Big Bad World?

Nicole - posted on 12/30/2010 ( 63 moms have responded )

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In your opinion are parents more paranoid/over-protective than they were ten years ago? Is that paranoia/over-protectiveness justified?

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Jodi - posted on 01/01/2011

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"If we were to take a city like San Francisco, and compare two seventeen-year-old girls, one from the baby-boom generation of the 1960s and 1970s, another, her daughter growing up today, we would find that the girl growing up now is much safer, much better behaved, and much more responsible than her mother was! The numbers tell us so. A girl is 50% less likely to be murdered, 60% less likely to be in an accident causing death, 75% less likely to commit suicide, 55% less likely to become a mother herself, 60% less likely to commit murder, and 40% loess likely to commit property crimes. All this despite a media hyped on telling us that girls are all up to no good. The same results hold for communities across North America.



Try as we may, we just can't find much evidence that our kids are more at risk today than a generation ago....."



Quoted from "Too Safe for Their Own Good: How Risk and Responsibility Help Our Teens Thrive" by Michael Unger.



I recommend it (even if you only have toddlers, it is helpful). It is a fantastic book, focusing on our fears for our children, and why our fears are actually what is putting them potentially at risk, and why we NEED to allow them to take some of the risks we took as kids. Obviously I can't put it all in here, but YES I do think we (as in, parents in general) are being FAR too overprotective of our children, and that it is unnecessary, and, in fact, potentially harmful to their development.

Jodi - posted on 01/01/2011

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Shauna, in your case, I can understand. Instead, what you have to do is FIND risks that your children can take, with your own circumstances in mind, that will satisfy their needs to take risks but still remain relatively safe. The opportunities we give our children to take risk are relative to our circumstances, BUT you can't and shouldn't try to protect them from everything, because some day, they will be 18 and they need to have learned how to manage in the "big bad world". Protecting them from it entirely is not doing them any favours.

Shauna - posted on 01/01/2011

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@ jenn- my mom used to let me walk half a mile to school when i was young, ride my bike all over town when i was 6 .... i wouldnt let my child do that. I guess it depends on where you live, but the town i live in especially the neighborhood there isnt a day that goes by that there is not a murder or multiple murders. If i lived in a nice quiet little town where no crime took place maybe i would think differently , however i dont its a pretty rough town. So i think i would consider my self a little over protective, but just doing so to try and protect the angel baby i love so much.

Stifler's - posted on 01/01/2011

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meh i am not a parent that will molly coddle my kids and like serve them up their food at age 10 and make separate meals. baha they can go hungry but they will fit in with what my husband and i do not the other way around.

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Johnny - posted on 01/03/2011

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I don't know how things have changed in the last 10 years. I didn't have kids and I wasn't a kid then, so I'm not too sure. 25 years ago I was 10, and things were very different. I walked to and from school by myself, and to friend's houses and anywhere in the neighborhood. We would eat breakfast and be out all day. By the time I was 14, we went downtown with friends on the bus. My parents were actually stricter than the vast majority of my parent's friends, but they allowed me far greater freedom than I see many kids get today. Although, I will say that from what I see in my neighborhood, it isn't really too different. The kids are running all over the place playing and thankfully I don't see the parents hovering behind. By the time my daughter is 5 or 6, she'll be allowed to go to our co-op playground with her friends while I am at home, just like the other kids do.

Are things more dangerous now than they were then? Not where I live by a long shot. I have stayed in the city I grew up in, and the crime rate has gone way down, particularly things like attempted stranger child abductions and the like. When I was little and running around with my friends, there was a serial killer in my city who was preying on small girls and boys. He's been locked up now for nearly 25 years, and there has not been a similar situation since. So actually, I feel more confident that my child is safe perhaps than I was.

Nicole - posted on 01/03/2011

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Ten years ago, I was 15. I had a job and was seldom home. I was always over at a friend's place or at work.

20 years ago, I was 5. I was allowed to go outside by myself. I remember once I got stuck in the elevator on my way downstairs to pick flowers. I was in there for what felt like hours, screaming and finally my mom came out into the hall, heard me screaming and pressed the button, bringing the elevator up to our floor.

