above, I have chosen not to watch it). But what’s almost worse is thinking about the effect the video may have on the nation’s psyche. I’m sure that part of the reason we in the UK have become more child-phobic (and we have) is because of the endless replaying of the security camera footage of those two boys dragging James Bulger off before they killed him. Not long after, and as a direct consequence, the age of criminal responsibility was lowered – it is now amongst the lowest in Europe. We put scandalous numbers of children as young as ten through the ordeal of a criminal trial. A once-in-a-generation nightmare episode, and the aftermath casts a shadow over generations of children.

  24. My local news station ran a story about this on facebook. The first comment went on and on about how kids aren’t safe anywhere and how you should never take your eyes off of your children and watch them constantly. I was lucky enough to get the second comment in. I pointed out that if you teach your children what to look out and how to protect themselves you WILL be able to take your eyes off of them.
    Apparently folks in NW Ohio aren’t as free-ranging as I had hoped.
    7? Children are much too young to be left alone at 7! Maybe…15? Yeah, I actually read comments that said they would not think about leaving their kids alone until they are least 15! And there were many more comments blaming the mother for this!!!!

  25. And what these commenters failed to realize was that this little girl was taught what, and did it, and survived! All at age 7!

  26. Growing up we had lots of freedom as kids, most everyone did. I made it ok. Some kids didn’t – that was the way it was. Everyone knew someone whose brother sister or cousin died or was seriously injured due to some mishap. It’s what happened. People had lots of kids and not all of them made it into adulthood. Darwin’s survival theory in motion. The kids who were unfortunate or tried something dumb didn’t survive until adulthood.
    While I fully agree that children need to learn responsibility and that danger isn’t lurking around every corner, the world is not completely safe to just let kids run free. It’s worth the extra trouble and inconvenience to be careful and watchful.

  27. Jolene-jenn To what degree do you propose one take this? The mother’s child was steps away according to what I read. Steps away. What kind of ridiculous standard are we holding parents to in suggesting such isn’t good enough?

    Besides, as the crime statistics show & Lenore always illustrates using said crime statistics to back up her point, these incidents are nowhere near as frequent as the media likes to make us THINK that they are. The odds of that child dying in a car accident are probably 1000 times higher, what are we going to do, stop driving everywhere?

    Think, people, THINK!.


  28. It’s worth the extra trouble and inconvenience to be careful and watchful.

    HOW MUCH extra trouble and inconvenience? And if the extra trouble and inconvenience start to have negative effects on the children, at what point is it no longer worth it?

  29. Teaching the kid how to handle things is much more important than pretending you can ALWAYS be there. Plus, those skills translate into competent adults who can also handle bad situations.

    We teach children to stop-drop-and-roll, not because we expect them to spontaneously combust at any given moment, but because if the fairly rare thing of them catching fire should happen, they know how to help themselves. Similarly, we should teach children that occasionally some person may try to do them harm, if that RARE thing should happen, you make a scene. Not because it’s common, but because it’s NOT common, and not a normal way to deal with problems.

  30. I heard that there were a lot of negative comments directed at the mother as a result of this video, which is sad, because the first thing that occurred to me was “that girl’s mother taught her right!” Fact: this adorable little girl was NOT abducted, in part because she was empowered to help herself. Anyone brings this up to me as a reason to helicopter is going to find themselves disappointed. Kudos to that little girl, and kudos to her parents.

  31. I am still going to send my kids to get stuff for me when we go to the store. My youngest is the same age as this girl. My kids all know the “Don’t go outside with anyone” and will not leave the store without me, or go into bathrooms or such with another person who tells them that I am there.

    I plan on showing this to my kids as to what to do when some one picks you up, and point out (without the sound on) how effective the girl was. We will also go over again how RARE this is. And what do do when the person acts nice and tries to get you to leave (which more kids are likely to fall for.) I see her as a role model for my kids…not something to scare them or me, but as an empowering model of what even a kid can do.

    Since I am also leaving the oldest two alone at the library, I have told them about a young woman who foiled some attempt at something here. A guy followed women into the library restroom (different one, not next to the police station like where my kids are going) and then, turned out the lights and started rattling doors. One girl (14 or 15) had the sense to PRETEND that she was calling 911 on a cell phone that she didn’t have. It scared him off. That had been his 3 time of trying this to women. He hasn’t been back, as far as I know. The other women actually did have phones and called.

  32. BTW, @ Ross – thank you for the Darwin Awards reference!

  33. Kudos,Lenore for puttiing a different slant on a terrifying story.
    I was ready to ask you (jumping the gun), how you would feel if your son (God Forbid) were ever abducted? Would you change your Free-Range kids thinking, your values? I’d like to know the answer. There’s nothing wrong with a parent being vigilante, not competely overbearing, and of course at age appropriate intervals. And we can’t live in fear for our children’s lives or they will never have one. But we must acknowledge to ourselves,that protecting our children regardless of what anyone thinks is our job as parents. I’m thrilled she hadebeen empowered to help herself and thankful she is OK. That is a rarity, so I believe in teaching them how to defend themselves, how to kick the tail lights out of the back of a car if they are tossed into the trunk, using a cell to give authorities a ping to a tower, screamiing “fire” instead of “help”, aas no one pays any mind to a kid who yells “help.” Or screaming “That’s not my mother, that’s notmy father.” And never ever if at all possible allow an abductor to take you from where you arebeing abducted to another location. Your chances of being found (alive at that) decrease significantly.
    Thank you Lenore. Great piece. Dawn Zamanis

  34. A nonsensational, helpful guide to teach your child how to protect him/herself is Gavin DeBecker’s book, Protecting the Gift. A survivor of childhood abuse, DeBecker approaches the issue in a practical manner. Every caregiver needs a copy!

  35. http: kathrynpetr helpful guide to teach your child how to protect him/herself is Gavin DeBecker’s book, Protecting the Gift. A survivor of childhood abuse, DeBecker approaches the issue in a practical manner. Every caregiver needs a copy!

  36. A helpful guide to teach your child how to protect him/herself is Gavin DeBecker’s book, Protecting the Gift. A survivor of childhood abuse, DeBecker approaches the issue in a practical manner. Every caregiver needs a copy!

  37. Great that the little girl knew better & I’m so happy she’s safe.
    Also, I PERSONALLY wouldn’t leave my daughter alone that far away from me at only 7 years old. That being said, she’s obviously a bright little girl, the mother probably thought it would be very quick & probably shops there often, so in her judgement it wasn’t risky and it’s her right as the parent to make that decision. On top of which, they obviously taught the girl well, so they don’t appear to be bad parents.
    As far as Dessie’s comment goes about letting her daughter take her other daughter to the bathroom- I think that situation is a little bit different. There were two children and you were within line of sight of them. While I agree with you that people shouldn’t attack this lady for doing what she did (though I do hope she is at least a LITTLE bit more cautious about going quite so far away again), I think that comparing the two situations isn’t quite justified.

  38. 1 out of 5 children experience sexual abuse, 53 children are sexually abused each day in the UK – those are just the reported ones. To me that does not qualify as rare.
    It is our responsibility as parents to protect our children and to teach them how to be responsible in an age appropriate way. I applaud the mother of the girl in Walmart for teaching her daughter do well what to do if approached inappropriately by someone. I feel sorry for her that she went through such a scare. But I am not surprised that she is now saying she won’t let her daughter out of her sight. Walmart is how many square feet? Probably not the kind of place to let your small child run freely. Places like Walmart, amusement parks, and other public places are where child predators look for unattended unwatched children. Why exposé our kids to this threat at such an early age just to prove a point or to give ourselves a more relaxing shopping experience by letting the toy aisle do the babysitting?
    How many parents leave your houses unlocked at night? How many leave expensive items out unattended? Why not give the same care and attention to our children. What’s worse – making them a little too cautious ( true not great) or just letting them run free and hope they beat the odds. We don’t do that with our valuable possessions – why do that with our kids?

  39. according to the mothers words she was in the grocery part and her daughter in the toys, In most Wal-Marts those 2 things are on totally opposite sides of the store,not sure I’d do that with a 7 y/o alone. But I’m glad it all worked out for everyone involved.

  40. Jolene-jenn, if you had done your homework, you will have realized that most incidents of sexual abuse are perpetrated by someone the victim already knows, NOT a stranger! It’s very rare that an incident like this happens

  41. This same situation could of happened had the mother been ten feet away with her backed turned! Would it of still been “her fault?” Good Lord! It’s not like she dropped the kid off at 8:00 am and said, “See ya’! I’ll pick you up at dinner time!”

  42. Hi Maggie! Actually I am very aware that most child abuse is not done by strangers. Most abuse on kids is by known people – friends or family members, sadly even parents – people who you would expect would be devoted to caring for and protecting them instead. If 1 out of every 5 children experiences sexual abuse and most is perpetrated by family members and friends it makes a sad statement on our society – it’s not always the safest place for kids!

  43. Beautifully said as always, Lenore.

  44. Anyway as someone said it is good everything turned out okay in this situation and that the girl knew what to do and the mom is okay and relieved her daughter is ok. I certainly wouldn’t blame anyone – we all make mistakes, look away or get distracted.

  45. Jolene-jen, I usually lock the doors at night only, but in the summer when it is hot, we have the windows open, with screens. So far the worst thing we have had to keep out was mosquitoes. I am pretty sure it will stay that way unless as my daughter ages she gets a suitor who thinks the window is the best way in. However, the dog WILL greet him and anyone else first. We even left the windows open before we had the dog. And yes, it is one level.

    Really, locking the doors is only a formality, and something that I do out of habit. I know perfectly well that our windows would let people in if they really wanted to get in.

  46. Jolene-jenn – See the problem is that most of the people here absolutely don’t consider this a “mistake” on the part of the mother. The mother made a conscious choice to let her child roam a short distance from her. The child was FINE. Scared, I’m sure, but FINE. In fact, she proved that she is 100% worthy of being allowed to roam a short distance away from her mother. A scary situation came up and she handled it like a pro.

    I certainly don’t want my child abducted but I don’t think me being with her 24/7 lest a scary event occurs is the right answer. She needs to be able to handle scary situations and know what to do in the case of an emergency because I am not always going to be present. She goes to school and other activities where scary things can happen. She goes to friends house where scary things can happen. She will eventually go to college where many scary things can happen.

    And I’m with Ross. You have to be a complete idiot to try anything at Walmart, let alone stealing a kid. Walmart is equipped with hundreds of cameras. From the moment you enter the parking lot, you are on video.

  47. I’m in complete favor of free range kids and agree with most people on this site. But I’m getting tired of that car v. airplane argument. It’s not about the statistics. It’s about control. If you were in an airplane that was experiencing problems and might crash, you have absolutely no control of the situation and the odds are that everyone on board is going to die and there’s nothing you can do about it. In a car, you have some options. You can brake, steer in a different direction, make different choices as to how you handle sudden danger. You can do SOMETHING. That’s the difference. That’s why people fear flying more than driving.

  48. “Ask the victims of people like Jerry Sanduski if they don’t wish their parents had watched them a little more closely and not put blind faith in strangers. ”

    And ask the parents of this little girl whether they trained their little girl not to put blind faith in strangers and to react properly when a stranger tries to hurt them, instead of being afraid of everyone and everything.

  49. @ Gail – It’s a false sense of control. We actually only take our own driving into account in believing that we have some control. We can’t control other people’s stupidity. I’ve been in many accidents. I was only actually moving in one of them. The remainder involved me at a dead stop and being struck by another car (once in the side and the rest in the rear). I had no more control over the situation than I have when I get into a plane.

    Further, how do you explain passengers? People were less afraid to RIDE in a car than they were in a plane. A car passenger has no more control than a plane passenger. I suppose if the driver becomes incapacitated, the passenger may be able to drive the car and few can fly a 757. But all the pilots suddenly dying at once is not really why people fear flying. The people were more comfortable flying because a hijacker is very unlikely to steal their car and drive it into a building.

  50. Lenore (do you mind my being ‘familiar’ in my address, it is meant as a compliment) you are a remarkable woman; as a 66 year old Oma, whose kids were pretty much Free Range (my parenting style was similar to my approach to caring for my plants, benign neglect, actually a couple of years ago my baby, 24 at the time, and working at the same small company as I, overheard me talking with a colleague about my older, 42 at the time, son and his wife’s ‘helicopter’ parenting. He stepped in and remarked, ‘Don’t listen to her, Laurie, her parenting style was ‘Are you bleeding, do you need to go to the emergency room? If not, go play and come back when you can play bridge or talk politics.’ I started to get defensive, then laughed when I realized he was right. The exception was they were always welcome on my lap while I was reading, especially if they brought their own book to read, too!) you’ve put words to the changes in parenting that worried me for my grandkids (your site is now one of my older son and his wife’s favorites, sometimes it takes a person outside the family to make the point) and our culture in a larger sense. So, kudos, thanks, and my great respect for your willingness to ‘push against the tide.’

    What really prompted my stopping to comment though is your last sentence. AMEN! Because it seems to me that in a real way, they are stealing our souls. It’s good to be reminded what’s at stake, which is being freely and fully human.

  51. Jolene-jenn, (a) Sandusky was NOT a stranger to his victims, and (b) I think it would be perverted for a mom to watch her pre-teen son in the shower.

    People need to understand that stranger abduction (or attempted abduction) is a completely different animal from grooming and abuse by a known authority figure.

  52. @Donna, well yes you are right that we can’t control other people’s driving. But still on an individual (not statistical) basis, we do have more options in a car. And if you’re the passenger, you can assume that the driver has those options you would have if you were driving. I’m sorry you were in so many accidents, not even moving…that seems like a lot. I’m just pointing out that people FEEL safer in a car because they feel that they are more likely to be able to do something to help themselves in a car situation than in a plane situation. I don’t have a scientific study to prove this, it’s just my impression, that’s all. It’s why I am less comfortable in a plane than in a car, whether passenger or driver. Maybe for others there’s another reason but the statistics of the probability of an accident are not helpful when trying to know why people feel that way.

  53. @ Gail –

    But as a passenger in a plane, you should assume that the PILOT has options. Planes are manueverable, have all sorts of backup devices and several people on the ground making sure that planes don’t come near each other. I think it has less to do with control and more to do with knowledge. You know how to drive a car so you have an understanding of the options available. You have no knowledge of the options available to a pilot. With a good dose of familiarity bred in. We’ve been in cars just about daily since birth. We fly infrequently. And, let’s face it, almost every plane crash is fatal while a very small percentage of car crashes are fatal.

    I actually have been in less than the average number of accidents for a person (which is about 10 lifetime). Mine have simply all been other people’s fault and almost all rear-end collisions (which is a tad odd).

  54. @Jolene-Jenn, I would also be a little sceptical about the 1 in 5 children being sexually abused thing. As a young person involved with looking after kids I used to believe that stat, until I found out that they count kids having been flashed by the dirty old man at the park as sexual abuse. Which, IMHO, is nonsense. If that is considered sexual abuse, then almost every child who ever walked down certain streets in Wellington was sexually abused.We had a harmless mentally ill man who sat on the street wearing a blanket and, often, no underwear. He would often lift his blanket up and down at inopportune times, and many people, kids included, copped an eyeful. Annoying, at times. Sexual abuse, no.

  55. My kids included. And while they don’t particularly want to view random people’s bits and pieces, they haven’t been traumatised by it.

  56. Apparently, you’d have to include all my child’s classmates as sexually abused as well. My daughter hates wearing underwear and she accidentally went to school last week without it while wearing a dress (the rule is she has to wear it unless wearing pants or tights). While inappropriate, I don’t think my daughter’s classmates are going to need therapy because my daughter didn’t wear panties under her dress one day in kindergarten.

  57. My impression: this little girl exhibited the kind of confidence we are trying to instill in our kids BY allowing them to be free-range. A helicoptered child may well have acted meek and timid out of fear instilled in them by their well-meaning but fretting parents.

  58. @Donna – hilarious! Did the teacher have any spares? We always have some on hand in case of ‘accidents’.

  59. LOL I hadn’t realIzed that this is actually a bit of a group where you all have to think the same way. I thought I was just expressing my opinion on a newsy topic, on a blog and I still am. I seem to have a different opinion than your group does all but that should be ok.
    I am just coming from a place where I think the role of a parent is to protect & guide and prepare our children for lIfe as future responsible adults.
    This whole discussion of the failed abduction of this girl reminds me of this …..
    A friend of mine has a father who is an alcoholic. He drank all day but was able to function at work and even had a bottle Of vodka in his desk drawer. He went out for drinks after work every night and drove himself home every night. This went on for over 5 years. He drOve home drunk and nothing happened – no accident, never caught by police. But the fact that he successfully made it home each night successfully didn’t mean it still wasn’t a train wreck waiting to happen. One rainy night he couldn’t see a girl walking by the side of the road, struck her and dragged her body for 1/2 mile. She died.
    The fact that this little girl in the store wasn’t hurt or abducted that one day doesn’t prove it is good practice to expose her to this risk . Most people would feel that 7 is too young to be alOne in Walmart. It’s a train wreck waiting to happen many people would say.

  60. Jolene-jenn – It’s not a group where we all have to think the same we. It is a blog that supports free range parenting and most regular readers are, in fact, free range parents. You are welcome to express any opinion you want, just don’t be surprised when many here disagree, just as I would expect that most would disagree with me if I posted on a helicopter parenting blog.

    “I am just coming from a place where I think the role of a parent is to protect & guide and prepare our children for lIfe as future responsible adults.”

    We are coming from that place too. Our job is to guide our children and PREPARE them for lives as future adults. That means that we slowly teach them the skills that they need to get by in life all by themselves by 18. We don’t baby them until 18 and then allow them to go out into the world with no life skills or sense of independence. Allowing a 7 year old, who has obviously been taught how to react if a stranger approaches her, to wander an aisle or two away in Walmart is a good small step to total independence at 18. Heck, my 6 year old does it all the time — or did when we lived within 1,000 miles of a Walmart.

    And the 7 year was NOT alone at Walmart. She was with her mother who was a short distance away. Children need not be velcroed to their parents to be considered accompanied. A 7 year old who walked to Walmart by herself is alone at Walmart.

  61. @ hineata – No spares. It’s a very small private school. They called me and asked me to bring her panties but I was in court 30 minutes away so I said “no.” They just let her go for the day and made her be mindful of how she was sitting and playing. She then was restricted from the pool for the afternoon for not following our underwear rules. Dealing with a kindergartener who hates to wear panties was definitely not in the parenting books.

  62. Donna As usual, what an excellent response to Jolene-jenn, I could not have done it better myself. Kudos.

    By the way, just today, we were at a WalMart, and I let my girl, who will be 5 years old in May, go into the ladies’ bathroom by herself. My mother-in-law was around but I had our girl go in without her. Yes I was near the door but no one, not even my mother-in-law (her grandmother), went in there with her.

    About 2 months ago we were at shoe store, a small one, and there’s a section for kids to play in. It’s not supervised, it’s just where shoppers can see it. I let them play in there while I shopped for shoes a couple of aisles away. This included our son who will be 3 in a month. I must say, it was refreshing–the store clerks acted like it was the most normal thing in the world to do. Thankfully not everyone subscribes to the paranoia.


  63. I really don’t see how anyone can conclude whether or not that particular Wal-Mart at that particular time was a safe place to allow a 7-year-old to putz out of the mom’s line of sight. Unless you’ve shopped at that particular store AND know that particular 7-year-old, you don’t know. I think we have to give this girl’s mom the benefit of the doubt.

    Remember when we were kids and we got our allowance on Saturday morning, walked to the store without our parents, made our purchases, played with / ate them at the playground, and putzed home in time for dinner? I started doing that when I was 5. Granted, I had siblings with me, but at 7 I was capable of doing it on my own. My parents decided it was safe in that time and place. Were there weirdos in the neighborhood? Yes, but that was not considered a reason to deprive kids of experiences they are developmentally ready for. I guess our parents sensed that Saturday during the daylight hours was a safe time for kids to be out & about. And my memory of being seven is not one of helplessness. As seen in the video, a seven-year-old isn’t that easy to steal away from a public place.

  64. I’m glad little Brittney (sp?) is fine; I’m glad it turned out okay. That being said, I wouldn’t leave my under-teenage child in a store without me being in the same aisle for a couple of reasons; both of them retail related.

    I worked 4 years in Toys R Us (I have the twitch to prove it) and watched so many parents leave little Johnny and Jen in the action figure or Barbie aisle while they went to the video game department (or even worse next door for a coffee) while the toy store employees were their babysitters. Trouble is that little J & J took the toys out of the packages and either walked out of the store with them or left them, damaged in the aisles.

    2nd reason is that, even when we teach our kids to be safe and smart, the criminals are smarter and if mom & dad aren’t within a few aisles, it’s far too easy for them to walk out the door to see the puppy or the kitten (7 year olds love pets and balloons and…) Retailers (grocers, etc.) should not be spending their time picking up after the children or making sure children are with their intended adults.

    Brittney did what she should have done, but mom / dad should not have left a 7 year old alone in any area of the store without adult supervision.

  65. Donna, Jolene-Jenn, hineata, and anyone else I’ve missed, I’ve been following this discussion, and while I sympathize with Jolene-Jenn’s desire to protect her children, and know that we all share that desire (how do we so is where we differ) it seems to me the central issue is whether we can control and mitigate risk. The example Jolene-Jenn gives of her friend’s father, his alcoholism, and the tragedy in which it resulted is a perfect example. Unless we are willing to say that no one ought walk along a road after dark, or to be even more safe, simply never walk where there is auto traffic, there is the risk that a drunk driver will lose control, or someone with diabetes who has a reaction while behind the wheel or an older driver who has a heart attack. For that matter, as in the thread about driving vs. taking a plane, we perceive ourselves as having more control while driving, but the statistics clearly demonstrate that the total mortality rate in autos is higher.

    In his book, ‘The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined’ Steven Pinker amply documents how much safer we are, how much less violence there is than ever in the history of humankind, yet we perceive ourselves and our children to be in greater danger than ever. I’d argue that the more we master our environment, the more secure we feel, especially those of us in the West, in the more affluent societies, the more we take that security as a sort of baseline, and somehow believe we are in control of our world, so are affronted when events give the lie to our sense of security. We respond by hunkering down and putting even tighter limits upon ourselves and our kids, thinking, naively in my opinion, that we can achieve absolute security.

    To live is to court risk, the best we can hope for is to avoid gratuitous risk, to know how to respond as best we may to the unexpected things life will bring our way, and to practice some humility, knowing that we can’t control every circumstance. I hope that my kids, all adults now, learned from both their successes in mastering difficult or scary moments, as well as the times they fell short. Figuring out the balance between sane limits and necessary freedom for each child is a tricky business; I doubt any of us gets it exactly right. But as I said earlier, the last line in Ms. Skanezy’s article really resonated with me, security is no good trade if the soul is the cost of it. Oh, and Donna, what a great story! Perfect for reminiscing when she is a woman grown.

  66. Again, the mother did nothing wrong. Paige if you’re taking up for store-clerks being overburdened with babysitting services while trying to work, you may have a point. Where it regards a parent having to be RIGHT THERE because “anything can happen,” though, sorry, not buying that. To expect a parent to supervise that hardcore to where their kids are velcroed to their hips 24/7 is absolutely ridiculous and way overboard.


  67. Paige, it’s true that little kids should not be allowed to trash retail stores. However, some parents teach their kids that from an early age and know whether or not they can trust their kids to follow the rules. Seven is certainly old enough for a child to know that she’s not to open or damage or misplace anything in a store.

    I also think there’s a difference between sending your kid to another aisle to get something and bring it back, versus leaving them aimlessly wandering outside of the parents’ radar. Of course, I don’t know which was happening here. But like I said, the mom deemed it safe and without being there, I don’t know better than the mom.

  68. “Retailers (grocers, etc.) should not be spending their time picking up after the children or making sure children are with their intended adults.”

    I agree. So, if your child doesn’t know not to open packages, by all means, you should not allow your child away from you at a store. However, the fact that you have not taught your child that opening packages in a store is inappropriate behavior should not prevent ALL children – those that know that opening packages in a store is inappropriate – from wandering off from their parents. If your child isn’t capable of understanding that concept well before the teens, he or she is seriously developmentally delayed and probably should not be allowed to wander anywhere alone. And if a parent leaves a child who has not mastered this skill unaccompanied in the toy aisle, the store should be perfectly secure in handing the opened packages to the parents and charging them for them.

    Nor should the store be concerned with making sure children are with their intended adults. I know where my child is. If she is not with me, it is because I have given her permission to not be with me. I’d prefer you not interfere, thank you.

  69. “I know where my child is. If she is not with me, it is because I have given her permission to not be with me. I’d prefer you not interfere, thank you.”

    Oh man, I LOVE that, and I so agree. I myself would take it one step farther–I would tend to say “I expect you to not interfere, I appreciate your concern but at this point you’re out-of-line and need to go mind your own business.”


  70. I should actually rephrase that last line. A child who looks lost, is crying, is upset, or says that he is lost, needs assistance. But a child walking around the store confidently and/or with purpose, is just fine. He or she is not looking for your help to get back to a parent. A child who is browsing the toy section quietly, is not in need of assistance. Kids are very good at making their presence known, especially in a store where the “I wants” are prevalent, so parents walking around happily while their children are someplace else in the store are not looking for your assistance to be reunited with them. They know their children are not with them.

    Society needs to stop jumping to this conclusion that ALL children who are unaccompanied at that immediate second are in need of assistance to get back to an adult.

  71. It seems to come down to well-being: those whose strategy to support well-being for their kids is to accompany them everywhere and make sure they have adult supervision 24 / 7… and those whose strategy to support well-being for their kids is to prepare them for uncommon but possible scenarios that could put them in danger (fire, deep water, people who would lure them away and / or touch them in ways they don’t want to be touched).

    The problem with the supervision 24 / 7 strategy is that it lacks integrity, in my view, if by “integrity” I mean integrating all of one’s values as a human being. Things like growth, learning, mastery, confidence, competence… yes, I agree safety and well-being matter. But I don’t want to sacrifice so many values on the altar of “safety” when, in my own experience, even children who are supervised every moment of every day can still come to harm.

