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freerngekidfeed August 22 2014, 22:32

Could Your Town Get Kids Walking to School Like This One Does?

http://www.freerangekids.com/could-your-town-get-kids-walking-to-school-like-this-one-does/

http://www.freerangekids.com/?p=13266

Readers — Enough with the craziness. Let’s leave on a high note with this video, below. And a shout out to my neighbor, Clarence Eckerson, Jr., for making it!

Lakewood, Ohio: The Suburb Where Everyone Can Walk to School

 by Clarence Eckerson, Jr.

The inner Cleveland suburb of Lakewood (population 51,000) calls itself a “walking school district.” Lakewood has never had school buses in its history, and kids grow up walking and biking to school.

Mornings and afternoons are a beehive of activity on streets near schools, as kids and parents walk to and from classrooms. You can feel the energy. The freedom of being able to walk and socialize with friends is incalculable.

Read the rest here!

freerngekidfeed August 22 2014, 13:02

TV Expert: No Kid Should Go Outside Alone Till Age 11, And Then Only in “Short Spurts.” UPDATE, BEL

http://www.freerangekids.com/tv-expert-no-kid-should-go-outside-alone-till-age-11-and-then-only-in-short-spurts/

http://www.freerangekids.com/?p=13274

Readers — In response to the case of Nicole Gainey, the mom arrested for letting her 7-year-old walk to the park alone, Fox Boston called in Dr. Karen Ruskin to educate the entire Northeast on how to parent.

We want to live in a safe world, says Ruskin in this interview, “But we don’t.”  Kids 7,8,9 and 10 should not walk to school or even venture outside without you, she says. Perhaps by age 11 you can let your child out in “short spurts,” but really, folks, “It is your job to be the parent,” and if you trust your kids to walk the dog or bike to a friend’s, you are guilty of “parentifying” your child — turning the child into an adult.

Which I always thought was the point of parenting. Gradually turning the child into an adult.

The interview is also factually wrong. Ruskin claims that not only are there all sorts of child molesters out there, but that they each molest “over a hundred children.” This recidivism stat is an oft repeated myth, bearing no relation to reality. – L

\

Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

UPDATE: One of you sent this letter to Dr. Ruskin (and also posted it as a comment, below). I love its tone and message and I hope Dr. Ruskin reads it. 

Dear Dr. Ruskin: I watched your recent interview which was featured on a blog I follow called “Free Range Kids”.  I have a few questions I hoped you could clarify, as the interview was very short.  I am also going through your blog posts to get a more clear understanding of your point of view as I don’t want to be disrespectful just because this clip makes you appear (to me) to hold a point of view that is vastly different from my own.  

1)  What harm do you believe is being prevented by ensuring that a child is never left unsupervised even for a minute before age 13?  I would like to make sure that the harm being prevented outweighs the harm of the kind of intense supervision you seem to be encouraging.

2)  Do you think it is possible your work with people that are struggling has given you a skewed view of what the world is actually like?  For example, I was a very happy latchkey kid with extremely involved parents.  It is unlikely you would see me in your office.

3)  I pay a very responsible twelve year old in my neighborhood to babysit my three children for up to two hours once a month or so.  She is an outstanding student and cellist, and in fact a much more attentive and reliable sitter than many of the college students we have employed.  She appears to me to have had a very loving upbringing, though by your standards I suppose she has been “parentified”.  (The main side effect of this upbringing appears to be that she has become an incredibly articulate and mature young woman.)  Should parents who allow their children to experience increasing levels of independence based on their individual developmental readiness be imprisoned, visited upon by protective services, and held up as examples of what not to do in popular media?  Am I contributing to the harm of a minor by providing this girl a safe environment in which to learn valuable skills about employment?

4)  What sorts of punishment and intervention do you advocate for the kinds of adults who would be so brash as to send their children down to the neighborhood park for 30 minutes before dinner to get their energy out while mom finishes cooking?  Or those parents who are so self-absorbed as to allow their nine year old to walk unaccompanied across the street to the school bus stop that is visible from the kitchen window?  I believe that the cases that have been in the media as of late are not interesting so much because of the behavior that is allowed/encouraged by the parent, but because of a punitive response that seems to be a bit forceful given the situation at hand.  (Imprisonment, removal of children, being forced to go through ‘remidiation’ for behaviors that you as a parent believe are key to raising resilient children, etc.)

