Re: Yet More America Hating

1

In the U.K. they'll getcha for taking a picture of anything with a public building or young child in the frame. We inherited these neuroses from the crown.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 12:04 PM
horizontal rule
2

Oh, man. I've had people call the cops on me twice for things that were routine when I was growing up. But can't comment now, because I have to walk the girls home from school, devoted dad that I am.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 12:08 PM
horizontal rule
3

I love that second story. Kids should be allowed to explore the damn world around them, and Dateline NBC should be chaperoned wherever it goes.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 12:13 PM
horizontal rule
4

I agree that New York is generally a safe place and parents can stifle their children. But that woman's an idiot.


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 12:15 PM
horizontal rule
5

I could see a nice study making the point that the main cultural model of childhood in the U.S. these days focuses intensely on the cultivation of personal individuality and resumé-like individual capacities -- education, skills, after-school sports, hobbies, volunteering, attentiveness to the child's unique needs and abilities, etc -- while simultaneously restricting more and more the scope for actual autonomy in the child's everyday life. It must drive them nuts.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 12:16 PM
horizontal rule
6

It must drive them nuts.

If there is any justice in the world, they'll kick our collective asses for it at some point.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 12:18 PM
horizontal rule
7

Relevant comic.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 12:18 PM
horizontal rule
8

This is what comes of codifying what should be societal norms. Part of that was caused by the breaking down of previous barriers. To put it bluntly, when the "white" people were in charge, things were "safer". Then the darker folks, including some whose darkness was only in their souls, were released upon the world, and things became "dangerous". Laws had to be passed, but this time for everyone. Since nine year olds can be sex offenders, (or potential didacticidal maniacs) then ipso facto they should not be riding the subways by themselves. Or something.

More power for people who realize little Johnny won't die if he walks to school.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 12:22 PM
horizontal rule
9

re: 1

Not really true; although the instances of rent-a-cops harassing people for taking pictures in a public place are on the rise. I take quite a lot of photos in public and have been stopped and questioned twice. Once by the actual police when taking photos of, erm, a decommissioned 'sekrit' nuclear research reactor* and once by a private security guard when photographing (of all things) a parking sign (just because I liked the shade of red it was).

Taking photos of kids isn't likely to be a legal problem, but you might well find yourself getting belted by someone who thinks you're a 'paedo'.

* it was an extremely cool 'Gernsback Continuum' piece of atomic age architecture. The cops were extremely polite and once they'd ascertained I wasn't suspicious, left me to keep taking pictures.

Also, 5 is right.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 12:24 PM
horizontal rule
10

I like Lauren Berlant on this; theory of infantile citizenship, all major affronts to national consciousness have to be understood through the vessel of ideal citizenship - the child/fetus.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 12:25 PM
horizontal rule
11

4: Why would you say that? Nothing she said in the linked article particularly struck me as stupid, and letting a 9- or 10-year-old come home on their own certainly seems within the realm of not-too-terrible. I took a commuter train back and forth from middle school without any problems, starting when I was 10.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 12:32 PM
horizontal rule
12

10: Oh, interesting. Can you say more, if inclined? The very short recaps of her work I just scanned make gestures toward Habermas I don't quite understand. But, well, I'll poke around some more.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 12:32 PM
horizontal rule
13

Growing up in a London commuter town, a divide in my friends used to open if we wanted to go to a gig at the Brixton Academy, in a relatively Afro-Caribbean and allegedly "unsafe" area of London. Suddenly friends who always came to other London gigs would be held hostage by their parents, and really quite late into their teens. A spot survey revealed that all those parents who thought their child would get raped and take crack at the tube station before being shot on the way back, without exception, read notably right-wing newspapers. We went and figured.


Posted by: RobDP | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 12:33 PM
horizontal rule
14

12: Int he Queen of America book, she is doing a Habermas-y thing about who gets to define public spaces, but also who gets to imagine what citizenship means. So she does this smart reading of Forest Gump as promoting the ideal mode of citizenship as infantile/retarded and then goes from their into aanlysis of the pro-life movement, in utero images and various prenatal programs that posit the fetus as the most precious vestige of national identity. It's a great book, actually.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 12:36 PM
horizontal rule
15

When I lived in the idyllic small town of Canton, NY, I lived about three blocks from the elementary school. There were many families on my street with kids in that school.

All but one of those families drove their kids to school.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 12:40 PM
horizontal rule
16

I got as far as "the schools are enforcing a zero-tolerance policy" before screaming and fleeing the article.