My son is four years old now. He'll be 5 in June and I can not imagine sending him outside to play all by himself by June.

Sherri - posted on 01/03/2011

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Ten years ago No, 20yrs ago hell ya. I am one of those paranoid/over-protective mom's so yes I think it is quite justified.



My kids are 13, 12 & 4 and although we allow the older two to stay at home by themselves for a few hours while we are out. Other then that they are never without adult supervision. They take the bus to school it picks them up outside our front door, Take bus home drops them outside our front door, I am a SAHM so I am here when they leave and when they come home. If they need to go anywhere we drive them, for sports practices and games we drive them and stay with them until it is over and take them back home. They don't ever go to a friends house unless I know the parents quite well and I walk them up to the door to make sure a parent is home or the parent picks my kids up. They don't go to the mall or movies without us. Granted it is a 20min drive one way.

Mother - posted on 01/03/2011

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OMG Tiffany. when we were kids we would leave a breakfast and show back up when we were hungry. that or I'd had enough of my sister. HA! We'd refuel and outside again. Granted we lived in the country but still there is such a thing as BEARS!!! LOL

Anytime Jodi......sometimes I have links upon links of useless information. Makes for a good read when you're bored.

Mary - posted on 01/03/2011

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I believe that some of the parents I've met restrict their childrens' experiences/activities too much, in the name of safety, when simple parental supervision will suffice.

Jodi - posted on 01/03/2011

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Interesting articles, thanks Kelly. I had a glance through them and will have a good read later :)

Tiffany - posted on 01/03/2011

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Aw, I would have gotten all teary eyed too lol. I'm hoping by the time Amaya is 7 or 8 that I'll be able to keep it well balanced and give her some freedoms. I just know that it won't be like it was when I was younger. My parents used to let us ride our bikes to the next town over lol. I can't imagine letting her do that, but I guess time will tell. =)

Mother - posted on 01/03/2011

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I'm with you Tiffany. I loved the articles but there were points that made me uncomfortable as well. I never let my daughter walk to school alone either. SCARY. I did let her go to the grocery store when she was 7-8. We only lived 2 doors down from it and she wanted to go so bad. Against my better judgement I allowed it. I don't regret it because she had such a feeling of accomplishment. she ran out of the grocery store holding up the bag of buns so high and so proud. Made my heart go pitter patter and my eyes well. I know....I'm a sap.

Tiffany - posted on 01/03/2011

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@Kelly - I read both articles and the 2nd article I tend to agree mostly with except for the 1st part. It was a great article actually. My home is in no way over baby proofed, but I just can't honestly ever see myself letting my daughter walk to school alone in the morning...maybe when she's older, but at say 8 years old I just know I wouldn't feel comfortable. Maybe if she had a group of kids she walked with, sure. It's hard because I do agree that seeing it on the news does make me more worried about it, but when you see that these kids are abducted while walking to school it's hard not to worry. We had a girl that lived near us snatched up when her Mom dropped her off at her lifeguard job. Her body was found years later. That stuck with me. I guess when my daughter is older is when I'll be able to tell if she'll be able to do things on her own. Right now though at 14 months, I have a long way to go lol. She is a daredevil already though, so I'm sure I'm in trouble haha. Oh and I can't believe that playgrounds would take away merry go rounds, see saws and swings...those were the best to play on as a kid. Thankfully our playgrounds still have all that. And the best friend bit really bothers me...my sister acts like her daughters best friend rather then her Mom and it drives me crazy.

Jenny - posted on 01/03/2011

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I'm more worried about car accidents than other people. My daughter can be a scatterbrain and daydreams a lot. I still have to remind her to look both ways before crossing the street so sending her on her way out of sight is out of the question untril she pays closer attention. I let her bike up and down our block unsupervised though. We have a cycling lane on our side of the road that is seperated from the road by a landscaped meridian.

Tiffany - posted on 01/02/2011

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Thank you Jodi, they're trying. Now that her boyfriend is out of the picture, my nephew is doing a lot better. Today is actually 3 years since he passed, so it's been a rough weekend for them but they're coping. One day at a time. =)

Corinne - posted on 01/02/2011

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@ Jenn. I DO talk to my neighbours, I say hello to people I pass in the street or see in the shops, I'm quite friendly and want my kids to be the same way. What I was trying to say is that a lot of the people I say hello to, just stand and stare like I have 2 heads. Pure ignorance.