Thank you for your response, and your thoughtful consideration of these matters which are currently a topic of public discourse. — Melanie Jones 

funnel101 August 21 2014, 17:47

Kosette

I thought I knew what was going to kill Kosette. It was going to be kidney failure. After all, she'd had kidney disease for over a year, and her kidneys were going to crash. Or it was going to be that the arthritis in her hind legs would progress to such a point that she'd no longer leave her bed, not even to use the litter box.

Neither of those are what happened.

10551018_10153071487346996_1106730566408520648_nBut first, let me tell you the story of how Kosette came to be Kosette. When I was a freshman in high school, I had two cats: Oatmeal and Sugar. As was common at the time, both were indoor-outdoor cats. Oatmeal was ill (he died in 2003) throughout his life and tended not to eat as well when Sugar was around. So, one night, I decided to keep Sugar outside so that Oatmeal could eat better. (We had a shed with a cat door and bed available for her to sleep in that night.) The next morning, Sugar wasn't there. 4 months later, Sugar was returned to me... but that's Sugar's story. Two months after Sugar went missing, my mom posted a sob story ad in the Classifieds about Sugar. We got a phone call from a young adult who didn't have Sugar, but did have a kitten she needed to find a new home for.

A kitten named "Kissy", who I promptly renamed Kosette (from Cosette in Les Miserables). Kosette made up for her lack of intelligence with a passion for cuddling and playing. She had a penchant for making me laugh and smile, even at times when I didn't feel like doing either.

So, nearly 18 years later, Kosette was slowly dying of kidney disease. Until the last two weeks of July, when I noticed her behavior change. She seemed more confused than normal and didn't want to cuddle as much. On August 1st, I noticed her eyes were unevenly dilated. I contacted my vet, who's become a friend, who warned me that in a cat Kosette's age, that was often caused by a brain tumor.

We made an appointment for her on August 6th--18 days before her 18th birthday--hoping that it wouldn't be a brain tumor. The night before the appointment, she screamed whenever she was awake and alone... but didn't want to cuddle. She just wanted us around. On the way to the vet, where she had previously been quite comfortable, she screamed the entire way. At the vet, she tried to hide, and again didn't want to cuddle.

The vet looked at her eyes with a flashlight, and there was a tumor. We chose to put her down, to prevent her confusion and fear from increasing.

P2211131aSomewhat surprisingly, my grief after her death hasn't been as bad as I expected. I think I did a lot of grieving while she was still alive, when I realized she wasn't herself anymore. The first few days were hard, but since then, I've really been okay. Kosette is buried at Rob's parents, joining Sugar and Min.

9 days later, we adopted Ethel, my primary lap buddy from Chesapeake Cats and Dogs, who had been waiting for a home for over 3 years. Who is currently on my lap as I type this.

freerngekidfeed August 21 2014, 16:31

“Batman” Shooting Could Have Been Predicted, Judge Rules

http://www.freerangekids.com/batman-shooting-could-have-been-predicted-judge-rules/

http://www.freerangekids.com/?p=13283

Readers — Welcome to Worst First Thinking: This Time It’s Law. Writes the Denver Post (boldface mine):

The owner of the Aurora movie theater that was the site of a deadly 2012 attack could have reasonably enough foreseen the danger of such an attack to be held liable for it, a federal judge ruled Friday.

Noting “the grim history of mass shootings and mass killings that have occurred in more recent times,” U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson ruled that Cinemark — owner of the Century Aurora 16 theater — could have predicted that movie patrons might be targeted for an attack. Jackson’s ruling allows 20 lawsuits filed by survivors of the attack or relatives of those killed to proceed toward trial.

“Although theaters had theretofore been spared a mass shooting incident, the patrons of a movie theater are, perhaps even more than students in a school or shoppers in a mall, ‘sitting ducks,’ ” Jackson wrote.

Wait a second — doesn’t that mean that any group of people anywhere are “sitting ducks”? Does that mean every public place must always be on guard — literally, with real guards,guns, metal detectors and snipers — just in case a mass shooter bursts in?

Here is what lawyer Scott H. Greenfield writes on his fantastic blog Simple Justice about this ruling:

So because it’s never happened before, the likelihood that it was going to happen was sufficiently predictable that the theater should have been prepared for it?  Extrapolate that reasoning to all the places where no one has ever been slaughtered by a madman and consider the ramifications.

