Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Government Enforced Helicopter Parenting? Throw Me in the Slammer Now

Ever wonder why we have so many obese kids in the good old US of A? How about this. A mom gets fed up with her daughters arguing and decides to teach them a lesson by dropping them off 3 miles from home to think about their behavior on the walk home, and hopefully work things out between the two of them.

Her reward? A child endangerment charge and a court order barring her from seeing her daughters. It's not like this family lives in Harlem or the Bronx. They live in a 2 million dollar house in Scarsdale, NY. Their mother, the epitome of irresponsibility, is a partner at a law firm. If the family was poor and actually lived in a dangerous part of town like Harlem or the Bronx one might be able to make the child endangerment argument. However, there's a good chance walking would already have been an everyday part of her kid's lives, since cars and parent shuttles aren't nearly as ubiquitous outside the burbs. She made her kids walk a whopping 3 miles, for crying out loud. That is a one hour brisk walk or an hour and a half slow walk. I was doing that with my younger siblings when I was 12. Have kids suddenly lost their ability to engage in bipedal locomotion If so, maybe the Planet of the Apes wasn't so science fictiony after all. Backwards evolution really does occur, and is even encouraged by the US government. The thing is, kids all over the world walk 3 miles every friggen day, especially in barbarian, backwards countries like France and the Netherlands. My coworker had to walk 2 miles to get to the bus stop, so maybe somebody should sit down and talk with some public school officials about how they are endangering kids lives by making them walk so much. Getting back to the subject of the story, the woman's daughters weren't hurt. In fact, I bet it was statistically safer for them to be on the streets of Scarsdale 3 miles from home than in an inner city public school. Are we going to start throwing parents in jail for sending their kids to our dysfunctional and incredibly dangerous inner city public schools?

My opinion. The cops and judge who pushed it to this level and have prohibited these children from seeing their mother ought to be thrown in the slammer with some pervs so they can think about what child endangerment really looks like. Because if it looks like this, then you might as well throw my parents, my coworkers parents, and me in jail (not to mention 90% of parents outside the US), because letting your kids wander three miles from home is common among responsible parents, especially in previous generations and outside of car obsessed America.

In fact, I'll up the ante. Here is my message to the NM Children, Youth and Families Department. There's no way on God's green earth that I'm gonna keep my kids on a leash that short, so go ahead and just get it over with. Charge me with child endangerment and take my parental rights away now before it's too late... fatso. The well-being of my children is at stake... chunky monkey. Act now before before my poor, endangered children grow up as fit, yet mal-adjusted morons... and your stock in McDonald's plummets.

You almost can't make this stuff up.



Kevin said...

The mother pleaded not guilty, so we'll see what happens. There's a bunch of unanswered questions, but I think it works against her that she let her 12yo back in the car but left the 10yo and then later called the police to report her missing.

My brother and I used to walk or ride around our suburban neighborhood and go to local stores by ourselves when we were about that age (I was probably even younger). There was no abandonment issue, but I wonder if that would be considered irresponsible or even child endangerment now, since we were potentially exposed to pedophiles, kidnappers, and unsupervised accidents.


MamasBoy said...


I missed those details. You are saying that the mother called the police to file a missing person's report? Rereading it, it looks to me like either her 12 yo found her way home, or the mom went back looking for them later, after they had walked for a bit. Maybe she hasn't prepared her kids for life in the real world, and there is something to the charges. I don't know. God help me if my kids can't walk 3 miles home when they are 10.

Kids have always been exposed to bad characters wandering the streets. While some places are significantly more dangerous today, most places aren't. The biggest difference, IMHO, is societal perception of the risks vs. benefits of giving kids freedom.


Kevin said...

Yeah, "Primoff called Scarsdale police from home to say the 10-year-old was missing".

For some reason, your link didn't work for me at first, so I found this article as a supplement to yours:
"""The 10-year-old told police she had been arguing with her sister when her mother stopped the car at Post Road and South Broadway, told them to get out, and drove off.

The 12-year-old ran after the car and apparently caught up to it and was allowed back in.

A passer-by who saw the younger girl crying on Mamaroneck Avenue bought her ice cream and contacted White Plains police.

Combining that with your article is what prompted me:

"""The girl gave police her mother's name and their address in well-to-do Scarsdale, and they asked Scarsdale police to check Primoff's $2 million house. Shortly afterward, Primoff called Scarsdale police from home to say the 10-year-old was missing, said Scarsdale Detective Lt. Bryant Clark."""

Some of this may be subject to the interpretation of the reporters.

But I tend to agree with you in general: Making a kid walk home doesn't seem like an irresponsible punishment to me, assuming they know how and it's not actually dangerous. And as you indicate, our societal perception of the permissible threshold of danger has dropped dramatically.

I've read about cases where tag and kickball, even all of recess, are forbidden due to the risk of injury and emotional distress. And that is presumably even under supervision! Maybe it's a liability issue, but it seems way out of proportion.

If even one child's life or health is saved from a freak accident by cancelling recess, isn't it worth it? That logic extends to pretty much everything.