Must be a case for Child Protective Services

by Walter Olson on November 29, 2012

In Rockville, Maryland, a ten-year-old kid is riding the city bus [Free-Range Kids]

{ 12 comments }

1 boblipton 11.29.12 at 11:56 am

When I was a kid I was beaten up frequently in school. I was never beaten up on public transportation.

Bob

2 Ron Miller 11.29.12 at 2:10 pm

Yes, kidnapping children is incredibly rare. So is a 10 year old riding a bus alone. So I don’t know where those lines intersect on the risk curve.

I also have to question the prudence of 10 year old wanting to talk to her “friends” at the bus stop. So I don’t know how that plays out. I’d rather err on the side of caution.

The school is concerned for the child safety and it should be a issue when allowing a kid to transfer. And the school never really raised a heavy hand… they merely pointed out the issue.

Are school allowed to point out to parents when they have safety concerns? Are we all so sensitive that we can’t even accept advice that we won’t accept?

This registers at .01 on my Orwellmeter.

3 aaaa 11.29.12 at 3:21 pm

@Ron Miller “So is a 10 year old riding a bus alone. So I don’t know where those lines intersect on the risk curve. ”

It probably depends a lot on the location you are at. 10 years old (and younger) riding bus alone are common in most of Europe and there is no surge of kidnappings. As far as I know, Japanies and China kids travel alone too. Although it is uncommon in USA, I guess it would be also very safe in any low criminality town – if nothing else criminality in USA is going down for years.

High criminality area would be different question, but I would be more afraid of random beating or robbery then kidnapping. Those seems to me as more likely risks.

4 Anna 11.29.12 at 6:35 pm

Ron, I get what you are saying. Because children riding public transportation alone are uncommon in my very safe suburban area (much more uncommon than they are in DC, only a few miles away) my child’s chances of being targeted by a predator are automatically higher. However, I think you should consider that

1) Any child’s chances of being kidnapped by a stranger are infinitesimally low to begin with.

2) Any opportunistic predator would discover that my daughter’s daily commute, surrounded as she is by other passengers on the bus and other commuters as she walks home, offers very little opportunity for a successful getaway. Meanwhile any evildoer determined enough to kidnap this specific child may find a way to do so even while she is sleeping in her own bedroom.

What, in your opinion, would be the appropriate response to the school’s “concern”?

Finally, how is a 10-year-old getting to know her neighbors a bad thing?

5 Ronald Miller 11.30.12 at 12:06 am

I think they actually responded fairly appropriately. I think everyone acted approprtately.

I was more commenting on both the blogger’s over-the-top outrage – was he really shaking as he wrote the blog post? That’s free range nuts! – and the parent’s internal thoughts as expressed in the letter.

6 Walter Olson 11.30.12 at 12:38 am

Ron, I think you may underestimate the terror struck into many parents’ hearts at the idea of becoming a target of scrutiny by CPS, with its powers to seize one’s kids.

At age 10 I was riding City of Detroit municipal buses regularly, and so were all my friends.

7 aaaa 11.30.12 at 4:17 am

@Ronald Miller The whole blog is a protest against the “dangerization” of previously common activities. The author is trying to document cases where she thinks that authorities or general society (like the principal in this case) overreact to small or non-existent dangers. She sees it as a damaging society trend.

She started with it after she let her 9 years old drive metro alone and wrote small column about it. To her surprise, she made it into the news, cause general outrage and was deemed as “America worst mom” (Google it :)).

The dangerization of walking, cycling or using public transport of kids to school is common thread in that blog. She strongly disagree with the idea that kids must be driven by car everywhere.

Anyway, CPS is not meant to settle minor parenting differences. It is there to handle neglected and abused kids. Being target of CPS is major stress and hustle for the family. Most families would back down after “call CPS” threat regardless of what they think of busing danger.

8 peter 11.30.12 at 8:45 am

@Ron – And the school never really raised a heavy hand… they merely pointed out the issue.

Er no. ” I did follow up with central office. They said if you want to explore the bus option that they would have CPS determine whether or not they felt this was ok to do”.

This is much more than just pointing out the issue. It is basically threatening to point out to the CPS that she is possibly endangering her daughter. When you realise that the CPS definition of child endangerment is whatever they say it is, this is very scary and could lead to very severe consequences.

9 Jim Collins 11.30.12 at 10:26 am

Walter is right. I had CPS show up at my house demanding to see how I stored my guns, because, a teacher sent them a copy of a paper my nephew wrote about learning how to shoot over the summer. I refused entry and they came back with a State cop and a warrant. They had already visited my Sister wanting to see how she stored her guns. When my sister showed them that she had no guns, they asked where was the gun mentioned in my nephew’s paper. That’s how they came to see me. They were prepared to get a Court order preventing me from seeing my niece or nephews over this.

The “we will see what CPS thinks about this” isn’t to be taken lightly. In most areas CPS has little oversight, they are required to have nothing in the way of proof to remove a child or children from their parents and can usually rely on the media taking their side and painting the parents in a bad light.

10 William Nuesslein 11.30.12 at 12:22 pm

For Jim Collins above.

It seems to me that your nephew has a good uncle. I fondly remember the .22 I had as a teenager.

11 boblipton 11.30.12 at 12:53 pm

Jim, that’s a good thing you did for your nephew. I think we need to become Sikhs and carry knives as a religious duty. It seems to be the only way to enjoy weaponry as a hobby.

Bob

12 Leland D. Davis 11.30.12 at 12:53 pm

Some observations about CPS in Maryland – even if the courts side with you, in addition to paying your own attorney, you may be expected to pay the “Guardian ad litem” who supposedly represents your child. This guardian ad litem frequently has alot of business with CPS, is allowed to talk to CPS, but is not allowed to talk to you. This gal does not necessarily have to obey the instructions given by your child, yet, with all of this, supposedly represents the “interests of the child”.
While taking children away supposedly comes with a higher standard of proof, all that is needed for a judge to order you or your children to pay money for a bunch of quack “therapy” where they treat you like a six year old is a preponderance of evidence.
The people who work in CPS are the new social workers who 1. Have absolutely no training in law enforcement, even though that is essentially what they are doing. 2. Being young and new, generally do not have children of their own or have experience themselves being responsible for children. The pay for CPS workers sucks so much that as soon as they are able, these people switch to other kinds of social work. By the time they have children, they are doing something else, like inspecting nursing homes for the elderly.
Yes, parents in Maryland rationally get the night sweats over having to deal with CPS. At the same time, CPS seems to be ineffective at really doing anything about child abuse. Glad I live in Idaho.
Leland D. Davis

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