New Outrage! Kids in Cafeteria Must Ask Adults to Get Them Utensils

Readers, readers — I can’t stand how stupid our culture is some times! Like…right now! At this school! This story came in as a comment to the previous post. — L.

Dear Free-Range Kids: We just recently had a similar situation at my kids’ elementary school.  Last week, a first grader fell and hit his head in the cafeteria. The extent of the injury in not clear, but all reports are that the injury may have included some blood, but no serious injury requiring serious medical intervention.  The kid basically fell off his stool backwards and bumped his head.

So this week, a whole new array of rules in the cafeteria have been established, including that kids who need a fork, spoon, straw, etc. are now not permitted to get up and get one, but instead they are to raise their hand and ask the lunchroom monitors to get it for them. Kids are also no longer permitted to use the restroom during lunchtime.

I am sorry that a child bumped his head, but I do not see the sense in preventing kids from taking care of their own needs helps this.  There is not always an institutional solution to every little problem.  The kid fell not because someone got up and got a straw.  The kid fell because he is a little kid who sat a little goofy on his stool and lost his balance.

This is a perfect example of over-correcting for an unfortunate accident and in the meantime, creating worse problems for kids.  I think 4th graders should not expect an adult to take care of all their needs.  Talk about encouraging helplessness and entitlement!  Now the school would prefer my kid miss classtime to use the toilet instead of lunchtime? — A Reader

Exploding Truck Falling into Grand Canyon River Accidents: Preventable?

Ah, can I get a job at The Onion? I want to be on this panel!

Could School Have Prevented Injury…by a Paintbrush?

Hi Readers! This is such a disturbing story. A Scottish boy who was 10 was painting scenery on the ground for a school play back in 2003 when one of the other painters got up, bumping into him. This caused him to fall on another student’s paintbrush, which — this is so horrible — pierced him through the eye, causing blindness in the eye and brain damage.

Now a court has ruled that the teachers at the school should have “foreseen” that such an event was, if not likely, at least POSSIBLE. Wrote the judge:

When one looks at the whole circumstances of the use of the brush, a real risk of injury emerges as foreseeable. A reasonable person in the position of the teachers would have taken steps to prevent that foreseeable risk of harm…”

According to the BBC report, the judge said the painting could have been done with “safer” brushes, and at the kids’ desks, rather than on the ground.

As if the ground is so darn dangerous.

Now, obviously, what’s extremely upsetting about this is not JUST that the school has since outlawed “long” paintbrushes, and now sees painting as a dangerous activity. It’s the notion of “reasonable” foresight and how this encourages a totally paranoid way of thinking. If we are all supposed to have the foresight to prevent all freak accidents that might someday, somehow happen under the most mundane of circumstances, we would have to get rid of every item in every place any child could ever be. Because — hey — a child COULD choke on a lemon, or slip on a slipper, or impale herself on a toothbrush. Let’s ban them all now, before we’re on the line for millions, as this school might be.

What happened to the boy is a tragedy. No need to compound it. — Lenore

A Boy, A Dad, A Tragedy and A Big Question

Readers — I just read this story and am sick to my heart. A dad brought his 5 year old son to the park then crossed the street to talk to some friends. The boy ran after him. He got struck by a car and died. Now the father is in jail and the charge has just been upgraded from “felony cruelty to children, reckless conduct and simple battery” to involuntary manslaughter.

I cannot imagine how that father would feel even if he weren’t in jail. It’s boggling. This is a tragedy pure and simple. But the issues are not so simple at all.

We live in a society that does not believe in accidents any more, or bad luck, or fate, or even, when it comes to children’s safety, “God’s will.” That’s good, in the sense that it makes us strap our kids into car seats, and take some basic precautions. But it’s corrosive in that when anything bad does happen to a child, we almost always blame the parents. The media does it, the DA does it (perhaps for political gain), and the neighbors may well do it, too. Sometimes we do it almost reflexively, as if to protect ourselves. “Well I would never do that so nothing bad will ever happen to my family.”

As if none of us has ever lost track of our kids for a sec.

Now, certainly, it makes sense to keep watch over a young child at the park. But if we slip up for a minute, if we do something human and not  intended to hurt anyone, especially our beloved child,   should that count as “cruelty”? What if it’s something that normally is NOT particularly dangerous? What if we go to the basement to put in a load of laundry and our child follows us and falls down the stairs? What if throw a ball to our child and, trying to catch it, he runs into a tree? What if we go across the street to say hi to a neighbor and unbeknownst to us our child follows and is hit, like this boy, by a car?

