- “Someone could have put their hand in the window and unlocked the door and taken the kids” [Lenore Skenazy/Free Range Kids; related stories here and here; similar, Illinois Policy]
- Police warn that plan in Scotland to provide state guardian for every child could backfire in abuse investigations [Telegraph, more on “named person” scheme]
- Also from Scotland: Law Society says proposed ban on liquor promotion is so broad it might snag parent wearing rugby-sponsor jacket at school pickup [Express]
- Judge rejects Mississippi school finance suit [Andrew Ujifusa, State Education Watch, background]
- Widespread criticism of Michigan judge for sending kids to juvenile detention for not wanting to have lunch with their father [Radley Balko]
- “Two Parents Weren’t Sure How Their Little Girl Fractured Her Leg, So CPS Took the Kids” [Lenore Skenazy, more, yet more on “medical kidnapping”]
- Caleb Brown and Andrew Grossman discuss educator-dues case of Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association [Cato Daily Podcast, earlier on case, its SCOTUSBlog page]
- Following student complaints, Northwestern Prof. Laura Kipnis investigated by her university over an essay she wrote on campus sexual politics [Jonathan Adler and more, Chronicle of Higher Ed (Kipnis cleared amid nationwide furor), Glenn Reynolds] Flashback: How NPR, the Center for Public Integrity, and federal officials fueled the campus sex assault panic [Christina Hoff Sommers, The Daily Beast, January] Harvard lawprof Janet Halley, who battles for rights of Title IX accused, is anything but conservative [Harvard Crimson] “The pretense of ‘neutrality’ … has its roots in privilege.” Popehat’s wicked satire of academia looks so real;
- Throwing Skittles on a school bus = “interference with an educational facility” [Louisiana, Lowering the Bar]
- To reduce stigma, or so it’s said, Maryland will serve free school breakfast and summer meals to more children whether they’re poor or not. Why cook for your kids when the state will do it? [my Free State Notes post]
- Will high school football still be around in 2035? “Iowa Jury Awards Injured Ex-High School Football Player $1M” [Insurance Journal]
- “Maryland’s ‘free range’ parents cleared of neglect in one case” [Washington Post, earlier]
- St. Paul, MN schools in recent years embraced latest progressive nostrums on discipline, mainstreaming, cultural difference. Results have not been happy [Susan Du, City Pages]
- “Two-Thirds of Risk Managers Say Frats Are Major Liability” [Inside Higher Ed] California trend spreads as Connecticut Senate passes affirmative consent bill for college disciplinary policies [West Hartford News/CT News Junkie]
I’ve now expanded Monday’s post into a longer Cato post. Among the new material, it links Petula Dvorak’s excellent WaPo column (“Our rapid march toward police-state parenting has got to end”) in which, to show how far we have moved, she quotes a checklist from a 1979 book on knowing whether your six-year-old is ready for first grade: “Can he travel alone in the neighborhood (four to eight blocks) to store, school, playground, or to a friend’s home?”
Megan McArdle notes “the kind of range of movement that those of us over 30 recall as a normal part of childhood” and names some possibilities of what social forces might have brought about such an extreme shift in attitudes, from cable news (magnifying the very-rare-in-fact peril of stranger abductions) to the lack of daytime “eyes on the street” to the ubiquity of mobile phones and report-possible-abuse lines (“It would be surprising if we lowered the price of being an officious busybody and didn’t get a lot more of it.”)
Aren’t prisoners allowed one phone call, or is that just on TV? Because the Meitiv kids were not allowed to contact their parents in the six hours they were held by the authorities.
This is probably as good a place as any to share my personal experience: by around age 9 or 10 in the early 1960s I had the run of downtown Detroit and wandered around by myself to all sorts of attractions there, returning to my mother’s place of work at the end of the business day. That was considered a little precocious and my family was proud of me on that account. Once with some extra money in my pocket I even went into a white-tablecloth Italian restaurant by myself and ordered, ate, and paid for a meal with tip, a story told for years afterward.
P.S.: “This is kind of insane — in Illinois it’s illegal to leave a 13-year-old home alone” [Christopher Ingraham, but see comments below (not illegal in Illinois as such, only potentially so depending on a range of factors)]
A public authority governing 16 schools in Cheshire, England, has sent a letter to parents warning them that they must not allow their children to play with adult-themed videogames such as Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto. “If your child is allowed to have inappropriate access to any game, or associated product, that is designated 18+ we are advised to contact the police and children’s social care as this is deemed neglectful.” [ITV via Lenore Skenazy]
In 2006 California votes approved the Sexual Predator Punishment and Control Act (a.k.a. Jessica’s Law) which, writes Jacob Sullum, “prohibits registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park, without regard to the nature of the crimes they committed or the threat they currently pose.” Persons are added to the registry over offenses — indecent exposure after being caught urinating at 2 a.m. outside a bar, for example — that may have nothing to do with children, force, or even sexual conduct as such. Under the sweeping terms of the California law, persons on the register were prohibited from occupying an estimated 97 percent of the apartment-zoned land in San Diego County. Sullum: “In 2007 Georgia’s residence restrictions, which mandated the relocation of sex offenders dying in nursing homes and forced repeated moves as formerly legal homes became illegal, were unanimously overturned by the state Supreme Court, which observed that ‘there is no place in Georgia where a registered sex offender can live without being continually at risk of being ejected.’
Meanwhile, in Carson, Calif., the city council has declined to amend its strictest-in-the-state law, which “prevent[s] them from going within 300 feet of day-care centers, libraries, swimming pools, and any establishment with a children’s playground or school bus stop.” [Daily Breeze]
Danielle Meitiv, who with her husband has come under Child Protective Services scrutiny for letting their kids walk home from a local park, has some thoughts on the still-in-progress episode in the Washington Post [earlier]. I have often wondered why there were not more stirrings toward a legal defense organization for parents facing overreaching CPS actions, and a group called National Association of Parents apparently is hoping to fill that gap (its Facebook presence).
P.S. Well, this is neat: at the New Yorker “Talk of the Town,” Lizzie Widdicombe profiles Lenore Skenazy.
The Meitiv family of Silver Spring, Maryland is now under Child Protective Services scrutiny for permitting their children to walk the neighborhood alone a little too freely. Lenore Skenazy of Free-Range Kids has been on the story for a while, and now the Washington Post and columnist Petula Dvorak are covering it too (related). More: Beth Greenfield, Yahoo Parenting (cross-posted from Free State Notes).
P.S. Google Street View will let you simulate the experience of walking south a mile down Georgia Avenue from Woodside Park through and past downtown Silver Spring. And welcome listeners from “Frederick’s Forum” on WFMD with host Dave Schmidt, where I’ll be calling in to discuss the case this morning.
Today it is a sin — and sometimes a crime — NOT to imagine your children dead the moment we take your eyes off them. The moment they skip to school with a Chapstick, wait in the car a minute, or play at the park.
We think we are enlightened in this quest to keep kids completely safe. Actually, we have entered a new Dark Ages, fearing evil all around us.
If we want the right to raise our kids rationally, even optimistically, it’s time to call the Cult of Kiddie Danger what it is: mass hysteria aided and abetted by the authorities. But as earlier holy books so succinctly instructed us, there is a better way to live.