Jodi - posted on 01/01/2011

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Tiffany, I would say your nephew was probably acting out as a result of his fathers death rather than as a direct result of the freedom his mother gave him. She probably also lost tdropped he ball in the scheme of things in trying to get her own life back together and didn't notice him crying out. It isn't an uncommon occurrence. Hopefully they can all get back on the right track :\

Tiffany - posted on 01/01/2011

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I totally agree that you have to have balance with giving your kids freedom. No it's not just something you all of a sudden give them at 15...my sister let my nephews ride their bikes down the street, even to the corner store and back well before her husband died...but when he died, she did give the 15 year old more freedom and unfortunately it wasn't the right choice at the time. I'm not saying shelter them so much that they have no street smarts, or know what risks they're taking. I just personally feel there are a lot of parents out there who are not protective enough. There are parents who don't realize the things their kids are doing and have that mentality that 'this would never happen to me'. All I can do personally is take it 1 step at a time and figure out what's best for my daughter when the time comes that she'll be wanting to do these things. For now, it's letting her fall down and not rushing over to pick her up but to tell her 'you're okay, get back up'....now if I could just get her Grandma and Daddy to follow that too lol.

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yes there are so many helicopter parents raising cotton wool kids out there. Im pretty old school when it comes to parenting if my son wants to eat dirt he can eat dirt if my son climbs up on the coffee table im not going to go "sweetie no you'll get hurt" i tell him no but if hes not going to listen and he falls off well thats his fault and ill proudly present him at the ED for xrays if need be

Shauna - posted on 01/01/2011

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at certain age im not sure when that will be i will grant certain privilages but right now my son is only 9 mo old and i cant say for how long i will always keep him in my sight. I know i certainly wont let him go play at a play structure in the middle of crowded mall while i go do my shopping... i see alot of mothers do this.

Shauna - posted on 01/01/2011

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I was at the mall when this happened and watched as a little girl picked up bullet shells off the ground, i scooped her up and ran into the dressing room keeping her muffled to not cry, when it was all over her parents were found and she was reunited. I dont trust a damn person in this world. you just never know. I think my over protected ways is justified.

Jodi - posted on 01/01/2011

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LOL @ Julianne, you're really loving the Mompetition videos huh? I think they are awesome :)

Shauna - posted on 01/01/2011

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It has more crime per capita, than LA. Alot of Gang Activity is the main prob, and poverty.

Jenn - posted on 01/01/2011

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@Shauna - where do you live that there is a murder or multiple murders every day? If I lived somewhere like that I'd be seriously considering relocating. So I will agree that if I lived in an area like that then I would be more cautious. I think you have to base things off of your own area/whether you live in a city or small town, etc. I just don't get the parents who won't let their kids do anything without them by their side 24/7 - some parents won't let their kid play out in the yard - and it's not because of any justified reason other than their own crazy paranoia.

Charlie - posted on 01/01/2011

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Yes people are overly paranoid , is it justified ? I believe we THINK we are in more danger because of tools such as the internet and wider spread news , we are more aware of dangers but I don't think that means it is any worse than it was .

I totally Agree with Jodi when she said : It is a balance between risk and responsibility and you can't just start allowing them that in their teens. You have to start offering them risks at a much younger age - their ability to judge starts with things as small as allowing them to walk to school, leaving them alone in the house for short periods of time, even something as simple as allowing them to play on that playground equipment, even though you know that if they fall, they could hurt themselves. If we don't offer them risks when they are young, THAT is when you have the problem of rebelling teens, and then it is too late, they have not learned the responsibility of the risks they choose to take. I don't know how to explain it, but you can't helicopter your kids and then suddenly, when they are 15, give them more freedom. It is a gradual process of risk taking that teaches our kids to become responsible teens.

IMO there is a huge problem with being a helicopter / paranoid parent they are making children with no street wise or sense and THAT is dangerous IMO .