Zero Tolerance Means Zero Judgement.


Posted by: Hamilton-Lovecraft | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 12:41 PM
horizontal rule
17

11- I didn't like the nostalgic reasoning. In 1963, did children not get abducted? Was there no crime in New York? But mine was an unintelligent entry and your story is instructive. Comity.


Posted by: als | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 12:43 PM
horizontal rule
18

17: Ah, that actually makes a lot of sense, too. I typically find that sort of thing annoying, but I think I've grown inured to "back in my day..." reasoning/crankery after being subjected to it so often lately.

Comity indeed.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 12:50 PM
horizontal rule
19

re: 17

Most of these articles [I've not read this one] often point out that the number of instances of attacks by strangers on children is relatively fixed. In the UK the annual rate has remained about the same for as long as we've kept records.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 1:06 PM
horizontal rule
20

In 1963, did children not get abducted?

Which of course is the point. They didn't, or not anymore than they do now (which is hardly ever). But people weren't as irrationally scared back then.

Setting aside the theory that children are economically more valuable now*, I wonder how much of the shift can be narrowed down to the Adam Walsh-era abduction panic. I was just a bit older than Walsh, and lived within a couple miles. Even as an 8-y.o., I noticed the shift in what was allowed - no longer being able to wander the toys aisle while Mom did other shopping in the store, etc. I think there's a lot to TLL's 8, but there was a lot of fairly specific child-safety hysteria in the early 80s.

* As measured by future lifetime earnings


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 1:18 PM
horizontal rule
21

In the UK the annual rate has remained about the same for as long as we've kept records.

That's because of your restrictive quasi-socialist system. Here in the States, our more laissez-faire system allows for progress in our child abduction statistics.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 1:21 PM
horizontal rule
22

14: Okay. Thanks.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 1:23 PM
horizontal rule
23

Children are of course a permissible outlet for all kinds of paternalist adult desires that now have no outlet in broader social regulation. It's much harder to police the sexuality of other adults now.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 1:28 PM
horizontal rule
24

In 1963, did children not get abducted?

Kitty Genovese was killed in 1964 in NYC, although she wasn't a child. The Leopold and Loeb abduction and murder was 1924, but of course that was Hyde Park and the University of Chicago, not NYC.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 1:34 PM
horizontal rule
25

I think there's a lot to TLL's 8, but there was a lot of fairly specific child-safety hysteria in the early 80s.

Satanic Ritual Abuse, yo!

17 - There was the Lyon sisters abduction in 1975, the basis for Laura Lippman's (excellent) What the Dead Know.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 1:41 PM
horizontal rule
26

This is a map showing the decline in the distances the 8 year olds were allowed to travel alone in one English family:

http://www.rayfowler.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/four_generations_play.jpg


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 1:44 PM
horizontal rule
27

Kitty Genovese was killed in 1964 in NYC, although she wasn't a child.

Also, the Harlan Ellison take on this story* -- dozens of people saw her get murdered and nobody deigned to do anything about it -- is basically a media creation by the Times and other contemporary newspaper reports.

* It will come as a great shock to people that Harlan Ellison was more interested in the myth than the facts, I'm sure.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 1:45 PM
horizontal rule
28

I was going to mention Kitty Genovese also, when talking about societal norms. I suspect that people would be more willing to let their kids have "independence" if they felt that any adults in range would be willing to help their child if in need. It is much harder to trust the "other" to do this. Bitch PhD has mentioned this in the many education threads. In a way it is kind of a "broken windows" theory of child rearing. People are reluctant to get involved, but a series of small interventions could create an atmosphere of more "safety".


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 1:45 PM
horizontal rule
29

re: 24

There have always been cases. In the UK I can certainly think of several through the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s, etc. What there's not is an increase in numbers.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 1:45 PM
horizontal rule
30

4- you might like Annette Lareau's book _Unequal Childhood_. It has quite a lot of interesting material on changes in raising kids and how the differences effect opportunity. I highly recommend it.