…the duty of businesses [will be] to be prepared for the act of a one-in-a-million crazy.  The biggest growth job in America will be armed guard. Every theater will require its own SWAT team….  Office buildings, parks, skating rinks, pretty much anywhere more than three people gather, could be the next target of a madman. They will all need security, armed with the weapons needed to take out any crazy.

Judge Jackson seems unable to accept the idea that we can only make society reasonably safe. Trying to predict and prepare for one-in-a-billion disasters is impossible every which way: financially, socially, physically. Not to mention the unintended consequences of a society chock-a-block with armed guards.

Perhaps it’s hard for the judge to come to grips with the sad truth that there is no such thing as absolute security. But there isn’t. And he should.  - L

Prepare to meet your doom...every single second, every single place.

Prepare to meet your doom…every single second, every single place.

freerngekidfeed August 20 2014, 13:59

Watch Police Interrogate the Mom Jailed for Letting her Daughter Play at Park

http://www.freerangekids.com/watch-police-interrogate-the-mom-jailed-for-letting-her-daughter-play-at-park/

http://www.freerangekids.com/?p=13268

Readers — This is a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what happened when Debra Harrell was taken into police custody for letting her  9 year old play at a popular park while she worked her shift at McDonald’s.

WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

The interrogating officer is so officious that it is disturbing to watch. How wonderful, then, that Harrell has since gotten a promotion at work and a pro-bono lawyer — and the sympathy of the world.  She is now suing WJBF-TV, the station that aired the interrogation, because when they first posted it, it included footage of Harrell giving her name, address and social security number.

Most disturbing to me is this exchange:

OFFICER (talking about Harrell’s daughter):  “So you leave her at the park unsupervised?”

HARRELL: “Yeah, but you know — everybody’s there. I didn’t feel I needed to be up there, sitting up there.”

OFFICER: “You’re her mother, right?”

HARRELL: “Yes sir.”

OFFICER: “You understand that you’re in charge of her well being?”

HARRELL: “Yes sir.”

OFFICER: “It’s not other people’s job to do so.”

Well, it’s not other people’s job to look out for other kids if you live in a dystopian world where caring for one another is taboo. Since when have we decided that a child is “alone” even when surrounded by adults and children?

Since we made it a crime to create and trust community. – L

 

freerngekidfeed August 19 2014, 15:21

12-Year-Olds Need a Babysitter?

http://www.freerangekids.com/12-year-olds-need-a-babysitter/

http://www.freerangekids.com/?p=13276

You'll never guess if this guy softens up as he becomes a babysitter.

Ok, I would hire Bill Murray as a babysitter even for ME. But there’s a bigger issue here.

Readers — Here you go, from commenter Laura:

Dear Free-Range Kids: Just me venting.  I subscribe to Entertainment Weekly, and in their fall movie previews in their current issue, they preview “St. Vincent”, a film starring Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy.  Melissa and her 12 yo son move into this new area after a divorce and the first thing she needs is a babysitter for her son! 

Now,  maybe the grumpy old man can be the neighbor  her son goes to if he needs help — but a flat out babysitter?

Even pop culture is telling parents that pre-teens are helpless!

I’ve attached a screenshot of my digital edition page of the preview. 

~Laura

Here’s a bit of what the blurb says:

“Over the course of Melfi’s bittersweet indie comedy, Vincent unexpectedly [Lenore here: HA!] softens after bonding with his new next-door neighbors, a single mom, Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) and particularly her 12-year-old son, Oliver (newcomer Jaeden Lieberher). Overwhelmed by her recent divorce, a move, and a new full-time job as a hospital tech, Maggie is just desperate enough to pay the not-exactly-reliable Vincent $11 an hour for Oliver’s after-school care. “She’s not making good decisions, that’s for sure,” McCarthy says of her character. “But what else is she supposed to do? She has to work, she has to keep going, she has to take care of her son…” 

Just reinforcing social norms.