    I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating as an example: we had a child here who was being walked hand-in-hand to school and the back part of a semi ran him over because the truck took the corner too tight. Mom was holding. His. Hand. Did this mean that suddenly all parents in this town ceased walking with their children down the sidewalks? Um, no. No, it didn’t. It meant only that freak accidents occur, and we can’t go around expecting to protect ourselves from everything that might possibly happen.

    For me, being grabbed by a stranger in a Wal-Mart is just as likely to happen to ME as to any child. Don’t forget: adults get abducted by strangers, too! And yet we still venture out into the world! Sure, it was creepy to read about serial killers, people extremely skilled at luring adults into death-traps. For a while, as a young woman, I felt anxious about who might mean me harm, as I was on my own in the world for the first time. But I had a really good “creep radar,” and I always erred on the side of caution. If I didn’t want someone to come over, I didn’t invite them. If it felt funny, I simply said, “No.”

    Kids who are trained to believe that it is disrespectful to defy adults or refuse hugs and kisses from relatives are the ones who will most likely come to harm. Any self-defense trainer will tell you as much. Teach your kids to yell, scream, kick and bite, even if it’s someone they know, love and trust, and certainly any stranger who is taking them by force.

    Way to go, Brittney! Mom should definitely be proud. Maybe she’ll do her shopping elsewhere. Man, I have nothing good to say about Wal-Mart, and their parking lots are the scene of many a violent crime, actually. Again, we’re talking about adults, here.

  72. But I’m getting tired of that car v. airplane argument. It’s not about the statistics. It’s about control.

    Exactly. And when it comes to watching your child all day, every day, it’s about control.

    In both cases, the control isn’t really there. People like to think they’re “doing something”, but that’s not the case.

    Flying from NY to CA is safer than driving that distance. Letting your child walk to school is safer than driving her to school. You have to give up this idea that you can control things.

  73. But a child walking around the store confidently and/or with purpose, is just fine.

    Unless they’re actively misbehaving, but be honest, plenty of adults engage in casual package-opening as well.

  74. “Unless they’re actively misbehaving, but be honest, plenty of adults engage in casual package-opening as well.”

    That’s called shoplifting which is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law at Walmart. I’ve represented hundreds so charged. Under Paige’s rationale, because some adults shoplift, no adults should be allowed in stores.

    And why the heck are teens okay to be alone? If we are insisting that all preteens stay with their parents because some cause trouble, why shouldn’t the teens have to stay with their parents since we know some of them cause trouble?

  75. I think the thing we may be missing from this story isn’t that the mother let her daughter out of her sight. The thing we need to see is that it was the lack of the mother’s presence that empowered this would-be kidnapper in the first place. You rarely hear of a child being kidnapped in the presence of a parent. It’s usually when a child is alone that these kinds of incidents happen. Kidnappers, rapists, molesters…they are all opportunists. Why provide them a perfect opportunity to do what they do best simply because it’s inconvenient for us to stay in the toy aisle for 5 extra minutes while our son or daughter finishes browsing?

  76. Yes, if I were a liberal, I’d be screaming age discrimination because of the standards we hold kids to. Think of all the things we ban kids from lest they annoy, when adults have been known to do worse things and not get banned. It always gets my goat when people say that young kids should not be in restaurants, because they might make a peep, while every time you go out, there is at least one loud, obnoxious adult in the vicinity. Adults disorganize merchandise and sometimes damage and open it. It’s annoying, but it’s part of the deal if you’re a retailer.

  77. Personally I am not for or against “helicopter parenting” or “free range” parenting. I feel like parenting is probably the only area in life where it seems impossible to know what the “right” thing to do is. We all need to make our own decisions and trust our own research and gut feelings – and sometimes even then things can go wrong, and sometimes thankfully they go right too 🙂

    I also do not judge the mother in the video – I havent seen it, don’t know her, don’t know that particular Walmart or her child. It’s easy to judge but we rarely have all the facts , and most of us are in no position to judge having made multiple mistakes in our own lives.

    “I know where my child is. If she is not with me, it is because I have given her permission to not be with me. I’d prefer you not interfere, thank you.”

    I really have trouble with that statement. I think the reason that people interfer is that they are concerned about the welfare of the child. Not all parents are great parents, and people recognize that kids are vulnerable and at the mercy of the adults in their lives. I think people who interfer are worried about the child and wanting to help.

    My neighbor lives in the basement appartment of the house that I rent. She is 23 and has 3 kids and hoping to have another with her current boyfriend. The kids are 5, 2 and 6 months . She routinely leaves the kids alone in the basement apartment to go outside for a smoke. I have heard she occasionally leaves the kids by themselves to go across the street to have coffee on the front porch with a neighbor across the street. She has told the kids “if you need me, come outside and get me” . I worry about the safety of her kids and feel that a 5 year old and a 2 year old are not capable of safely looking after themselves much less a baby. But nothing has ever happened so far so that “proves” in her mind that the kids are capable. I haven’t said a word, but I really wonder about the situation. I also hear her most mornings yelling at her kids to “get your f&&$$;@ shoes on” to encourage them to get dressed quicker.

    She feels strongly about her right to parent and feels she is a great parent. She also felt that it was her decision to continue to smoke and have a few drinks her and there while pregnant.

    She is not a drug addict or alcoholic and she does not hit her kids. A few times you can hear furniture being thrown around for emphasis but no one gets hurt.

    She is certainly not a helicopter parent and would probably consider herself a free range parent, although I am not sure the rest of you would want her in your group – she probsbly qualifies as nothing she does is actually illegal and in her mind she feels she has educated her children in skills to be on their own – rum across street to get mom, how to microwave food, how to use toilet, how to dress yourself.

    I really struggle with the concept that parents should be able to parent any way they want.

    I don’t say anything to her or interfer in any way except volunteer to babysit, but I really worry that maybe I should tell someone – even the daily swearing is harmful to self esteem but it’s hardly illegal.

  78. “You rarely hear of a child being kidnapped in the presence of a parent.”

    Actually, I’d like to see statistics on that. Most of the stranger abductions I recall hearing of occurred while the child was within the home or sight of the parent.

    Fact is, stranger abduction from a public place is so extremely rare, I’m not sure there are reliable statistics. I think in this case, the dude who did this has to be mental, because who doesn’t know that there are cameras all around Wal-Mart and that little girls have vocal chords? No, I don’t think this was a case of a smart kidnapper.

    And as others have mentioned, the term “alone” is relative. Mom was nearby. They were in a public place full of shoppers and employees. The child was seven. I don’t call that “alone” and even if it is, that degree of “alone” is age-appropriate (unless that particular location is a known creep-magnet or something).

  79. Kerry Lack of presence? Good Lord, that’s the problem with the people who “think” this way. What constitutes “presence” to you? Being a few feet away isn’t good enough? You have to be attached to your child like a ventriloquist is to his dummy puppet everyday, 24/7, no sleep, no sex (both of which are responsible for the child’s existence, may I remind you), no eating, no time alone just for 5 milliseconds unless a babysitter with an armored vehicle to ward off the evil guys trying to attack you is there?

    God help us if 95% of the country thinks like this. Wait, apparently they do. I don’t feel like arguing with the fools who think like this & have damaged childhood as much as any criminal ever has. I’m feeling joyful today, if I engage in this battle of us vs the dimwits right now I’ll lose my joy, and I’m not in the mood just yet. Maybe later. Right now, I’ll let other people chime in.


  80. Jolene-jenn, please stop using the words “run free” to describe free range parenting. Running free doesn’t assume any readiness or preparedness, and as has been explained several times by posters more eloquent than me, free range is all about readiness, preparedness, and education BEFORE the activity (such as walking 20 feet away from Mom in a store – hardly running free) is allowed.

  81. “I really struggle with the concept that parents should be able to parent any way they want.”

    Well that ain’t my problem, miss goody-two-shoes, it’s YOURS. WHen Donna says she’d “rather you not interfere,” you have a problem with that?

    WHO CARES!! Get over it woman. You ain’t the judge & jury of all the parents out there, and that you think you are or that other people should be is both the height of arrogance & interference in someone’s business under the highest level of outrage possible to be associated with such behavior.

    Just because you saw someone smoke & drink while pregnant, behavior which I think 95% of the rest of us here would agree was reckless, is not justification for people to butt their damn nose into our parenting business just because you don’t think it’s the right way to parent. As much as I am not into helicopter-parenting one bit, I will tell you this, I respect that the parents who parent that way have that right. If they are friends of mine to whom I can speak frankly to, then I may say something, but even then, very carefully, because at the end of the day THEY are the ones called on to parent those children, not me. Unless they’re beating their kid with a wood plank or molesting them, it is none of my damn business.

    And it isn’t any of yours. That you struggle to understand this or come to terms with it–that is your problem. Find a psychologist or a shrink to help you. We’re too busy parenting our kids and living our lives to stop & help you come to terms with this. We sure as hell aren’t about to edit our parenting style just because busy-bodies like you prowl the streets, threatening to disrupt a worry-free childhood every bit as much as the kidnappers & molesters do.

    You know, maybe I was wrong–maybe I do feel ready & up for battle against this tide of evil corrupting our culture. Bring it on, people!


  82. Jolene-Jenn, yeah, going across the street for a coffee clatch while your 5yo babysits your 6mo is not what we advocate here. There are extremes in every demographic. But kids (and environments) are all so different, it would be very counterproductive to set an age at which it is OK to stop visually monitoring all children or whatever. On the positive side, most parents care enough about their kids that the thought of losing them motivates the vast majority to make appropriate decisions when it comes to serious safety issues.

    People need to stop judging others based on what “they” would have done with “their” child. My child is not your child. If you treat my kid like she was less mature and capable than she is, that’s insulting and unfair to my kid, and undermines me as a parent. Plus, would you like me to give you the stinkeye every time your parenting choice doesn’t impress me? Personally I think it’s unhealthy and growth-stunting for a child to be in diapers or use a pacifier past a certain age. Do we need a law or judgment council? Or should I mind my own business?

  83. @ Kerry. Because if we are with our kids 24/7 they will never learn to cope in the real world. It is far better to teach children survival skills and confidence than to pretend that we can always protect our children or that the cost to the child of that protection isn’t far too great.

    As other posters have said, kudos to the mother for teaching her daughter to take care of herself so that when this scary incident occurred the child was safe.

  84. SKL: would you like me to give you the stinkeye every time your parenting choice doesn’t impress me? Personally I think it’s unhealthy and growth-stunting for a child to be in diapers or use a pacifier past a certain age. Do we need a law or judgment council? Or should I mind my own business?

    Exactly. I get irritated when I see parents use a pacifier with a freaking 2 year old, when we broke ours of it by 6 months. Our son was potty-trained by the age of 2. I sure prefer that to seeing a 4 year-old still in diapers, and I will admit that if someone asks me what I think I will state my opinion. But sneer at the parent and judge them? No, that is where I’m crossing the line and not minding my own business.

    You nailed it right square on the head, SKL. I say “right on” emphatically for your sane perspective. Nathan Hennig, same thing.


  85. Kerry, you are arguing from the mistaken assumption that being out of sight of a parent significantly increases a child’s chances of being abducted. That’s like assuming that leaving your house significantly increases your chances of being hit by a tornado.

  86. LRH – I am not sure why you are in attack mode. I have just brought up on-topic items for thought & discussion in a very respectful way. This is normally an okay thing to do in most blogs or forums.
    I have no idea why you are so defensive and so determined to attack anyone who might think differently than you do?
    I have to say though I never expected to come across a place where the majority of people so strongly agree with a 5 and 2 year old babysitting a baby.
    Anyway this blog appears to be one where comments that are not strongly in support of “free range parenting” are not wanted, but rather a place people come to reassure each other and reinforce their own practices.
    You are actually driving people away from the concept by appearing to be so radical and defensive.

  87. Jolene, which poster advocated leaving a baby and toddler in the care of a five year old?

    LRH annoys the heck out of me, but even I can’t see where he said such a thing.

  88. I’m not sure Jolene-jenn, but he may be a bit defensive because of statements like, “I am just coming from a place where I think the role of a parent is to protect & guide and prepare our children for lIfe as future responsible adults. ”
    This is a very passive-aggressive, not to mention insulting, way of implying free range parents do not want or do the same thing for their children. This could not be further from the truth! That is EXACTLY what free range parents want! We just go about a different way then you do!

  89. Jolene-jenn, you are being very defensive and misreading what some people are saying. Did you expect people on a site called “free-range kids” to just agree with you, or what? Calling non-free-rangers out on what we consider their errors in logic is kind of what we do here. It’s nothing personal. We regulars don’t always agree, either. Most of us are polite about it as long as someone doesn’t insult us.

  90. “The thing we need to see is that it was the lack of the mother’s presence that empowered this would-be kidnapper in the first place.”

    It is also what empowered the child to fight back. Some posters above said only teenagers shoud be trusted to be alone, not capable children of varying ages. I want to prepare you for what to expect:

    My neighbor is a 13 yo girl. She has never been out of her parent’s sight. She went on her first trip to NYC this winter break, and had a miserable time. She wouldn’t let go of her mother’s hand for fear someone in the crowded streets could snatch her at anytime. She left nail marks in her mom’s arm. I ran into them in a Target a month ago (their whole family shops together) and the 13 yo needed the dad to WALK HER back to return a pair of jeans she had decided not to get. She is seeing a doctor for a “sleep disorder” according to mom, because she is afraid someone might break into her window at night. I don’t know what prescription she is on, but suspect that she is being treated for an anxiety disorder. Mom said the medicine makes her sleep so deeply, she has trouble getting her up for school each day.

  91. What Lollipoplover (cool nickname, by the way) talks about with the 13 year-old, that is exactly what we are trying to avoid. See, the real bad thing is this: the mother probably thinks her child’s behavior is further validation that such hovering is necessary, when in reality the hovering is what LEAD to her daughter being that way. It’s a feeding frenzy of sorts.

    But also, Uly, to answer your comment and maggie, I’m taking up for the idea behind what Donna said in regards to “I know where my child is. If she is not with me, it is because I have given her permission to not be with me. I’d prefer you not interfere, thank you.”, as opposed to the reply which was offered along the lines of “I really have trouble with that statement.”

    That, to me, is a big part of the problem. Along with people seeing this story & thinking “see, that’s why you can’t leave them alone not for a second” and thus over-parenting their own kids, that’s unfortunate, even though of course they have the right, within the realms of not being abusive, to parent as they see fit. What burns me up is when mothers like the one in the story are scourged and criticized for not being that sort of parent themselves. Worse, you have people who think that it’s their place to butt in and interfere, and as Donna makes it clear, we really don’t appreciate it when people do that sort of thing under the guise of “concern.”

    It would seem to be obvious to me. What do we believe? Do we believe, as I most certainly do, that a parent, unless they’re molesting or giving their kids crack and that sort of thing, has the right to parent as they see fit? Or do we think that we have the right to meddle & interfere with every situation you see which we don’t agree with?

    It’s one thing to offer your opinion, and especially in the realm of close friends & family, one would hope all of us are receptive to at least listening to what good friends etc have to say, especially if they’re respectful in their tone about it. You don’t want to be someone no one can talk to because you’re overly self-defensive. However, it’s one thing for someone to be helpful that way, it’s another when it’s ugly and meddlesome and when someone saying they actually have a problem with someone saying–imagine this!–don’t want someone else just butting in and meddling and judging when it’s not warranted and definitely not needed.

    It’s like what Lenore said in that 1 video, her interview in Australia in 2010 before giving her speech there. She mentioned the scenario of how, growing up, if she had become separated from her mother for awhile then upon the ordeal resolving others around would’ve been sympathetic to the mother and been going “ah, kids, what can you do.” Now, by contrast, as Lenore also said, it feels as though the others would be scolding you “why weren’t you holding her hand” or “why didn’t you have a GPS device on her,” as she summed it up–parents now don’t get a lot of sympathy, they get a lot of blame.

    This is probably my biggest aggravation, and as someone who has had to defend my own family from this sort of thing, whether in terms of judgmental sneering or even visits from social services, I take a stand against it. My mother didn’t have to explain herself to anyone when, at the age of 9, I & a good friend were playing in the woods behind his house IN THE DARK and I ran into a barbed-wire fence, it barely missed smashing my expose eyeball, I could be blind in 1 eye because of this. From what I remember anyway, no one took my mother aside going “what were you doing letting a 9 year old play in the woods in the dark” or “that woods isn’t safe, what kind of parent are you to let them play in the woods, he could’ve got his eye put out?”

    I don’t know when or why we got this way, but it’s wrong and it needs to go away. I take a stand against it whenever I see it, be it in terms of actual occurrences or in the philosophical debates regarding this. If I get too over-the-top with my remarks sometimes, I don’t mean to be nasty or hurtful, but this is the sort of thing that is so wrong politeness is a luxury that can only be indulged in once this sick way of thinking has been purged from the mindset of this country for good. People like to say “you attract for flies with honey than vinegar,” my reply–flies spread germs, why would I want to attract them in the first place?


  92. “…you are arguing from the mistaken assumption that being out of sight of a parent significantly increases a child’s chances of being abducted. That’s like assuming that leaving your house significantly increases your chances of being hit by a tornado.”

    I love this analogy, Jenny Islander! Thanks!

    After the Xenia tornado in the early 70’s, I was tempted to live my whole life in the basement, and bring my family with me. I was five. My parents had a little more perspective about the laws of probability, but their attempts to bring me into a state of acceptance failed.

    I get the sense that it is each individual’s journey to achieve a state of acceptance, to see “control” as a strategy, not a need, and to find peace in a world where things can’t, and won’t, always go the way we think they “should.”

    Even on Lenore’s show, those folks self-select to bring themselves into a new paradigm. They might be nudged a little by a teenaged child, but if they weren’t seeing that their own strategy of “control” wasn’t supporting their own health (intense anxiety and stress seems to be a hallmark of these parents), they wouldn’t be up for Lenore’s “challenges” and turning to a new way of being in the world.

    If someone is deeply, firmly entrenched in their belief that the only way to have safety is to supervise directly, well, trying to talk them out of that will be like dunking their head under water. They will flail and fight and curse you, because you are threatening their very life… or their child’s life, in the case of supervision. It won’t be rational discussion. When folks are in the grip of fear and can’t witness how their thoughts create their reality, no amount of help from the outside will contribute to peace.

    What I do is just beam love at whomever is freaking out on me. Obviously they care deeply about something… safety… well-being… peace… I might guess about that, and tell them how I value those things as well, and that my choices about allowing my children some room for independent decision-making is the best strategy I can come up with to support those very things.

    We can disagree without being disagreeable. Verily, I say, we can disagree with love and compassion!

  93. Walmart did 7,200,000,000 purchase transactions last year and had one taped abduction attempt. Your child has a better chance of being hit by a meteor than an ATTEMPT at abduction at Walmart.

  94. “This is probably my biggest aggravation, and as someone who has had to defend my own family from this sort of thing, whether in terms of judgmental sneering or even visits from social services”

    This whole discussion seems to be directed more at the right of parents to parent any way they please without interference from concerned neighbors, police, or social services.
    People become involved out of concern for the child, not out of a sense of being a busybody.
    It’s better to risk possibly offending an innocent party than risk not doing anything for a child in danger.
    Sadly, as has been mentioned several times on this thread, statistics show that children are in most danger of being abused, neglected or harmed by people they know – including their parents.
    If parents are statistically among the most likely to harm a child why would a responsible society support the idea that all parents should be able to have total free reign in the way they bring up their children?
    Children are more at risk from their own family and friends than from strangers – this includes all of us as parents . Its a good thing that people ask question or try to intervene if they are concerned about a child, isn’t it?

  95. Jolene-jenn Maybe so, but the thing is, it’s moved beyond that, and become meddling to a degree much more than protecting children from abuse. How many times have I qualified my statements along the lines of “unless the parent is beating their kid with a wood plank or molesting them it’s none of your business.”

    OF COURSE when there is real abuse going on, intervention is not only ok, but the only responsible & decent thing to do. The problem is, now we’re calling mothers like the one in the Walmart “neglectful.” And I disagree, by the way, with the idea that it’s better to offend an innocent person than to risk not getting involved when it’s warranted. We’ve taken it too far, to where you have parents scared to let their kids do things that in their judgment they’re okay to be able to handle, because the parent fears someone calling family services. Someone once pondered calling social services on my in-laws just because their daughter dropped the kids off at the church with them having just played in the mud without being cleaned up.

    Fortunately they actually had the decency to say as much to the pastor first, he clarified that they were good people & it was okay, but my in-laws got wind of this & now are more nervous about what they let their grandkids do out of fear of someone calling on them.

    I had a lady whom I was dating years ago tell me of a time that her 3-year old was whining “I’m hungry” while she was on the phone with UPS or FedEX checking on a package, the customer service agent overheard it & reported her to social services. The lady was not amused at this one bit. I knew her, she was not at all the type to starve her kids, I’m sure it was a case of the child simply whining & not realizing mommy would be off the phone in 5 minutes. Where I come from, you don’t cater to that, you make the child learn to respect the adults and wait a few minutes. Go ahead & finish what you’re doing (so long as what you’re doing isn’t an all day affair.)

    It’s gone too far. When you have people doing all of that, under the guise of “concern,” it’s outrageous and it’s only appropriate for us in the midst of it to say “enough’ and to push back against it.


  96. I will stop commenting. The purpose of this forum seems to be more about what rights you should have as parents to do whatever you want – and much less about the child.

  97. Jolene-jenn. I’ve read all of the comments above, and I really urge you not to slam the whole forum based on what LRH posts. (I also think you’re taking what he says to an extreme that isn’t supported by his posts – read them more carefully. What you think he is saying (based on your post at 1:42) and what he really is saying are a little different.)

    You have slapped a judgement on this whole forum (“The purpose of this forum seems to be more about what rights you should have as parents to do whatever you want – and much less about the child.”) that is mistaken and not deserved.

    Try to keep an open mind, read some of the other articles and all of the comments, before you jump to a conclusion about FreeRange Kids! If you read some more (without preconceptions and judgements) you’ll see that we really are all about nurturing our children.

  98. Jolene-jenn: “It’s better to risk possibly offending an innocent party than risk not doing anything for a child in danger.”

    Yes, BUT the key word is DANGER.

    A child is not “in danger” just because she’s doing something at an earlier age than you would prefer for her to do it.

    A child is “in danger” if she’s being criminally abused, wandering cluelessly around moving vehicles, or crying “help” without a caregiver in sight.

    You should understand that I may be actively trying to teach my child a skill when you consider intervening. It’s like if I sent my kid to use the toilet, and a well-meaning mom headed her off and put a diaper on her. Or if I were teaching my kid to swim, and a well-meaning dad handed her a flotation device. No thank you! But if my kid is flailing and sputtering in the pool, or desperately looking for a bathroom while holding herself, by all means give her a hand. Can you tell the difference?

  99. LRH – I don’t know you, but I can tell that you are passionate about your freedom and that of your children. I can also see that you’re driving people away from the FRK site; people who might otherwise stay and have some dialogue and maybe even take away some ideas that would benefit their kids.

    I’ve seen other posters with comments about your passion being maybe a little over-the-top. Could you consider that toning down your retorts might be more helpful to our FRK site? We’re trying to reach people here, not drive them away!

  100. @Jolene-jenn, The purpose of this forum is not about parents doing whatever they want, even if it means neglecting a child. There is a big difference being a free-range parent and a neglectful one.

    Free-range parents realize that they are not raising children, they are raising adults (borrowed from Dr. Phil, but it’s fitting). Free-range parenting is about giving your kids age-appropriate responsibility and independence. For example, when my son was 7, he was too young to go skiing without adult supervision. But since last year (he’s almost 13) he has been allowed to go skiing with his friends without an adult. He knows what to do if he or one of his friends gets hurt or otherwise needs assistance. When Lenore let her son ride the subway by himself at age 9, they had discussed it beforehand. They both felt that he was ready to do it because he was familiar with the area and how to get home on the subway. It wasn’t like she abandoned him in the middle of Moscow on their first day there and told him to find his way to their hotel on the Metro.

    When a free-range child goes off to college, or gets his first job and apartment, he is equipped to handle life because he has been given increasing amounts of independence and responsibility as he gets older. He does not need to call Mom and Dad about every little thing that comes up. Free range parenting is not, as a lot of people think, throwing your kids out the door and forcing them to fend for themselves.

    Neglect is failing to provide for a child’s physical needs. A child who does not have adequate clothing, food, or medical care is a victim of neglect. A child in a different aisle of a store than her mother or who’s walking down the street on his own is not a neglected one.

  101. Jolene-jenn:

    “People had lots of kids and not all of them made it into adulthood. ”

    Exactly how old ARE you? The picture you paint of rampant child mortality and common families of ten hasn’t been true for a century.

    People weren’t non-over-protective in living memory because they figured they could just make some spares (and in reality, people as a whole NEVER had that mentality, contrary to popular belief) but because *things really aren’t that dangerous.* They weren’t then, and they aren’t now. People who do turn their backs on their kids aren’t watching them drop left and right. Rare accidents and crimes happen to them, just like they happen to kids who are helicoptered. The difference is that Free Range Kids have fun, learn independence, and are prepared to assume age appropriate responsibilities *at appropriate ages.*

    And do you know that Sandusky is only charged with the crime of sexually assaulting minors *over the age of 15*? If Sandusky is a reason not to leave your kid fifty feet away in a Walmart, is he also a reason not to let your 15 year old go anywhere without you?????????

  102. @Paige

    “I worked 4 years in Toys R Us (I have the twitch to prove it) and watched so many parents leave little Johnny and Jen in the action figure or Barbie aisle while they went to the video game department (or even worse next door for a coffee) while the toy store employees were their babysitters. Trouble is that little J & J took the toys out of the packages and either walked out of the store with them or left them, damaged in the aisles.”

    I don’t understand how the fact that some children mishandle merchandise in stores has anything to do with whether a child who has been taught not to mishandle merchandise in stores, should be a few feet away from a parent. Can you explain the connection?

