Posts tagged as:

child protection

Following up on our earlier posts, a new NBER study finds (via Reason) that the main safety-related effect of helmet laws may be to discourage kids from riding bikes in the first place: “the observed reduction in bicycle-related head injuries may be due to reductions in bicycle riding induced by the laws.”

Lenore Skenazy of Free-Range Kids is the guest essayist at Cato Unbound. Excerpt:

..any time a politician, principal, or bureaucrat wants to score points, he or she lets us know that kids are even more precious—and endangered—than we thought….

How far has society gone in dreaming up new dangers to protect our children from? Until you take a step back and look at all the new laws and regulations, you probably have no idea….

Over the summer, according to the Manchester, Connnecticut Patch, a local mom was charged with “risk of injury to a minor and failure to appear after police say she allowed her seven-year and 11-year old children to walk down to Spruce Street to buy pizza unsupervised.” This was a walk of half a mile….

…in the “real world,” stranger abductions are so rare that if for some reason you actually WANTED your child to be kidnapped by a stranger, do you know how long you’d have to keep your child outside, unattended, so that statistically the abduction would be likely to happen?

The answer is about 750,000 years, according to author Warwick Cairns. And after the first 100,000 years or so, your kid isn’t even cute anymore. …

At the same time, there is a parallel process going on the regulatory world, with bureaucrats looking ever more intently for ever less likely dangers, on the grounds that kids can never be safe enough. This explains things like the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s recall of a line of children’s jackets last year because the elastic waistbands had toggles on it “that could become snagged or caught in small spaces or doorways, which poses an entrapment hazard to children.”

Yes, it’s true: Those toggles could snag. Does that make them inherently more dangerous than, say, pigtails that could get caught in a door, or a charm bracelet that could get snagged on an electric window? I’m just free-associating products and problems here, because that’s what it feels like the CPSC does, too.

In the discussion, Skenazy is joined by Anthony Green, James A. Swartz and Joel Best.

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Just as soon as your criminal background check is complete [Free-Range Kids, Massachusetts]

More: “You Can Volunteer at School for HALF AN HOUR without Being Fingerprinted. But After That…” [Arizona] And: “‘Is That Police Chopper Following ME?’ Wonders a Dad” [Texas]

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The trouble began at school in Kitchener, Ontario, when a 4-year-old girl drew a picture of her father, Jessie Sansone, with a gun in his hand. When asked about the gun in the picture, according to police, the girl said her siblings played with it and that it scared her. “The school principal, police and child welfare officials… said they had to investigate to determine whether there was a gun in Sansone’s house that children had access to.” And apparently that “investigation” had to involve detaining and strip-searching Sansone when he showed up at school to pick up his daughter, searching his home, and spiriting away his other children to Family and Children’s Services to be interviewed. Sansone was told he was being charged with possession of a firearm — from the article’s context, an offense in itself in that Second-Amendment-less locality. When police searched the Sansone home, they found “a clear plastic toy gun that shoots soft plastic biodegradable BBs and retails for around $20 at Walmart” and he was released without charges. [The Record; Joe O'Connor, National Post]

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In the mail: “Bad Dad”

by Walter Olson on February 17, 2012

We blogged about this case in 2008, and now Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Dave Lieber has turned it into a book. From the description:

A newspaper columnist investigates the shenanigans of a small-town police department — then pays a price for it. After he orders his misbehaving 11-year-old son to walk home from a local restaurant, police arrest the dad for two felony counts. A true-story thriller about parental responsibility, small-town corruption and the consequences of being a public figure.

And: should an Arkansas mother whose son had been thrown off the regular school bus for misbehavior face child endangerment charges for making him walk 4.5 miles to school instead? [Alkon] From Australia, should police warn parents for letting a 7-year-old visit a local shop alone, and a 10-year-old ride a bus unaccompanied? [Sydney Morning Herald via Skenazy]

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“Whistle blowers, that scroll out into a long coloured paper tongue when sounded – a party favourite at family Christmas meals – are now classed as unsafe for all children under 14. … the EU legislation will impose restrictions on how noisy toys, including rattles or musical instruments, are allowed to be.” Unsupervised children under 8 should not be allowed to blow up balloons, according to the European Union directive, which has just taken effect. [Telegraph; headline changed after objection that the Telegraph's headline was misleading]

In related news, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, addressing a United Nations conference on “the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases,” has said that “mak[ing] healthy solutions the default social option” on matters such as diet is “ultimately government’s highest duty.” [Sullum]

