Is Society Overprotective of Children?

JLibourel

Honors Member and King Fop
On the thread about removing shoes in the house, it was mentioned that some hosts requested it to protect their priceless children from "street germs." As I commented there, I think modern society--American society--has become hysterically overprotective of children!

I think much of this stems from the fact that many contemporary mothers, especially in the more educated and influential segments of society, put off having children until the old biological clock is ticking down fast. They then quite often feel guilty about leaving their little darlings in the care of ill-educated women from the Third World or flighty European au pairs while they go back to their lucrative, fulfilling careers, and this heightens their overprotectiveness all the more.

I can still remember my kiddie car seat. It was a flimsy affair with a white frame and brown canvas seat. It had colored beads I could twirl to amuse myself. Today the little tots are strapped into seats that look as if they could withstand being catapulted out of a jet fighter's cockpit and they are strapped into the BACK seat of the car. Amazes me how I made it!

Then there is the matter of helmets. The do-gooders decreed here in California a good many years ago that all children under age 18 must wear a helmet when riding a bicycle. More recently they enacted the same law for kids riding scooters. C'mon, I can never recollect or imagine a child getting brain damage from falling off a bloody scooter. Many parents insist on helmets with skates as well, although I am not sure that they are mandated by law. Batters' helmets have been the norm for many years for kids playing baseball. We never had them, but they probably make more sense than the foregoing. It amazes me that my little playmates of 55 or 60 years ago didn't die in droves or end up brain-damaged vegetables, but not a solitary one of the dear little tykes ever came to harm!

There is also a much great climate of fear. I would fearlessly walk around the neighborhood with our dog at 9:00 or 10:00 at night when I was eight or ten without any concern. I was a big kid for my age and the dog was a Great Dane, which may have made me feel safer. By way of contrast, my stepson and his pals required being driven or escorted the few blocks between their houses until they were well into their teens! You may say. "That was then--a safer, more peaceful time--and this is now." There is an element of truth in this, but they neighborhood that we live in is a good deal more upscale and peaceful than the one I grew up in about three or four miles west of downtown LA. I think a lot of this fear is the result of intense, repetitive media broadcasting whenever an abduction or sex crime against a child occurs. My stepson was particularly afraid the gays would try to "get" him, which struck me as most improbable, and I always told him so.

Getting onto the sexual side, I am dumbfounded by the savage, draconian punishments meted out to adult women who sexually initiate pubescent boys these days. I and my friends have always considered such women not predators but benefactresses of my sex! Whenever I hear about one of these cases, I always think, "Where were such women when I needed them"...at least if the accused is reasonably good looking.[}:)](I know, I said the same thing on another thread recently. My apologies!)

Children's entertainment, by and large, seems much more saccharine and didactic from what I've seen (not so much in the past few years since my boy has outgrown them) than the violent, sadistic cartoons we had when I was growing up.

Protecting the priceless children is also a favorite ploy of censors and assorted bluenoses trying to crack down on popular entertainment.
Child protection has also been a Trojan horse for a lot of anti-gun legislation, proposed or enacted, in recent years.

Well, I could go on, but I'd kind of like to head home for dinner. I'd be interested in any reactions to this.
 

VS

Super Member
I would agree with much of this, except for the late-parenthood-guilt thing. I was born late to a career mom and I wasn't raised anything like this, and I know a lot of young stay-at-home-mothers who won't let their children walk to school or ride their bicycles out of sight of the house(!)

(What is the point of that? They might as well have stationary exercise bikes.)
 

Gong Tao Jai

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
On the one hand, I agree on all counts. On the other hand, I'm not sure I'm any less overprotective than any other modern parent. I certainly have the fear that a 2 minute car trip without everybody strapped in to their carseats will result in fatal injury. My girls are 2 and 5. It remains to be seen if I can relax a little more as they grow up.
 

crazyquik

Super Member
quote:Originally posted by VS

I know a lot of young stay-at-home-mothers who won't let their children ride their bicycles out of sight of the house(!)

(What is the point of that? They might as well have stationary exercise bikes.)

Wow.

My grandfather and his brothers used to ride nearly 20 miles to the airport to watch planes take off and land. Certainly out of sight of the house!

No wonder kids these days are obese...

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Beware of showroom sales-fever reasoning: i.e., "for $20 . . ." Once you're home, how little you paid is forgotten; how good you look in it is all that matters.
 
I am so glad that we have solved all the real problems and can now worry about this.


"Und wenn du lange in einen Abgrund blickst, blickt der Abgrund auch in dich hinein."

"Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take a boat in the air you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of worlds. Love keeps her in the air when she oughtta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keels. Makes her home."

We will not walk in fear, one of another.
 

tiger02

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
LWoD, I'm pretty sure that for parents, their kids are the only issue that really matters.
 
