There’s danger lurking around every turn for America’s kids—or so we’re told by law enforcement and the media, to say nothing of nosy neighbors. Leaving your kids locked in a car on a cool day or keeping them home sick too many days is enough to bring the cops to your door, sometimes armed with cuffs and an arrest warrant.
In this new world, I’ve decided to become proactive about the real threats that face my family. When deciding what to be a helicopter about, I’ve taken a look at the science and statistics to make educated decisions about how best to shield my family from any and every possible misfortune, lest they learn how to take care of themselves and develop coping skills when faced with everyday life.
We’re told that keeping our kids safely locked in a car with the windows open for five minutes is practically a death wish, despite the overwhelming amount of evidence (and common sense) to the contrary. So let’s take a look at the evidence to best decide how to shield our children from the outside world. Are you looking to create a bubble in which to envelop your children? Here’s your guide:
1. Keep Them Away from Family
STRANGER DANGER! This is what every child of the ’80s and onward was taught about anyone he or she didn’t know. I learned to scream, run, kick, and hide whenever I encountered a friendly stranger. We watched videos on it, we had school assemblies—we were fully informed about avoiding the “man in the white van with puppies.”
Statistically, though, the greatest kidnapping and abuse threat to kids doesn’t come from strangers, but instead from (noncustodial) parents and grandparents.
Bad news for all those loving grandparents out there: Statistically, it appears children would be safest if they don’t come within 100 feet of you. That’s not to say their parents would get them all to themselves; after all, following this logic, children would be safest being raised by strangers.
2. Stop Feeding Them
What we feed our children has now become society’s business. I wrote previously about how the “Food Babe” altered the recipe of Kraft Mac and Cheese, and it appears Taco Bell and Pizza Hut are following suit.
Bad news for those healthy eaters who only shop non-GMO without understanding what that means. The following fruits and vegetables are now off the table: corn, watermelon, and peaches. Do you, like the Food Babe, insist that you be able to pronounce all of the ingredients in what you eat? If so, cross bananas and strawberries off of your family’s approved menu items. Read more about this insidious movement to better your family’s dinner table at Vox.com.
Given that the list of food that hasn’t been modified in some capacity over the course of human history doesn’t exactly leave a bounty fit for a king, it appears your family will be going without.
Without food, that is.
3. Stop Driving Cars
Car seats are the most important part of your car when you have children. When they are installed properly, they save lives. When they are rear-facing, your child is 80 percent safer than when he is forward-facing. I take a great deal to heart what I hear in moms’ groups from car-seat experts. They are the reason I am so vigilant about car seats and so keen on keeping my kids rear-facing as long as possible.
Here’s a mistake I saw a friend make in one of these groups: Don’t admit you keep your under-two-year-old on your lap on a plane instead of in her own seat with an FAA-approved car seat installed. If you do, brace yourself for the onslaught (to get an idea of how dire the warnings are, check out the Google results on the subject).
Here’s the thing, though: Only 0.4 children die per year as lap children on American airplanes. Yes, there is a decimal point in front of that number four. Less than one child dies every two years, statistically, as a lap child on a plane. What if a family who cannot afford a seat for their kid decides to drive to their family vacation instead? The odds aren’t nearly as favorable for everyone making it there alive and safely.
With this in mind, it’s best to never allow your children in another car again. You’ll walk to every appointment, classroom, and vacation from now until their eighteenth birthdays. The exercise will help you work off all that GMO food you’ve been sneaking to stay alive.
4. Don’t Walk Anywhere Near Cars
A few weeks ago, I may have left my children in the car for five minutes to run into the pharmacy to get a prescription for my son which had already been called in hours before. In this hypothetical scenario, it was 61 degrees outside and the windows were rolled down a few inches and the doors were locked, protecting them from stranger danger. Nevertheless, upon my exiting the store, a woman informed me in no uncertain terms that she would be calling the police on me.
I’ve yet to get a knock on the door from the local police or Child Protective Services (CPS) after this hypothetical scenario took place, but if they do come knocking I would just like to let it be known that this scenario is purely hypothetical.
It got me thinking, though, about why this woman thought it appropriate to call law enforcement. As far as I know, no child has ever died after being left in a car on a cool day while his or her parent ran an errand. Every tragic car death case we have heard about (and we hear about them plenty) is either the result of a child being forgotten for many hours on a hot day or, in one case, what appears to have been a murder masked as an accident.
What can you do to make this errand safer? Obviously, as I mentioned previously, your kids will no longer be riding in a car anyway. But what is even more dangerous than a child waiting in a parked vehicle is, statistically, walking across a parking lot or along a sidewalk. Not only is driving off-limits, but walking across or adjacent to any surface where cars drive is also verboten.
Now, all of these suggestions might seem a bit extreme, but based on the great lengths our society now goes to in order to shield children from any and all possible harm, are they really too much to ask? (Read that last line with the intonation of this famous cartoon mother.) If we’re really serious about keeping our kids safe, let’s keep an eye on the statistics to keep track of what could actually harm them. If you’re not willing to go to these extreme lengths, maybe you could practice the emerging new parenting philosophy titled, “Calm The Eff Down, Mom and Dad.”