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

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

OUTRAGE OF THE WEEK: Mom Ticketed for Letting Son, 14, Watch Brother, 3, for 30 Mins

Hi Readers — Just as we were rejoicing about sanity across the sea (see below, regarding Britain’s re-evaluation of its excessive background checks), comes this story, from The Express:

A MOTHER who left her son of 14 to mind his three-year-old brother while she went to the shops was given a police caution for “cruelty” and was suspended from work.

…Although there was no “incident” and they were not believed to be in danger, the mother was cautioned by officers for “committing an act of cruelty on a child or young person.”

You want cruelty? How about the cruelty of treating a mom like a criminal for knowing her son is a responsible young man? How about the cruelty of making a mom unemployable? How about the cruelty to all her fellow citizens  who maybe even remember BABYSITTING at age 11 or 12, but now feel compelled to treat their own teens like imbeciles? Or the cruelty to young adults who want to do something in the world besides playing videogames, but are being told, “No! You are a baby yourself!”

This is positively stunting to children, and shackling to adults, who are apparently never allowed to leave their children’s side till the kids go off to college.

Remember when the rallying cry for a generation was, “Never trust anyone over 30”? Now it’s, “Never trust anyone UNDER 30.” Or at least under age 16 —  the minimum age England’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children recommends babysitters be. (It also says kids should be 14 before they are allowed to stay home alone!)

This idea that teens are unable to take care of kids for even half an hour flies smack in the face of evolution, which has spent the past 300,000 years or so making teenage homo sapiens into parents. And somehow the species arrived at today. Glorious today, when we treat young children as infinitely endangered, and older kids as dangerously inept. — Lenore

We only want babysitters who are old enough to drive!

Boy, 11, Saves Family! (So Why Won’t Many Folks Let 11-y.o.s Babysit?)

Hi Readers! Here’s a terrifying but wonderful story of what happened when a mom going about 55 miles an hour suddenly blacked out  — with her three kids in the car. Thank goodness one was a very smart, quick-thinking young man. Let’s remember the things our kids are capable of instead of treating them all like precious little dumb-dumbs.

Have a great week! — Lenore

Free-Range Challenge of the Week: Rate That Park!

Readers — Here’s a cool idea courtesy of a babysitter named Casey up in the Canadian town of Saskatoon.It not only sounds fun, it sounds like a great “Challenge of the Week.” Or at least something you might enjoy trying. Let us know how it goes if you do! — Lenore

The kids I babysit and I are doing a HUGE summer project this year.  We have planned to go to all of the parks in our city, play on them, and rate them on a scale of 1-5.  So far we’ve been to about half of the parks and we’ve already realised a few things. 

First of all the parks that try to be “safe” really aren’t much safer than the more fun but “dangerous” ones.  And second, not everything always has to lead up to the slide!  Some of our favourite parks so far have been the ones that you can play “don’t touch the ground tag” and also the ones that have neat inventive toys and obstacles. 

Anyways, one thing is for sure, regardless of the safety or fun level of the parks, it really is a great thing to get out and find out what your town really does have to offer – we’re having one of the best summers ever!