  103. Or why the fact that some parents use stores as babysitters means that no parents should let their children go a few feet from them for a couple of minutes, with the understanding that the parent is still in charge?

  104. […] Lenore Skenazy: A Walmart Abduction Attempt — And What the Video Means […]

  105. People like to say “you attract for flies with honey than vinegar,” my reply–flies spread germs, why would I want to attract them in the first place?

    To trap them so they aren’t flying around spreading disease. The fable the moral comes from predates the use of flypaper.

    Ironically, though, you actually catch more flies with balsamic vinegar than with honey.

  106. I challenge any of you who think your young children are safe and responsible enough to look after themselves – even for a few minutes in a store – to leave your purse with them the next time! I bet that will help you think straight! It fixed my mom’s attitude, after I found out she was leaving my son alone in stores for ‘a couple’ minutes. When she mocked me for being upset, I said “OK – next time I expect you to leave your purse with him, while you are gone for ‘a couple’ minutes”…but, that was too much risk for her to consider…she said, “I can’t do that…someone will take advantage of his vunerability and take it from him”… hmmm…really…she was worried about losing her ‘valuable’ purse….yep, it didn’t take more than that for her to get it. So, Lenore, what do you think is more valuable than our children? Would you leave your purse unattended or in a young childs care?… what about your cell phone? Did you trust your 9 year old to be responsible enough to care for your cell phone, when he was going to be navigating his way home on the subway, or did your just give him some quarters to avoid the risk?

    Child…purse…cell phone… hmmm

    I don’t need advice from anyone who doesn’t know which is the most valuable.

  107. SKL said: “You should understand that I may be actively trying to teach my child a skill when you consider intervening. It’s like if I sent my kid to use the toilet, and a well-meaning mom headed her off and put a diaper on her. Or if I were teaching my kid to swim, and a well-meaning dad handed her a flotation device. No thank you! But if my kid is flailing and sputtering in the pool, or desperately looking for a bathroom while holding herself, by all means give her a hand. Can you tell the difference?”

    I really enjoy this series of comparisons you’ve made here. And I guess what comes up for me is that my parents in the 1970s had the space to “teach from a distance” using well-chosen times and places where I could be on my own and learn independent decision-making skills, not to mention just be alone and watch the sky, make a little house out of grass, whatever.

    Even by 70s standards, my parents were a bit radical. Once my parents divorced, my life with my mother would very likely be seen as “child endangerment” by today’s standards… even in the 80s, she mentioned a few times that she rued the fact that it wasn’t legal to leave me on my own for a weekend at age 13. I have to say that I was pretty rueful myself, wondering why it was she had children in the first place if she didn’t want the responsibility of seeing them safely into adulthood! She resented having to arrange supervision for me while she went on recreational trips, and by the time I was 14 or 15, left me alone.

    At 16, I went to college, and was by far the most “responsible” and self-preserving kid on my dorm floor… that lack of supervision certainly prepared me to understand how to take care of myself. I’ve said many times over the years, while I found my mother’s resentment a burden, and found some of her choices to be lacking in consideration of my needs as a young person—I’m glad I knew how to do certain things that my peers did not. Time and again I was recognized as being “wise beyond my years.” There is a balance to be struck, between indifference and smothering. I think of it as nurturing.

    My mom didn’t really nurture me past the age of about 7. I see what that did to our relationship, what it did for my emotional state, the relationships I chose as an adult, how I parent now. While I love the idea of allowing kids to learn through experience, I don’t love the idea of being indifferent to their longing for support, warmth, companionship, family, community, love, and acceptance, and I can’t see that anyone calling themselves a “Free Range Parent” is indifferent to these essential human values, and doing their best to integrate it all, every day, into their parenting.

    So where did that “space” go, the space that was there for parents in the 1970s? The space to be nurturing and also give late-elementary-aged kids a chance to run an errand at the store, or watch a younger sibling for an hour, or walk to school alone, or get themselves to sports practice and home again? How has it become fashionable to assume every child is in grave danger as soon as they are “out in the world” without Mom or Dad? Why has it become nearly reflexive to assume any child “alone” is needing intervention?

    When my stepson lives with us, he gets himself to school. He walks or bikes, it’s about a mile each way, same distance I went as a kid. He’s on the chunky side, and not particularly obsessed with moving around, so we imagine it’s a good idea to build in self-powered transit into his life. When he’s with his mom, he gets driven, and school is the same or shorter distance from her place. She says she just does it out of habit, to make things easier for her, to avoid arguments in the morning. But she’s clucked her tongue at the fact that my daughter, a year younger, walks to school on her own, saying it’s “not right.” This boy is 9 1/2. He weighs 120 lbs and is 4′ 7″ tall. When he lived with us for two months in the fall, he was 10 lbs leaner.

    Again, I say that “Free Range Parenting” is very much about well-being! When “safety” is the only value you’re considering in your parenting decisions, all kinds of other things go by the wayside—things that were taken for granted as humans evolved over thousands of years. Only so recently have we found it acceptable to insist on “safety” while sacrificing learning and growth… joy and self-connection… community and competence.

    I’m so, so, SO grateful that Lenore “pop-cultured” this issue and continues to find more ways to hold the mirror up to the way attitudes have transformed in such a short time, and what the consequences of those attitudes might be.

    YAY LENORE!!!!!!!

  108. ““I know where my child is. If she is not with me, it is because I have given her permission to not be with me. I’d prefer you not interfere, thank you.”
    I really have trouble with that statement. I think the reason that people interfer is that they are concerned about the welfare of the child.”

    Does the child look troubled? Does the child look scared? Does the child look abused? Does the child look starved? Does the child look lost?

    Those are things that should be looked for. If you can’t tell the difference between a kid who is going off somewhere alone confidently and happily and a child in need of CPS services, you shouldn’t interfere in any situation.

    As for you having trouble with my statement, oh well. There are many things that other parents do that trouble me. I hate seeing kids over 4 in strollers, does that give me the right to physically remove them from the stroller, take the stroller away and throw it in the trash? Kids walking around with pacifiers troubles me. Am I allowed to take the pacifier away from the toddler? Kids over 3 in diapers troubles me. Am I allowed to take them to my house to potty train them? It troubles me when young children are overly scheduled and have no down time. Can I unenroll them in their activities? I truly worry about these coddled and overscheduled children’s futures. I’m only doing what I think is right for the welfare of the children so I can do it, right?

    I obviously can’t walk up to people and steal their strollers or rip pacifiers from toddlers’ mouths. Why is it okay to interfere with my parenting, but not okay for me to interfere with yours? Why are people allowed to interfere when they believe that the child is underparented (not abused or neglected which is a different level and needs intervention) but it’s not okay for me to interfere when I think that your child is being overparented?

    I guess, according to you I actually should start removing kids from strollers and taking away pacifiers. After all, to quote you, “It’s better to risk possibly offending an innocent party than risk not doing anything for a child in danger.” Kids who suck pacifiers for too long have bad teeth and I truly feel for the future of the overparented children. They are put a HUGE risk when first thrust out into the world of college. I live in a college town and see the effects of overparenting every day.

  109. What do you value said: “OK – next time I expect you to leave your purse with him, while you are gone for ‘a couple’ minutes”…

    I thought you were thinking a kid is not mature enough not to spend the money from the purse, NOT that you were suggesting parents who give their children some independence value their wallets/purses MORE than their kids….

    The would be purse snatchers are not the same people as the would be kidnappers or pedophiles. There are many more people that would steal a purse, cell phone, car, etc than would kidnap a child. Think about the RARE stories when someone steals a car without realizing there is a kid in the back and then panics and abandons the car… there are people who would chose to steal money/objects or monetary value (something that every one can use)…the weirdos out there looking for a kid to kidnap are few and far between…

    Also, I don’t need to give my PURSE increasingly more independence. I don’t need my PURSE to learn to function without me someday and make decisions….oh, and I can’t teach my PURSE to scream like hell if someone comes along and tries to grab it….

  110. I’m so glad you tackled this Lenore! I happen to live in the Atlanta area and it was very upsetting when this happened, especially on the heals of Jorelys Rivera, the little girl who was murdered by the groundskeeper at her apartment complex. I realized that I was going to have to push myself not to start questioning my instincts (again!) and fight the urge to abandon my ongoing attempts to give my 9 year old a little more independence.

    Our local paper, the AJC has a parenting blog and the question came up as to whether or not parents would show the tape to their kids–you would be amazed (or no, probably not!) at how many people planned to show the videotape to their kids, as a way of scaring the heck out of them if they ever dare leave mommy or daddy’s side at the store. There were not many who planned on explaining to their kids that this little girl did exactly what she should have done–and Hooray for Mom for teaching her. Most people blamed the mother, planned on using the tape to instill even more fear in their kids and one person said kids should not be allowed to shop even one isle away from you until they are at least 16 years old! There were a number of people, including educators and social workers who insisted that this mother was crazy for letting this child be out of her site at all.

    I had FINALLY gotten myself comfortable with letting my 9 year old visit the toy isle on her own at Walmart and Target, and reading the comments on our local blog made me questioning my own sanity! But i’m determined not to let irrational fear stop me from raising a confident, independent child! Thank you for reminding us over and over again about the facts regarding the true danger to our kids.

  111. A purse and cell phone can’t be taught to fight back. I don’t leave my purse lying around in a cart in a store because I know that it won’t kick, scream and bite if being taken like this 7 year old very successfully did. I do leave it in the cart with my 6 year old because I know that my 6 year old will yell if someone tries to take it.

    I don’t give my purse or cell phone to my 6 year old to carry because she is likely to lose it. I am not worried about it getting stolen from her (as we already covered, she would scream if that occurred). I’m worried about the very high probability of her putting it down to look at something and not picking it back up. She can’t put herself down somewhere and not pick herself back up so I think she’s good alone.

    Further, I am not tasked with the job of teaching my purse and cellphone to grow into adult purses and cellphones able to live independently from me. My purse and cell phone will always be under my care and supervision. They don’t need to be schooled in how to survive without me. They have already reached their full potential in life. My 6 year old, on the other hand, will one day go to college, move into her own apartment, travel, get a job, get married, have her own children. It’s my job to make sure she knows how to take care of herself before any of these things occur.

  112. “You rarely hear of a child being kidnapped in the presence of a parent.”

    Elizabeth Smart. Danielle Van Damm. Polly Klaus. JonBenet Ramsey. All taken from their bedroom with their parents asleep in another room. And those are just the ones that I thought of in about 2 seconds. Are children who are sleeping in another room now not in the presence of a parent?

  113. Okay, let me try again.

    Z-girl Yes, I am very passionate about my freedom. You better believe it. Not to get on a soapbox too much, but it’s being attacked constantly in many areas. Sometimes I think people confuse USA with the former USSR, frankly.

    That said, this is about free-range parenting, and I don’t intend to bring up the non-parenting issues much.

    Regardless, I can assure you, I don’t seek to “drive anyone way” & I hope I am not doing that. Even so, based on my experiences & on the experiences of others, this is a serious issue in my opinion. It’s one thing for someone to argue that children who are being abused should be rescued, & that intervention & looking out for innocent kids who can’t protect themselves from it is a noble & proper pursuit. I think almost all of us here feel that way. It’s quite another for it to be taken way farther than that to where, if you are a parent doing nothing wrong, you feel as if the entire world is just staring at you with eagle-eyes just waiting for the fainest hint that you’re not always Mr or Ms Sunshine, or that sometimes you don’t clutch your children like space aliens are coming to get them–and they immediately start labeling you a neglectful parent & even advocating legal intervention at times.

    As Lenore has stated, it’s become a “blame culture.” People want to blame someone everytime an incident like this happens, and 97% of the time it’s the parent who gets blamed. Compare this to past generations where parents were SUPPORTED and uplifted, and given the benefit of the doubt until they did something terrible to prove they weren’t deserving of it.

    As a parent, heck as a citizen of the USA, living under a microscope is not something I’m keen on, and I press back against it anytime I feel such looming, or whenever someone advocates for it to be that way.

    I can debate things in a less “heated” manner if it’s someone saying “I respect what you guys are trying to do, but I just couldn’t parent my kids that way.” Fine. But when you have someone saying that in essence “I’m letting my child free-range & I’d really appreciate your not interferring with that” and this person (Donna) is saying this in a VERY MATURE sort of manner, only to then have the person take issue with that, well, and advocating a culture that meddles in someone’s business–that’s just plain offensive. Now this person is going beyond just “I don’t think I could parent my kids that way” to actually saying something along the lines of “I don’t advocate just standing by while you parent your kids that way because I think it’s wrong & I don’t agree with it.”

    I can make an honest attempt to debate, with calm reason, the pros & cons of free-range parenting vs helicopter & hopefully not demean someone else just because they’re still processing the specifics of the contrasting styles and engaging in reasoned debate about it. But where it regards someone suggesting that we should have this meddling & blaming culture and interfere in people’s business, I think it merits a strong response. A hysterical one that sounds crazy & “polarizing” or nasty? Probably not, but a strong response just the same.


  114. To give some perspective on the story, Brittany Baxter’s attempted kidnapping in a suburban Atlanta Walmart came just three weeks after another seven year old girl was kidnapped from a playground ten feet from her apartment in a gated community, violently raped and bludgeoned to death with her own roller skate and compacted in a trash dumpster. There has been a lot of anguish among parents. After Brittany made the scene in Walmart, she said she learned it from her parents and teacher after the other little girl’s kidnapping and murder. The Brittany video has been a good teaching to show our kids and remind them yet again.

    I still let mine go to other aisles in the store though. I’m more concerned about them being abused by a coach, clergy member, camp counselor or someone else they have come to trust.

  115. @Taradlion

    Crimes of opportunity.

  116. I just seized pentamoms idea and left a comment with the title “Girl NOT abducted at a Georgia Walmart” on my blog and added a link to this page. (http://kindheitzweinull.blogspot.com/2012/02/girl-was-not-abducted-from-georgia.html)

    And of course I hope the family will get over this scary moment soon.

  117. @ what do you value:

    I do not disagree, but many, many more people are looking for the opportunity to take a purse than an opportunity to take a child. MANY, MANY, MANY more.

    Also, all joking aside, my purse is an object of value, but not a living person. I value my children far more than my purse. I am concerned for their safety, but I need to balance that with my concern for their learning skills they need in life. I want them to be confident and capable adults. I also try to balance risk with their enjoying life. No mater how hard I try, I can not remove all risk from my children’s lives…but I can remove all joy in trying to do so.

  118. Donna: the term “underparented” is interesting, as I’d use it the other way around. My parenting has been rather intense as it concerns teaching my kids self-care, discipline, awareness of their environment, and whatever else is necessary so they can operate competently without hand-holding. Personally I think that keeping one’s kids restrained/contained, extended use of baby/toddler products, and allowing a kid to follow instead of think for himself equals underparenting.

    Yes, it does get to me a little when people imply that free-range means lazy parenting. Mainly because it affects young parents who are trying to decide their own parenting paths.

  119. I hope I am not over-posting, but I really wanted to say I absolutely LOVED Donna‘s rational & level-headed rebuttal (yes, that’s a link) to what I was talking about (“I don’t want you interfering” vs “I have a problem with that statement”).

    Z-Girl If the point you are making is that the rebuttals need to be more like that, well, I can understand somewhat. I think some of the “strong words” I use on occasion may, just MAY, be justified, that said, I must say, I really REALLY like Donna’s methodical & non-flinching rebuttal, and I really love the examples she gave. I was reading it and thinking “yes!” and “yes!” again and “oh yeah!” etc.

    I especially want to highlight the statement: “Those are things [fear, hunger etc] that should be looked for. If you can’t tell the difference between a kid who is going off somewhere alone confidently and happily and a child in need of CPS services, you shouldn’t interfere in any situation.”

    That is absolutely right. People seem to think very blasé and casually about interfering, especially in terms of calling family services. They act as if it’s no big deal to call if no harmful acts are being done. That’s not at all true. It can be VERY upsetting to the family, and possibly open a can of worms that does no one, the children included, any good. At the least the family is compelled to leave work early, thus losing wages, to go to court if it goes that far, or even to come home or go wherever to meet the social worker to clarify matters. It’s not a 5-minute “over & done” thing that doesn’t interfere. I can interfere a LOT, and it has the “chilling effect” of scaring some persons into parenting in ways they don’t believe just so as to avoid all of this, & that is wrong. I don’t get the impression that Donna is that sort of person (I sure as heck am not), but some people are–and they don’t need to change on account of people that can’t leave a good parent alone in peace.

    So yes, think before you call. You have a responsibility to actually think before you do, and use some sane and rational judgment. If you can’t, the issue is bigger than you have the ability to understand, it’s meddling, and yes–you need to leave it alone.



  120. “I challenge any of you who think your young children are safe and responsible enough to look after themselves – even for a few minutes in a store – to leave your purse with them next time!”

    My Free Range 8 yo daughter has her own purse. She helps her brother with his used golf ball business, and probably has more money in her wallet right now than I do. She also has her own shoppers club cards for stores we go to (she enjoys swiping it herself) and is a math wiz at figuring out best deals on groceries, price per ounce, etc. Horror of horrors, I give her half our list, and she is off finding items aisles away to help with the dreaded weekly shopping.

    There is a big difference between parenting and policing. If I were to strap her into the cart and leave my precious purse with her and NEVER TAKE MY EYES OFF OF HER, she would miss out on all of the teachable moments and not be the smart, self-confident, well-mannered kid that she is today. THAT is my greatest fear. Please don’t force me to hijack my children’s childhood on the irrational safety argument. I won’t drink your koolaid.

  121. Like Lollipoplover, my 5yo daughters have purses in which they carry cash. I don’t. I mostly deal in plastic.

    But more to the point, my wallet does not need to learn to conduct itself in a complex world. My daughters do.

  122. @ Donna

    I’m puzzled by the notion that a given chlld is not considered to be able to be taught enough responsibility to independantly care for inanimate objects for a short period of time, but at the same time is believed to be able to learn greater independance, and, apparently by osmosis, expected to possess enough responsibility to care for themselves for the same period of time.

    A child who is considered not responsible enough to care for ‘things’ should certainly not be considered responsible enough to care for themselves.

  123. Another point regarding “what do you value.” I would not throw my wallet into a swimming pool. But I would throw my kids into one, after making sure they had the ability to get themselves back out. I think it’s fair to give me the benefit of the doubt that if they weren’t good swimmers, I’d throw them in the shallow end rather than the deep end. After all, I went through a lot to get them to the point they are at. It would kinda suck if they drowned the first time I threw them in the pool.

    The easy route would be to just not take my kids to a pool in the first place. Maybe that’s what I should do, though. “Girls, we aren’t going to the pool any more because I value your life. Check back with me in about five years.”

  124. What do you Value, re your recent post, I can think of may adults who are not good at taking care of “things.” One friend comes to mind – she has left her purse, cell phone, etc. behind so many times, it’s somewhat scary. However, I guarantee that anyone who tried to abduct her (probably even when she was 4) would walk away with reduced use of one or more body parts, at the very least. Humans are equipped with self-preservation instincts. Just because some are forgetful about material stuff does not mean they are lax about self-care or self-preservation. It’s a completely different thing. Besides, there really is no age at which all humans are better at looking after “things” (especially other people’s things) than looking after their own survival. By your analysis, my 50+year-old friend should have a chaperon at all times.

  125. As a former swim instructor, I love pool and water analogies. My kids (now 7 and 10) are strong swimmers. They have been safe deep water swimmers since they were 4. My teaching them to swim and letting them explore the water as babies and toddlers without flotation devices has ultimately made them far safer in the water than kids who have always been held by a parent and/or worn a floatie while swimming. I am all for safety items that reduce risk that do not impede learning actual skills.

    Anyway, I was going to say, I bring my kids to baseball games even though there is a SLIGHT chance that they could be hit by a ball and suffer grave injury. It has happened. I would not choose to park my car in foul ball territory at a baseball game. Not because I value my car windshield more that my children, but because, my car windshield does not experience the fun of being “right up close” at a baseball game, it gets nothing positive out of the experience, and because my parked car can not get out of the way. I will teach my children to be aware of their surroundings and let them enjoy the game (even going to get some snacks at the concession stand) or I can say it is all too dangerous.

  126. @SKL

    I trust that you don’t leave young kids alone in the pool.

    I wouldn’t leave my children alone with irresponsible adults either.

  127. SKL – I think that helicopter parents view free range children as underparented. If they know us, they don’t truly believe that our children are neglected, are in mortal danger or should be taken away by CPS. They simply believe that we are not providing enough parenting, in terms of being there to take care of the child’s every need. Because that is how parenting is usually defined (keeping in mind that the term didn’t even exist until recently) – taking care of the child’s every need, handling every roadblock and alleviating every discomfort. If you view parenting in that fashion, I do underparent because I actually allow my child to take care of some of her own needs and deal with some discomfort.

    If you define parenting in that way, helicopter parents overparent. The parent solves every problem. Parents must always be present. The child doesn’t make a single move without the parent being present to guide. But I guess you could look at it either way. They actually both overparent in their need to always be present and underparent in their refusal to teach their children basic survival skills. Personally, I think parenting is a stupid term. To me, it’s simply life with children.

    I also really didn’t find the early years all that taxing. It would have been much more taxing to keep my child glued to me constantly, interact with her constantly, do everything for her and deal with all the safety devices. It is much easier to let a 2 year old dress herself in what she wants to wear than to fight to get her into clothes that you pick. I think helicopters have a warped view of lazy. When dealing with children, it appears that you are lazy unless the task is arduous and you are overwhelmed with work and responsibility. I’m not lazy; I just didn’t care that my 2 year olds’ clothes match enough to get into a battle of wills with her or dress her myself.

  128. Gee, I littered Europe in sunglasses one summer and have a bad habit of leaving my purse behind in restaurants. I guess I should never be able to leave the house unaccompanied as well since a losing of objects is somehow tied to an inability to defend yourself from attack. Guess my black belt and numerous advanced self defense classes (taken as part of the black belt and not out of any real fear of being kidnapped) be damned. If I can forget my purse in a restaurant, I can’t possibly be trusted to defend myself regardless of my training.

    My child also has a little purse with money. She carries it everywhere. I have very little fear of her losing her purse. MY purse is a different story. Children tend to be a little self-absorbed. She’ll think about HER things much quicker than she’ll think about MY things.

  129. A wise woman once told me that just one letter changes “Mothering” to “Smothering”.

  130. @ Donna

    You seem to have missed the point.

    My mom is not worried about leaving her purse with me when she leaves for ‘a couple’ minutes, because she doesn’t see any risk in doing so, because she knows I’m responsible and that I am no more vunerable that she is. However, the thought of leaving it with my young son concerns her. Her concerns are due to his vunerability, not a lack of responsibility. It made her realize that she too views him as being vunerable. The purse situation helped her see that we shared the same concerns – and that she had acted irresponsible by leaving my son alone…and vunerable.

    This analogy probably won’t help someone who is irresponsible with their things. My moms purse meant a great deal to her, and I knew that – which is why I used it to get her to understand my pov.

  131. No, What you value, I got your point. I don’t agree with your point. A big difference. You can certainly view your child as a vulnerable little creature who cannot be trusted to watch a purse for a few seconds. I choose to realize that I am not always with my child. She is no more vulnerable in Walmart than in school, a place she goes without me 180 days a year (although it’s still very rare, far more kids have been molested by teachers than kidnapped by strangers from Walmart). Rather than view her as some inept, shrinking violet, I choose to empower her and teach her how to defend herself against the very remote possibility that something horrible will happen ANYTIME I’m not right by her side. As a result, I’d leave my purse with my child. I just won’t let my child take the purse anywhere where she would put it down and get distracted.

  132. @what do you value?-
    The definition of vulnerable is “capable of being physically or emotionally wounded.” You haven’t mentioned how old your son is (I personally wouldn’t leave my kids alone if they were toddlers), but for me, a Free Range child is “capable of being physically or emotionally COMPETENT.”
    VuLnerability exists in the eyes of the beholder, whether they be an adult or a child.

  133. ” Brittany Baxter’s attempted kidnapping in a suburban Atlanta Walmart came just three weeks after another seven year old girl was kidnapped from a playground ten feet from her apartment in a gated community, violently raped and bludgeoned to death with her own roller skate and compacted in a trash dumpster”

    Just wanted to encourage everyone to give support to the mother (alsp a Free Range Parent) of this poor child in Atlanta who actually died in her own playground. Mrs. Rivera as a Free Range Parent deserves our support, especially when she is currently being harassed and blamed by the media. Talk about blaming the vicitm!

    Little Jorlys Rivera was a Free Range Kid whose mother had a long history of practicing Free range parenting, and shockingly was harassed by social services for suspected “child neglect” months prior to Joelys unfortunate death.

    Jorelys was only seven but she had years of practice going out on her own and knew how to navigate the streets in her neighbourhood. She had only been playing in th eplayground with her friends and was coming confidently back home to get some sodas fro her friends when she was quickly assaulted, then killed by a maintenance man in her apartment building.

    Just one of the freak things no one could have predicted. He had no prior offences and we certainly can’t be expected to be with our kids constantly!

    At least Jorlys lived a happy and unhampered life while she was alive and was given unrealistic restrictions or had her spirit crushed by overparenting!

    Please show your support to her poor greiving mother, whose daughter was only going to and from the local playground in her neighbourhood.

  134. Sorry I was incorrect – it was improper supervision that social services was investigating her for- my mistake – but still a crazy example of how society and social services in particular is meddling in things when they should have better things to do. We can define what is best for our children and what they are capable of doing No one can stop freak accidents and Jorlys had a lovely spirit and an unhampered, free range childhood- cut tragically short :{ She is a sweet innocent beautiful soldier for our cause !

  135. Best wishes in your parenting efforts.

    I hope my challenge post causes some readers to take pause – as it did in the case of my radical frk parenting mom.

