We live in a dangerous world, rife with child molesters, lunatics, and gunmen ready to fire. There are slobbering, murderous wretches lurking around every corner, and kidnappers lie in wait for the woeful children who travel without the protection of an armored S.U.V. At least, this is the hook that the fear-mongering media has baited—and many mothers believe it.
Countless parents are convinced that they must adopt this paranoid, pessimistic outlook to keep their kids safe from harm. Some are so assured of it, they’re arguing that New Yorker Lenore Skenazy should face child-abuse charges for allowing her 9-year-old son to take the subway by himself. (Video after the jump.)
Since when does a kid taking the subway make the news? Since Skenazy, a columnist for the New York Sun, left her born-and-bred New Yorker child (read: precocious, street smart), Izzy, with $20, change for call on a payphone, a subway map, and a Metrocard. Izzy had been begging Skenazy to let him take the subway alone, and she finally caved. When Skenazy wrote about the episode in her column, parents nationwide decried her actions as abuse.
What the masses see as irresponsible parenting, I see as a natural progression in the relationship between child and parent (and, of course, a hurrah in favor of public transportation). Skenazy had to let go. She had to trust her son, after giving him the tools to get himself home (a trip he’s probably made millions of times before). In my mind, Skenazy would be less of a parent had she stifled her son by trying to shelter him. (If she doesn’t reel him a little freedom now, he’ll still be suckling at mom’s proverbial teat well into his teens.)
I’ve taken millions of trips on the New York City subway and would argue that riding the train—full of people (most of them regular folk, not freaks) during daylight hours—is safer than walking home from school in a small town (as I did, from the time I was in second grade). I’d rather encourage my child to take public transit (safe, in most large cities), walk, bike, or skateboard than put him under constant surveillance, and urge him to grow fat and paranoid due to my own disproportionate fear. Are there sketchy strangers out there? Absolutely. But the likelihood that they’re going to abduct your child is nil to zip. More likely, someone you know—your dog walker, your ex-husband, your postman—is the sketchy sonofabitch who’s offering little kiddo dangerous candy. On a subway train full of New Yorkers, someone so brazen would be seen—and sucker-punched.
Source: The Today Show.
- Public Transit Takes A Back Seat in the White House
- PIRG Announces Video Contest to Promote Public Transit
- Gas Prices and Mass Transit Ridership Surge
- Hasselt Proves Free Public Transportation Works
- Mass Transit Trims The Fat