Why I Rolled My Eyes On FoxNews Today

Now I know how Al Gore felt.

 Well, at least about playing to TV.

Remember how he was caught rolling his eyes during one of the Presidential debates, and that sealed his fate – for some folks, anyway – as a hopelessly smug know-it-all?

I rolled my eyes on TV today, too. Wish I hadn’t, because I don’t mean to be a know-it-all. But I’ve done my research and I do know some.

The show was “Fox & Friends,” where I’d gone to debate the idea of Free-Range Kids with a nice lady who believes that children are being snatched off the streets right and left. And to prove it she cited a statistic, “Every 2.5 minutes someone is a victim of a sexual crime.”

Didn’t say what age person. Didn’t say whether we were talking about Manhattan, or America or the big, round earth we live on. Didn’t mention whether she was talking about assaults by strangers, though that was the implication. Otherwise why use that statistic to explain why you keep your kids off the street? (But in fact, about 90% of the sex crimes against kids are committed by people they know.)

So I rolled my eyes and then tried to get in a statistic of my own. The one I had folks guessing about on this very blog yesterday when I asked the question: If you, for some strange reason, WANTED your child to be KIDNAPPED AND HELD OVERNIGHT BY A STRANGER, HOW LONG WOULD YOU HAVE TO LEAVE HIM OR HER OUTSIDE, ALONE AND UNSUPERVISED HERE IN AMERICA, FOR THIS TO BE STATISTICALLY LIKELY TO HAPPEN?

The answer, crunched for me by Warwick Cairns, author of How to Live Dangerously is this: 750,000 years.

Probably more than you guessed. More than I guessed, too. And probably quite a few more than my debate partner would have reckoned.

 She sees the world as filled with creeps. I see it as filled with humans, most of them decent, a small percentage of them not. It’s a percentage I have warned my children to beware of, and taught them to kick, scream and run away from in the unlikely event they ever come face to face, but not to obsess about.

Because of our visions, my debate partner and I are raising our children differently. She will not let her children out of her sight. I will. She would not trust a 13-year-old babysitter. I would. She thinks I’m cavalier about child molesters. I think she’s cavalier about the implications of never letting children try anything on their own, and teaching them to feel helpless and scared.

I rolled my eyes but I do feel that we both want the very same thing: The best for our kids.

Bush and Gore both wanted the best for their country, too. They just had different visions. And one of them rolled his eyes.

 — Lenore

Why I’m Not Taking the Advice of an “Expert” on Child Molesting

A comment on my post, “Of Peanuts and Pedophiles,” included a link to a Salon story on child sexual abuse. Voila: http://tinyurl.com/cc2qys .

It’s a disturbing piece, by a guy who worked for a year in a treatment center for juveniles who have raped and molested other kids. Hearing their histories gave him a, “peek inside a dark world I never wanted to see.” A peek so disturbing, he wrote, that he never even hired a babysitter after that. “The risk wasn’t worth the reward of a night on the town or attending an event for my own enjoyment.” From his (tortured) perspective, he couldn’t trust anyone – even a 13-year-old girl in pigtails- not to be a sexual sadist.

The young molesters he was dealing with not only raped repeatedly, they were arsonists.  And, no surprise, they’d all been molested when they were younger, too. You just can’t t get sadder or more upsetting than that, which is why I must reject the man’s advice:

 “Don’t trust your children with anyone. .. Trust no one. No babysitter. No friend of your child’s. No adult. No kid. No one.”

Look, I doubt I’d be able to trust anyone, either, if I worked all day in a prison filled with rapists. That was pretty much the writer’s experience. In working with incredibly troubled youth – kudos to him – his outlook got seriously skewed. If you ate dinner every night, year after year, with Hannibal Lechter, chances are you would beg us, in desperate tones, “For the love of God, NEVER order the filet!”

Personally, we’d understand where you were coming from. We’d even appreciate – a little, I guess – learning about the darkness most of us never confront.

But then we’d have to discount your counsel, because your experience is so far removed from everyday life. What you think of as “common,” isn’t.  Most kids are not rapists. (And, for the record, most grown-ups are not cannibals.)

Naturally, many people who read the Salon piece will see it as confirmation of their worst fears. They will clutch their children even closer, because it fits right in with the stories we see on the news and on the crime shows about the worst of the worst. This steady diet of doom is warping our view of the world just as working with mini rapist/arsonists warped the author’s. It can get to the point where his advice sounds like just good ol’ common sense: Where your kids are concerned, trust no one.

“I hope it will make parents PRUDENT not paranoid,” he wrote.

But if we trust no babysitter, no teacher, no play date, ever, the only thing left is for us to watch our children 24 hours a day. Literally. Never let them out of our sight.

That’s not childhood, that’s lockdown.

For the kids who committed no crime at all.     

— Lenore

P.S. By the way, people who trust no one, ever, ARE paranoid. Not prudent.