So what about de facto segregation in public schools along socioeconomic lines? Schools with classes taught in bathrooms and gymnasiums with not even enough outdated textbooks for half the student population (that bothers to show up anymore) next to public schools that operate as private schools under magnate mandates and receive about as much funding?

There are real problems. Complaining that the world is coming to an end and society is crumbling because children today now wear helmets, play on clean floors, and ride in safer car seats is quite literally offensive.


"Und wenn du lange in einen Abgrund blickst, blickt der Abgrund auch in dich hinein."

"Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take a boat in the air you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of worlds. Love keeps her in the air when she oughtta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keels. Makes her home."

We will not walk in fear, one of another.
 

tiger02

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
So is the idea that you have a monopoly on which issues may be deemed worthy of our consideration.
 
More that I think those who would bemoan the collapse of society due to the presence of kneepads and batting helmets and a handful of minor, stupid laws are willfully and agressively divorced from any real sense of perspective.


"Und wenn du lange in einen Abgrund blickst, blickt der Abgrund auch in dich hinein."

"Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take a boat in the air you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of worlds. Love keeps her in the air when she oughtta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keels. Makes her home."

We will not walk in fear, one of another.
 

tiger02

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
quote:Originally posted by Long Way of Drums

More that I think those who would bemoan the collapse of society due to the presence of kneepads and batting helmets and a handful of minor, stupid laws are willfully and agressively divorced from <s>any real</s> my sense of perspective.


"Und wenn du lange in einen Abgrund blickst, blickt der Abgrund auch in dich hinein."

"Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take a boat in the air you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of worlds. Love keeps her in the air when she oughtta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keels. Makes her home."

We will not walk in fear, one of another.
fixed
 

eleccon

Starting Member
I agree with much of what you say, JLibourel.

I've raised my soon to be 17 year old daughter in what many may now consider an appallingly liberal fashion. She was repeatedly exposed to the searing Caribbean sun, allowed to swim in and explore the ocean without an overarching paranoia, hiked in the bush to pick mangoes (and be stung mercilessly by mosquitos), allowed sips of beer and rum during family parties from about age 13, and a whole host of other 'unsafe' things.

I actively encourage her to somewhat safely test her limits and I have found over the years that it has helped to build a good judgment base and trust between us. I've always tried to take the mystery out of adult things and present her with a sort of participatory / guided tour, rather than always saying something to the effect of "none of that until you're xx age!" What I've hoped for is a slow bleeding off of the wild curiosity and unfettered behaviour common to youth when finally let out sight...

To be sure, my approach probably isn't to well suited to many others, but I've seen a lot of damage from the opposite approach. It seems to have worked thus far -- she's 3rd overall academically at her high school, socially ahead of peers, and up for scholarship consideration. We'll see how the rest goes.

As for western societies as a whole, there does seem to be some sort of fear mongering and aversion going on at every level, with the twin social strategies of the 'thin end of wedge' and 'trojan horse' used to full effect. The public safety / save the children mantra is especially loud and pervasive in the UK, with lots of public surveillance, regulatory agencies and all sorts of nanny-state apparatus gnawing steadily away at personal privacy and revenue. They seem well on their way to some sort of.....well, I'm not really too sure. I certainly would feel alarmed living in such a society if the wrong sort of people should come to be in charge of that sort of equipment....it's chilling to think how it may be abused. Such may be the price of allowing others to dictate how much safety and security one gets, rather than how much is desired.
 

Yckmwia

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
quote:Originally posted by Long Way of Drums

So what about de facto segregation in public schools along socioeconomic lines? Schools with classes taught in bathrooms and gymnasiums with not even enough outdated textbooks for half the student population (that bothers to show up anymore) next to public schools that operate as private schools under magnate mandates and receive about as much funding?

The "overprotection" of children that Jan is complaining about is related to the very serious problems you identify, or so I believe. It would take an extended essay to fully demonstrate this link, which I haven't time for at the moment, but I'm sure if you think about it you'll discern the relationship yourself. For starters, the link is rooted in the contemporary American notion that public space is either a place of profit or a place of fear; it is not a commons. Remember, we are currently engaged in a endless war on . . . what? Not a foreign power, no longer even a tactic, but a state of mind: a "war on terror." It's always "Indian country" someplace.

"There are some people that if they don't know, you can't tell 'em." Louis Armstrong.
 

gmac

Senior Member
Sounds to me the same kind of complaints that were offered when 10 year olds were barred from carrying coal in the mines (1840's or so).

Progress will always face these kind of detractors. Best to press on and damn the torpedoes.



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Yckmwia

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
quote:Originally posted by gmac

Sounds to me the same kind of complaints that were offered when 10 year olds were barred from carrying coal in the mines (1840's or so).

Progress will always face these kind of detractors. Best to press on and damn the torpedoes.
Ten-year olds were still carrying coal in U.S. mines well into the 20th century. My 10 year-old maternal grandfather, fresh off the boat from County Kerry, went down into the West Virginia coal mines in 1913. He wasn't the last, by any means.