Is there no split-second that a parent is legally allowed to not be physically protecting his kindergartener from every possible danger? That’s a tough precedent to set. Think about even a child on a swing. Can we watch him there, knowing he COULD fall off? Or must we sit on the swing and hold him on our lap?

And didn’t a lot of us walk to school on our OWN, starting in kindergarten? I did. My husband and his siblings did. If we’d been hit by a car, no one would have arrested our parents. They would have grieved with them.

Right now, I am grieving for that boy and his family. And I am grieving for a society that is so convinced nothing bad ever happens to the children of GOOD parents that it is willing to put this man on trial.  A man who is already in hell. — Lenore


It's hard to think of any kid dying.


What If We Feared EVERYTHING The Way We Fear Predators?

Hey Readers — Here’s a comment that came in the other day in response to a woman who is very wary of stranger danger. I liked its logic:

Dear Amy (the woman who was consumed with predator fear): I can sort of see where you’re coming from, but take a logical approach. There’s a chance for something bad to happen in cars and buses, which people use on a daily basis. And there’s also something dangerous that could happen with almost everything you do in life. Some we just don’t think about. Others, people are VERY aware of. Like kidnappings.

I’m gonna be honest here. I HATE HATE HATE it when there’s a child who gets kidnapped and murdered. It’s just an awful, awful thing. When most people hear about a murdered child, they are emotionally affected by it and then start to see the world as a dark, dangerous place. That is what fear is: It’s when you think about something constantly, to the point where it rules your brain and you start to see the world differently.

Trust me, I’ve been there. But you know what? You just can’t think like that. If you look at everything in life the way people look at the possibility of encountering sex offenders, then basically everything would be dangerous. When you turn on the stove or microwave, do you ever think about it exploding? Not really. But it can happen. So what would you do then, live on sandwiches? Do you let your kids play video games? Are you aware of the fact that there is a chance they can get seizures or blackouts?

All I’m trying to say is: when you let fear control your life, everything suddenly seems dangerous. How many people do you know who got rid of their cars or microwaves out of fear of an accident? Probably not many. But how many people do you know who keep their kids inside 24/7 for fear that they might get abducted?

A lot, right? Accidents happen. But people can obtain the knowledge to know how to deal with or avoid them. That’s why there’s warnings on things, and that’s why kids learn about fire safety at a young age. You don’t see very many people telling you not to buy electrical appliances because you never know when they’ll catch on fire, do you? But everyone’s going crazy about sex offenders, and parents are being told never to let a kid outdoors alone because you never know when a sex offender is around. Most parents are more afraid of pedophiles than car accidents. But there’s a MUCH higher chance of being killed in a car.

Hi! Lenore again, here. This topic is something I keep studying: How does one fear become a societal obsession, while others don’t? I’m reading a book now, “False Alarm,” by Dr. Marc Siegel, that I hope will give me the answer. So far, the book is explaining that once a particular fear “infects” us, it remains there like a low-grade fever. It’s very hard to get rid of, even when treated with thoughtful comments and blogs trying to help restore some perspective. — L

Oh Great – Now They’re INVESTIGATING The Day Care Center

Dear Readers: The blog post below this one says it all –I thought: Our modern era considers it a news story when a child accidentally gets left behind on a small excursion for a small amount of time. Why? Because the underlying idea is, “What if  something BAD happened? Then it really WOULD be a story.” So the fact that this scenario even set the stage for a “What if?” story made it newsy enough. And that was that. For a day.

But now the story continues. Of course, any time there is any breach of protocol concerning children — even a single dumb, inconsequential mistake — the authorities are called in. This is because we assume childrearing is something that CAN and MUST be done perfectly or children will not survive. This kind of frenzy drives parents, teachers and caregivers crazy. It assumes zero resilience on the part of kids and insists we demand zero human fallibility on the part of all adults. Which, for the record, is impossible.

To err is human, and yet the human race survives. Why? Because we are built to be pretty sturdy — even kids. This is something our hypervigilant, hyperventilating society routinely overlooks.

Just like you can overlook a 2 year old at a park. — Lenore