  136. Agreed. I’ve been blogging on this sort of thing all week.

  137. I have been known to send my five-year-old daughter to the bathroom in a small restaurant by herself. (I have two kids, and it becomes a question of which of the two to leave alone–and the five-year-old is the elder.) Thus far, nothing ever happens. (And, yes, I am perfectly aware that the plural of anecdote is not data.)
    She’s asked be when she’ll be old enough to go to the store by herself. I told her when she’s six. (The store is around the corner.)

  138. What do you value? and others – Good on you for expressing your views. Donna and others also made good points regarding the kind of people who regularly visit this site. Most of us are somewhere on the free-range spectrum and hence might have similar views on lots, but not all ‘freerange issues’. For example, a lot of people on this site might think I was paranoid regarding my views on fire. I allow my children (now 15 down to amost 11) many freedoms during the day, but I am still not ready to allow them to sleep overnight by themselves in our house, for while this is legal, we have an old, highly flammable wooden framed house, and I have seen my kids sleep right through a smoke alarm. Other parents on the site might be more restrictive than I am regarding where their children are allowed to roam, or even if they are allowed to travel to school by themselves (in their communities they may not have the wonderful footpaths etc we have).

    We are all different, and I am fortunate to live in a country that is still reasonably ‘free range’. I want to live in a world where it is not considered neglect to allow a 7 year old to be in a different aisle of the supermarket than a parent. Let alone a 16 year old. Hence I visit this site regularly to get a dose of sanity, and to remind myself that my children are competent individuals who, within ever-relaxing limits, can manage their own lives.

  139. P.S Rita a.k.a Oma, boy I want to have a coffee with you 🙂 ! You are so like the women we all grew up with, who left us to it unless we were actually bleeding (my poor exhausted mum once even left me to fall asleep in the paddling pool – the joys of having 3 under 3and a half!)!

    Makes me nostalgic…..

  140. AztecQueen2000: WOW! At the same age kids often still whole heartedly believe in the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus.

  141. And no, I’m not being sarcastic. My mum can be very proud of hands-off raising three relatively sane individuals who all contribute to society in various ways. Comes from pointing out what might be less than sensible things to do, but leaving us to decide – in many different settings, from preschool onwards.

    And getting us/expecting us to do the shopping etc.

  142. @hineata, I’m in NC, but I get to VA and PA, and Jersey (I am a native Jersey Girl) so if you are within driving distance, let’s do! Thank you, it is good to know that ‘benign neglect’ isn’t frowned upon by all the mothers of subsequent generations. It has been both interesting and a bit odd to follow this discussion, at 66 I’ve had the chance to see how utterly we have changed our approach to raising children, much of which I believe is for the better, e.g., the recognition that children have thoughts and feelings that are their very own, and that deserve to be well-nurtured, not indulged, mind you, but treated with care and dare I say, dignity. I grew up in the ‘children should be seen and not heard’ world, fortunate that my parents were somewhat unconventional, Mama worked at home until she died when I was seven, Papa could sew and cook and do ‘women’s work’ as well as build a deck for me to to play on outside the kitchen and a ‘Rita’ size Adirondack chair that made me feel well-loved. But they didn’t ‘hover.’ All the kids on my block played in the street when we weren’t in school, I’ve no doubt that at any moment some parent could look out the window and see us, but their presence was at a small remove. The older kids looked after the younger, and we went home for band-aids and comfort when we fell out of the trees in the jungle yard (an undeveloped area in the middle of the block) or got hit in the face with a broom handle while playing stickball, or got into a scrap. It was just part of childhood to collect bumps and bruises.

    I read the concern about children being given more freedom and responsibility than some parents are comfortable with, and remember that my first babysitting job, at 10, was looking after five kids, 6, 5, 4, 2, and 8 months. Yes, I was a block away from their grandmother, but I looked after them for 3-4 hours in the afternoon, including diapering and feeding the baby, and felt perfectly comfortable doing so. I’d have allowed any of my three to do the same, and they all did some babysitting starting around 12. Both my younger kids were lifeguards at 15, and both spent their college years teaching swimming, in fact my daughter, now 28, manages the swim program at a Y now. I see how they interact with children, how comfortable and safe kids feel with them, and am proud of the adults they’ve become. Each has stories about foolish risks which could have turned out badly, each learned from them, and they relish the telling.

    I was fortunate that I figured out early that my perception of being in control is at best ephemeral, so I focused on trying to teach my kids to think about the choices they were making, and to see the consequences when they made poor ones as a means to make better next time. We talked. And talked. And talked (and spent a lot of time with them in my lap, or on the couch next to me reading.) And talked. We still do. We are all works in progress, and we learn who we can become from one another, so we talk. And we love. And we hope. Not much more we can do, seems to me.

  143. @Rita – what a shame! But thought you might live in the US…I’m in Wellington, New Zealand, so that coffee won’t be coming anytime soon!

    Never mind, if you ever come down on one of those cruises or something, we’ll take you out. Cheers!

  144. @hineata – Excellent plan. Although i’d have thought given NZ it’d be tea, stereotypes trip me up again. I’ve read wonderful things about New Zealand, and goodness knows the photos I’ve seen (and LOTR) make the idea of a tour appealing. It’s also just plain good to know that all over the globe there are people I’d be glad to know. As well, people who will raise the next generation of ‘free range’ adults. A friend and I decided two decades ago that we were in the process of attempting to rear ‘life-boat’ kids, who read real books, knew the classics, spoke and wrote their native language fluently, and maybe a couple of others well enough to survive if stranded in a foreign land, and who valued liberty, and dignity, and integrity, and all those other character traits that have fallen into poor repute, and of course love and compassion, and who would carry those things into the next generation..

  145. I happened to take my 5-year-olds to WalMart this evening. The winter blizzard navigating had whooshed away my memory of the abduction attempt, so I didn’t make the connection until later. Two separate employees commented at my kids (this never happens), and one or two others seemed to be paying more attention than usual. My kids were putzing around the same area I was in, within earshot, and when one guy saw them he said (gently), “where’s your mother” to get her to walk back in my direction. A little later another employee chided my kid for reaching for a high item. At the time I was a little irritated by the “where’s your mother” and I gave my kid heck for the chiding. But later, I figured, this is probably part of Wal-Mart’s reaction to the attempted abduction video. Send every kid back to his/her mother immediately. Can’t really blame them, but I hope this doesn’t last long.

  146. Oh, and another thing that happened tonight. I took my kids to the McDonalds Play Place, and met another mom there whose little 5yo had Down Syndrome. We were chatting for about an hour, as the kids were having a good time and it was good for the little girl to get some time with other kids her age. At some point the mom had to use the restroom, so she got up and went. She didn’t say anything (like ask me to watch her kid); I guess she either figured I had it covered or her daughter would be OK for a couple of minutes. No sooner had the lock clicked than her little girl came down the slide, and not seeing her mom, tried to run out of the room on the assumption that Mom had exited. I intercepted her at the door (yes, I laid my hands on her, gasp!) and told her her mom was in the restroom, which she was OK with. A few minutes later she got impatient to see her mom, so I told her to go to the bathroom door and knock. That didn’t get an instant response, so my kids advised her to holler “mom!” at the bathroom door. Mom eventually came out. (Hey, when you gotta go, you gotta go.)

    I told the mom what had happened and she was like, “oh well, I had to go to the restroom.” Everyone was happy and whole.

    Was it remotely possible that something could have happened to the little girl in those couple of minutes? Sure, I guess so. But the mom relied on her instinct to trust me to be able and willing to help if a need arose. And she’s smart enough to accept help when it’s in everyone’s best interest.

  147. With three children in tow, we were flying from Australia to Hong Kong to Paris to London and then to TelAviv, a fortnight after 9/11. My wife had a moment of nerves until I pointed out that the reaction to 9/11 will probably make it the safest time to fly (as far as terrorism goes). It was a very straightforward trip. Since then, the security of airports has become banal. Pat downs and chemical sniffers have become common in Australian airports in recent years. I doubt there is any evidence for their introduction although I am sure money is being made.

  148. 675 years ago the 16 the old Prince of Wales was leading soldiers in to battle, at 17 he was holding meetings with the pope and between 19 and 22 he stood in for the King. 675 years later 15 year olds are being babied to the extreme and not considered to be capable of doing anything. I keep hearing the myth of childhood being shorter now than at any other period in time rubbish even 200 years ago a 7 year old could get hung for theft, children as young as 3 where shoved up chimneys. Childhood has now been extended to the point where (on on message board I know of) expect 18 year olds to hand over their phone so parents can check their text messages and 21 year old being told they will get kicked out of the family home if they get a tattoo as if your not on your own dime your body isn’t yours.

  149. “A friend and I decided two decades ago that we were in the process of attempting to rear ‘life-boat’ kids, who read real books, knew the classics, spoke and wrote their native language fluently, and maybe a couple of others well enough to survive if stranded in a foreign land, and who valued liberty, and dignity, and integrity, and all those other character traits that have fallen into poor repute, and of course love and compassion, and who would carry those things into the next generation.”

    In my community of parents (and it’s not just local parents, but folks all over the place who are especially focused on love and compassion and practical, doable ways to bring that into families, schools, and beyond), there is some disagreement at times about what raising kids with compassion looks like in terms of supervision and intervention. My own philosophy is that kids need to have experiences without us — and then to be able to rely on us to be accessible to them afterwards (and by “accessible” I mean physically and emotionally present) to offer support and empathy — in order to learn certain aspects of these values.

    Just like the child who apparently “can’t cross the street” at age 8 because Mom says, “Every time I stand there with him, he’s oblivious to what’s going on around him enough to cross safely, so I have to be there” — the paradox is that kids cannot learn to be aware of their surroundings when there is someone to delegate responsibility to. Hence, if you are always there, you are actively preventing your child’s ability to make safety decisions. Huh. I want them to be safe so I stay by their side, and yet — they are not learning to be safe if I stand by their side.

    So. Many in my “crowd” of compassion-lovers hover and intervene with kids and every time there is a sign of a scrap or disagreement about who can be on the slide, they have a big discussion with all the kids about what everyone feels and needs before the kids have had a chance to try at all to work it out for themselves. In my own home, it can be REALLY difficult to watch this kind of “conflict play” because it is often loud, physical, emotional, and frays my every nerve. But I don’t intervene (usually) because I don’t want to retard my kids’ abilities to reach compromise, make amends that are authentic, and learn from these self-concocted conflicts.

    Apparently, according to childhood development researchers, conflicts among children are very important “play” during which learning about compromise, cooperation, and compassion takes place. (I’m not talking about assault or molestation by kids who are older and have a physical and mental advantage, I’m talking about kids scrapping where the playing field is relatively equal.)

    So my observation is that some parents seem to believe that if their child is with them, or another “trusted” adult all the time, they will learn the skills required to thrive just by watching and imitating. And I suppose that does work in terms of learning by watching. But what about the “learning by doing” piece of it? If we intervene each time, even when kids have been able to observe how it’s done, well, how can they really do it? Do they issue a driver’s license to kids after 16 years of watching their parents drive?

    Also, I’ve noticed that kids who have been supervised constantly up until, say, age 13 seem to go through either a phase of paralysis or enormous rebellion once they are given even a tiny bit of space unsupervised. This can be very dangerous indeed, and part of what triggers my need for safety. I want my kids to have experienced small bites of independence at young ages so that during adolescence, they’re not desperate to “prove” how “adult” they are by abusing forbidden substances or engaging in risky sexual behaviour… that sort of truly deadly stuff.

    So thanks, Oma / Rita. I enjoy hearing your take on this stuff as someone who is conscious of the long-term goals and aspirations they have for their kids, not just the panic of protecting them from injury or death each day.

  150. I took the advice of one of the people above (I forget who and I’m too lazy to scroll through the comments) and blogged about this incident.


  151. Cassandra, I work in the news media and did not see one single story that blamed what happened to Jorelys on her mother. The media treated Ms. Rivera with the respect, dignity and sympathy she deserved. She willingly spoke to us many times before and after her daughter was found and thanked us for our reporting on the extensive search for Jorelys even before the police took it seriously.
    The sad part about her story is she worked the overnight shift in a chicken processing plant. She had to sleep during the day so there were ongoing issues with child care, no one meeting her school bus after school, etc, which is how Social Services got involved.
    I’m a free range parent who gives my 7 and 5 year old plenty of independence but have seen in my job that the bad guys (known and strangers) prey on easy targets: kids who are not with their parents, whether they are in school, the playground, a store, camp, a park, etc. They have seen the Walmart video and we’ve also discussed what appropriate behavior is from adults they know and trust. I think part of being a free range parent is arming our kids with the knowledge they would need in case of potential harm.

  152. I watched this video with my six year old sitting next to me. It opened a discussion of what he should do if someone should happen to try to grab him while we’re out someplace. Now he feels empowered with knowledge in what to do!

  153. @mollie – I’ve enjoyed reading your posts, striking that balance is no mean feat (although I keep coming back to wondering how we’ve come to see raising kids as such a complicated affair,it’s a relatively recent phenomenon, and since we humans have been on the planet for hundreds of millenia, if it were all that difficult we’d not have survived, I suspect our struggles may be a reflection of just how ‘easy’ in relative terms life has become, can’t help but think that mothers on the prairie a century or more ago were not quite so absorbed in these questions, lol.)

    As for compassion, my observation is that there are all too many who confuse it with a sort of ‘sappy sentimentalism’ believing that if they ‘feel’ the right thing they are experiencing compassion. M. Scott Peck, in his book, “The Road Less Traveled” talks about love as a ‘doing’ rather than a feeling. What I understand him to mean is that to love is to do the hard thing even when we don’t much feel like it. I have to admit, in retrospect, that all too often I ‘did’ things for my kids less because it was best for them than because I didn’t want to have to endure the discomfort of watching them try and perhaps fail. That is neither loving, nor compasssionate. If I had it to do over again, I’d ask myself more often, “For whose benefit am I doing this.” I’d like to think that I got it right often enough not to have crippled them, since all three of mine seem to be going about the business of being adults with some grace, but I can see quite clearly that I missed the mark at times.

  154. […] Kids has a great article about abduction and shines some sense on the over-reaction of the public and the media on such […]

  155. Valerie, unfortunately, most of the “bad guys” ARE the childrens’ parents.

    It’s just plain common sense. Who has the most access to any given child? Who is the child most likely to trust and obey and believe when told “Nobody will listen” or “I’m allowed to do this”? Who is most likely to be believed by others when they pass off bruises or injuries as “rough play”, or isolation as “safety” or “discipline”? Heck, who is most likely to notice mysterious bruises on parts of the body covered by clothes… and least likely to care if the parents are the ones who put it there?

  156. I urge you all please to rethink all of this.

    We as parents are charged with the responsibility to care for & protect our children. Yes the media likes to stir up fear at times and exaggerate risk. But why on earth would anyone choose to expose their precious children to risk for no good reason?

    How can anyone (Lenore & others) brush off this incident as a one off event that shouldn’t impact the way any of us lives our lives??

    This guy wasn’t just a random “stoooopid” guy, some inept dummy criminal incapable of pulling off any crime – he just got out of prison – where he was for MANSLAUGHTER!

    Are you seriously telling me that if this was your little girl who at age 7 had been snatched up and carried off by a criminal like this that it wouldn’t change anything you do? How do you think that child feels ? Why should she have to go through that? Yes kids need to learn to solve problems and learn to cope with disappointments – but they don’t need to be picked up by a criminal to learn this!

    Yes the girl fought back and screamed which was great – her actions were probably what saved her life. Why ever do you as a parent put your child in a circumstance where they should have to be responsible for saving their own life??

    There is no need for a 7 year old to know how to shop at Walmart – why not? They have you ! Like it or not that is your job – until they are old enough to need to learn to do it themselves.

    In the mean time, if you have a need for excitement or you would like to prove to yourself that life is not as risky as the media always tell us ( it probably isn’t! ) test it out on yourself instead of your kids. Walk at night alone in the inner city, leave your car unlocked in a high crime neighborhood, go home with a stranger you meet at a bar – statistically you will probably be ok – or maybe not – but YOU take the risk – don’t make your kids take the risk for you!

    Your JOB is to protect and care for your child.

    And grow up – it really is “parenting” not “living with children” – yes you are the one who is supposed to be in charge.

    Social services On your case? Most people never have any contact with social services. Social services is there to protect children from their biggest enemies – no not strangers – parents! Does this tell you something? If social services is contacting you to the point where you are becoming frustrated – they think YOU might be your own child’s worst enemy – your child’s biggest risk could be you!

    Please grow up, take some responsibility, and look after your kids!

    Get them swimming lessons , teach them to skateboard, ski, skate, horseback ride, camp , make dinner, bicycle ride etc but watch them for goodness sake!

    It is a sad day when a big corporation like Walmart cares for your child’s safety more than you do! There is no value to a small child to be unsupervised in a huge store. People who prey on kids DO look for the easier prey – the young child who appears to be alone is very much more at risk than one who is clearly being watched by someone who cares about their welfare.

  157. “for no good reason?”

    For the good reason that it’s good to teach kids how to behave appropriately without parents hanging over them.

    “How can anyone (Lenore & others) brush off this incident as a one off event that shouldn’t impact the way any of us lives our lives?? ”

    Actually, I don’t think anyone’s doing that at all. I think people are saying it *should* affect how we live our lives — we should learn from it that it’s good to teach kids how to react to such situations.

    “Are you seriously telling me that if this was your little girl who at age 7 had been snatched up and carried off by a criminal like this that it wouldn’t change anything you do?”

    Yes, but that would be a trauma-response, not one based on what really works in a situation like that. Using the standard of “what I would do if I experienced emotional trauma” is not sound decision-making.

    “Why ever do you as a parent put your child in a circumstance where they should have to be responsible for saving their own life?? ”

    She wasn’t responsible for saving her own life. The attention she attracted on the part of the dozens of witnesses all around is what saved her. That’s the point — public places are NOT DANGEROUS when there are lots of people around, 99.99% of whom want to protect a child, not harm her.

    “Your JOB is to protect and care for your child. ”

    Indeed. Now, the question: how do you protect a child from a man who’s willing to grab a child and attempt to remove her from a location with security cameras, in front of dozens of witnesses? How does YOUR being a few feet closer prevent the situation ANY MORE THAN all those other people being there?

    “but watch them for goodness sake! ”

    I’m sorry, I don’t have magic eyes. Eyes can’t prevent things like this. Things like only letting your kids go by themselves in situations where there are safeguards (like security cameras, lots of presumably decent people around as witnesses to any foul play) are what protect kids. And all those things were in place here.

    “the young child who appears to be alone is very much more at risk than one who is clearly being watched by someone who cares about their welfare.”

    99.99% of people care about children’s welfare. That’s why this situation turned out the way it did — because instead of the world being full of evil people who would have abetted this guy, it’s full of decent people, who, when they saw what was happening, reacted, and let the guy know that it wasn’t going to work.

    “There is no value to a small child to be unsupervised in a huge store. ”

    She wasn’t unsupervised. Under supervision, her mom let her go a short distance away from her. Her mom judged that it would be safe for her to do so, AND SHE WAS RIGHT. It was safe. Nobody got away with hurting her.

  158. Why? Because out of the thousands of Walmarts in America and the millions of customers they serve, this is a very rare occurrence indeed. The odds are much higher every time your child gets in a car (even properly restrained) something bad will happen. You’re not going to keep your child out of cars, are you? And when do you decide they are old enough to be left alone in a store? When they can defend themselves and ask for help? Seems as if this 7 year old did a fine job! Some 40 year olds couldn’t do that.

  159. Oh, and yes, there is value. It teaches children that the world is a place in which they can function, not a place where they can only function if within sight and reach of one or two particular people.

  160. Most of the “bad guys” for sexual abuse are stepfathers/mom’s boyfriends with biological relatives coming in second.

    Most of the “bad guys” for physical abuse are the parents (with stepdad and mom’s boyfriend frequently playing a starring role in this as well).

    If a child is going to be molested/abused by someone outside of the parents, it is most likely going to be a vulnerable child. Foster kids, kids with absentee parents, kids with refrigerator parents, children of alcoholics/drug addicts … kids who are craving meaningful attention from adults (or maybe just an adult male or female) like Jerry Sandusky’s victims. While it happens occasionally, a confident kid free ranging around town is a very unlikely victim. And Brittany is why. This kid fought back and won. Few want to get into that battle when there are much easier targets out there and I bet that the failed kidnapper is mentally challenged in some way.

  161. @susan – “But why on earth would anyone choose to expose their precious children to risk for no good reason?”

    Get them:

    Swimming lessons –


    •In 2007, there were 3,443 fatal unintentional drownings (non-boating related) in the United States, averaging ten deaths per day. An additional 496 people died from drowning in boating-related incidents.1,2
    •More than one in five people who die from drowning are children 14 and younger.1 For every child who dies from drowning, another four received emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries.

    Children: Children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates. In 2007, among children 1 to 4 years old who died from an unintentional injury, almost 30% died from drowning.1 Fatal drowning remains the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1 to 14 years.3



    Skateboarding is an activity in which you move quickly over hard surfaces. It can lead to injuries that range from minor cuts and bruises to catastrophic brain injury. Each year in the United States, skateboarding injuries cause about 50,000 visits to emergency departments and 1500 children and adolescents to be hospitalized. (Source: AAP, March 2002. )



    The bicycle injury death rate among children ages 14 and under declined 48 percent between 1987 and 1997. However, bicycles remain associated with more childhood injuries than any other consumer product except the automobile. More than 70 percent of children ages 5 to 14 (27.7 million) ride bicycles. This age group rides about 50 percent more than the average bicyclist and accounts for approximately 24 percent of all bicycle-related deaths and more than 50 percent of all bicycle-related injuries.

    I’ve not researched your other suggestions, such as skiing, horseback riding, and skating, but there is ample evidence that injuries during those activities are common and fatalities occur, to children as well as adults. Cooking dinner is probably relatively safe, although the private school my son attended had to close down after a parent successfully sued subsequent to an incident in which her child was burned making popcorn in a hot oil corn popper, and stoves get quite hot, so maybe only ‘prep’ work, and of course only prep work that does not involve handling knives or other sharps.

    Exactly HOW good then should my reason be for allowing my children to engage in the above referenced activities, given that they constitute the overwhelming majority of injuries and deaths for children? And as to taking them ANYWHERE in a car, how important must the trip be, since it is the single most common cause of injury and death.

    The self-righteous presumption in your statement:

    :In the mean time, if you have a need for excitement or you would like to prove to yourself that life is not as risky as the media always tell us ( it probably isn’t! ) test it out on yourself instead of your kids. Walk at night alone in the inner city, leave your car unlocked in a high crime neighborhood, go home with a stranger you meet at a bar – statistically you will probably be ok – or maybe not – but YOU take the risk – don’t make your kids take the risk for you!:

    is astonishing to me, and offensive, as well. I accept that living involves risk, and set out to assure that my kids were as capable of handlling what life would throw at them as was humanly possible. As they are now 44, 28, and 26, so far, so good.

    Finally, how does that 7 year old girl feel? No doubt frightened, but check out Bettelheim on the role of fairy tales in children’s lives, and how that relates to fear, beyond that, I’d expect that like the heroes and heroines of those tales, she feels competent and capable, and a sense of having mastered a horrifying situation, as well she should.

  162. Susan,

    Nobody can be with their children all the time. Telling yourself that you’re never going to take your eyes off your child does not make her safe. Because you ARE going to take your eyes off of her. She needs to be equipped with her own sharp instincts and problem-solving abilities, which are learned / refined / kept sharp through practice.

    Ever heard of the term “street smarts”? That term has been around a very long time. It is very apt. You get book smarts by reading books, but you get urban survival instincts by being “on the street” (without your mommy!). Street smarts have saved many a kid with both great and not-so-great parents.

  163. I agree with you — to me, this video does not prove that it’s unsafe to let your kids leave your sight, but proves that, properly taught, our kids can handle many dangers unassisted and that it is indeed safe to leave your child alone. She may be initially more fearful but if her parents handle it well, she will come away feeling proud of herself and braver than ever.

  164. People have commented that this fellow in Walmart was probably not very intelligent. Maybe not – but nonetheless he had successfully killed once before – having just been released from prison for manslaughter!

    In the video he is large enough to easily scoop up the little girl, cover her mouth and try to carry her away. She fights and he quickly puts her down and leaves the store.

    You don’t see any bystanders jumping in to help her. The little girls actions seem to be what causes him to release her.

    Almost every parent teaches their children to scream fight and bite if they are ever in this kind of situation. It is not only the parents of free range kids that teach this technique . We all do , and good thing too it can save a life!

    A more sophisticated criminal doesn’t even need to touch a child to lure them out of the store, even if you’ve already coached them not to believe the “lost puppy story”.

    Kids are not little adults! Their brains, thinking ability and reasoning skills are still developing. A child is no match either physically or mentally for a skilled adult who wants to manipulate them.

    Why take the chance? It’s not a big deal to watch your child.

  165. In the airline industry this kind of incident is called “a near miss “. When 2 aircraft end up flying so close they almost crash into each other, but don’t actually crash due to evasive action on the part of the pilots or air traffic cOntrol.

    That’s partly why flying is so safe. They don’t just look at near misses and say ” oh that really proves how great our pilots are – they avoided a crash!”. Instead they figure out what happened that allowed those jets to get that close, and they CHANGE rules or systems to try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
    There is a parallel here!

  166. Why take the chance? Because if you don’t, you end up with mollycoddled little wusses who can’t do a thing for themselves.

    At what age, Susan, do you think it might be okay for a child to be in a store aisle by themselves?

    It strikes me as profoundly irresponsible to keep your child by your side until they are teenagers or beyond. Where do they learn, for instance, basic real life maths, unless you allow them to do things like go and find the cheapest butter without you hovering over them.

    In a country of 300 million people, 1 individual chose to target a store that has major security anyway, and attempted unsuccessfully to abduct one child. And you think that somehow justifies tying children even more firmly to their parents’ apron strings?

    Sorry Susan, it’s you who needs to grow up. Myself, I will continue to try to raise grown-ups.

  167. Hello! This is one abduction attempt caught on tape. It is not the only child abduction that occurred recently.

    Rates of child abduction have actually increased in many countries recently.

