Tags » ‘lenore skenazy’

Locked Down?

October 14th, 2012 by

A little slow on the postings this past week, but I wanted to comment on a post from Free Range Kids guru Lenore Skenazy.  Another “stranger danger” incident happened recently at a preschool in the SF Bay area.  Apparently, a parent had allowed another adult inside the preschool compound without letting staff “buzz” them in, which created quite a stir- AND a lengthy letter outlining the dangers of people we don’t (and do!) know.

My reaction is this:

  • Why are our preschools / afterschool programs / schools wired like a minimum security prison in the first place?  I mean, I understand why.  At least I understand the reasons given.  I don’t agree with them.  Do we need to look at the DOJ statistics?  If we’re merely playing a statistics game then, shouldn’t we ban parents from driving their children home? (more car accidents happen per year with child passengers than stranger abductions) Perhaps we should ban relatives from picking up children at all (most abuse happens at the hands of relatives than any other category).
  • The main issue I have with the “lockdown” mentality is the subconscious message that it sends the children.  It tells them that they are just victims in a game where strangers lurk in every crevice waiting to pounce.  It tells them that they are incapable and must be protected from all things, real and imaginary.  It creates in children a sense that the world is a dangerous place, and that they’re better off not exploring, questioning, or learning about the wider world.

The fact is that, statistically, children are safer now than at any time in our nation’s history.  But paranoia makes for great headlines and child safety (or the fear of un-safety!) makes for great copy and Nielsen numbers.

But what is the cost to our kids?

When Lawsuits (or the threat thereof) Rule the World

March 18th, 2012 by

Again, thanks to Lenore Skenazy of FREE RANGE KIDS for another thought-provoking article.

Read original post here.

Turns out, a mom with a toddler attending afternoon baseball games on the site of an elementary school sought to use the bathroom (actually, the toddler was seeking to use the bathroom…) of the on-site afterschool program.

The long and short of it is that the request was denied.

Reason?  Liability.  The afterschool program has a policy in place not to let outsiders use their facilities.  The “worst-first” thinking goes like this: what if the woman or child slipped while in the bathroom?  Then the afterschool center could be held liable for damages.

What’s worrisome to me is that our center (and all the other afterschool centers where I’ve worked in the past) have the same policy.  BAD THINGS happen in bathrooms, and the insurance company knows it.  So, better to have a policy forbidding unauthorized restroom use than to open yourself to the infinitesimal chance that something could happen.  Can’t be too careful, you know.

Got me to thinking about how pervasive this “worst-case-scenario” thinking is in our profession.  I’m sure there are many who would wrap the kids in bubble wrap and put them in the corner until their parents picked them up, if they could.

Like I’ve said before, I believe that the raison d’etre of school-age care is to foster the social and emotional growth of the charges in our care.

If we let the “bubble-wrap” thinkers take over, we’ve failed.

We Have Been Dangerized

July 22nd, 2011 by

Thanks to Lenore Skenazy for her poignant blog post/article in response to the near-incomprehensible Lieby Kletzky tragedy.


The fact is that we DO decide in a most irrational fashion what fears to pay attention to.  Sure, the media helps a lot!  And then we obsess, often to the point of unintended and unwanted consequences.

The day after they found Lieby’s body in New York City, our site had a field trip planned; we were taking a small group of 24 five-and-six-year-olds to the Zoo.

24 children with 7 adults.

Two families pulled out of the trip- too dangerous, they said (“…you heard about that kid in New York, didn’t you?”).

At least four other families expressed concern about the trip (“you’re sure you’ll be watching them?”- as if we hadn’t been all this time, but now we were kicking around the idea we should start).

I understand the parental pull to protect your kids.  I’m a parent, too.    I get it.

As a care provider, I’m also always humbled by the trust the parents place in us every day we take care of their kids.  I always strive to keep that trusting bond at the fore of my thoughts (and remind the other staff to be aware as well) as we move through our daily activities.

And, at the same time, I really get it.  I get how freaking irrational our fears can be when driven by sensationalism.  In many ways, we are still the 5-year-old kid worried about the monster from the movie that we’re sure is lurking there under our bed.