England Getting Battier

Hi Readers — Here’s the news from across the seas. Or sea, anyway. Or ocean, really. Anyway, a reader writes:

If you want more UK stories – a couple below:

I noticed a warning in a store here (see photo) that it is now illegal to sell crackers to people under the age of 16.  Crackers are a traditional British novelty at Christmas and celebrations – they’re little surprise parcels that two people pull apart and that usually contain a (generally poor quality!) gift and a joke.  They also have a small amount of explosive that creates the “crack.”  It’s tiny – not like a cap guns, not like Chinese firework crackers – a tiny little pop. Under 16?  So you can’t now send your 15 year old daughter out to get another box when unexpected guests turn up.  She also couldn’t buy them for a party for friends, or just because they’re fun.  It’s absurd.

In other news, from the Times Online today a piece about Ofsted (Britain’s schools standards body) inspections: a “school was judged to be inadequate because inspectors deemed the fence around the playground low enough for child snatchers to reach in and grab pupils”.

Child snatching from British schools must have become a new pass time while I was out of the country.

Cracker warning? Or cracking up warning?

Why Should Only Dogs Have Electric Fences? Think: Kids!

Hi Readers! As you probably know, for years you could buy an invisible electric fence to keep your pets in the yard. But now you can use one when you’re camping, too, to make sure your kids never wander off, thanks to a new device called  the Camp Guard. According to an article in the Herald Journal in Logan, Utah:

“The Camp Guard [is]a wireless perimeter security system that alerts campers of animals entering their campsite or kids wandering away. When the perimeter is breached, an alarm goes off, lights flash or both.

“The real value of the product is in child security,” [inventor Glenn] Whichard explained. “You can easily create a perimeter at the playground, or the lake, or your campsite, and the Camp Guard will alert you when your children wander outside the designated area.”

Not that there isn’t something vaguely sensible about this idea. I know there is. I, too, am scared of kids wandering off into the lake, by themselves. I’m also not a big fan of bears, though simply being alerted to the fact one was moseying near my tent wouldn’t give me a whole lot of options beyond, “Commence speechless terror.”

No, what’s disturbing about this product is what I”m going to call “security creep”: The idea that whenever and wherever we go, we can and should be busy protecting our children with security systems, be it  an alarm that beeps when they wander a few yards off at the mall, or a GPS in their backpack when they leave for school or, now, an electric fence between them and the world.

We are burdening ourselves with the notion that our kids are at high risk every second of the day — so high that we’re coming to believe any “good” parent should be protecting them the way the Secret Service protects the President.

I agree that every child is as precious as the President. I disagree that they are in the same kind of immediate, red alert, secure-the-perimeters peril. Especially if they’re not alone in a tent with a jar of honey and a pound of chuck. — Lenore