Posted by: matt (not the famous one) | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 1:48 PM
horizontal rule
31

I think that the issue is low-probability high-publicity events. The motivations of the people in charge of publicity are a second issue. The actual number of cases of any particular crime (stranger murder, child abductions) may not be a key variable at all.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 1:50 PM
horizontal rule
32

Leopold and Loeb were members of the U of C Classics Club. We had their picture on the door to the Grad Student Lounge.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 1:50 PM
horizontal rule
33

There's a relatively interesting-sounding book about the cultural implications of kidnappings. I can't find it, but there's a back issue of Murder Can Be Fun -- the "kids" issue -- which will put to rest any thoughts that New York today is somehow likely to be much more dangerous than New York of the past. The norms of what (white, upper-middle-class; because those are the only kids that count!) parents accept have just changed.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 1:51 PM
horizontal rule
34

New York is branded as dangerous because of cop shows.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 1:53 PM
horizontal rule
35

#26, link does not work, takes one to the rayfowler.org homepage.


Posted by: peter | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 2:00 PM
horizontal rule
36

there was a lot of fairly specific child-safety hysteria in the early 80s

I remember in late elementary school there was a presentation some of us were asked to do on safe behaviors that included a bit on not taking rides from strangers. I remember asking why we needed to do the part on what to do if walking down the street we were approached by a stranger, given we had no sidewalks and no one walked anywhere. I was told, basically, to shut up and do the bit.

Satanic Ritual Abuse, yo!

I know of one family that maintains an obsessive belief that Sooper Sekrit Satanists own and operate the biggest shopping mall in the area where I grew up and that small children are abducted from it by said owners then the families hushed up with shopping sprees. There's no real point to that except to laugh with you about SRA obsessions.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 2:02 PM
horizontal rule
37

I read recently, although cannot for the life of me remember where, that, as more and more parents don't let their kids walk to school, wander the aisles of toy stores alone, play outside unsupervised, etc., at some point there's a tipping effect where, very quickly, almost no kid is allowed to do those things. And, of course, to the extent stranger abuctions happen when kids are alone, if your kid is one of the few who is allowed out alone, the odds go up that he/she is the one who gets abducted (though I presume even then it is rare).


Posted by: Ugh | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 2:04 PM
horizontal rule
38

On Kitty Genovese, I live on a street near a bunch of bars and not irregularly have people walking by my apartment shouting at each other late at night. It would take a lot for me to consider actually scoping out what's happening and calling the police.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 2:09 PM
horizontal rule
39

20: I wonder how much of the shift can be narrowed down to the Adam Walsh-era abduction panic.

A fair bit, I'd say. That's when my kids started bring home info about programs to fingerprint them, warnings not to put their names in big letters on team clothing, etc. IMX paranoia is contagious.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 2:10 PM
horizontal rule
40

I've heard variants of 37 as well, though more focused on things like letting kids walk/bike to school. If only a few kids are doing it, most adults don't expect it, and don't (for example) drive as if there are going to be kids around.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 2:12 PM
horizontal rule
41

#26, link does not work, takes one to the rayfowler.org homepage

here is a better link:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=462091&in_page_id=1770


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 2:13 PM
horizontal rule
42

New York is branded as dangerous because of cop shows.

Which of course are only in New York because that's where the producer lives. LAPD used to be horribly corrupt, but was "rehabilitated" by Jack Webb. It took the Rodney King video to change that perception in the public's mind, even after a number of high profile cases.

Law and Order never seems to be investigating a gang shooting over turf, with several bystanders killed, but exclusive schoolgirl sex rings with accidental overdose and coverup, that we get in spades.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 2:17 PM
horizontal rule
43

I know of one family that maintains an obsessive belief that Sooper Sekrit Satanists own and operate the biggest shopping mall in the area where I grew up and that small children are abducted from it by said owners then the families hushed up with shopping sprees.

And these tie neatly into nineteenth-century urban legends about Jewish white slavers abducting women from (Jewish-owned) department-store dressing rooms. The song remains the same!

On Kitty Genovese, I live on a street near a bunch of bars and not irregularly have people walking by my apartment shouting at each other late at night. It would take a lot for me to consider actually scoping out what's happening and calling the police.

Some people actually did call the police, but only a few people could actually see the fight to realize that Genovese had been stabbed, and the police didn't respond to it quickly.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 2:18 PM
horizontal rule
44

my kids started bring home info about programs to fingerprint them,

I remember talking to the Chief of Police (we were in Rotary) about the "fingerprint fair" they were having. I asked if if helps to get kidnapped kids back, and he replied that it was for identifying the body. I then asked if "johnny does" were a big problem, such that they had to have this outreach program. He said that he had never seen one.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 2:25 PM
horizontal rule
45

And these tie neatly into nineteenth-century urban legends about Jewish white slavers abducting women from (Jewish-owned) department-store dressing rooms. The song remains the same!