Just reinforcing social norms while entertaining you.

madnesslive posted to crochetcrochet August 19 2014, 02:37

Help and advice buying crochet yarn and supplies online

I want to buy crochet supplies online since we don't have good material where I live. I'm totally new to this and don't know where to even start and which are the best sites to approach. I don't live in the US so I'd prefer global free shipping/international free shipping or at least a reasonable shipping price. I'm mainly looking for yarn to crochet hats, slippers, home accessories, softies, amigurumi, ornaments... etc. Also other supplies like hooks and markers. I'm looking for good quality and price.
spacefem August 19 2014, 01:36

SWE vs. the media: Is engineering really that hostile for women?

Last week NPR ran a story about how women leave engineering because everyone it's an unsuitable climate for women. I've ranted about these kinds of stories before (are STEM fields too mean for women?) and just realized they have something in common. They're based on bad studies. It's pretty easy to recognize a bad study, too, because there's never a control. In other words they'll interview a bunch of women who left engineering, but they won't interview men who left engineering, and they won't interview women who stayed in engineering, and they won't interview women who left other fields. The authors go in with a sensationalist argument, interview whoever they can to back it up, and somehow make the news.

There's science reporting for you.

I would like to take a moment to make a plug for SWE. The whole question of "why are women a minority in engineering" has been asked before. It's a complicated question. There isn't a simple answer.

But every year, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) examines the dozens of notable studies around the question and publishes a literature review - the review of 2013 was completed and added in the spring of 2014. It's big reading. It's complicated. But if you want to figure out the puzzle of women in engineering, that's where I think you should start.

This year the first few pages make you think SWE is just tired of reviewing the same ideas by new authors who've never read anyone else's studies... they make a plea for academics to study fields outside academia, stress the need to ask questions around the intersectionality of race and gender, and mention (yes) lack of controls in many studies. But they find some good stuff that was published too... feminist critiques of engineering, programs for girls, engineer identity trends. And they find that just like in other fields, women leave engineering because they don't like their boss, don't find meaning in their work, or just have other interests. Are there things engineering could do to be more accommodating? Sure. But articles like the NPR report, that are all about how engineering is hostile, are not very well founded.

And they run the risk of scaring away some women who'd be great engineers because they don't aren't featuring any successes... if a woman likes her job in STEM, that's too boring to make a headline.

People have a tendency to criticize movements for being unorganized, even if they've never tried to be part of the organization. Don't do this to SWE, I'm telling you. My membership may be 12 years so yeah, I'm biased, but the work they do is important and the research is fascinating. Don't oversimplify this, and don't skip over the work others have done.
freerngekidfeed August 18 2014, 17:49

Kids More Likely to Die OUTSIDE of Cars than Waiting IN Them: New York Post

http://www.freerangekids.com/kids-more-likely-to-die-outside-of-cars-than-waiting-in-them-new-york-post/

http://www.freerangekids.com/?p=13270

Readers, I am thrilled that Andrea Peyser had the guts to put our kids-waiting-in-cars hysteria into focus. From her column today:

“We’ve become hyper-fearful about any children being left alone for even a second,’’ said Lenore Skenazy, a public speaker and author of “Free-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts With Worry).’’…

“What we’re seeing this summer, parents who make a rational decision to let their kids wait in a car for a brief period are treated as if they’re leaving them in the Mojave Desert with an empty Dasani water bottle,’’ Skenazy told me.

After mentioning the case of Justin Ross Harris, and the fact that 19 children have died of heatstroke this year, Peyser  went on to point out (boldface mine):

Then, there are cases like this one: Police in Bristol, Conn., last month slapped a misdemeanor charge against Christina Williams, 30, of leaving a child under 12 years old unattended in a car, after a passerby with nothing better to do alerted authorities that Williams’ daughter was alone in a vehicle. She was 11!

…KidInCars.org, whose members oppose children being left in cars, estimates that 45 kids have died this year after being backed over by vehicles in places including driveways and parking lots, and another 23 were killed after cars rolled over them while going forward. Also, 265 child pedestrians were struck and killed by cars in 2011, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“So kids are more likely to die when taken out of the car than while waiting in it,’’ said Skenazy.

I don’t know of another journalist, aside from 20/20′s Elizabeth Vargas, who has had the balls to make the case against kids-in-cars hysteria so boldly. I salute both these ladies. – L.

Sometimes it is FINE to let sleeping kids lie. Photo source: Pixabay.

Sometimes it is BEST to let sleeping kids lie. (Photo source: Pixabay.)

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