Saturday, September 12, 2009

Safety first!

I think it's pretty clear at this point that we, as a society, are insane. But this article in today's Times made me even more sure.

The chances of your kid being abducted by some stranger are tiny. There were 115 such abductions last year, and given that the population of children under 18 is 74 million (at least according to the census bureau), the chances in any given year of your kid being abducted are...wait for it... 1 in 640,000. If that's your #1 concern, it might be time to throw your retirement savings into lottery tickets.

Actually, that was hyperbole. Playing lotto is even more idiotic, as the chances of winning are infinitesimally small.

To put it in better perspective, stranger abduction is just a tiny bit more likely than being struck by lightning (1 in 700,000).

What's next? Locking kids into lightning-proof boxes? Dressing them up in an Ursus Mark VIII? Hell, I see lots of kids out riding bikes with their parents without even wearing helmets - and those same kids probably aren't allowed to walk 2 blocks unescorted. Absolute insanity!

Of course, I haven't even mentioned the detrimental effects of not letting your kids get regular exercise, learn to navigate on their own, and feel independent. Because we all know that stuff is overrated. Who cares if you're fat and helpless at 25, as long as you've avoided the minute danger of being abducted!

Grumble. People are so stupid it makes me angry sometimes. Also, it's raining, so I'm grumpy this morning.

9 comments:

Keith Moore said...

You might appreciate (or be enraged by) this blog: http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/

Walt said...

Whoa. Some of those stories make me want to go out and bash my head against a wall repeatedly.

-Walt

taryn said...

Kids today are cheated of a real childhood. I was allowed to walk the whole block and a half to my elementary school with my friends from a pretty young age. By the time I hit high school, I would often walk the five and half miles home, meandering through town and eventually walking down the roads with (gasp)no sidewalks that led to my house. No harm done. We also messed about in the swamp behind our houses and floated on unstable "rafts" in the river, but that's another (fun) story...

Corey said...

At the tender age of 7 I was frequently sent to the General Store 1/2 mile down the road to pick up my grandfather's cigarettes.

He's now passed on, but not from lung cancer, and I seem to have no ill affects from all that secondhand smoke, nor did I become a smoker. Maybe I was too busy chewing the lead paint off the walls...

Lancer said...

As a father of four, I can tell you that I won't let my kids play outside during thunder storms nor will I let my young children wonder the neighborhood alone, irrespective of statistics.

Walt said...

Lancer -

The lightning risk assumes you're not *deliberately* putting yourself at risk - ie, avoiding lightning when possible.

The inability of Americans to apply basic math (ie, statistics) to our lives is a huge problem, IMO. You can only use your energy dealing with so many risks - so it's worth it to understand which ones are important and most likely to occur. If you let your kids walk up and down stairs without a helmet on, for example, you're putting them at far greater risk than letting them wander the neighborhood.

You might also not want to let them take any baths or showers. Those are hideously dangerous, as in a couple of orders of magnitude.

-Walt

Anonymous said...

Ya, Walt, when I was a young man my brain was sharp as an arrow and total stupidity was all around me. I calculated, admonished and cared. And then I grew old. Soon you’ll join me...

Anonymous said...

Love this blog, but this thread was obvioulsy started by someone who is NOT a parent. Applying statistics to protecting your children is inane. Love to hear your thoughts once you are a parent

Jorah said...

Welcome to the world of the availability heuristic. I wonder if that's why I wear a helmet...