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  • Oh, American Academy of Pediatrics, why are you so consistently wrong? On videogames, on food-ad bans, on guns, CPSIA
  • New book by Annette Fuentes, Lockdown High: When the Schoolhouse Becomes a Jailhouse [John Harris, Guardian]
  • There are genuine problems with some countries’ international adoption practices, but should UNICEF really be pushing toward a “leave the kids in orphanages” alternative? [Nick Gillespie on Reason documentary to be released tomorrow]
  • At expense of both federalism and religious accommodation, bill entitled “Every Child Deserves a Family Act” (ECDFA) would impose anti-bias rules on state adoption and foster care programs [Washington Blade]
  • Cash-for-kids Pennsylvania judge: “Former Luzerne judge Conahan sentenced to 17.5 years” [Times-Tribune, our earlier coverage]
  • “Met a guy who works at my old summer camp. Bunks still do raids on other bunks, but their counselors have to file raid forms first. How sad.” [@adamlisberg]
  • Sex offender registry horror story #14,283 [Skenazy]
  • “Safety rules rob pupils of hands-on science, say MPs” [Independent, U.K.]
  • Gee, who could’ve predicted that? NJ’s aggressive “anti-bullying” law leads to new problems [NYT, Greenfield, PoL, NJLRA] Rapid growth in bullying law assisted by push from Obama administration [WSJ Law Blog, Kenneth Marcus/Federalist Society, Bader]

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September 21 roundup

by Walter Olson on September 21, 2011

September 2 roundup

by Walter Olson on September 2, 2011

  • Jury acquits ex-firefighter who claimed disability while competing as a bodybuilder [Boston Herald]
  • Authorities snatch kids from homes after parents busted with small amounts of pot [NYT, Tim Lynch/Cato]
  • “Case Study on Impact of Tort Reform in Mississippi” [Mark Behrens via Scheuerman/TortsProf]
  • When opt-in works: “More than 27,000 S. Korean users join class-action suit against Apple” [Yonhap]
  • Casino liable after customers leave kids unattended in cars? [Max Kennerly]
  • All is forgiven, says frequent investment plaintiff: “State Street Rehired by Calpers After Being Likened to ‘Thugs’” [Business Week]
  • Vintage comic book covers on law themes are a regular Friday feature at Abnormal Use.

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August 29 roundup

by Walter Olson on August 29, 2011

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July 26 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 26, 2011

  • Murder victim’s family sues Schwarzenegger for commuting sentence [KTXL]
  • Easter egg in Dodd-Frank: Lawmaker’s pet “conflict minerals” proposal, to be enforced by SEC [Protess] More on costs to automakers and others: WLF, Carter Wood, more. Further: Bader.
  • Push is on again for fashion design copyright protection [NYT, earlier] Another skeptical view of bill [Katy Tasker, Public Knowledge]
  • Charges dropped against woman who videotaped cops from her front yard [Rochester D&C]
  • “Mom Charged with ‘Child Endangerment’ When Tot Wanders Off” [Free-Range Kids]
  • Live off the land? Better not try that in rural L.A. County [Cavanaugh]
  • Does the U.S. maintain diplomatic relations with this strange realm of “Gould, Arkansas”? [Volokh, Underhill/Forbes]

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Infuriating: “a pair of Harvard scholars writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association advocate stripping away the custody rights of parents of super obese children. … ‘Despite the discomfort posed by state intervention, it may sometimes be necessary to protect a child,’ said Lindsey Murtagh, a lawyer and researcher at Harvard’s School of Public Health. The study’s co-author, David Ludwig, says taking away peoples’ children ‘ideally will support not just the child but the whole family, with the goal of reuniting child and family as soon as possible.'” [Atlantic Wire]

More: Ira Stoll notes the following sentence from the JAMA piece: “Even relatively mild parenting deficiencies, such as having excessive junk food in the home or failing to model a physically active lifestyle, may contribute to a child’s weight problem.” From M.M., via social media: “I’ve never seen better evidence for that old William F. Buckley, Jr. quote: ‘I’d rather be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston telephone directory than by the 2,000 members of the Harvard faculty.'” And Ken at Popehat examines the possibility that the researchers were just, you know, trying to “start a conversation” about the need for more child-snatching.

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“Kyleigh’s Law,” which imposed an 11 p.m. curfew on younger drivers and required them to affix red reflective decals on their vehicles, was really not a very good idea, but New Jersey lawmakers figured that not voting for it might seem to insult Kyleigh’s memory. Much could be said as well against Megan’s Law, Hannah’s Law, Jessica’s Law, Chelsea’s Law … might one discern a pattern here? [Michael Tracey, Reason]

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Eugene Volokh has a legal analysis of the ballot proposal, which includes no religious-belief exemption. More: Dave Hoffman.

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Be prepared to submit to fingerprinting.

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Because you can’t be too safe. [Free-Range Kids]

…and something bad might happen. Can you guess what that bad thing is most likely to be? [Free-Range Kids]

Parents who volunteer at school won’t need to hold back until they’ve completed a police scan. [Free-Range Kids]