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"Murphy was an optimist!"

Are family stickers on cars dangerous? September 4, 2008 11:23 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Education, Exercise, Health, Mental, Of Interest, Philosophy, Touchy Subjects
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For an eon, I have wanted to put the decals representing our family on the van. This past Mother’s Day I made a greater effort to find them and came across several people admonishing the stickers as careless parenting and dangerous to our children. I felt compelled to comment:

The DC Internet Caucus panel on kids and predation has determined that the media has misrepresented the way that children are preyed upon. Although we want to protect our children, being realistic about threats is important because overprotecting them can be just as harmful. Just think, if you teach your children to jump from every shadow, they may grow up to believe that stickers on a car might actually make your child more vulnerable to a child predator.

Yesterday, Evie, a child abuse awareness volunteer added commentary stating that those of us thinking people were being overly paranoid or overly protective were wearing rose colored glasses and not living in the real world. I felt compelled to comment further:

Evie, I’m a realist but while you think we are viewing the word through rose colored glasses, I think you are jaded because you work with the problem.

When I worked as a quality assurance engineer my job was to find problems and when I left the office I continued finding problems. I found billboards with misspellings. Newspapers with poor grammar. Stuff in my life that was assembled wrong. And so forth. But the truth of the matter was that although these were “problems” for the common person, and on the grand scheme of things, they were inconsequential.

I think the quality of our life, and the ability for our children to grow up confident rather than afraid, out weights over the top paranoid reactions to events that have a low likelihood of ever happening to most people.

I am a scout leader and have been trained on child safety and protecting our children. I am a father of five. I want no harm to come to my children or anyone else’s. But like the woman who allowed her 9 year old to travel the subway alone, I want my children to live life to its fullest. I want them street smart but trusting because I believe by breeding trust we help make the problems go away. Don’t treat symptoms; treat problems. Ask the adults around you and I think you will find most of us lived as a child safely being away from home all day long and not abiding by any of the safety recommendations of this day and we all turned out okay. Using reasonable safety measures and common sense makes our children very safe today.

Yes, abductions are easy. So is drowning but that didn’t stop me from taking my children to the ocean and letting them have the time of their lives this summer.

I feel bad for the children Evie has had to help. They should have never been in such a predicament. Isn’t it true that most child abductions are by friends or family? or someone otherwise close to the victim? If so, the stickers really don’t make a difference do they? According to Duhaime.org, 75% of abductions are by friends or family with most abductions being by a parent in a custody dispute.

Evie, you do not live in the real world. You live in a microcosm and broadcast it upon the real world. No insult intended.

How children lost the right to roam in four generations is written on a UK website but certainly reflects similarly to how our children in the United States are treated. As a parent, the thought of my children roaming to areas where I cannot locate them is terrifying but that thought is hypocritical. As a child, I was told to be home at a certain time. I might go out and be in the woods for 6 hours. As long as I got home before 5pm, I didn’t get in trouble. And I would play without a watch. I knew the time based upon where the sun hit the tree tops. My mother had no way to contact me other than a loud shout. Today we have cell phones and FRS radios and GPS trackers. With such technology, why do we keep our children closer than ever? Shouldn’t we allow them the opportunity to explore and grow? Instead we keep them close to home. Doesn’t that encourage more indoor play? Or sedentary computer gaming? Perhaps keeping our children on a short leash and teaching them that no one can be trusted is not good for their health, mental stability, or overall development. Kids need the adventure of ‘risky’ play.

See also:How Far Did You Roam As A Child?

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Comments»

1. WillFull - September 4, 2008

Just wanted to comment and say that this is an *excellent* post. Thanks for taking your time and putting this one to words, Doug. I do not have any kids, so I can’t claim any experience as a father of children, but I am keen on issues regarding child abduction and safety, following news and blogs related to the topic. As a child growing up in a rural area (which I feel is just as dangerous as any suburb or city street corner), the occasions in my life where I was free to explore unencumbered by any adult were common. I think that being on my own allowed to build those skills important to assessing and handling with situations. Granted, I’ve had some close calls (usually due to my own stupidity, nothing to blame my parents for), but luckily I was a tough kid and was able to work my way through it. Not being smothered by my parents’ “protection” showed me how to take care of myself, not running back to mama crying. And while people like Evie seem to harbor on the negative based on her experiences, I like to dwell on the positive about my rearing and think instead of all the square mileage of exploration around my home that I accomplished, the people I met, the things I saw. Getting ‘out there’ definitely made me a better person. Gawd knows what I would be like if my mom tried to enshroud me in ‘safety’ by buffering my every move and action.

2. Meredith - September 4, 2008

Yours would have to be a big-ass sticker, especially if you put the animals on there too!

3. Cathy - September 4, 2008

That’s why we need a bus.

4. Doug McCaughan - September 4, 2008

WillFull, well said! As I observe helicopter parents and children on short leashes growing up in fear, I often wonder what they will be like as adults. How their curiosities are being smashed to the cry of “don’t do that! You might get hurt.” and how that will impact our scientific and technological advancements in the future. What kind of laws will these children pass in the name of “safety” and what freedoms will they give up without a single thought?

Meredith and Cathy, originally we thought the bus should be painted in flowers but yesterday Cathy brilliantly deduced it should be tye dyed! Now we just need the bus..and it should be electric…with solar panels on the roof…and a windmill for the hood ornament. Sure GM wants to sponsor us! We can do reality tv as well as the quintuplets!

5. Dean - September 5, 2008

I remember riding our bikes, just the two of us, to Ashworth’s soda fountain when we lived in Cary. I turned seven after moving from Cary, so at the oldest I was six, riding with my nine-year-old brother. Admittedly we don’t know our neighbors like we used to, and society has changed, but it is amazing to think how much freedom to roam we truly had.

6. Dean - September 5, 2008

Oh, also, maybe if they made a vicious dog sticker instead of the cute one that may protect the sticker children from the bad people.

7. Doug McCaughan - September 5, 2008

I’ll have to check the maps, but I think that distance was about 2 miles one way. I was 6 going on 7, 8 and 9 going on 10 when we were in Cary. We were also allowed to come home to an empty house, find the hidden key, let ourselves in, fix snacks, leave a note, and head off to fight dragons in the woods without supervision. I guess that might be called “latchkey” or you could call it “trust” but I’m not sure that I would be comfortable leaving a single digit to their accord while I was out.

8. Tim - September 5, 2008

well done mate – lets keep doing our part to make the internet safe for our kids by leading the way digitally – and our neighbourhoods safe by allowing our kids to roam free – i like what you wrote

cheers

9. Jennifer - January 23, 2010

I’m not a mom, but have two nieces and have thought about this trend toward protectiveness a lot.

People tell me that the world has gotten more dangerous. I seriously suspect that the world is the same as it ever was, we’re just more aware (because media is so effective at keeping its job) of what the dangers are.

I couldn’t agree more with your point that life is for living. Of course we don’t want to see children hurt, but what does it help them if we don’t teach them to stretch and to take calculated risks? I suspect that causes more harm in the end when they try to live a safe adulthood.

I’m glad that my mom kicked us out of the house and we had to come home from playing for supper. I think my generation (X) is the last to have experienced this.

Thanks for the call to arms.


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