Seriously? Crazy.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 2:28 PM
horizontal rule
46

34: there was an entry in Harper's Index recently about how many more murders have been depicted on Law & Order this year than have actually occured in New York.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 2:32 PM
horizontal rule
47

And even later -- Edgar Morin's Rumor in Orleans is about a similar* rumor in the 1960s.

* So similar, in fact, that I think I'm conflating English rumors about Jewish white slave rings from the turn of the century with the Rumor in Orleans case, which is described here.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 2:38 PM
horizontal rule
48

A rational kid wouldn't care if his body was identified. He would realize that, if by some odd chance he ended up implicated in a crime, having been fingerprinted would be no help to him at all. "Sorry office, no thanks! There's nothing in it for me."


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 2:38 PM
horizontal rule
49

I think you're right Emerson. The whole exercise was to initiate the little future felons to the police state. Files on everyone! Better get McManus to burn that shit down.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 2:49 PM
horizontal rule
50

Isn't there a relatively widespread but covert set of urban legends about Disneyworld/land as happy hunting ground for murderers and molesters of children, with dozens if not more children having vanished without uproar, due to Disney's interest in keeping such events quiet?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 2:54 PM
horizontal rule
51

Whoops, sorry about the bad link in #26: This link will get you to the picture and the article:

http://www.rayfowler.org/2007/06/19/time-to-go-outside-and-play/


Posted by: Ray Fowler | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 2:54 PM
horizontal rule
52

46: David Simon has pointed out Law & Order murder rates vs. NYC actual murder rates in discussions of The Wire.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 2:57 PM
horizontal rule
53

Which of course are only in New York because that's where the producer lives.

If you set a story in New York, it's a national story that everyone cares about. If you set a similar story in all but a few other locations, it's regional story and the ratings will suck. I suppose CSI, as awful as it is, might deserve some credit for pushing against this in the two non-New York versions.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 3:07 PM
horizontal rule
54

47, 50: I'm simultaneously excited to have some new corner of insanity to go read about and disappointed to learn that the 'Asheville Mall = Satanists!' madness isn't unique to my silly home town.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 3:11 PM
horizontal rule
55

how many more murders have been depicted on Law & Order this year than have actually occured in New York.

One wonders about the murders investigated by Inspector Morse compared to actual murders committed in Oxford.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 3:13 PM
horizontal rule
56

I have a question that was maybe answered above. Why is butt-touching a prosecutable police-involving event, when surely other kid behaviors do not result in police action? If a three-year-old bites a classmate, we don't charge them with assault. Kids are learning how to use their bodies, both violently and sexually. Making them into little criminals might be accurate, but it's hardly a natural socialization process.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 3:13 PM
horizontal rule
57

I second Berlant on this. In part, she's just making a simple point that various moral panics have worked to justify legal and social regulation by using the figure of the child as a stand-in for adults in general, or for specific classes and groups of adults that the educated elite fears or wants to control. I see a lot of this in various middle-class anxieties about television and children in the 1960s and 1970s: children stand in, with varying degrees of explicitness, for the working-class, minorities or any group of people that the white middle-class is afraid of or need to control. The Queen of America essays spin off from that into some more ambitious thinking about the American public sphere, gender politics and so on...smart book.


Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 3:28 PM
horizontal rule
58

56: Because the teacher and principal don't want some kid telling tales at home, garbled by kid-circuitry, about someone touching somebody else's butt in school without a studiously correct personal/institutional response, because they prefer to keep living at home instead of the local jail while things are or are not clarified.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 3:29 PM
horizontal rule
59

anyone wanting anecdotal evidence the past was as scarily risk-fraught as the present should look out the 1930s tale of serial child-killer (and cannibal) albert fish -- the psychologist who interviewed him in the death-cell, fredric wertham, went on to be the successful advocate of the banning of all ghoulish comics in the 50s (which he thought were a cause of delinquency and perversion); more relevant perhaps than "tales from the crypt" is hinted evidence of fish's nightmarishly abusive upbringing in 19th-century orphanages...

(eep this is a dismal contribution to delurk with: sorry folks)


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 3:33 PM
horizontal rule
60

57 is basically the point I was trying to make in 23.

Sounds like I could have expanded it into a dissertation once upon a time.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 3:36 PM
horizontal rule
61

I know that my 6-year old boy could walk to and from school by himself. It's only 2 blocks away. But I wouldn't dare let him go alone. Not for fear of kidnappers or etc, but for fear of some nosy parent calling the CPS to report a case of child neglect.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 3:38 PM
horizontal rule
62

59: Or Gilles de Rais.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 3:39 PM
horizontal rule
63

Jewish white slavers abducting women from (Jewish-owned) department-store dressing rooms.

