ABC 20/20 with Elizabeth Vargas takes on the kids-unattended-in-cars hysteria, interviewing Lenore Skenazy and discussing the growing tendency of random passersby to take on the role of informant and call the cops when they see kids — even older kids on cool days — alone in parked cars.
- Administration tees up massively expensive regulation docket for after election [Sam Batkins, American Action Forum]
- More on FedEx’s resistance to fed demands that it snoop in boxes [WSJ Law Blog, earlier]
- Ethics war escalates between Cuomo and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, but is sniping in press suitable role for prosecutor? [New York Post, Ira Stoll]
- “Mom Hires Craigslist Driver for 9-Year-Old Son, Gets Thrown in Jail” [Lenore Skenazy]
- One-way fee shifts, available to prevailing plaintiffs but not defendants: why aren’t they more controversial? [New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Watch]
- Water shutoff woes sprang from Detroit’s “pay-if-you-want culture” [Nolan Finley, Detroit News]
- “CPSC Still Trying to Crush Small Round Magnet Toys; Last Surviving American Seller Zen Magnets Fights Back” [Brian Doherty]
“Dad Gets 1 Year Probation for Making Son Walk a Mile” [Hawaii; Free-Range Kids]
- Anonymous tip as basis for search? Thomas, Scalia divide in 5-4 SCOTUS decision [Tim Lynch/Cato; Popehat and Scott Greenfield vs. Orin Kerr]
- Undercover police target Uber, Lyft drivers to “send a message” [Alice Truong, Fast Company; related on New York AG Eric Schneiderman; yet more from NY state senator Liz Krueger (claims AirBnB could also lead to gambling and drugs)]
- Judge Rakoff on plea deals: “hundreds… or even tens of thousands of innocent people who are in prison, right now” [Tim Lynch, Cato]
- “Everybody’s trafficked by something,” claims one Phoenix police lieutenant [Al-Jazeera via Elizabeth Nolan Brown, Reason] “Lies, damned lies, and sex work statistics” [Maggie McNeill]
- Small town police get feds’ surplus armored military vehicles. What could go wrong? [Radley Balko, with reader comments on challenges of supplies and maintenance]
- Good: “Obama to consider more clemency requests from nonviolent drug offenders” [CBS, Tim Lynch, my take in December]
- Arkansas: “Mom Arrested for Breastfeeding After Drinking Alcohol in a Restaurant” [Free-Range Kids]
“The world is force-feeding you a horror movie [in which] you’re the star, and your kid is dead.” When Lenore Skenazy came to speak earlier this month (video of that) she also recorded this audio podcast with Caleb Brown, which has significantly different content. Among the topics: how the media, law, and police encourage helicopter parenting; the best way to break the fear cycle; and how she got turned on to Cato.
Lenore Skenazy’s incredibly funny talk last Thursday, with me commenting and moderating (and even at one point giving my impression of a 3-year-old losing a cookie), is now online. Several people have told me this was one of the most entertaining and illuminating Cato talks they’ve seen.
Lenore’s blog is Free-Range Kids and you can buy her book of the same name here. Some links on topics that came up in my remarks: Harvard researchers call for yanking obese kids out of their homes; authorities in Queensland, Australia, plan use of satellite data to spy out noncompliance with pool safety rules; courts reward helicopter parents in custody battles; charges dropped against mom who left toddler sleeping in car while she dropped coins in Salvation Army bucket; proposals to cut kids’ food into small bits and discontinue things like peanuts and marshmallows entirely; authorities snatch kids from homes after parents busted with small quantities of pot.
P.S. Direct video link here (h/t comments).
Should parents helping their child’s teacher put on a short class party have to submit to a background check first? Is it child endangerment to leave your toddler in the car for a few minutes on a mild day while you run into a shop? If your child gets hurt falling off a swing, is it potential child neglect not to sue every solvent defendant in sight? Should police have arrested a dad who walked into school at pickup time rather than wait outside for his kids as he was supposed to?
Author Lenore Skenazy has led the charge against the forces of legal and societal overprotectiveness in her book Free-Range Kids and at her popular blog of the same name. This Thursday, March 6 – rescheduled from a weather-canceled event originally set for last month – she’ll be the Cato Institute’s guest for a lunchtime talk on helicopter parenting and its near relation, helicopter governance; I’ll be moderating and commenting. The event is free and open to the public, but you need to register, which you can do here. You can also watch online live at this link. (cross-posted from Cato at Liberty)
Australian journalist Jo Abi is perfectly serious about the idea:
Drowning is one of the leading cause of death in children under five with majority of those deaths occurring in backyard pools. So why haven’t backyard pools been banned? If any other product or activity caused so many injuries and deaths in our most vulnerable they would be banned, there would be lawsuits, there would be outrage. Except backyard pools are an intrinsic part of Australian culture, and it’s costing us children’s lives.
One who isn’t persuaded is Lenore Skenazy, who quotes a commenter at the Australian iVillage site:
I understand one always wants to take measures to prevent deaths, but 16 deaths a year is 0.00000064% of the population. …
We really need to be careful with these kind of ideas, it might not be the banning of cars but the amount of rules that can be added in the name of safety is and will continue to spiral out of control. People seem to want a zero fatality society yet this is not only impossible, the quest for it will create a culture and country based on fear and draconian governance. Given the rules in place now, and articles like this asking for more, 100 years from now you won’t be allowed to swim at all or build, play outside, run, experience anything really.
Lenore Skenazy will be speaking at Cato tomorrow (Wednesday)(Update: postponed to March 6 due to weather). To attend, register here.
More from comments, Bill Poser:
There’s a factor missing from this discussion. The dangers of backyard pools have to be balanced against the dangers of not having them. It seems likely that backyard pools contribute to public health in two ways: (a) by increasing the cardiovascular fitness of the people who use them, who might exercise less if they did not have access to backyard pools; (b) by teaching children to swim and keeping up the swimming ability of adults. Here again, one can learn to swim elsewhere, but it is likely that the availability of backyard pools brings about swimming instruction and practice that would otherwise not occur. We can’t formulate an intelligent policy without knowing the marginal increase in deaths from heart attacks and drownings due that would be incurred by banning backyard pools.