    And most cases of child abduction occur within 1/4 mile of the child’s home & occur while the child is unsupervised.

    Try googling “child abduction statistics” and do the research yourself.

  168. Susan, at some point your child has to learn to shop for themselves. At some point, your child has to learn to be alone and unattended. And that point has to happen BEFORE they grow up, BEFORE they “need” to do these things alone.

    Children don’t learn to walk by being tied down until they are 10, they learn in stages and steps. The same thing applies to independence. They need practice in being independent so they can be adults.

    (And to the commenter who suggests that we leave our kids alone with our purses – been there, done that. Didn’t lose the kid, didn’t lose the money. Of course I trust the nieces to watch a bag for a few minutes! They’re not stupid, after all.)

  169. Rates of child abduction have actually increased in many countries recently.

    And most cases of child abduction occur within 1/4 mile of the child’s home & occur while the child is unsupervised.

    And almost all of them are by the child’s own, non-custodial parent! Nearly all of the rest are by other relatives or other people known to the child! Stranger abductions? Way down on the bottom of the list.

    YOU go to google, YOU look up the statistics. Clearly, you haven’t.

  170. (I notice, of course, that Susan talks about “many countries” but doesn’t name them, and talks about other abductions but doesn’t mention the children’s names at all. I strongly suspect that if she had actual evidence of such things she would have said them for the emotive impact. Susan, a word to the wise: If you have a good argument, make it. Weak arguments make you look ignorant and foolish, no matter how many of them you have.)

  171. You know something Uly I have never met an adult that was “shopping impaired” as a result of not being taught how to shop early enough by their parent. It’s not rocket science & doesn’t take years or even weeks to learn. Lol
    Same as an adult who didn’t know how to be alone or unattended – never met one regardless of the parenting philosophy of their mom & dad.
    I don’t think it’s really too likely to happen at all.

  172. Uly, I really wish it was true that any increase in child abduction cases were due to parent abductions. Check out uk.missingchildren.com . It’s true that there are (only) hundreds reported each year in the UK. In the US it is thousands per year with (only) a hundred or so actually killed each year.
    Still if it’s your child …it matters!

  173. Okay Susan, not to put words in your mouth or quote you out of context, but are you suggesting that this mother in WalMart was a negligent mother for not having her child velcroed to her hips? I sure hope not, because I sure don’t think she was negligent at all.

    Heck, one time last year, at the lake, I was there with my 2 kids ages 2 & 4 at the time, and had JUST MET this one couple in their 20s. I needed to check & see if the gift shop or whatever had an air pump for inflating the raft. I could’ve taken the kids in with me, but it was quicker not to have to. I actually trusted & asked these people whom I had JUST MET if they could watch my 2 kids for 2 minutes while I went in there to see.

    They did so, no problem.

    In fact, a few moments later, I felt like going out into the lake some distance without having to tend to them or endanger them in deep water that was also rather far from shore. Granted, the lake wasn’t busy this day, me & my kids and this couple were just about the only ones there, still, I actually asked them if they would keep an eye on my kids & keep them from wandering off or into the water and just let them play in the sand and just intervene if they try & wander off. They agreed & i was probably 50 yards or so from shore, and for 15-20 minutes, while I trusted them to do that.

    We all benefited. The 2 adults had a nice experience they weren’t expecting (they seemed to really enjoy doing that), my kids got to meet other people besides just me and to also learn about obeying other adults (in preparation for doing that with teachers later), and I got some much-needed freedom.

    I’m not perfect, but I kind of think that type of parenting is a lot better than the “helicopter parenting others like to do. It’s like the character Jonathan Smith said in the 1st ever “Highway to Heaven” episode, when he remarked about how there were locks on the toolshed & that such wasn’t the case in times past, the person he was talking to said “times change, Mr Smith,” his reply: “no, PEOPLE changed–we stopped trusting each other.”



  174. Uly, this girl was named Jorelys Rivera. She was a Free Range Child abducted molested and murdered. She was seven years old and playing with friends unsupervised in the playground near her apartment complex .


  175. Hi LRH,
    No I definitely don’t blame the mom. I really feel badly for her because it was such a close call, and I imagine how she must feel .

  176. LRH,
    Btw I do believe that the majority of people are good caring decent people. But I also know there are some really bad people & some really strange people out there.
    The trouble is they all look the same, they can all act nice, and since we live in such a global society I don’t “know” them. It is impossible for me to know how to detect those very few “bad guys” out of all the nice ones. I think that’s the dilemma many of us find ourselves in .

  177. Know what Susan? If we do what you suggest, and never, ever let our children out of our sight, and basically teach our children to live in fear? Then the bad guys win, Susan, even if they don’t
    “snatch” our kids. So maybe if everyone would keep an eye out for everyone else, children and adults alike, we would ALL feel a little more comfortable giving our kids the freedom they need to grow and learn. Help our kids learn how to help themselves! If more folks did it, we would all be better off.

  178. Well Susan of course it’s not totally like the movies, the good guys aren’t wearing white & the bad guys black. It’s not always obvious.

    But what are we going to do in response, have our kids attached to our hips every single minute of the day? God I sure hope not. I don’t want that kind of life, kids or no, it’s overwhelming, and prior generations didn’t think it necessary, and since the stats I’VE seen strongly suggest crime rates are the same or even lower vs 25-30 years ago, it makes no sense why people all of a sudden developed the attitude that a good parent has their child joined to their hips 24/7.

    Maybe they let the Adam Walsh TV special and other things on TV brainwash them. Maybe they let 9-11 brainwash them. I don’t know. All I know is that I don’t buy any of this chicken-little prophecy I’m hearing, and at the same time I have the understanding that NOTHING is 100% safe and to try & make that for my child is not only exhausting, but impossible.

    Life is about odds, everything is about odds. You drive playing the odds no one runs into you. You live in your house playing the odds there isn’t a gas leak or an electrical short behind the walls you don’t know about, or that the roof won’t cave on you. You bicycle playing the odds no one hits you. You hang-glide or jump out of a plane in a parachute playing the odds your equipment doesn’t fail and you die in a crash. You carry cash in your wallet to pay for your Valentine’s Day meal at this “quaint” mom & pop place which doesn’t accept credit cards, playing the odds no one knocks you unconscious to rob you, or that you don’t die of food poisoning.

    All of this is no different.


  179. I couldn’t find a ‘contact me’ email or link so I’m leaving this here. Sorry if it’s inappropriate. I’m not sure if it’s really on point for the blog but here is an article on a way to help our kids in regards to sexual abuse, not by scaring them away with the whole ‘stranger danger’ foolishness, but by recognizing it usually is someone well known and adjusting how we talk to our kids in light o that. This topic is important to me (btw, it’s not my blog) and I just hope more parents can read and think about this rationally instead of freaking out and getting overprotective, so naturally I thought of this site!

  180. Jespren If you are still reading this, click here to email Lenore.


  181. Maggie,
    What you say is very true when applied to terrorists or organized crime, those who seek to control us by fear. We do need to act against that in the way you say. If we react by changing what we do they win.
    Child molesters and child abducters are not organized. If we react by not protecting ourselves from them, they win. We leave our kids open & vulnerable to abuse by not taking action against them. For whatever reason there are more people with sexual issues, more sexual predators than before.

  182. LRH,
    It’s a risk -reward or risk- effort thing.

    Yes it’s more effort to watch your child whenever you are at Walmart (or other large public place) but that small effort would seem to be worth the risk of preventing a child from vulnerability to a child predator – whIle relatively rare do tend to seek out vulnerable children or those without obvious supervision.
    And on top of that the value to the child of being alOne in Walmart is just about negligible. Almost of useless value to the child. So why put them at risk?

  183. @LRH – Not to be repetitive (never let it be said I was repetitive, although my kids would try to tell you I am) but you’ve struck on what I think is the central issue, which is our desire to feel in control. My mother was 30 when I was born, a change of life baby (she was) her only sister was 15 years older. My grandmother had five chldren, three of whom died before adulthood, of measles and the inlfuenza epidemic. I’ve no doubt that my grandparents grieved deeply. And no doubt that no one could really say why Mama and her sister Frances survived when their brothers and sister did not. I also know that my grandmother was deeply religious and took comfort from that, accepting the idea that even if she didn’t understand why awful thngs happened, there was some greater meaning and she simply had to ‘soldier on.’ If one looks at child mortality rates over the past two centuries, or even the past fifty years, childhood is safer now than it has ever been, yet we are more apprehensive than my parents or grandparents by far.

    As we have become ever more successful in beating back disease and nature’s depradations, at least here in the West, we become ever more convinced that it is our right to be safe and secure, that such is the nature of things, when all the evidence ought warn us that life includes danger, and we must continue to live nonetheless. So we become petulant when events intrude and force us to consider that we may not be as secure as we wish to believe, and then we look for those things that we can try to impose our will on to restore a sense of balance, and lo and behond, our children are the easiest place to do that. Try to impose your will and control on your boss, or your wife/husband, for that matter, or your best friend, and since we are responsible for raising our children we can try to control at least that much.

    You say it’s all about odds, which is one way to frame it. In order to calculate odds, it is necessary to have all the data, and of course, that’s the problem, isn’t it, life doesn’t give us all the data on the end where we’re placing our bets.

    My elder son and I had an agreement when he wnet to college, he’d live at home and care for his year old sister while I worked part-time, so she’d not have to be in ‘child care.’ and in his junior year he would move onto campus, and I would take financial responsibility for his education. The first semester was fine, but second semester he came home and said it was hard being a commuter, that he found it was a struggle to really participate in campus life, so wanted to move onto campus immediately.

    I said of course he could, as long as he was willing to pay for his own education. He said he’d talked with his advisor and his advisor agreed that it was important for him to live on campus. I told him that if his advisor wanted to pay for his education that would be fine with me, too.

    He then said, “But it’s not fair, I didn’t have all the information necessary to understand what it would mean when you and I made our agreement.’ I replied, “Welcome to real life.’

    We never have all the information necessary to place our bets, and make our decisions, so we do the best we can, and then hope. There are costs to all our choices, I’ve tried to get for myself and for my kids, as they say, “The best bang for the buck.” Anyone who believes it’s possible to completely mitigate risk is, IMHO, playing a fool’s game.

  184. Susan, that’s one country and one child in America. Where is the evidence that child abductions are increasing in multiple countries, and that many children in the English-speaking world were abducted yesterday?

    As for “I don’t know anybody who took a long time to learn to act like an adult”, I doubt you know anybody who was under their parents’ direct supervision (eye contact at all times!) as much as you think children should be now. I would be astonished, really.

  185. Rita Right on.

    Susan Is it worth it? You know what, sometimes it ISN’T worth it. I’m sorry, but besides wanting my child to learn some independence & confidence in themselves, I think my personal convenience matters–yes, even in a safety issue it STILL matters. This is not to say that I’m sloppy with safety, but I draw the line somewhere eventually too.

    To wit: I put my kids in a car seat & buckle them up, but when shopping for car seats my priority WAS NOT on which one was the safest. I figure they’re all pretty safe & even when comparing the most safe one to the least safe one the gap was probably rather tiny. However, in terms of difficulty of usage, the most difficult ones to use were WAY more difficult than the easiest ones. Further, I’m going to be putting them in & out of that seat daily, perhaps several times. If it’s too difficult to mess with, I figure, I’m going to end up ditching it or not using it, or even grumpy. An easier-to-use one, no such issues would likely arise.

    So yes, I traded in a tiny bit of safety for an awful lot of convenience.

    In terms of the Walmart deal, perspective helps. Odds really are VERY VERY low that anything is going to happen to them. VERY low. Meanwhile perhaps it helps you a lot for them to be able to entertain themselves in a toy area or specific play area while you browse the section you need to browse.

    To do this, as the mother in the Walmart did–I don’t see it as an unwise choice at all.

    Safety is NOT everything, convenience to the parent IS relevant & not selfish for the parent to weigh in to such everyday decisions. That the child learns some independence, even better.


  186. Susan, did it ever occur to you that kids might WANT to go places without their parents?

    As a kid at that age, and certainly a little older, I wanted to be out and exploring as much as possible. And there was nothing stopping me during daylight, out-of-school hours, thank goodness. I could absolutely not imagine being cooped up waiting around until my parents had the time and motivation to take me where I wanted to go.

    And yes, there is a lot that kids pick up from independently shopping etc. I made some stupid purchases and some smart ones. I learned a lot about sales pitches and how to get a good idea of what something is really worth. I learned about making deals and even how to make a few bucks. And yes, I learned about weirdos, good and bad vibes, and self-protection. I got a lot of exercise and discovered things I never would have discovered if I’d had to wait around for my parents. I wouldn’t trade those experiences for some false sense of security. I only wish my kids could have similar independent experiences at an early age. I have to manufacture independence because there are no stores within reasonable walking distance.

  187. Uly,

    What misquoted me as saying : “I don’t know anybody who took a long time to learn to act like an adult”

    What I actually said: “You know something Uly I have never met an adult that was “shopping impaired” as a result of not being taught how to shop early enough by their parent. It’s not rocket science & doesn’t take years or even weeks to learn. Lol
    Same as an adult who didn’t know how to be alone or unattended – never met one regardless of the parenting philosophy of their mom & dad.
    I don’t think it’s really too likely to happen at all.”

    Way different!

  188. All I am saying is that the child abduction attempt in the video is not just a unique event put out there by fear mongers. It’s real, and little kids who are or appear to be alone are especially vulnerable.

  189. Susan, I am not sure in which countries child abduction rates are increasing. If you are referring to human trafficking, which usually originates in less developed nations, then you are referring to a real problem. However, the majority of children who are trafficked are sold by desperate parents or caregivers (at least some of whom probably think they are giving their children a better life), and women who are trafficked are often promised good jobs in foreign countries, then forced into prostitution.

    Almost 0 children in any first world country are being abducted by strangers, and bugger-all of them in store aisles. I live in a first world country. Fortunately there is still a measure of sanity here regarding child safety. The last time, months ago, that a child was approached by a stranger (she was on her way to school) police simply asked parents to be sure their children walked to school in groups until they rounded the fellow up.

    I take my hat off to Free Rangers in the US. I cannot imagine how you all cope from day to day, having to live among people with this level of paranoia. Kids unsafe in supermarket aisles? Just crazy. Really, really crazy.

  190. Except in the case of an earthquake, maybe – in that case it probably wouldn’t matter if Mum was standing right there – just two would be injured/crushed to death instead of one.

  191. “Same as an adult who didn’t know how to be alone or unattended – never met one regardless of the parenting philosophy of their mom & dad.”

    Then you haven’t been looking too hard, Susan. I live in a college town for a major state university. I see 6,000 newly minted adults every August. Half of them have NO CLUE how to exist on their own. They have no idea how to do laundry. They don’t know how to cook a meal. And, yes, there are even some who have no clue how to grocery shop.

    Those are the ones with minor problems. Not the ones getting their first taste of freedom and end up flunking out of school because those 8am classes are just too difficult to get up for after partying all night. Or the ones who fail their classes because nobody is there to make them do their homework. Or students who fail because they have to deal with college professors who don’t want to talk to mommy and daddy about their problems but want them to handle it themselves and they have no idea how.

    And even they are the lucky ones. They’re not the ones who end up dead after a night of binge drinking. Or the ones who get raped because they didn’t know better than to get into a cab alone while falling down drunk (and, yes, my town has a cab driving rapist who has never been identified because all his coed victims have been too drunk to identify which cab they got in). They’re not the ones gang raped at the frat party. They’re not the ones who have unprotected sex while drunk and end up with an STD or pregnant. They’re not the ones who end up in jail for vehicular homicide after driving home drunk. They’re not the ones who end up dead doing some stupid act while drunk.

    Kids are not kidnapped from Walmart every year. These things are happening on every college campus in the US every year (well, the raping cab driver may be unique to my town). They happen because parents believe exactly like you – that they can molly-coddle their kids, give them no responsibility, no independence, no opportunity to deal with the world, thrust them out at 18 and they’ll be okay because, afterall, it doesn’t take much to learn how to be an adult.

  192. Hineata,

    “Almost 0 children in any first world country are being abducted by strangers”

    Actually no this is very wrong.

    In the united states about 58,000 children were abducted by non family members.


  193. Other stats – 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 10 boys are sexually molested before adulthood. (USA )

  194. If you think these numbers are insignificant , I am really surprised that you use seatbelts, wear helmets, & use sports protection equipment.

    Many of these were introduced based upon similar risk rates!

    Yes seatbelts are legislated now, they weren’t always and at the time many people protested the law.

    Same with wearing helmets when riding a motorcycle – some people feel strongly in their right to feel their hair blow in the wind.

    The thing is – this is not about you – it’s about your kids!!!

    Don’t jeapordize them just so you can prove a point.

    If you want to prove its a safe world out there then YOU take a risk – sky dive, walk at night alone in high crime areas, boldly cross a busy street against the light, never lock your car …

  195. LoL.

    Hey, Donna, that happens here too. I lived in student accommodation three years ago. It is absolutely ridiculous how incredibly immature university students (legal adults) are. I, quite literally, had an evacuation alarm go off on a weekly basis for the entire year I lived there because so many ~18-year-olds had no idea how to cook on a regular basis without burning something so incredibly badly that the fire alarms were set off and couldn’t be cleared of smoke before they auto-called the fire department. They also had loud parties at ridiculous times on weeknights and during exams, etc. When I left at the end of the year, there were numerous reports of units badly damaged, never cleaned, mattresses soiled, etc. No responsibility. No respect for rental property. Very little ability to care for themselves.

    A friend of mine still lives there. He tells me that evacuation alarms are down to once per fortnight.

    @ Susan:

    Why ever do you as a parent put your child in a circumstance where they should have to be responsible for saving their own life??

    I have been responsible for performing actions to save my own life on a many-times-daily basis since childhood.

    Every time I cross the road, my life is in danger. I save my own life by looking both ways and making good judgements about when to cross.

    We’re not talking about leaving toddlers alone in supermarkets here. She was 7. You are right in thinking that children do not have the knowledge, experience, logic and mental capacity of an adult, but we’re not talking about the child having to do big, complex actions here. In order for a child to be safe, this basically summarises everything they need to do:

    – Don’t leave the place your parent/carer expects you to be (in this case, don’t leave walmart)

    – Do not go somewhere isolated, and do not allow anybody to take you to an isolated place. If somebody tries to get you to follow them, refuse as politely as possible, then tell parent or carer.

    – If somebody tries to physically interfere with or restrain you, FIGHT. Kick, scream, bite, spit, scratch, punch, claw. Go for the eyes, face, throat and stomach. Go for the crotch if it’s a man. If you can grab an object and hit him, do so. If you’re not somewhere isolated, your abductor is going to have a really hard time explaining to anybody who asks why s/he is holding a savagely fighting and struggling child with their hand over the child’s mouth (if there isn’t a hand over the kid’s mouth, the kid will be screaming things like “HELP!” “KIDNAP!” “ABDUCTION!” “I’M BEING TAKEN!” “THIS ISN’T MY DAD!” etc.)

    That’s pretty much all. This isn’t exactly filling out tax forms or negotiating a peace treaty. This isn’t deciding on a career path or college plan. There aren’t many nuances at all. There are a lot of things that young children ARE incapable of, but this is fairly basic and shouldn’t be beyond the abilities of a properly taught, neurotypical primary-schooler.

    I’d also like to point out that an adult probably has similar chances of being assaulted, molested, raped, mugged or abducted while in walmart or whatever than a child does. Again, I refuse to submit to the idea that I – or anybody else – am expected to be able to be able to defend myself from attack if I am to be out in public alone (the inference being that children are too small, weak and gullible to defend themselves effectively, but adults can).

    You’re saying that the rights and freedoms of both parent and child need to be restricted… because somebody ELSE may commit a criminal act to them. I don’t mind the idea of restricting freedoms to do acts that are inherently dangerous (seat belt laws, for example) – but going shopping is not an inherently dangerous act. Being a child and alone in a supermarket aisle is not an inherently dangerous act. Criminal people committing criminal acts are what make it “dangerous” – why, then is it the “potential victims” who are being punished for OTHER PEOPLE’S criminal behaviour? Make attempted/successful abduction carry the death penalty, or something.

    I say this because, as a child I got a lot of that attitude. As an adult woman, I still get some of that attitude – that I’m vulnerable, might be attacked and need protection. It’s interesting that you mentioned walking alone at night – for the last three years I’ve been walking through Brisbane City’s CBD at points between 10pm and… well, dawn, on a fairly frequent basis. I’ve never been assaulted or raped, despite my mother’s and aunt’s assurance that I will be (and worse, that it’s an “open invitation”). I do so because the areas that I walk in are not full of criminals, homeless people, drunken yobbos, graffiti or rapists. It’s not a dangerous or high-crime area, and there are lots of people around. There are suburbs of Sydney that are dangerous to go into if you happen to be of the wrong race. I would not walk alone in them… well, ever. Especially not at night. It’s a judgement call. I’m sure that the mother here made a judgement call relating the the amount of relevant criminal activity in the area. (And no, auntie, the fact that one woman got murdered in a different part of the city fifty years ago is not relevant crime statistics!)

  196. Okay, one last attempt –

    There are about 58,000 child abductions cases in the USA every year where the perpetrator is not a family member.

    Who, are these children if not the children of Free Range Parents?

    The children were out in public locations away from their parents, with permission from their parents in almost all cases! They were almost all Free Range Kids. Very few were kids from “mollycoddling” parents.

    Lightbulb anybody?

  197. @ Susan _ I clicked on YOUR link here it is:

    The U.S. Department of Justice reports

    * 797,500 children (younger than 18) were reported missing in a one-year period of time studied resulting in an average of 2,185 children being reported missing each day.
    * 203,900 children were the victims of family abductions.
    * 58,200 children were the victims of non-family abductions.
    * 115 children were the victims of “stereotypical” kidnapping. (These crimes involve someone the child does not know or someone of slight acquaintance, who holds the child overnight, transports the child 50 miles or more, kills the child, demands ransom, or intends to keep the child permanently.)

    It does say 58,200 are non family abductions, but it also says 115 are “stereotypical” (ie Walmart attempt)….of course the 115 matter, but using inflated numbers does not make your point….

    This also includes children under 18.

  198. Susan, as noted, only 115 a year are ‘stranger danger’ abductions, the rest, still greatly outnumbered by family member abductions, would be people like babysitters, nanny’s, teachers, coaches, or family friends. If you are so paranoid as to think that 115 a year stranger abductions means you shouldn’t take your eyes off your kid, does the much higher family abduction statistic make you too paranoid to let your relatives see your kids? Not only that but those 115 kids aren’t all ‘free range’ kids left *gasp* alone at the park. They are also those snatched from school playgrounds, their beds past locked doors and windows, and even snatched directly out of the arms of caregivers. Some of them are by themselves, but even your own link shows that is when kids are *least* likely to be taken.

  199. “You don’t see any bystanders jumping in to help her. The little girls actions seem to be what causes him to release her.”

    They don’t have to jump in to help her. The very fact that the man knows that other people exist and are in range who do not want to harm the child, does the trick. Because as soon as she makes noise, he knows he’s finished. That’s the point.

  200. Yes “only” 115 of the 58,200 child abductions by non family members involved “stereotypical kidnapping” where the child is taken overnight, taken over 50 miles away, held for random or killed.

    What do you think was happening with the remaining more than 50,000 incidents? The perpetrator was taking them to a tea party?

    A person who abducts or attempts to abduct a child they don’t know will either harm or intends to harm that child. Yes the majority are released to go home afterwards . But the harm has been done by that point.

    I don’t think over 50,000 children is an insignificant number. I am surprised to hear you do.

  201. The point isn’t whether the child can identify the good and bad people. The point is that there’s about a 1 in 10 million chance that any given person in a Walmart wants to harm a child. If there’s even one OTHER person in the Walmart, there are witnesses, hence a measure of safety. And the potential bad guy knows that if there’s any other person there, there’s 9,999,999 in 10 million chance that the person is a threat to him if he’s seen.

    Because even most people who aren’t all around great paragons are going to react if they see a kid screaming when a guy grabs them. Whether they rush in and grab the child is immaterial — the guy doesn’t even want to be SEEN doing his nefarious deeds. And even if he’s dumb/mentally challenged enough to do it anyway, human instinct will kick in when he hears the kid scream and sees several pairs of eyes turned his way.

    That’s why it’s safe to let your seven year old child (not two year old) go fifty feet from you in the middle of a normal, busy store. It’s probably not so smart to let them wander a hundred yards across a deserted store at an off time of day. The chances of something happening are still pretty low, but at some point the balance tips from “no problem” to “not a very good idea.”

    And Susan, please lose the idea that this has anything to do with how “hard” it is to keep your child close. No, it’s not that hard. It’s just *totally unnecessary* and in many ways (as have been pointed out here by several commenters) counter-productive.

  202. I’d like to see the definition of “non-family members.”

    Because if it’s mom’s boyfriend, or second degree relatives (grandparents, aunts or uncles) you just took a HUGE bite out of the stats.

  203. And that also includes all the 12-17 year olds who went willingly with some slimeball they met online.

    “Abduction” doesn’t only mean “grabbed and dragged.” It refers to any person who removes a child from proper custody without the parent’s consent and against the parent’s will. I’d really like to know the stats on how many children were removed by force from public places, because that’s the ONLY situation that’s relevant here.

  204. Homes or yards were the origination point in only a minority of the abductions of all nonfamily abducted children (23 percent) and of those who were stereotypically kidnapped (19 percent) (table 4).

    Instead, streets, parks or wooded areas, and other public areas (i.e., generally accessible spaces) were the places from which children were typically abducted.

  205. Who are the non-family abductors? They are usually people who are already known to the child. Examples could include a neighbor, pool boy, snow removal person, apartment caretaker, bus driver, maintenance man etc etc.

    This known person uses the fact that they are known to the child (and thus assumed “safe”) to their advantage. When they find the child unattended in a park , shopping mall, arena or other public place it becomes relatively easy to convince the child to come with them, usually without a fuss.