There is a fine line between being cautious and being paranoid , it is all about balance .

Jenn - posted on 01/01/2011

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@Shauna - I don't think that's what we're referring to. I think new inventions that can keep someone from physical harm are one thing - not letting your child out of your sight for more than 2 seconds for fear that some big bad pervert will grab them and run, is another.

Becky - posted on 01/01/2011

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Yes, I do think parents on the whole are more paranoid about things these days. And it's not just the overprotectiveness and hovering and paranoia about strangers either. It's the "oh, I can't vaccinate my child because they might get autism. Oh, if I feel them boxed food even once or clean with anything other than pure water or even walk past a fast food restaurant, they are going to get cancer or heart disease and die." (okay, exaggerating that one a wee bit!) I'm not sure that in reality it is actually justified, but I can see how parents feel it's justified, with the vast array of information sources out there now. I know that I personally feel less safe in my city than I did when I moved here. When I was in university, I used to walk home from university or from work late at night - over a km. from work. I volunteered at the woman's shelter and when I missed my bus, I'd walk downtown to the train station, through one of the seedier areas of town, past the bar where all the drunks and druggies (and our Premier, lol) hung out. Now, I never walk outside of my own neighborhood alone after dark. But, I suspect that my feeling of being less safe is a combination of being older and no longer having that immortality complex, and paying a lot more attention to the news, not a reality that I actually am less safe. I have actually found Calgary to be a very friendly city. It's rare that I go out with the kids and not at least one person stops to say hi to them or say how cute they are or strikes up a conversation in the check-out line. We know almost all the neighbors here on our cul-de-sac and even have a community bbq in the summer. I would feel perfectly safe letting the boys play out in the front alone once they are older and know to get off the road when a car comes in. Even now, I'll let Cole play in our fenced backyard by himself - I can see him out the window, of course. We're surrounded by houses, so no one's going to jump the fence and snatch him. He'd put up an impressive fight if someone tried to anyways! I agree with Jodi, you have to start letting them have freedom early, within reasonable limits of course. I feel like letting Cole go outside on his own for a bit, with the door open and me where I can watch him, is completely safe for him. But we live in a great neighborhood, and of course, you need to be aware of your surroundings and what the risks are. If you live in a low-income neighborhood where you find condoms, cigarette butts and syringes in your yard on a regular basis and your backyard is a concrete parking lot, well, you're probably justified in never letting your 3 year old set foot outside the door alone!

Jodi - posted on 01/01/2011

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It is a balance between risk and responsibility and you can't just start allowing them that in their teens. You have to start offering them risks at a much younger age - their ability to judge starts with things as small as allowing them to walk to school, leaving them alone in the house for short periods of time, even something as simple as allowing them to play on that playground equipment, even though you know that if they fall, they could hurt themselves. If we don't offer them risks when they are young, THAT is when you have the problem of rebelling teens, and then it is too late, they have not learned the responsibility of the risks they choose to take. I don't know how to explain it, but you can't helicopter your kids and then suddenly, when they are 15, give them more freedom. It is a gradual process of risk taking that teaches our kids to become responsible teens.

