Outrage of the Week: Grammar School Cancels Val Day for “Good of the Students”

Hi Readers — Our darling children, who, we’re told, can’t handle recess in the cold (see this), or waiting outside the high school to be picked up (see this), or babysitting, even at age 14 (see this), and who can’t possibly handle sleepovers (see this) or bugs ( see this) or bible stories (see this), are now being told they can’t handle Valentine’s Day, either.

A Maryland grammar school sent a letter to parents explaining its philosophy, which was reported in the local Frederick News Post:

Romance between students has no place in the elementary school classroom, [Principal Stephanie] Brown said, and the obsession of boy-girl relationships on Valentine’s Day was inappropriate for the school setting.

Another issue caused by the holiday was the exchange of cards, some of which had candies or other treats attached. Brown said she and her staff didn’t want to take the chance of causing problems for students with  food allergies.

So now kids can’t handle friendship, love or disappointment — in other words, human relationships — and the kids with allergies can’t handle not eating the treat handed to them, and of course the school can’t handle a darn thing ever happening to the kids at all. And there you have it: A nice little Valentine to abject paralysis.  — Lenore

Danger! Life ahead!

A List that Sums Things Up Nicely

Hi Readers! Just got this interesting letter from a Florida gal named Linda Wightman, who blogs at Lift Up Your Hearts. I haven’t seen the book she describes, but I thought her list of things that are going wrong in society was as tight as it was right. So here it is!

The Parallels Between a Free-Range Farmer’s Book & Free-Range Kids, by Linda Wightman

As I was reading Joel Salatin’s book, Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal: War Stories from the Local Food Front, I was repeatedly struck by the similarities between his struggles on a “family owned, multi-generational, pasture-based, beyond organic, local-market farm” and many of the stories I’ve read here at Free-Range Kids.

You have to wonder why our society is so opposed to such an elegant, inexpensive, healthy and environmentally responsible food source — an old-fashioned one — just as you have to wonder why we have become afraid to allow children to ride their bikes around the block without adult supervision, an old-fashioned childhood. The logic is startlingly similar behind a system that deems a steak wholesome if it’s sold at the supermarket, but far too dangerous to eat if you buy it from your neighbor, and a system that tells parents their children are safer inside watching TV all day than playing in their own backyards.

At root, I believe the problems are these:

*The tendency to value safety above all other considerations

*An inability or unwillingness to make cost/benefit calculations

*The sincere, but mistaken, desire to replace individual, family, and community responsibility with regulations and legal requirements

*An irrational belief in the achievability of 100% safety if only we follow a certain set of rules

*Acting as if worst-case scenarios were commonplace

*And all of the above leading to a situation in which we, our families, and our nation are actually in more danger, not less.

As Salatin himself put it, “On every side, our paternalistic culture is tightening the noose…. When faith in our freedom gives way to fear of our freedom, silencing the minority view becomes the operative protocol.”

De-Normalizing Normal Human Behavior

Hi Readers! In response to a post about schools and camps outlawing hugs (for legal and fear-of-perverts issues) a reader named Melanie wrote this:

When will society as a whole stop modifying, changing and politicizing every single normal human action? The rules are becoming so numerous and far-reaching that it’s difficult to know how to act when outside your own home! Are we breeding a society of unemotional, anti-human, mini robots with all this nonsensical, fear-minded thinking?

It hit home with me, since I think everything from baby classes on how to “clap,” to new contraptions to “help” non-disabled children learn to walk, to whole books on the “right” way to talk to your child  in every situation are making us all forget that things can unfold pretty normally and they’ll be okay.

From jokes to hugs to talking, walking and eating, let’s devote a few days to (in the immortal words of Irving Berlin) doin’ what comes naturally.  Happy weekend! L