    So it is true that strangers are usually less of a threat statistically. It’s the “known” person who happens across your child unattended in a public place that poses the greater risk.

    And yes, they do deliberately watch for opportunities in such places!

  206. Okay, Susan, clearly you’re not going away anytime soon. Clearly you think child abductions are a frequent-enough thing for us to molly-coddle our kids (as Donna said in her outstanding rebuttal) and be joined to their hips 24/7.

    Clearly, you believe this with every fiber in your being. We, on the other hand, do not. You are not going to convince us we’re wrong, not because we’re pig-headed fools who can’t be reasoned with, but because we know better. That’s it.

    You raise your kids your way, we will raise our kids our way. I would never interfere with your rights to parent as you see fit, and I sure hope you are the same way on your end of things.

    Donna and SKL and others have laid it out very carefully what the statistics really say, how rare stranger-abductions really are vs the picture painted on television, and made it clear–that’s how they intend to parent their kids, no matter what you think.

    You’re NOT going to change our mind, and you can keep arguing with us until you’re old and gray & the rest of us are as well, but we’re not going to stop. It’s never going to end. We will continue to let you know what the deal is and make the point abundantly clear–you may not like our parenting philosophy, so be it, but at the same time–who stinking cares?

    I sure don’t.

    If you want to keep this up forever & forever, please–continue. But you’re not going to win. You’re going to lose over and over and over and over, as well you SHOULD. The choice is yours.


  207. LRH
    You are right. You will probably not change.

    But in the mean time expect to continue to get visits from social services and comments from other concerned parents who worry about the safety of your children even if you don’t.

    Soon as in anything else, if people don’t voluntarily do what is best for their child it simply becomes legislated.

  208. “Instead, streets, parks or wooded areas, and other public areas (i.e., generally accessible spaces) were the places from which children were typically abducted.”

    Deserted streets, parks, and wooded areas are not comparable to stores during normal business hours. When I said “public places,” I should have said “places filled with lots of members of the public.” I didn’t mean “public” as opposed to “home.”

    “This known person uses the fact that they are known to the child (and thus assumed “safe”) to their advantage. When they find the child unattended in a park , shopping mall, arena or other public place it becomes relatively easy to convince the child to come with them, usually without a fuss.”

    All of which has absolutely no bearing on whether a child who is taught not to go anywhere with any unknown person can safely walk a few dozen yards from a parent in a populated public area.

    If you want to say you shouldn’t let your seven year old go alone to a deserted park, I’m right there with you. I like my kids to go places away from home in pairs, unless they’re going to be clearly “in public” (meaning in the public eye, like walking on busy streets and in stores with people in them) the whole time. But this has nothing to do with letting your child go to another aisle in a populated store.

    And again, 10 yards away with conscious permission is *not* unattended.

  209. Susan, it’s a proven fact that when you drag your child around instead of putting her in charge of her own safety, she is less likely to pay attention to things that develop her survival skills.

    Here’s an example from my own life. Usually when I go places with certain people, they drive and I’m the passenger. They know where they are going, and I’m in relaxed sightseer mode. I have been to certain places dozens of times, and then when I have to actually drive there, I am at a loss to remember the way. Being in charge of safely getting from point A to point B is completely different from being along for the ride. That is true of kids as well. My kids knew how to be safe in roads and parking lots by age 4, because I let them go away from my side (but still within earshot in case they acted foolishly). Likewise they are learning to get around safely in many situations.

    There are times when any parent – helicopter or not – is going to lose track of their child momentarily. The child needs to have a clue what to do (and what not to do). And simply being told in words is not enough. We tell kids all kinds of things that they ignore. When they are in a real situation where their decisions matter, that’s when they learn how to solve problems.

  210. About the college student thing – that is so true, it isn’t funny. When I stayed in a graduate dorm, some folks decided to have a party on our floor. They cooked a bunch of food in the basement and brought the pots upstairs. Afterwards they just left everything in the common area. Dirty pots everywhere. The maids informed them that they were not responsible to take care of dirty pots and pans. The slobs still left them there. After a while (days? weeks?) someone got sick of seeing them on the common table and put them off in a study cubicle, where they remained (still full of filth) until the end of the term.

    I also had to teach my 25-year-old neighbor how to do laundry. She also asked me if it was necessary to dust at all throughout the school year.

    Don’t even get me started about the young woman who left her undies and tennies soaking in the common bathroom sink. Oh, nostalgia!

  211. I am committed to raising my children free-range, I want them to become confident, independent adults and I think that begins in childhood. I used the Walmart video to explain to my two oldest boys how brave that girl was, how she did exactly the right thing and how abductors are so frightened by discovery that they fear any noise or struggle a child will make. We also had a good chat about how an adult or child might try to lure them away. How to trust our instincts and to always look after each other.

    However, I’m struggling within myself. I’m in the UK and we’ve had some VERY high-profile cases, I know I know I know they are the exception and I deplore how the media seizes on them with an unsavory glee but the fact remain that they DID happen and the miniscule chance of it happening is cold comfort when it is your child it’s happened to.

    So I think over them and try and see the lesson in each case, to see how my child might have handled it differently. But I’m not sure they could, and it scares me. Why are such people out there? Why do we tolerate them in our society? It feels like I’m about to begin walking a minefield of what my head is telling me is the right thing to do (let them have their independence) and my heart is screaming (wrap them up in cotton wool and NEVER let them out of sight! Which I know is unrealistic, which is why I come on here, to give me the confidence and skills to do what is right for them).

    Please forgive me for listing these, these are the cases that swim round and round in my head, and I feel I have no-where to put them. You will probably be unfamiliar with them as they are from the UK:

    James Bulger – a 2 year old in a shopping centre with his mother walks a few feet away from her while she is paying for goods and is lured away by 2 TEN year old children. Is horrifically murdered.

    Sophie Hook – 7 years old. Camping with older cousins in a relative’s garden. Is snatched from the tent, raped and murdered.

    Sara Payne – 8 years old. Playing in fields with her 3 older siblings behind her grandparents house. Is separated from them for only moments, snatched and thrown into the back of a van. Raped and murdered.

    Soham Murders – Two 10 year old girls go for a walk around their village. They are invited into the house of the school caretaker, whom they know, to stroke his dog. He murders them.

    Doncaster Attacks – 9 and 10 year old boys are playing when two boys slightly older than them (10 and 11, brothers) ask if they want to see a dead fox. They go with them and are sexually abused and sadistically tortured. They were left for dead but the younger boy manages to find his way to a house. Thankfully they both survived.

    There are more, obviously, but these are the ones which haunt me. I think because in each case, the children are doing what I would allow my child to do; to play, to camp in a garden, to be away from me in a shop (though not when they’re 2). I keep telling myself that the world is safer now, I love reading your site and having this confirmed, and then these stories pop up and whisper in my mind ‘but it happens, it happens, it could happen to your children’.

    What can I do about this voice? How can I stop those stories, and more, from rattling around in my head? I’ve just realised how long this comment is – I’m sorry! – I’ll stop now!

  212. S. Hall — those are scary realities. I don’t think you can banish them entirely. In fact, I suspect they serve a positive purpose — you don’t want to get TOO cavalier about your children’s safety. (I’m not suggesting you are or anyone else in particular is cavalier, just saying that that might be a benefit of the “voices” among the troubles they cause.)

    I think the solution is just to keep *answering* them, with “Those things COULD happen. There is a tiny chance. There are no guarantees in life. However, there is a 100% chance that if I deny my children normal amounts of freedom, they will lose in countless ways, some small and emotional, some larger and functional.” You might never lose the voices, but you can always talk back to them.

    And of course, if you’re a praying person, pray!

  213. Susan: But in the mean time expect to continue to get visits from social services and comments from other concerned parents who worry about the safety of your children even if you don’t.

    I figure I will, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. All of them should mind their own business–in fact, dare I say it, if there is a legal means by which to do so, they should be made to mind their own business. People who can’t butt out of someone’s business and can’t resist meddling, frankly I think there should even be jail penalties for doing so.


  214. S. Hall, I think part of it is the idea that we feel we have control if our child is with us. But in reality, so many more bad things happen to children who are with their parents, or doing things that seem safe. Car accidents, fires, home accidents, extreme weather, violent crimes while the parents are present, etc. In fact, think of the children who have been murdered just for being present when a murderer has come after their parent. Does hearing of those cases make us think we should keep our kids away from us? No, because the sense of control we feel when our child is “right here with us” seems to trump the reality that that could actually be a more dangerous place in certain circumstances. But that’s based on emotions, not reality.

    I think we have to accept the fact that sometimes horrible things happen to children. As parents, we cannot change that fact. We have to let our kids live full lives, because the great likelihood is that they will grow to adulthood and need rich childhood experiences to help guide them. We can’t parent based on the assumption that our kid is marked to be “that statistic” and therefore never need life skills as an adult.

    I often say that in all these discussions about risks, I wish someone would quantify the risks of over-sheltering kids.

    A parallel could be feeding our kids. There is always a slight chance that a food is contaminated and could cause a deadly reaction in our kids. So what is the solution? To never let our kids eat again? Nobody thinks this way, for obvious reasons. Yet to me, it’s just as obvious that kids need experiences away from their parents. We can work on making those experiences safer, but to cut them off all together should not be seen as a valid solution.

  215. S.Hall – my best advice is to step away from the media.

    I didn’t hear about this Walmart thing until I read it here on Free Range Kids, and I have no intention of looking at the video. I didn’t hear about Whitney Houston’s death until someone mentioned it at work this morning. I actually don’t currently know who is the front runner for the Republican nomination. Somehow, I am still alive.

    I deliberately make a point of not watching the news on tv, or reading national news, or listening to news radio. Once a week I take a look at my local news paper. If car thefts have been on the rise, I remind my husband to lock the damn car door for once. If an override is being voted on that affects my town and quality of life, I study up on it. Otherwise, I truly don’t see the need to know what goes on in every little town in the US and around the world 24/7. I’ll get caught up on the presidential election right before I vote (not that I suspect it will change my vote at all). If a major event happens, I’ll hear about it. But even the free range stuff that irritates me – I don’t need to go looking for reasons to be irritated.

    The media is trying to manipulate me to feel a certain way, worry about certain things, and usually to spend my money on certain things. I refuse to play their game.

  216. S. Hall, I also second what BMS said. You might think that since you already know this stuff, not listening to more won’t matter.

    But it will. Once you orient your thinking away from the “news,” and your mind starts being occupied by other stuff, “stuff you’ve heard about that happened to other people somewhere” starts to take a smaller place in your thinking.

    I’m not saying be ignorant, but you can generally find out what you need to know just by being a reasonably aware person. It’s a myth that you need to pay close attention to “the news” to stay informed. Most thing you need to know about, you’ll hear about. Five minutes a day scanning headlines on some news site or reliable blog will do it, while sparing you the horror stories and the gory details that don’t make you better informed in any meaningful way — they just haunt you.

  217. I’m going to respond by not ever watching the video.

  218. I read a book once with a quote from an Amish man who said something to the effect of (paraphrasing) “Reading about a war in a distant country does not improve my relationship with God, my family, or my community. So why should I spend time doing that?”

    One of the wisest things I have ever read.

  219. Who, are these children if not the children of Free Range Parents?

    The children were out in public locations away from their parents, with permission from their parents in almost all cases! They were almost all Free Range Kids. Very few were kids from “mollycoddling” parents.

    You do realize that most abductions occur to teens and pre-teens, yes? Are you seriously suggesting that you will never, ever allow your child to do anything alone until he or she heads off to college?

  220. “There are about 58,000 child abductions cases in the USA every year where the perpetrator is not a family member.
    Who, are these children if not the children of Free Range Parents?”

    The vast majority are teens who have WILLINGLY gone with the “abductors.” A large number are kids slightly under the age of majority who run off with a slightly over the age of majority boyfriend/girlfriend or friend. A 16 year old who takes off with an 18 year can be considered abducted, even if she went willingly (luckily the investigation is just as an abduction and the 18 is not charged with kidnapping). Many of these are from helicopter families just looking for a little freedom.

    Others include teens who WILLINGLY go places with coaches, people they met on the internet, and other individuals they trusted. Non-family does not in anyway equal stranger. Use your common sense, if these were typical stranger abductions, there would be no reason to have two categories. None of these situation have any bearing whatsoever as to whether a 7 year old is safe a few feet from mom in Walmart. The only statistics that speak somewhat to that risk are the 115 stereotypical kidnappings. And still those are mostly preteens and teens with very few 7 year olds in the mix.

  221. I’d also like to know how Susan is so certain that those who were abducted from public places were free-range kids. Not that it matters much, if we’re talking about teens. Even a helicoptered teen gets to go out once in a while.

    But, even if she’s right about them being FRK, that’s like saying the only smart approach to water safety is to stay far away from water, since obviously all drownings occur in water.

    What she doesn’t mention is the statistics for how many FRK have gone their whole life without getting seriously hurt by strangers.

  222. I wonder, Susan, if you actually read the NISMART report. They are careful to point out that ‘abduction’ can be as little as an hour. Which means Johnny may have taken a ride home with friends and forgotten to tell mum. Mum, being the hysterical helicopter type, contacts police. Johnny arrives home a while later, happy until he realises Mum has blown whatever meager street cred he may have possessed by overreacting (again?).

    I remember coming back from horseriding one day with my parents, siblings and a friend. The police, who we all knew, pulled us over at the edge of town to check that friend was with us, as they’d received a call from friend’s grandma who wasn’t sure where friend was (She had gone horseriding with us, informing mum but not grandma). Under these stats, friend would have been classified as abducted, as we were gone more than an hour. (BTW, Grandma was concerned because she had recieved a distressed call, which turned out to be a prank, from a little girl who she assumed was granddaughter, and being unable to contact the child’s parents, or the child, she had rung the police – this being a very small town, they had nothing to do that afternoon anyway, and they were well known to Grandma, so were more than happy to follow it up 🙂 )

    In another example, a couple of days ago here a tiny tot (20 months, I think) went missing after being seen being lifted into a car at an intersection in one of the poorer parts of our largest city. Police put out alerts. A few hours later, child was returned to parents safe and well. Child had been taken from busy intersection for her own saftey, as she had wandered off from caregivers, and a busy intersection is no place for a tiny tot. No further reports that I could find on whether whoever took her was unknown to her anyway, or whether it was part of the extended family, but in any case it was someone exercising common sense and removing a child from a dangerous situation. These stats would probably refer to it as an abduction.

    Also, 58,000 in a country of 300 million is a low figure. Less than 0.017% of 300 million people. That was in one study year, back in the late nineties. And, as other posters have pointed out, most of those ‘abductions’ are no doubt of teenagers, who a/ probably went willingly with these ‘abductors’ (boyfriends, stepparents, coach, grandparent, whatever),
    b/ if they are going with an actual bona fide stranger, are probably over-sheltered products of helicopter parents who don’t have the common sense to realise that this is like , ‘duh’ a dumb thing to do.

    I once again thank the Good Lord that I reside in a country where people still possess a modicum of good sense and neighbourliness, where you can still send your child to another corner of the supermarket without hysterical do-gooders (do-badders?) accusing you of neglect or ‘not doing your job’. Please, Susan, try and relax, before you do more damage to your children than even fighting off an abductor in Walmart would do.

    By-the-by, wasn’t it wonderful to see how proud that little girl seemed to be of herself! Kudos to her….

  223. Also, Susan, what sort of children are you raising that you cannot trust your school aged child to be alone in a store aisle not far from you? Have you not taught your child to kick, yell, bite, go for the eyes etc And have you not taught them good store behaviours?

    I would personally be embarassed if my seven year old could not be trusted to remain in a store aisle by herself – if her behaviour was that poor that I had to supervise her constantly (not including special needs children in this, of course).

    Once again, bugger-all children are being abducted from store aisles. And under your ‘logic’ of fear, I should have supervised closely my 10 year old when we went blackberry picking yesterday afternon. Shock, horror, we were in the bush. Outside. And there were a few strangers biking past. And smiling and waving. And, because I was up to my neck in brambles, I could not always see my ‘baby’, who was up to her neck in her own brambles. Never mind Shorty, who nobody can ever see once she goes behind a bush, and who has to shout to let us know where she is.

    Guess what? They DID NOT get abducted. Just like, in hundreds of shopping trips in which they have trotted off to get various grocery items, they have , shock horror, NOT been abducted.

  224. I am SO down with the whole “less is more” thing with media. No TV, no newspaper subscription, yet I know what I need to from the ether. Seriously. You can’t get away from information these days, so unsubscribing to the direct feed in your own home buys you only a little relief anyway… but oh, so welcome!

    I used to think I was the only parent out there who hadn’t decided that any abduction, anywhere, meant that if I turn around it might be my kid. Even people self-aware enough to realize they’ve been made hysterical by the over-reporting of these isolated incidents still say, “But I just can’t take the risk,” with their own kid, as if it were some kind of significant risk to walk four houses to a friend’s house in the first place!

    “If anything ever happened to my kid, that would be the end of me.”

    I’m guessing this is the motto of every “24 /7 supervision” parent. Examine that statement carefully. Is it in any way advocating for the integrated well-being and development of the child, or is it simply a grab at peace, a desperate grab, the antithesis of humble acceptance that the world unfolds as it will, and we are intended to LIVE, not cower in fear of every possible thing that could do us harm.

    After all, my dad, a very wise man, predicted many years ago that it would be a virus that would take out humanity, and sooner rather than later. Something we can’t even see with a pretty fancy microscope! No, you need a REALLY fancy microscope! I don’t know, it just seems so utterly ridiculous that reasonable precautions aren’t enough. Sure, wash your hands. It’s a good idea. Sure, talk to your kids about self-defense. It’s a prudent thing to do. But keep your kid in a climate-controlled box to avoid germs? Naw, that would be abusive, right?

    A fear-controlled box is not much better, folks. My heart goes out to my son, especially, who really bore the brunt of his father’s hysterical fear around abduction. “If anything ever happened to that kid, it would be the end of me,” he would always say. Self-absorption to the extreme, say I.

  225. Not sure why I am getting so hot under the collar about this particular post. Maybe it is because it is profoundly embarassing that we as a race are at a point in history where we are accusing parnts of neglect when they allow a child to do a simple activity, like stand in a jolly STORE AISLE.

    Maybe it’s because I’m supposed to be reading about structural and cultural Marxism, as it relates to the classroom (which it doesn’t, in any practical way) and this is so much more interesting 🙂

  226. I have a 7 year old girl. Every single time we go to walmart, all the kids demand to go to the toy section, On Their Own. Even more horrifying? The kids will go to the bathroom On Their Own. Same with any other store with a toy section. We, the parents, have a set route we take and the kids know it. We have never had a single incident of someone trying to take our kids.

    Someone following the father out of the store under the assumption that the two year old that is having a meltdown is being kidnapped, now that is a completely different thing. We’ve had that happen several times.

  227. North of 49 – good on you! And, statistics being what they are, I bet you never do have anyone try to take your kids.

    An American friend was horrified at the way I let my kids, aged between 5 and 10 at the time, go on long walks together with friends in a group without any adult supervision. “But what if they get kidnapped?”

    To begin with, what is so special (love them as I do) about my children that some practically non’existant kidnapper would want to target them? And also, as I would add, again to her horror, any kidnapper/pedophile yada yada who wants to try to abduct 5 or 6 kids at once is welcome to them! And, as a teacher used to dealing with groups of unruly kids, I bet he never makes that same mistake again!

  228. non-existent….gee I need to get used to the buttons on this laptop…

  229. Hineata: “Not sure why I am getting so hot under the collar about this particular post. Maybe it is because it is profoundly embarassing that we as a race are at a point in history where we are accusing parnts of neglect when they allow a child to do a simple activity, like stand in a jolly STORE AISLE.

    Maybe it’s because I’m supposed to be reading about structural and cultural Marxism, as it relates to the classroom (which it doesn’t, in any practical way) and this is so much more interesting.”

    I am so with you on all of this. Except for the Marx thing. Mine is more on the capitalistic side.

    How insulting to our second-graders, seriously.

  230. Then again Hineata, if you try hard enough, you could probably figure out how to fit all this mass hysterical, illogical, Big Brother-mongering fear into a Marxism discussion. Somehow.

  231. This makes me wonder … how many of the helicopter parent horror stories make it seem easy to grab a kid from WalMart? Did the urban legends encourage this guy?

  232. Hineata, I find it almost hilarious how in a matter of only a few hours you have gone from confidently saying there are 0 stranger addictions in developed countries to saying 58000 isn’t such a big number of incidents and they were probably just teen age girls going off with some guy.

    Actually if you read the report 40% of those 58000 stranger abductions involved the use of a weapon such as a knife to help persuade the victim.

    Yes some victims were missing only an hour or do. How long do you think it takes to molest a child? Sometimes it’s just a matter of minutes,.

  233. The recent Walmart abduction attempt would not fall into the “stereotypical kidnapping” number of 115 because it did not involve removing the child from the scene 50 miles or more, being taken overnight, held for random or killed.

  234. I also wonder why everyone keeps referring to the issue of whether or not it is safe to let your young child be unsupervised in a store aisle “just a few feet away” or “10 yards away”.

    This incident under discussion involves a child in the toy section of Walmart and a parent in the grocery section.

    In most walmarts this is hundreds of feet away, as they are usually on opposite sides of the store. Well out of hearing or eyesight. This is totally different from a child being one aisle away as some of you keep saying.

    Either your walmarts are really small or you are minimizing the distance?

  235. Please excuse my spelling – I have an auto correct gone wild and I am missing some of the typos.

  236. Fine, Susan. The fact is, that where I live anyway, there are 0 abduction attempts from stores. There is maybe one attempted abduction from anywhere once a year, if that. There has been one abduction and murder of a child under 12 in 30 years (by a stranger).

    I was poo-poohing the stats because I just have great difficulty believing them (there are probably stats somewhere that show that Barack Obama is actually a skirt-wearing superior being from the Andromeda System). Haven’t you heard of ‘Lies, lies, and damned statistics’?
    If the US is really that bad, could you please tell me why you continue to live there ? Or even have children there? It seems, that if your level of paranoia is justified, the sane response would be to move to another, safer country.

    I think though, judging from the saner respondents here on this blog, that things really aren’t that bad. And that children can still walk through Walmart, 99.9999999999999999999999999999% of the time, perfectly safely.

  237. And also, as I was probably not making clear above, I am sure the bulk of the one hour ‘abductions’ had nothing to do with molestation and everything to do with miscommunication and/or wilful behaviour. In other words, they were not abductions at all.

    Anecdotally, very very few people are molested by strangers. They are molested, as I believe you have said yourself somewhere above, by people they know. Who have usually not ‘abducted’ them at the time of molestation.

  238. “The recent Walmart abduction attempt would not fall into the “stereotypical kidnapping” number of 115 because it did not involve removing the child from the scene 50 miles or more, being taken overnight, held for random or killed.”

    Well, that, plus the fact that it wasn’t an abduction and nobody was hurt at all.

    Yep, you’re right, a non-incident doesn’t make the statistics of incidents.

    And there were probably two million cases of traffic accidents that didn’t happen just yesterday, because someone hit the brakes on time. Why should that affect how we think about accidents that actually DO happen?

  239. @susan said, Why ever do you as a parent put your child in a circumstance where they should have to be responsible for saving their own life? (snip) “Your JOB is to protect and care for your child. “ No. Your JOB is to teach your child how to survive the risks of their environment. Encourage them to learn how to evaluate risks. Learn their limits by crashing into them when they are small and the damage is less.

    I roamed, with a pack of other semi-feral children, over a large area of farms, creek bottoms, and wilderness. Before I was allowed to join the pack my dad made sure I knew how to tell bulls from cows, what to do if I saw a bear, what was safe to eat, how to survive for a short time on my own, how to not start a forest fire, how to treat the expected injuries, and how to find my way home from anywhere I might find myself.

    (We had no traffic awareness … my mom put us on leashes when we went to the closest “city” to shop because we saw so little traffic that we would be dead before we learned anything)

    Walk at night alone in the inner city, leave your car unlocked in a high crime neighborhood, go home with a stranger you meet at a bar No thanks. You see, learning to evaluate risks and to avoid ludicrously high risk situations is what free-range personhood is about.

    This guy wasn’t just a random “stoooopid” guy, some inept dummy criminal incapable of pulling off any crime – he just got out of prison – where he was for MANSLAUGHTER!” He was jailed for it, so obviously he didn’t pull it off very well. Manslaughter can be anything from a drunken bar brawl to a gunshot in an argument.

    Are you seriously telling me that if this was your little girl who at age 7 had been snatched up and carried off by a criminal like this that it wouldn’t change anything you do? How do you think that child feels ? ” I saw her interview. She feels pretty proud of taking care of herself. She says she was scared but she learned that fear is not fatal.

    In the early 80s when my eldest niece was about 4 or 5 she was playing “fashion show” in the suburban SoCal front yard with a younger friend. A stereotypical abduction attempt happened: man stopped his car, grabbed the younger girl and tried to carry her back to his car.

    This was post Adam Walsh: Her parents had had a few chats with her about the remote possibility that someone might try to take her away, and told her that an all-out defense was the thing to do.

    My niece went Viking berserker on him, getting between him and his car, screaming and beating him on the legs with the nail-studded scrap of construction debris they had been using for the runway. She was yelling at her friend to “kick him, bite him, scratch him, poke his eyes out” (and the girl was doing her best to do all that).

    Hearing the commotion, anyone who was within earshot came running – my sister said her daughter was “swinging a 2×4 at his legs like Hank Aaron going for a home run” and screaming like a banshee. The other girl was screaming, hammering with her heels, clawing at his face and biting any body part within reach.

    The would-be abductor dropped his target and managed to get into his car while the two girls bolted for the adults who were running towards them … the adults got a partial license plate and a decent description. He was picked up a while later when he went to have the wounds treated.

    My niece’s regrets when talking to the cops were that the 2×4 didn’t have “better nails” (more or longer or both?) and that she was too short to hit him in the head.