Tiffany - posted on 01/01/2011

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Yes I believe so in some cases. I think it is warranted in a lot of aspects though. It is a lot different now then 10-15 years ago. Technology has changed so much, and that makes it much easier for pedophiles to find out more about kids. Take my niece for example...she is 14 and has a facebook and a myspace. It wasn't private until I bitched at my sister non stop about making it private. My niece will post where she's going, her phone number, where she lives, etc. NOT safe at all. She also has over 500 friends...do you really think my niece has that many actual friends? No. Some of my sisters friends I find questionable and they are friends with my niece on fb. There are a lot more things to be concerned about now. Does that mean shelter your kid and not let them have any freedom? No. But am I going to let my kid ride their bike downtown on their own just cos I was allowed to when I was a kid? No. Some things stay the same, but a lot does change. Also, the peer pressures might have been the same 15 years ago but the things kids are being peer pressured into are worse. The drugs that are out there are more dangerous, because they are getting mixed even more. Not only that, but kids will do anything to get high if they want to...whipped cream cans, nail polish remover, nyquil, etc. The list goes on. I have a nephew who just got out of rehab. Sober 2 1/2 months. He is only 15. The talks we have had in the last month, thank God we found out early enough what he was getting in to. He regrets doing it so much. I just let him know that he can't go back and change what he did, but he can let what happened make him a better person and do better now. And he is. My point, is that you may think parents over protect their kids, but I find it necessary in a lot of cases. One area you might live in, you might not have to do this. But in other areas you may. My sister has always been protective and after her husband died and the kids were lashing out about it, she let them have a bit more freedom. Well, my 15 year old nephew is her son. She let him have too much freedom and she knows it. She sees everything now, all the signs she missed. Wasn't her fault...she did what she thought was right by giving him more freedom. I think there are too many parents out there who don't pay enough attention to their children. Maybe it's because of where I live now...I don't know. I loved being able to ride my bike downtown when I was 10 years old with my brother or best friend for hours on end....and I feel bad that my daughter won't be able to experience that, I do. But I would rather her not get that experience then wind up dead on a slab in a morgue because I felt bad she wasn't going to get an experience I did.

Shauna - posted on 01/01/2011

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IE; back in the day my parents didnt put us in carseats. A guy i know parents didnt put them in carseats either they wer in a accident and baby brother flew out of moms arms through the windshield and died.
I would never not use a carseat. ....... we have better information to know its safer to use a car seat ... thats just one example.

Katherine - posted on 01/01/2011

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Yeah, I agree. I am more cautious but not overly so. I'll do that when they're in their teens :/


Oh God help me.

Jodi - posted on 01/01/2011

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IMO, it's the same thing :D Paranoid is probably just a little more over the top, but neither option is ideal.

Nicole - posted on 12/31/2010

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" safer ways of handling situations" Are you saying that we are now more careful than we were than, and that we are more careful for good reasons?

Maybe yo could elaborate a bit on what you mean

Shauna - posted on 12/31/2010

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yes parents are more paranoid. Yes its justified. So much changes over time, new technology, safer ways of handling situations.

Jenn - posted on 12/31/2010

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Sorry - didn't mean to copy your "fair enough" LMAO! I've been drinking some wine. :P

Jenn - posted on 12/31/2010

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Fair enough - but you don't necessarily have to suddenly be their BFF - just be friendly. Even walking down the street, instead of totally keeping to yourself, why not smile at people and say hello. Or in line at the grocery store strike up some small talk with the person in front or behind you. Simple things that make someone else smile and in return make you feel better.

Nicole - posted on 12/31/2010

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fair enough, and like I said, I know one neighbour. It seemed to me like you were saying one should get to know their neighbours.

I hold that some areas the neighbours are high risk and sometimes it's better to not get to know them, at risk of getting wrapped up in avoidable drama

Jenn - posted on 12/31/2010

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Well, I said to talk to people, not let them in your house all alone - that's just plain old stupid. I wouldn't let someone in my house that I didn't know. And sure, even a "friend" could steal from you but that's a chance you have to take in life. You can either live like a hermit trusting nobody, or give people a chance. There are good and bad people all over the place who look different or act different or come from different places - you just never know - but I'll never stop giving people the benefit of the doubt.

Nicole - posted on 12/31/2010

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Jenn, I have to disagree with that one. One of my friends reaches out to people and makes a lot of friends at mom's groups. She invited these mom's to her child's birthday party and ended up being robbed twice. When people went up to her apartment to use the washroom during the birthday party, they stole credit cards and cash from the family, and for any single parent, that is a hard blow.

I agree that we do not need to be as afraid as we are, but I suggest caution in who any parent allows into their life.

Jenn - posted on 12/31/2010

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@Corinne - I know almost everyone on my street, whether they are people I actually know or I have met them and talked to them at some point. We're a pretty friendly community. It can be that way where you live too if you make that first step and stop living in fear and reach out to people - others will follow suit.

Jenn - posted on 12/31/2010

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I don't think a whole lot has changed in that respect Nicole. I think easier access to media has changed, so people see and hear more of these stories and then become obsessed or overly concerned with them, when really it isn't happening more, you just hear about it more. I will allow my children the same freedoms that I once had, except for walking to school since I don't live in town like I did when I was a kid.