"There are some people that if they don't know, you can't tell 'em." Louis Armstrong.
 

Aus_MD

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
quote:Originally posted by Yckmwia

The "overprotection" of children that Jan is complaining about is related to the very serious problems you identify, or so I believe. It would take an extended essay to fully demonstrate this link, which I haven't time for at the moment, but I'm sure if you think about it you'll discern the relationship yourself. For starters, the link is rooted in the contemporary American notion that public space is either a place of profit or place of fear; it is not a commons. Remember, we are currently engaged in a endless war on . . . what? Not a foreign power, no longer even a tactic, but a state of mind: a "war on terror." It's always "Indian country" someplace.

"There are some people that if they don't know, you can't tell 'em." Louis Armstrong.

I was about to make a very similar point. We seem to live in a world of dread and unfocussed anxiety. Once courage and resiliance were virtues. Now they are symptoms. There is a big price to be paid for being fearful. This generation's Farragut is much more likely to say "let's wait until its safe" than "Damn the torpedoes. Full steam ahead"


Aus_MD
 

VS

Super Member
quote:Originally posted by gmac

Sounds to me the same kind of complaints that were offered when 10 year olds were barred from carrying coal in the mines (1840's or so).

Progress will always face these kind of detractors. Best to press on and damn the torpedoes.
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It's not that at all. Of course I think good carseats are important and I don't mind helmet rules. You teach kids not to take stupid risks, but some risktaking and autonomy is necessary for growth.

When we were kids, we'd disappear ALL DAY in the summer. We'd build forts, play and catch lizards and search for arrowheads in a nearby canyon (this was in the southwest) and hang out on playgrounds and in the park. Sure we read and watched a little bit of TV, but we didn't spend hours locked up with our own television, computer and XBox getting a cathode tan. We made up games and played cops and robbers on bikes rather than being involved in tons of structured activities to which we were driven each way.

I walked for 45 minutes each way to school because I thought the bus was tiresome and smelly. Do you know many parents who'd let children do that today? Are there really more rampant molesters now than in 1980? Or does the media just scare the hell out of everyone?

Kids don't even carry books anymore - they have carts with wheels.

It's not just parenting - in my neighborhood, 60% of houses have intrusion alarm services and our house came with a laser motion detector. It's a neighborhood of young families and many of the mothers stay home all day. I don't think there has been a crime here in 10 years besides flagrant jaywalking.
 

Yckmwia

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
quote:Originally posted by VS

quote:Originally posted by gmac

Sounds to me the same kind of complaints that were offered when 10 year olds were barred from carrying coal in the mines (1840's or so).

Progress will always face these kind of detractors. Best to press on and damn the torpedoes.
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When we were kids, we'd disappear ALL DAY in the summer. We'd build forts, play and catch lizards and search for arrowheads in a nearby canyon (this was in the southwest) and hang out on playgrounds and in the park. Sure we read and watched a little bit of TV, but we didn't spend hours locked up with our own television, computer and XBox getting a cathode tan. We made up games and played cops and robbers on bikes rather than being involved in tons of structured activities to which we were driven each way.

I walked for 45 minutes each way to school because I thought the bus was tiresome and smelly. Do you know many parents who'd let children do that today? Are there really more rampant molesters now than in 1980? Or does the media just scare the hell out of everyone?

Precisely. This is exactly what one no longer sees, at least in my part of the country. Why?

"There are some people that if they don't know, you can't tell 'em." Louis Armstrong.
 

tiger02

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
quote:Originally posted by Yckmwia
Precisely. This is exactly what one no longer sees, at least in my part of the country. Why?
Killer attack poodles?

I've had a similar discussion with globetrotter, and found out that I was coddled because we had dedicated umpires for our baseball league [:p] Seriously though, my neighborhood/development went up on what had been rural and forest land back in the early 80s. There are still no fences and kids play in the woods in all directions. I don't know if that's a pocket of sanity, or if it's the norm and the over-protective pockets get all the press.

Tom
 

In Mufti

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
I've thought for a long time that this was a result of the growing isolation in neighborhoods. Neighbors don't know each other or trust each other like 40 years ago. My mother didn't feel like she had to watch us all the time becasue she knew some adult in the neighborhood was probably keeping an eye on things. The adults were a united front in many ways. They were protective as well as disciplinary. That whole generation (WW II types) just seemed to naturally function a lot more like a team.

Regards,
 

Horace

Senior Member
quote:Originally posted by JLibourel

On the thread about removing shoes in the house, it was mentioned that some hosts requested it to protect their priceless children from "street germs." As I commented there, I think modern society--American society--has become hysterically overprotective of children!

I also think American culture provides an absurdly over-extended adolescence to men at least. Maybe into their 30's nowadays.
 
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