    Which sort of child would you want to raise … one that can’t make it without you or one that can?

  240. “which sort of child would you want to raise….one that can’t make it without you, or one that can?”

    Amen, Tsu Dho Minh….

    And congratulations for knowing the diff between a bull and a cow. Grossly off topic, but I hate that animated film ‘Barnyard’ (I think that’s the name) where the main character is a male ‘cow’, and he has an udder! Basic biology lessons needed for some film producers, methinks.

  241. @susan said In the video he is large enough to easily scoop up the little girl, cover her mouth and try to carry her away. She fights and he quickly puts her down and leaves the store.
    You don’t see any bystanders jumping in to help her. The little girls actions seem to be what causes him to release her.

    Not in that camera’s range … for all we know, there was a mob of enraged 5 year olds roaring at him from all over the toy department, ready to chew him off at the knees. Or one or more “concerned citizens”. I know I would have blocked his exit with whatever it took, even if it meant taking some damage. I’ve intervened in assaults before and I’ll do it again, even if I have to whap them with my cane and beat them into submission with my walker.

    @susan also saidThere are about 58,000 child abductions cases in the USA every year where the perpetrator is not a family member. Who, are these children if not the children of Free Range Parents? Well, if you had read the docs linked from your link: http://www.missingkids.com/en_US/documents/nismart2_nonfamily.pdf it defines “nonfamily
    abduction” to include all nonfamily perpetrators (friends and acquaintances as well as strangers) and crimes involving lesser amounts of forced movement or detention of minors in addition to the more serious crimes.

    A 17 year old guy grabbing his 16 year old ex-girlfriend and shoving her into his car to force her to talk to him is an “abduction”.

    hineata … Scr*w the kidnappers!!! I’d worry about bears. We always kept a sharp eye out for bears and especially cubs, because every cub had a momma bear nearby.

  242. Hineata & Tso Dhu Nimh

    “which sort of child would you want to raise….one that can’t make it without you, or one that can?”

    Well we all agree on that anyway!

  243. Tso Dhu Nimh or is it Pseudomyn lol

    About the video – someone commented that it’s probably safe to leave your child unattended in any store due to the presence of so many other shoppers who could protect your child if you are not there.

    My point is that in this case, it was entirely the little 7 year old girls actions that saved her. Although there were many other shoppers they actually did nothing to intervene. ( although they acted as witnesses later). The fellow who has killed before, easily left the store with no one trying to stop him. There were no big heroes there that day except the little girl.

    He was found later due to surveillance cameras both within and outside the store which allowed police to ID car & license plates.

    My point was dont count on other people to help keep your child safe. Other people aren’t really all that keen on looking after your child for you – especially when you won’t even do it yourself!

  244. “My point was dont count on other people to help keep your child safe.”

    Well, my dad’s attitude was teach your child as much as possible so you can count on your child to hang tough until someone more capable can get there. I didn’t have to live in the wilderness for years, I just had to stay alive for 2-3 days while help was getting to me.

    Looking at the video, it was perhaps five seconds between scoop and drop. From previous experience with medical emergencies in stores, that’s about enough time for me to hear the commotion, process the data and start moving towards the disturbance and be hitting the final 1 on my 9-1-1 call just in case I need them.

    The one thing I’m really good at is 9-1-1 because that’s where I can get 02, CPR help, trauma supplies, fire trucks and even guys with guns.

  245. “The fellow who has killed before, easily left the store with no one trying to stop him.” Because he was a young man running out of the store with NO CHILD, no shopping cart, no boxes … he’s just a guy in a hurry.

  246. Although most Free Range Parents have stated they feel this guy did nothing wrong, the police disagree and charged him with attempted kidnapping.

  247. @Susan

    What? I don’t think any free range parents have said “this guy did nothing wrong”…I think they have said the little girl did everything right and HER PARENTS did nothing wrong.

  248. Susan, you have a screw loose. Who said this guy did nothing wrong? “Most” of us? We’ve been rebutting the argument that the mom did something wrong, not the creep.

    Also, that video doesn’t prove nobody would have come to the child’s rescue. The guy put her down because he knew that she was drawing attention to what he was doing. If nobody cared enough to help, he need not have put her down at all. In any case, we can’t see what the other people around were doing because that particular video clip only shows a tiny part of the store for a few seconds. I know nobody who would not help a child in that kind of situation. Many times attempted abductors are beaten to a pulp by the folks who had previously been minding their own business.

  249. Glad we agree on that, Susan.

    @Tsu Do Nimh – fortunately, though boringly, we have no bears to worry about….There was a lion once who escaped from the Wellington Zoo, before I was born, but that’s it for dangerous beasts.

    Except cows with calves, of course. But none of them there yesterday, either. We live boring lives, LOL!

  250. Quote from pentamom
    “Well, that, plus the fact that it wasn’t an abduction and nobody was hurt at all.
    Yep, you’re right, a non-incident doesn’t make the statistics of incidents.”

  251. Embarrassed to say I have never heard of Adam Walsh. I’ll have to google it as I am not sure what you r all talking about when u mention him.

  252. “My point was dont count on other people to help keep your child safe. Other people aren’t really all that keen on looking after your child for you – especially when you won’t even do it yourself!”

    Are you seriously asserting that the physical strength of a seven year old child, and NOT the fact that there were other adults around who saw the uproar, is what saved her?

    No, she was saved because she made an uproar AND there were other people around TO NOTICE.

    “Other people really aren’t all that keen on looking after your child for you” — if you mean taking the responsibility of babysitting, no. If you mean noticing when an action of clear criminal intent is going on and serving as a check against that by their mere presence — of course they will help keep the child safe, without even trying. And had push come to shove, people are actually quite “keen” to stop a violent crime happening to a child before their very eyes. But it never even got to that point — as soon as the guy knew eyes were on him, he knew he was done.

  253. “Well, that, plus the fact that it wasn’t an abduction and nobody was hurt at all.
    Yep, you’re right, a non-incident doesn’t make the statistics of incidents.”

    I didn’t say he did nothing wrong. I said he didn’t abduct the child. That’s why it’s called an “ATTEMPTED” abduction. Therefore, it doesn’t make the abduction stats.

  254. Just like an attempted murder is a really bad thing that people shouldn’t do, but it doesn’t count as a murder.

    Calling things for what they are is not the same as excusing them.

  255. “Forced movement” does not in anyway indicate a gun or other weapon. Nor need it even be physical force. Coercion is force under the law. Further, the “force” can be inferred from other facts. He’s an adult; she’s a child; must be coercion even if adult means 18 and child means 16. And the statistics are based on law enforcement who are more likely to believe mama when she says that her baby would never break the rules and go with boyfriend even though girl says she went willingly. Or girl lies because she doesn’t want to get in trouble without thinking of boy who is now royally screwed.

    The intent of such statistics is usually to make the numbers as high as possible. So this may well include arrests never validated. It may include people like my client who was charged with kidnapping a child (and mother) at gunpoint only to very quickly be proven completely innocent by recorded phone call.

    I’ve yet to have a single stranger abduction case in court. I’ve had lots of older boyfriend/younger girlfriend cases. A few lesbian cases where religious mama claims her precious baby must have been kidnapped because she is not gay. A few kids lured by men on the Internet. Some domestic violence cases involving abduction elements (yes happens to teens). And many oddball cases that don’t fit any category but do involve some kind of abduction/false imprisonment. Either I work in the safest place in the US or these 58,000 cases are something else. I’ll default to my own experiences rather than some number that I have no idea where it came from.

  256. The intent of such statistics is usually to make the numbers as high as possible. So this may well include arrests never validated. It may include people like my client who was charged with kidnapping a child (and mother) at gunpoint only to very quickly be proven completely innocent by recorded phone call.

    Indeed. That’s why the missing person numbers are so high as well, isn’t it? Because it’s a listing of the number of reports, not a listing of the number of people who actually went missing (something much harder to assess). Kid forgot to tell Mom he’s going to a friend’s house? Grandma forgot to tell Dad that she’s got the girls this weekend? Missing! Sorta.

  257. Embarrassed to say I have never heard of Adam Walsh. I’ll have to google it as I am not sure what you r all talking about when u mention him.

    Oh, god, Adam Walsh. He was this kid who was abducted from a mall 30 years ago at the age of 6 or 7, and subsequently murdered.

    He’s a statistical anomaly in all ways – rarer age range for abductions, rarer gender, and murdered by a stranger. It doesn’t happen very often.

    Still, every single time something like this happens (or, more frequently, doesn’t happen even though a kid was left alone) people go “Remember Adam Walsh???” to which I have to say “No. I don’t. Poor kid died before I was even born.”

    Which kinda proves the point, if you ask me. If they can’t even come up with a more recent case (I actually can, and I’m on the other side!) to bolster their argument, how good an argument can it POSSIBLY be?

    Although most Free Range Parents have stated they feel this guy did nothing wrong, the police disagree and charged him with attempted kidnapping.

    Liar, liar, pants on fire.

    Do you not realize that this is a recorded conversation? WE CAN READ THE PREVIOUS COMMENTS! What, exactly, can you gain by lying about what we’ve actually said? Let’s just scroll back up and check – oh, hey, either you’re lying or you’re absolutely delusional.

  258. Honestly, even if the 58,000 number represents real, honest to God, come with me or I’ll kill you abductions – SO WHAT? As others said, this is a rather small percentage of the population. It is still really, really unlikely that my kids are going to be abducted.

    I had a cousin who died at age 12 from a brain tumor. His mom wondered idly whether if she had taken him to the doctor just that little bit sooner whether he could have been cured. It was heartbreaking for her, and her husband, and his siblings. I was close to him too, as we were just three years apart. But even that horrible event of losing a child to a terrible disease didn’t stop any of us from living. We grieved, the whole family pulled together, his mom’s sisters refused to allow her to blame herself for what was clearly a random act of nature, and life went on. It had to – she had 5 other kids who needed her. You can be the best parent in the world, never let your kids out of your sight, and random, unavoidable terribleness can still happen to you. I’ve heard a news story of a mom and child getting hit and killed by a car while crossing the street, holding hands. Stuff happens sometimes that we cannot control.

    So in the face of this fact, I can do one of two things. I can teach my kids basic survival skills and street smarts and let them live their lives, or I can make them into fearful, dependent Klingons. I love my kids dearly, but I do NOT want them living with me forever. When they are 18 I want them to be moving on to college, careers, and life on their own. I can’t wait until they’re 17 to start training them for this.

  259. Well Uly, I suppose it was actually the sense I got from reading the comments which minimize the event and the danger that the man posed that gave me that feeling.

    Comments scoffing at the fact that the guy was a killer already – oh well he could have got that in a bar room brawl, oh he can’t be that dangerous cause he was caught and jailed for the killing, oh he is so dumb to think you can even take a child from Walmart , he deserves a Darwin award.

    And comments saying it wasn’t really an abduction , it was a Non abduction. It was a non event .

    It’s those sorts of comments that made me feel most posters didn’t see the act as being a big deal, the man as doing much of anything wrong etc.

    But it’s true it’s just my impression

  260. “And comments saying it wasn’t really an abduction , it was a Non abduction. It was a non event .”

    Because it wasn’t really an abduction. He didn’t successfully leave the premises with her, therefore it was an “attempted abduction” — still a Really Bad Thing, but NOT the same thing, technically, as an abduction.

    And I used the term “non-event” in a particular context — whether it was an “event” in terms of the abduction statistics. *In terms of the abduction statistics,* it was a non-event because there was no abduction. The context was quite clear both in my comment, and the one of yours that I was responding to.

    Of course it was not a non-event in the sense that nothing at all happened.

    “It’s those sorts of comments that made me feel most posters didn’t see the act as being a big deal, the man as doing much of anything wrong etc.”

    That’s because you were reading emotionally rather than understanding what was said in context.

    So the bottom line is, your impression was wrong, and we can go from there.

  261. Yeah, just from person experience here, it seems like the free range type parents are usually a lot more a long the lines of ‘where’s a bat, I’ll kill ’em’ when someone does do something bad to a kid, then helicopter parents. What this guy did was BAD. He deserves to be used as a pinata. That it’s ‘wrong’ for someone to take advantage of a kid is such an automatic that I expect most on here felt it was about as needed to mention as two scientists would pause in a discussion on the corona to remind each other the sun is the closest star to earth.

  262. I checked out the Adam Walsh story as I had never heard of it before seeing it referenced several times on this blog. It is a very sad story and my heart goes out to his family.

    There are so many more recent incidents for people to refer to instead .

    This poor child on his first and only walk home alone at age 8 just a few months ago. Hopefully not after reading advice from this blog …..

  263. Oh for pete’s sake Susan, let it go. You parent your kids the way you want to, and let us parent the way we want to. But we’d certainly appreciate you NOT calling CPS “for the safety of the children” if you see a child one aisle over from his/her parents at the Walmart.

  264. Beth this is not a blog just for Free Range Parents is it? Thought it was public.

    Did m

  265. You need to make it clear , or the blog owner should, that only comments in support of Free Range Parenting are encouraged.

  266. Oh wait, I guess you just did. Good luck with your parenting efforts and I will try my best with mine as well. It is not an easy endeavor and I don’t think anyone has the ultimate answer.
    Good luck!

  267. Thank you, Jespren. I almost said previously that it takes a pretty low opinion of people to assume that they literally mean that an attempted abduction is no big deal, but I held back. But you’re right. It’s a given that normal people *don’t* mean that.

  268. I’ve been reading Susan’s points, and all I can think of is “the gross stupidity of people”. Sorry to be blunt, Susan, but you sound like a complete nut. Most of those “50,000” happen to be RUNAWAYS. You know, kid thinks “parents suck, I’m gonna go live on my own or with friends”. My parents were free range I guess – they told me to not lean on the stove,and when I was 3, I did.. guess what. I learned to pay attention. I told my girls don’t climb the trees unless you can climb down. One of them spent most of a day up in the upper limbs of a tree, because she wasnt’ sure she could climb down. I never thought of putting a ladder up there to help her down. As for “safe activities” like horseriding, skateboarding, swimming, etc. They’re really not. Do you really know how large a horse is, compared to a person? Even a pony can really do your head in (mine went right into a jump and the jump pole (a 2×4) landed square on my head. Good lesson – don’t fall off.

    You cannot cotton-wool your kids and then expect them to actually function as adults. They need to do stuff on their own to figure out how the world works, how to react to situations, etc. I’m not saying throw them out in the street, but geeze, I’m just SMH at all the stuff you are going on about. OH NOES! THE SKY IS FALLING! oh wait. It was an acorn. never mind. (pitiful attempt at injecting levity). We hovered with our first, and really found out that #1. If you don’t have them do stuff, guess what, they become adults that aren’t really able to do what they need to do. They will go through a SUDDEN school of hard knocks to learn this. My 18 year old learned “how to behave as an adult” in about 3 weeks – of living in a car, and gee, how do I actually work this thing called life, so that I can have a job, an apartment, and be a functioning adult? I’d really rather that more kids didn’t have to have that lesson in life.

  269. Speaking of ‘safe activities’…I was riding my pony when I was about 6 or 7, I was a profiecent rider and it was a small shetland, no problems right? Bratty little pony decided he wanted to slip under a wire fence and run into a separate field. Clothes-lined me right at the neck, swept me off his back. Hit so hard wrapped around my neck twice and my ankle and wrist once each. When my mom saw the horse come around without me she rushed back and found me hanging (litterally) a couple feet off the ground. Had scars around my neck for years. And was back on the pony the next day. And still love riding horses.

  270. I just love it when helicopter parents come here, insult free range parenting and then get upset when we don’t agree.

  271. Donna, seriously I am not sure where you get off lumping parents into categories. Why cant we not discuss the topic of free range parenting without making it so personal, and forcing people into one category or another.

    My kids play sports, ski, bicycle, snowboard, fish, and sail. They have traveled all over the world. My oldest (14) travels alone by plane to visit friends & cousins more than 3000 miles away. And yes my kids know the difference between a cow and a bull too!

    There have been 2 home invasions ony street within 2 blocks of our house. They were both drug related invasions of 2 different drug house on our street. In only one were there serious injuries. Five blocks away from my children’s school a man was murdered last month. He was involved in helping people on drugs. He was killed at home by confused drug addicts. His house is 5 blocks away from my kids school on a strip where prostitutes work, and sometimes people are dealing drugs.

    I drive my kids to school and pick them up. Most parents do. Parents whose kids walk to school walk with them.

    We don’t worry about our kids because we are with them.

    While it is true that home invasions and murders in our area involving drug trafficking and prostitution do not DIRECTLY endanger my kids, I prefer to accompany them to school and back and even to local parks in the area until they are older ( my teen walks). So does almost every other parent. (possibly all of them)

    I don’t think I am being paranoid. I wouldn’t characterize myself as either a helicopter or free range parent.

    You speak as though anyone who doesn’t frequently post on this blog or call themselves a free range parent is automatically someone whose children are never allowed out of the house.

  272. We don’t worry about our kids because we are with them.

    So you’re not worried about getting into a fatal car accident? That IS the most likely thing to kill your children.

  273. Susan, if someone is inside their home, high on drugs, shooting people, one of their bullets could TOTALLY go through a house window and right into your car, wounding or killing you or your children.

    You should probably invest in bullet-proof jackets for everyone to wear when outside of your home.

  274. “We don’t worry about our kids because we are with them.”

    While statistiacally children may be harmed or abducted more often when not in the prescence of an adult caregiver than in the prescence, there are still a multitude of things that can happen to your kid if you’re right there with them. Someone could shoot both of you. Someone could shoot you and take your kid. Someone could reach right out and fondle your kid (I realize you would probably then attack said person, but hey, damage is done already, right? Instant trauma). Someone could T-bone your car and only your kid would be hurt or killed. Someone could swerve off the sidewalk and hit you and your kids.

    There are a MILLION situations in which tragedy could strike when you’re right there with your kids. But to some people, being able to say, “I was right there and there was nothing I could do!” seems so much, I don’t know, “better” than saying, “Terrible things happen every day and unfortunately, today was the day that it happened to me.”

  275. I actually haven’t seen the video, but enjoyed the post. My family is actually one of those rarities that got on a plane within a week following 9/11. But I have to be honest, we debated and thought hard. But you are so right that you can’t live your life in fear of the slight chance that something bad might happen. Enjoyed reading!

  276. Susan, with all due respect, I think you need to move.

  277. Did anyone actually read my whole post? With the exception of one person it seems like everyone just latched onto one small detail.

    By your sarcastic comments I am getting the impression that you think it’s wrong for me to drive.

    Are you all saying if you lived exactly where I do (please read above for description) that you would definitely have your kids walk? Then say so. I’m interested in hearing what you would do.

  278. Loliplopover, maybe so , but it’s not just me. There are thousands of other families here too, in the very same situation. We probably can’t all move. It’s how it is for many people.

  279. Are you all saying if you lived exactly where I do (please read above for description) that you would definitely have your kids walk ALONE. Then say so.

    I’m interested in hearing what you would do.

  280. Susan, you make your parenting decisions based on your family’s individual situation. I can’t say whether I’d do the same as you because I don’t have enough information.

    Yet you think you have enough information to say what other parents in other environments should do.

    A safe neighborhood environment for kids to play is one criterion parents use in choosing where to live. And those who don’t have a lot of choices advocate for changes in their neighborhoods to make them safer. For example, parents take turns making their presence known in places where kids play, which is different from being up their individual kids’ butts. Kids travel in groups and/or with older trustworthy kids. But failing all that, yeah, you have to live in the real world.

    But Susan, based on some of your comments here, your perception of reality is suspect. Be that as it may, yes, there are some places where I would not let my kids walk alone to school. There, I’ve said it. Free range parents prefer for their kids to come home alive at the end of the day, shock of shocks. Is that the answer you were looking for?

  281. In your situation in your neighborhood, it may well be the best option to drive. You’ve weighed the risks and decided that the safest thing for you and your family is to drive your kids to and from school.

    And that’s fine.

    But the mother of the girl in Wal-Mart also weighed the risks and decided that her child being in the toy aisle of a store without her was not a big deal. A rare situation happened and there was an attempted abduction. But I think most of us here would agree that she didn’t take some big, crazy risk assuming that her 7-year-old would be fine for a little while looking at toys while she went to another part of the store.

    If there was a shooting in your neighborhood and one of your kids got hit while driving, how would you like it if someone said to you, “Susan, you mean you didn’t put those kids in bullet proof jackets when you KNEW how dangerous your neighborhood was? That seems like a foolish risk you took.” ? You would probably retort that a stray bullet going through your car was a one-in-a-million risk that you didn’t think would ever happen. And you’d be right. It is a longshot.

    Just like a kid being abducted from Wal-Mart is a longshot.

  282. Besides, Susan, this article was not about YOUR drug-infested neighborhood. Our comments are about letting our kids walk away from us in the average Wal-Mart.

    And another thing – what’s with your continual use of the word “all” (as in “all” the free-rangers here) to describe something that either (a) 1 person might have said or (b) nobody here even said?

  283. Yep, Susan,it’s a big leap from drive-by (or in situ) shootings to danger in the aisles at a store. A big, big leap.

    Unless, of course, your neighbourhood Walmart is one that crims and druggies regularly drive their cars through. In the Antipodes car danger in stores tends to be the province of elderly people who forget to put the handbrake on, but maybe things are more advanced in your neighbourhood.

    Maybe I would drive my kids to school in your neighbourhood, maybe not. Given the height at which bullets fired by a human being standing on the ground shooting, or firing from a car, would be expected to travel, I would have thought a bus would be the safer option. They’re higher off the ground. And if you’ve got thousands living in your neighbourhood, you must have some kind of bus system.

  284. Susan, I really don’t give a hoot what kind of parent you are. It is clear you are not a free range parent. In fact, you’ve done nothing here but insult free range parents and try to convince us that we are wrong and the world really is a dangerous place. And then you get angry and insulted when we don’t agree with you.

    WE ARE NOT GOING TO AGREE WITH YOU! Is that clear enough for you? If you would like to continue to debate the issue, there appears to be people willing to do so. But stop with the “I guess no other opinions are welcome” crap. This is a blog supporting free range parents. Most posters are free range parents. Most posters will not agree with you that free range parenting is wrong. You are not going to convince us otherwise. You should not get upset about this anymore than I should go onto a bungy jumping enthusiast blog and expect them to agree when I say “jumping off a cliff with a rubber band around your ankle is idiotic” although I may believe thatto be true.

  285. Susan,
    You have ventured out onto the fringe of the internet! Come back girl, these ppl are nuttier than fruitcakes.
    Although I must say having just stumbled upon this, I find it a total hoot.
    Especially the one where the the little kid climbs too far up a tree and the mom makes them stay up there all day to learn a lesson! Hah I wouldn’t do that to a cat!
    You can’t make this kind of stuff up.
    If they are that way to their own kids do you expect they will be welcoming or friendly?
    Walk away there’s still time to get out.

  286. Yes, raising our children to be competent in daily life and confident in their abilities is certainly “the fringe”.

  287. I never knew my parents were “fringe.” Can’t wait to tell them.

  288. Donna Right on, exactly.


  289. I wouldn’t do that to a cat!

    You’d chase your cat up a tree? Seriously? I hope you don’t injure yourself going someplace that can’t support your weight.

    Had a kitten end up on my roof just a month ago. Still have NO earthly idea how she did that. Hell, no, I didn’t chase her down from there. I don’t really want to die for my cats.

    And yes, if my niece climbed up in a tree and wasn’t sure how to get down, I wouldn’t go up after her. She weighs less than I do. Branches that support her weight will not support mine. If she got up there, there must be a path down. She can damn well find it on her own, or else she can stop climbing so high. (Since implementing this policy, the nieces have stopped climbing higher than they feel safe. This is MUCH safer than having them think somebody will always rescue them.)

    Did anyone actually read my whole post? With the exception of one person it seems like everyone just latched onto one small detail.

    At least none of us made anything up and attributed it to you.

    By your sarcastic comments I am getting the impression that you think it’s wrong for me to drive.

    I do actually think it’s wrong for you to drive! ^.^

    I certainly think it’s hypocritical of you to act as though this makes you a good parent when driving is less safe than most other activities.

    Are you all saying if you lived exactly where I do (please read above for description) that you would definitely have your kids walk? Then say so. I’m interested in hearing what you would do.

    As I can’t drive, and don’t have the money for a car – yes, yes I would.

    However, here’s the thing. You and I and everybody here knows that you live in a less-than-average neighborhood when it comes to safety. For you to insist that we should all follow YOUR safety precautions, which are appropriate for YOUR neighborhood and family, with OUR neighborhoods and families – well, that’s just silly.

    People in California run earthquake drills. Why? Because earthquakes are common there. People in the midwest have tornado drills, because they get tornadoes instead. People in NYC don’t do either, because that’d be an absolute waste of time and money. We don’t have earthquakes, and tornadoes are a real rarity.

    That doesn’t mean it’s wrong for people elsewhere to practice for the problems that are likely to affect them, but it does mean it’s wrong for them to judge us for NOT doing these things.

    Are you all saying if you lived exactly where I do (please read above for description) that you would definitely have your kids walk ALONE. Then say so.

    Is your presence really going to help in the instance of a sudden drive-by shooting? Is it really going to make a difference if some addled addicts break into your home while the family is inside? Are hardened criminals really more reluctant to try something when a random mom shows up?

    I mean, here’s the thing I don’t get. I really don’t get, that is. You can help prevent some tragedies. Sure, that’s the truth. But is just being there really such a heal-all?

  290. @Uly, Yep – she never did climb up so far into the trees after that, and she still gets up in trees – her favorite is next to the house, she goes & sits up on the roof, pets the cats up there, and watches the clouds go by, and the geese in winter. As for me getting up there, I suck at tree climbing. I tend to fall, so I avoid it like the plague. Being the kids are 19 and 22 now, I’d say it’s safe to say they survived childhood, including riding bikes without helmets, skateboarding up & down the bumpy road here, and the big cottonpickers/farm tractors we have outside on the road. They were taught at a young age, you’d have a sore boohiney if you were out on the road, because those tractors and cottonpickers are large, and you’re not that big.