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I don't think the world has any more crime compared to the population change. More criminals exist because of the increase in people, if crime rises, so do the good samaritans out there. Plus the media wants the shock factor and puts everything bad on the news. Not very many good heartwarming stories end up on the news. So people are paranoid because of stats, and media. The statistics only show the rise in crime, not the ratio of criminals to people in general.

Lindsay - posted on 12/31/2010

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No, I don't think it's anymore dangerous now than it was 10 or 20 years ago. With so many 24 hour news channels, people have become paranoid. Of these rapes and kidnapping that are happening "everywhere" and "all the time", are they local? Anything can happen anywhere at anytime but that doesn't mean that kids need to be locked inside or glued to the side of a parent until they are old enough to leave the house. We had stanger danger classes when I was a kid. I knew then not to talk to stangers, or take candy from them or ever leave with them. I knew that if someone I didn't know was to approach me to yell and kick and scream for help. The same problems that exist today, existed back then. The only difference is that it wasn't playing out every 5 minutes around the clock on CNN like it is now.

Now I will admit I'm a cautious parent. I struggle with myself almost daily not to be a helicopter parent. I don't want to inhibit my kids from being independent, productive members of society when they are grown because I was too scared to let them make a decision for themself and always kept them at arm's length. As a parent, I have to be able to recognise both dangers and my kids' stengths. I have to educate them and arm them with ways to keep themselves safe. It's all about balance.

Nicole - posted on 12/31/2010

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I guess I just wonder...is it really anymore dangerous now than it was then, or are people responding in a different way to the dangers that have always existed?

Nicole - posted on 12/31/2010

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You make some very strong points. I know one of my neighbours. I live in the inner city, so I take my kids out of my area of town for their lessons and their daycare. I put my son in one inner city daycare and it was a horrible experience. He was escaping from the daycare and being bullied.

Corinne - posted on 12/31/2010

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20yrs ago, I would have been 10, I would have been allowed to cycle the length and breadth of our town no problem. Back then, I knew loads of people here and if I was in any trouble or hurt in anyway, I knew help was a couple of doors away.
Now, I can honestly say that I know about 15 people on my street (I live at #113). I hardly know any of my Mum's neighbours or my Aunts, and parts of town are unrecognisable due to houses being thrown up on every spare patch of land.
I guess you could say I'm one of the cautious ones. One of the mums at school asked me why she'd never seen my kids playing in our front garden. She has to pass my house to drop her daughter off at her fathers house. I asked her if she'd be as cautious if she knew there was a child molester living on the street, she looked at me, laughed and on seeing my face, asked if I was serious. I was. I know for a FACT that a man on my street has sexually attacked a young girl and there is not a thing I can do about it. I can't point him out to people, I can't name him or tell anyone which house he lives in. Why? He was never convicted. Insufficiant evidence, ie; he wasn't caught in the act, and there wasn't enough in the way of forensics. If I were to say a word, I'd be up to my neck in it and he'd be the one being protected, it makes me sick. Can I be sure he's guilty? Without shadow of a doubt. Why? Because the sick b@st@rds victim was my sister, she's barely visited my house these last 2yrs because of him.
Now ask yourself this, how many of your neighbours do you know?
I'm not trying to scare anyone. I just think that it's a sad state of affairs when next door neighbours can't be bothered to speak to each other, nobody is prepared to help anyone else, people don't even have the manners to wish anyone a 'good morning' (hell no! could be offensive ;) ). Point being, there is no trust anymore. The few people I know on my street are fantastic, and would help at the drop of a hat, just as I would be there if I were needed. Constant news stories about murder, rape, kidnapping, assault, drugs and lord knows what else combined with a lack of community equals paranoid people. If I were to walk down my street calling out 'hello!' to people, less than half of them would answer, some would just stare and the rest would just turn their backs and walk away. We should not be afraid to be nice, civil even, to the people we live and work near on the off-chance that they are a nut job. Wish I'd been born earlier.

Nicole - posted on 12/31/2010

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If there were pedophiles, kidnappers, and rotten teenaged drivers when we were kids, what HAS changed?

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