    I think back to when I was a kid, a friend had a paper route. He was 9, I was 10, and I would fill in for him when he had to go on vacation with his parents. My parents didn’t drive me, and the route covered about 5 miles each direction from our house. I rode my bike, and delivered papers. When I was a couple years older, I shoveled barns for a job, and rode my bike each day. When 15, I had to be at the place that opened at 5 am for the early morning fishermen at 4 am. I rode my bike then too.. while holding a flashlight so I could see where I was riding.

    Gee.. guess I’m fringe.. I’m also in agreement with that father that shot the laptop that the daughter was griping about chores on. On second thought, I’d just have a new laptop, and she would (boo hoo) be without one. Unless she decided to get a job and get herself one,

  291. Boohiney = behind?

  292. Yeah, I’ve been forcing my kids to find their own way down from high places since they were 2. My rule is, if you can’t get your own self down, you aren’t big enough to go up. The determination to achieve the height feeds the courage and horse sense as needed.

    So far they haven’t had the opportunity to climb way high in a tree, but once they do, they will already have enough brains in their heads to know that if they could get themselves up, they could get themselves down. No, I wouldn’t leave them up there all day, but they know I would consequence them if I had to go up after them.

  293. I was a tree climber until my advancing maturity made it a somewhat risky enterprise, my kids all are/were, too. My daughter especially was constantly scaling most anything that didn’t move faster than she and was taller, so I’ve been following the comment thread about climbing with a smile. I have, on my fridge, one of my two favorite photos of her (the other is with her younger brother at the ages of 6 and 3, covered from head to toe in mud) she is 7 years old at the time, and is in a tree in our yard, perhaps 30 feet from the ground, give or take a bit. She had no trouble at all getting herself back down, nor in exercising good judgment as to when she’d reached the point that the branches weren’t really safe to support her weight. The limit was that she wasn’t tall enough to reach the bottom branch to start the climb. We solved that by putting a ladder next to the tree (only when parents were present.)

    I put all three of my kids on Crawligators:


    at two months. all crawled free by five, daugther walked at 7 months, sons around 7.5 – 8, so they were all mobile and able to explore their worlds early, I’d guess that increased their sense of mastery and willingness to climb. We moved into a new home when my daughter was 11 months. One could walk from the kitchen through the office into the living room into the dining room and back into the kitchen. I was unpacking, she playing in the living room, I took something into the office when I came back into the l.r. she was gone, so I walked around the circuit looking to see what she was up to, two trips, no daughter. Heard a noise, looked up, she had scaled the exterior of the staircase by holding the balusters and stepping with her tiny feet on the outer edge of the steps, until her head hit the ceiling. I was grateful the couch was against that wall, but she came down on her own once she got bored with the view from up there.

  294. yes @Uly boohiney – behind.. I guess I picked it up from when I was teaching kindergarteners in a private school.. it kind of stuck. Like “poinky” pointy & sharp. (some assorted monster in old Godzilla movies got that name).

    The youngest learned that you DONT run out into the road where there’s cottonpickers when you’re 3 – spanked her – she promptly stuck her thumbs in her ears, flapped her fingers, wiggled her butt back & forth saying “that didn’t hurt”. (insert not smiling face here)

    I think she was just not afraid of them as she’s gone in the cabs of them while harvesting at friends fields, same with the cotton hoppers – jumping off the side of the hopper into the cotton below.

    But something just doesn’t jive from what I read from yesterday to today – lets the 14 year old fly across the country or wherever unaccompanied, yet in an area where there’s this? “There have been 2 home invasions ony street within 2 blocks of our house. They were both drug related invasions of 2 different drug house on our street. In only one were there serious injuries. Five blocks away from my children’s school a man was murdered last month. He was involved in helping people on drugs. He was killed at home by confused drug addicts. His house is 5 blocks away from my kids school on a strip where prostitutes work, and sometimes people are dealing drugs.” (quote from Susan’s post above”.

    Um.. if you’ve got enough money for your kids to be doin all that, and you live in a place like that, anything that happens would really fall upon YOUR shoulders, as you are inflicting that place on your kids. But hey, your choice to live in that area. Better let your kids grow their street-smarts now, before they get taken for a ride (a la mafia with cement shoes)

  295. Diane S. said

    ” Better let your kids grow their street-smarts now, before they get taken for a ride (a la mafia with cement shoes)”

    Diane, how DARE you wish something like that on my children or anyone elses for that matter!


  296. Susan – you do need to get a sense of humour. And your children do need to develop street smarts appropriate to whatever area they live in. It is unfortunate that it sounds like you don’t live in the nicest area – however, along with another poster above, I must say something doesn’t jibe right with me either. It is interesting that your son has been able to travel overseas, but it appears from other posts of yours that you are unable to afford to move to a safer area. That does sound a little odd, don’t you think?

    I, like a lot of others here, don’t appreciate being judged about the decisions we make for our children, any more than you appreciate it. I live in a relatively safe neighbourhood, where there have been 0 shootings, 0 abduction attempts and almost no dangers to children that the kids can’t learn to handle themselves. You do what you like with your kids, but don’t YOU dare to talk about calling CPS on parents like myself, when I allow my children the freedom they need to develop into fully functioning adults (not that CPS has any jurisdiction here anyway, thank the Lord – they sound crazier than our lot).

    Please feel free to raise children who remain dependent on you. I prefer not to.

  297. Airfare, even overseas with unaccompanied minor status, comes in at under $800 round trip. I just checked prices now from NY to London because that was what Google came up with under autosuggest.

    $800 is no small amount of cash, of course – but neither is it enough to move from a cheap apartment to a more expensive one, not for very long. Even poor people deserve to be able to see family or go on school trips (if your school has overseas trips, which some do). Scrimping and saving for a year can net you enough for a cheap ticket overseas and back, even if it can’t get you enough to move.

  298. Ok, Uly, that doesn’t sound bad…..Maybe I spoke too soon. However I still find the general attitude of this particular poster irritating – should probably just move onto other more important things, LOL!

    Have a good day – and BTW your neices sound very lucky to have you. I have a great sister too, but she has been away studying, so not so busy with the nieces recently.


  299. I’ve met very few people who live in high crime areas – and I know a lot of people who live in high crime areas – who have “travelled all over the world.” Most I know have never been on a plane. And not single one of them skis, snowboards or sails. I suppose Susan could be the rarity, but I’m calling bullshit on a family living in a drug and prostitute infested neighborhood who has money to ski, snowboard, sail and extensively travel overseas. And a school in a drug and prostitute infested neighborhood doesn’t have class trips involving skis or international travel.

  300. Uly, she said her children have “traveled all over the world.” That is not an $800 plant ticket.

  301. Plane ticket, not plant ticket.

  302. I’ve been smelling bullpucky too, but I guess if someone has nothing better to do than make up stories on the internet, it’s not my problem.

    Even more puzzling is how she claims that she cares more about our kids than we do, yet she has a bunch of unsupervised, neglected toddlers in her basement and does nothing about it.

  303. SKL,
    I have neglected toddlers in my basement??? What? My basement is unfinished and I don’t normally take toddlers down there.

  304. People who travel the world as missionaries.
    People who are in the military and who move from base to base in throughout the country and the world but are now unable to work.
    People who were once wealthy but lost it all due to dishonest investment advisors, overspending, poor choices, divorce or unemployment.
    People in what used to be prosperous manufacturing based cities or towns hit hard by the recession.
    People who have come on to hard times as a result of cashing in everything to pay medical expenses for an ill parent who can no longer work.

    I am not about to disclose any more about my own personal life to you than i already have but surely you can see there are many reasons why people (not just me) might live in less than perfect neighborhoods for reasons other than just being irresponsible as one poster suggested.

  305. As a break from all the drama, I thought people might be interested in the op-ed on this topic that appeared in my local paper today. I wonder if this guy knows about FRK?


  306. Susan, my apologies on the basement thing. I was mixing you up with Jolene-Jenn. Who, by the way, disappeared around the time you came and has a very similar internet voice to yours.

    I still think you are fibbing and trolling to some extent. Just the way you twist other people’s words so glibly makes me disbelieve yours.

  307. SKL said

    “Just the way you twist other people’s words so glibly makes me disbelieve yours.”

    Really?? Twisting other peoples words seems to be fairly common on this blog.

    I mention there have been home invasions on my street, a murder near my childrens school and drug dealers and prostitutes in my neighborhood —- and suddenly my neighborhood is “drug infested” and there are guns everywhere! Several posters are telling me I should worry about getting shot in my car!

    Whether this is twisting my words or just vivid imaginations on the part of other posters or just plain nastiness I don’t really know .

  308. You all mentioned guns I didn’t. The things that are more a daily hazard are discarded drug needles & used condoms, being in the wrong place at the wrong time when a drug related dispute happens.

    And yes we do have an “average” Walmart. And yes even drug dealers, drug addicts, alcoholics, and prostitutes shop there too , along with the rest of us “regular” people.

  309. Yes, Susan, if what you say is true, your neighborhood is drug-infested. Sorry to break it to you.

    I didn’t mention guns, but you did say something about people breaking into houses and murdering multiple people inside, so naturally people assumed guns were involved. As if there is a drug-infested US neigborhood that is free of guns? Pray tell, if you live in such a place.

  310. SKL – not quite what I said. Iits not that hard to inadvertently twist other people’s words is it?

    “There have been 2 home invasions ony street within 2 blocks of our house. They were both drug related invasions of 2 different drug house on our street. In only one were there serious injuries. Five blocks away from my children’s school a man was murdered last month. He was involved in helping people on drugs. He was killed at home by confused drug addicts. His house is 5 blocks away from my kids school on a strip where prostitutes work, and sometimes people are dealing drugs.”

  311. Have some compassion. We don’t all live in picture perfect neighborhoods.

  312. Susan, if your posts were less unkind, we’d be inclined to have compassion for you.

    As for your “exact words,” forgive me for not having a photographic memory. Your paragraph was obviously intended to paint a picture of an unsafe, drug-ridden, violent neighborhood. In the USA, you simply don’t have that without guns. Those are very reasonable inferences, which in fact you wanted us to make to promote your point (that FRK is terrible for encouraging kids to walk alone to school). Now you are twisting your OWN words to accuse us of twisting them. Whatever! Suddenly you don’t want us to think your neighborhood is bad. Or you do, and want us to feel sorry for you. At the present moment. Until you change your mind again.

    Point is, just because some families live in a situation where some activities are not safe, that does not mean said activities are unsafe for all kids everywhere. The parent is the appropriate person to make those decisions on a case by case basis. That’s what I think we all believe here. In addition and as a separate point, we believe that many Americans overgeneralize and miscalculate risks to the detriment of their kids. Obviously not all Americans do, but it’s a trend we are concerned about, because ultimately it breeds judgment against good parents and stifles the freedom to do what’s best for each individual kid.

    I don’t know if you can understand that or not. You’ve somehow made this whole thing about YOU (in your mind), so maybe you can’t see the forest for the trees.

  313. People in all types of neighborhoods have guns including affluent neighborhoods and poorer ones.

    My neighborhood does have a lot of home invasions, drug addicts, drug dealers and prostitutes. People who are on drugs do things they wouldn’t normally do. Because of that there is some added danger.

    I am not trying to make you think I live in a really bad or really good neighborhood.

    The only reason i mentioned any details about where i live was a reaction against so many posters about how wrong it is to drive your child to school or not let them walk alone. lBecause I and others in my neighborhood drive our kids or walk with them to parks and schools doesn’t make them overprotected children who have no street smarts and never go outside, and are doomed to be helpless adults.

  314. I think we can probably all agree that this part of the conversation has gone well past it’s usefull value.

    If everyone could please refrain from wishing death or injury upon my children I can at least put an end to my part in it. (In saying this I realize it was just one poster so I am certainly not saying it was all of you) Deal?

    I expect you are as tired as I am of a discussion that for whatever reason seems to just go nowhere.


  315. You mIght be interested in this . It’s a link to another successful escape story by a very brave and quick thinking stranger abducted child. This time in Colorado.

    They also include excellent tips to share with kids.

  316. @Susan, no one wished death or injury on your children. However, your every post assumes that OUR children will be dead or injured very soon if we continue with our radical free range ways.

  317. Uly, she said her children have “traveled all over the world.” That is not an $800 plant ticket.

    True, but for all I know (and I’m aware I’m being generous, but I spent the LAST week being a total witch, so bear with me in my nice stage) he’s, like, part of a youth orchestra and it’s all subsidized or something.

    I’m not saying it’s very probable, but it’s at least not completely implausible.

    It’s also possible that various relations are willing to pay for him to come visit, but not for Mom to move to a better neighborhood. That does strike me as probable, actually.

  318. A neighborhood with “a lot of home invasions, drug addicts, drug dealers and prostitutes” is, in fact, a bad neighborhood. A neighborhood where there are needles and used condoms lying around for kids to grab is a bad neighborhood.

    Not everyone lives in neighborhoods where these things are occurring. What is safe for one family may not be safe for others due to where they live. I have yet to see a poster here state that ALL children everywhere should walk to school even if it means dodging drug deals and prostitutes having sex.

    I still call bullshit on the skiing, snowboarding, sailing, world travelers who live in cracktown.

  319. this is wonderfully penned!

  320. @ Susan – wishing it upon your kids? far from it – I’m merely stating facts of life, from having lived in various parts of the country – both crime-ridden inner city to out in the middle of nowhere. What happens to your kids when they turn 18 and move out of the house, and go live in the ghettohood? They’d better know more about life than having someone always watching out for them – they need to know how to survive, even in the bad areas. And where they move, might be a good area now, however, neighborhoods change. And, they need to know how to deal with it. I’m not saying toss them out in the middle of Compton, but if they are going to survive, they’d better know how to keep their heads & themselves safe. And by the way, we used to go to a little sandwich shop right by Watts, had the best pastramis and onion rings. Did I feel unsafe? Not really, because I knew how to keep watch over myself and situational awareness. Same as in the Gallup Walmart, I think there were a total of 8 white people in that whole store. No biggie.

  321. @ S Hall I do not about my kids. I am making decisions that are appropriate for the place they live their ages and their own unique set of skills and abilities.
    I have never said I am with them every second. I am not.
    Why you would ever assume that I or other parents who are not “free range parents” do so is beyond me.
    Just because I choose to drive my kids to school or walk with them , and I would not lose sight of them in our particular local Walmart doesn’t really mean anything.

  322. Sorry for the typo my last post was directed to Diane S

    @ Diane S I do not worry about my kids. I am making decisions that are appropriate for the place they live their ages and their own unique set of skills and abilities.
    I have never said I am with them every second. I am not.
    Why you would ever assume that I or other parents who are not “free range parents” do so is beyond me.
    Just because I choose to drive my kids to school or walk with them , and I would not lose sight of them in our particular local Walmart doesn’t really mean anything.

  323. Diane S

    And yes your post below IS particularly offensive being directed at my kids. Don’t try to weasel out of it!

    Diane S. said

    ” Better let your kids grow their street-smarts now, before they get taken for a ride (a la mafia with cement shoes)”

    Diane, how DARE you wish something like that on my children or anyone elses for that matter!

  324. Geeze, grow a freakin sense of humor. If you DO live in an area like you say – murder, drug dealers, crackheads, needles in the streets – you live in basically what I’d call the ghettohood, and I’d get the heck out of there. Or do you think that merely because you’re with your kids, nothing bad will happen to you or your family?

    My neighborhood has lots of guns. When the family down the street’s house burned down one night, it sounded like a complete battle going on, due to all the ammo going off. However, merely the presence of guns does not make a bad neighborhood. Needles laying about?

    You seem to be particularly paranoid by me merely saying that your kids need to have some street smarts before something bad happens is the equivalent of me wishing something bad happening to your kids.

    Why not actually read what I said, instead of putting your meaning on it? and “a la mafia” is rather an east coast think I’d think.. and I live in the south, where they’re scarce, but we get the drug cartels coming here over the border and kidnapping people out of Houston. There was a firefight going down the freeway between two coyotes one year in Houston, and murders going on here due to drugs. I live in the corridor that the stuff comes up from Mexico. Yet I’m not freaked out, and you teach your kids common sense =- listen to that inner voice that tells you get the hck out of there, don’t talk to that person, whatever. However, on the other hand, you cannot just not “not trust” anyone/everyone. There are a heckovalot of nice people out there. Turns out someone I talked to online, he gave me his wife’s ICQ number. They’re from the small town here, and they still have relatives here. Been out to MS to visit them, and they’ve been here to my house to visit. enough rambling. You really need to get a (poor) sense of humor to get some of my scintillating (!) wit.

  325. I’ve never seen this blog before. I too am a Mother who has been concerned that my children should not grow up “under supervision” at all times, and that they would learn the needed small steps towards a childhood full of independence. What I don’t see in the comments here tho is ANY acknowledgement that your child’s INDIVIDUAL personality is an extremely important factor as well.
    I found out through several bad experiences with strangers, when my son and daughter were still of elementary school age, that my daughter would always carry through with what she had been taught about how to handle strangers. Although both my children are of completely normal intelligence, my son just never seemed to be able to remember what he had (many times over) been taught.
    My daughter was approached twice in a totally inappropriate manner and both times immediately ran for help to an appropriately safe adult. My son was approached by a total stranger, who pulled up in an old car when my son was playing in our front yard. He made no attempt to get away. Luckily I came out to the front just then & the stranger jumped in their car & took off with tires squealing. We thoroughly reviewed, on a regular basis, all our safety procedures. Sure enough, some time later at a large family wedding, my son went off with a total stranger, completely leaving the party. This second time our daughter thankfully came running to say what had happened. We caught up with them. It turned out to be a neighbor of the wedding party, who had told my son he would show him some ducks in a river near by. A couple of years later this neighbor of my cousins was arrested for pedophilia.
    It simply is not good enough to just teach your children how to be independent. In doing so you also have to consider the individual personality of your child.

  326. @Diane S – If you’re still following this, when you say coyote, do you mean the wild dogs, or is that some kind of person? Seriously….we have different slang down here of course. Just trying to imagine two dogs having a ‘firefight’, LOL!

    And sorry, what’s a firefight? Just wondering…..:-)

  327. Sofia ,
    You bring up such an excellent point!

    It reminds me of the documentaries you occasionally see on TV on child abduction.

    They first ask parents of children playing in a park if they think an adult could talk their child into leaving the park with them. The parents all say no, they have taught their children not to do that and not to fall for stories a predator might use such as “please come help me find my lost puppy” .

    Then you (and the parents from a hidden video camera) as the adult successfully talks almost every single child into leaving the park!

    The parents are understandably shocked and dismayed.

    Clearly not every neighbour, sports coach, scout leader or stranger that a child meets is a predator. But the actual predators are often masters at manipulation.

    And like you said the personality of the child has a big impact on how they will react, even if they have been taught how to keep themselves safe.

    Btw both of your children sound like they are cool smart wonderful children 🙂

  328. @ Diane S

    People often say that it’s dangerous to try to be funny. There is a reason for that.

    You are not even remotely funny.

    There is nothing funny about what you said. It is offensive and threatening in tone, and is directed towards my children.

    Joking about my children dying at the hands of a stranger? How is that even remotely funny?

    I challenge you to tell me what’s funny about that.

  329. Susan. YOU ARE NUTS. And do not take this with a grain of salt. I don’t see how you even remotely get “threatening your children” out of it. Keep your paranoia to yourself, don’t drag me into your spider web of weirdness. And if you cannot laugh at life, your life must be pitiful.

    @Hinaeta – coyotes here are the ones bringing illegals across the border for money – often just dumping them various places in the desert once they get them across the border. The firefight was between gunmen in two vehicles speeding down 59 in Houston a while back. There was some arguement I guess over who got the illegals and their money. And yes, we have coyotes (the regular kind) here too, I hear them at night.

  330. Diane S. said
    “Same as in the Gallup Walmart, I think there were a total of 8 white people in that whole store. No biggie.”

    Diane , I am not understanding the relevance of the number of white people in this Walmart. Please elaborate.

  331. Because some people are antsy, nay, not just antsy, but downright skeered if everyone doesn’t look like themselves. Or have the same thought processes, or a sense of humor. The other adults with the teenagers were freaking out, why? Because “a teenager might get snatched”. Why the fear? Because the people in that store didn’t look the same. It is stupid reasoning is what it is.

    Just as I was talking to an online friend about a promo that our church is going to do for Easter Sunday – we’re getting lots of plastic eggs, putting a jellybean in each, and a rolled up invite to come to church Easter Sunday – and putting eggs out around town in the various neighborhoods. His immediate thought? They’re going to call the police on you guys thinking you are a bunch of pedophiles.

    I’m still SMH on that one. Our Sunday School numbers have been low lately, many of the kids are sleeping in on Sundays whereas they used to be at church every Sunday morning on the van. We’re also going to re-start the promos, as in “chili dog Sunday”, pizza, one day we had Sundaes for Sunday – come to sunday school/church, and BEHAVE, and you’d get your choice of an ice cream sundae.

    I still say you’re nuts.

  332. Diane S,

    Oh I see it’s actually a comment about how OTHER people think, now I get it. Thanks for clarifying cause you gotta admit it is not something most people would say.

    As I recall the context of your comment was about how well you fearlessly navigate dangerous neighborhoods including shopping at the Gallup Walmart?

    Diane S said :
    “Did I feel unsafe? Not really, because I knew how to keep watch over myself and situational awareness. Same as in the Gallup Walmart, I think there were a total of 8 white people in that whole store. No biggie”

    Now you are saying it was OTHER people counting the number of whites in the store, OTHER people to whom it matters what race shoppers at a particular Walmart store are.

    Thanks for clarifying. Appreciate it. LOL

    Gee, could Susan be black I wonder?

  333. Susan, please provide links to the many documentaries showing every single child allowing themselves to be lured away by strangers. Even, say, three would be nice.

    And you can drop the self-righteous act too; you’re the one with the assumption that all our kids will be kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and maybe killed, because we allowed them to walk a few aisles over in the Walmart.

  334. Beth – This is the first few minutes of an Oprah Show where they had a person try to lure kids out of a park. All parents had coached their children how to react in these situations. Almost every child was successfully lured out of the park. Examples used kids from age 2 to 9.


  335. Beth – this one shows the lack of assistance provided by most bystanders watching a staged child abduction


  336. These are not documentaries. They are news and/or entertainment clips.

  337. @susan – who cares if Susan is black? I didn’t realize that actually NOT giving a flip what color people are is a crime….evidently in YOUR eyes, I’m guilty of that. Whatever. Get over yourself. It was an incident in my life that I thought was really stupid as in not helipcopter parenting, but in the “oh no, people are not the same color as we are therefore we must be scared!” type of thinking that goes on. I live in the south now. When I first moved south, I was like :O, as the apartments we moved in, in TN, one of the things mentioned was “there’s a black family that lives here, but they’re okay”. I was like “really? this is 1990, not 1900” And really was hoping that my family would come visit just to shut the manager up. I still run into that type of thinking today, in 2012.

    Do you get it now? If you don’t, you probably never will, and you seem to be of the mind that “oh no, there are predators behind every tree/bush/whatever”, and the lady that actually talks to your kids while you’re waiting in line at the grocery store is going to do something evil to them, instead of just being friendly, like people usually are. But go on watching Oprah, as we all know she is the epitome of wisdom.

  338. I just shared this story with my office-mate, thinking she, as a parent of two, might share my POV (way to go, little girl!). Instead she blurts out “Why would you ever leave your kid alone in a store?!”

    I attempted a brief explanation of Free-Range Parenting (recognize and resist) and she looked at me dubiously and said “I don’t know… it seems like a good way to get your kids hurt or killed.”


  339. Ta Diane – now I can get that image of wild dogs with flamethrowers out of my mind, LOL!

    Oh, the joys of the differences in the ways we use language…Grossly off topic, but you would not want to know the term we use for what you refer to as ‘erasers’…..

    Julienne12, we all sigh with you……

  340. Lenore, what a solidly good treatment of a difficult topic!

    Everyone else, well, not everyone but…

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m terrified to make a comment on this post right now…!

  341. I was at a store today, and there was a mom shopping with 3 kids – I’d guess between 6 and 9…One walked 3 steps away from mom to look at the roundabout of earrings, and the little boy said “mom, XXXX’s running off”. I almost started laughing. It just reminded me of this thread. And @hineata, I know what erasers are called in other parts of the country…funny, they used to call mud boots that also…I had several pair when I was young, and was prone to jumping in puddles.

  342. I am so glad that girl is okay. I honestly laugh to think if that it had been one of my boys. They are *strong* and they would have kicked him in the groin if they had a chance. Which is maybe why I don’t worry about someone abducting my kids in a busy public place. (In the parking lot is another thing, but really how did this guy expect to get the kid out the store? Are some kids really that docile? I know it has happened, but so extraordinarily rare, indeed.)

  343. For goodness sakes the shoot out of 59 happened 5 years ago. I drive a good section of that area every single school day and have for the past 11 years. I’ve seen a ton of people pulled over for speeding, 1 car fire (last week). I’ve never been caught up in a rolling gun battle. The worse thing I’ve seen was when they shut down 59 due to an accident and some idiot tried to drive across the grass between the inbound and outbound lanes and got stuck but good.

    I have lived in Houston for most of my life and have NEVER been the victim of a violent crime. Some property damage when I ticked off the bullies at school and someone tried to break into my house.

  344. Diane S,
    Maybe people aren’t coming to Sunday school because they don’t want you filling their children’s heads with your superstitions. I hope if you do this project your group gets a giant fine for littering on other people’s property. It is what you deserve.

  345. Kimberly, really nice snark there. Why don’t you leave me out of your hatred?

  346. @ms herbert – was tellign Hineata what coyotes are here in TX also besides the 4-legged variety that you usually hear howling at night. As far as kids being safe, when we’d go to Fry’s off 59, the family would split up – kids go to the dvd section, I’d go to appliances, and hub would be in computers & peripherals.

  347. I bet Brittney also gave her would-be kidnapper strep throat.

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