Oh no, that happened all the time. But the Satanist stuff? Ridiculous.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 3:40 PM
horizontal rule
64

evidence the past was as scarily risk-fraught as the present

Are you kidding? I assume the past was enormously riskier than the present. In fact I assume that we were so poor there wasn't the social energy/resources to conceptualize most of the stuff we are concerned about today as even being a "problem".

It's amazing how much of our conception of the "past" when it comes to children is shaped by this anodyne fantasy of the 1950s, which were a totally exceptional decade. References to the "past" are mostly about nostalgia for a coherent ideology.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 3:41 PM
horizontal rule
65

Not for fear of kidnappers or etc, but for fear of some nosy parent calling the CPS to report a case of child neglect.

Jesus. If I had kids in that situation, I couldn't imagine not insisting on stuff like this. I just have a complete disconnect somewhere with obviously a huge number of people. All this bedwetting about imaginary increases in risk is incredible.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 3:41 PM
horizontal rule
66

The independence of kids in the Autobiography of Lincoln Steffens, if Steffens is reporting it accurately, is really quite remarkable. He'd regularly disappear on horseback in the Sacramento area for hours, sometimes with other kids, most frequently on his own.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 3:43 PM
horizontal rule
67

62: well, yes, tho when you hear ppl say the "good old days" they only rarely mean the 100 years war!


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 3:44 PM
horizontal rule
68

BTW, the map (originally) linked in 26 is so bothersome. I'm also frustrated because I will inevitably perpetuate it (at least to some extent). Within 200 yards in every direction from my house is a 4-lane secondary road with observed traffic regularly reaching 40 MPH. I'm not sure when I'll be OK with letting my child cross those unescorted, but until then, she's limited to a 6 block area (11 blocks if you count alleys). At least we have a parklet down the street from us.

I suspect that, as with suburban parents letting their teen drive to save them grocery trips, the defining factor will be when the desire to send her to Whole Foods on her own becomes overwhelming.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 3:45 PM
horizontal rule
69

Oh, and 61: yes.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 3:45 PM
horizontal rule
70

Also from the Autobiography I gather that child abduction rings - for the purposes of ransom from well-to-do families - were, if not common, not unusual in some major cities. Don't know how that might have affected the care of children, especially among people not from the target class.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 3:46 PM
horizontal rule
71

I'd like to believe that I'd be a pragmatically protective parent, uncowed by social pressure to strap kids into Zorbs whenever they're out of the house, like Ogami Itto, but I think I'd probably be more like Steven Seagal on that episode of SNL where he tells his daughter's date that the book he's reading is titled "Silent Killers... It's very informative, Billy."


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 3:49 PM
horizontal rule
72

64: i think the relative tongue-tiedness about sex acts that descended on literate society some time in the 19th century has led to a widespread assumption that inventive depravity -- for example of the child-menacing kind -- is of recent emergence (and caused by comics or movies or er hiphop); of course it isn't, not even slightly


Posted by: tierce de lollardie | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 3:52 PM
horizontal rule
73

Jesus. If I had kids in that situation, I couldn't imagine not insisting on stuff like this.

I think what you mean is, you don't have kids in that situation, and so you can't imagine not insisting that they walk to school.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 3:52 PM
horizontal rule
74

due to Disney's interest in keeping such events quiet

Perhaps not the kidnapping (although, really, how do we know?), but their penchant for handling everything instantly, in-house, so as to avoid Bad Publicity is rightly legendary. A friend's daughter, as a preschooler, fell into a cactus at Desertland or whatever, and was instantly swarmed by Disney folks proffering bandages, gift certificates, and release forms. Now that I think about it, the father's a lawyer. But I don't think they tried to milk it.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 3:54 PM
horizontal rule
75

46, 52, etc.: Just FYI, the NY murder rate is up at least 20% so far this year, and probably a good deal more.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 3:57 PM
horizontal rule
76

73: Yes, that's basically what I mean. I wrote poorly, as usual.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 3:57 PM
horizontal rule
77

74: I carry no water for Disney, but I imagine that even for colossal corporations it is pretty difficult to cover up multiple murders and abductions of largely white children in the U.S.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 3:58 PM
horizontal rule
78

76: then again, i'm stubborn and opinionated, so it could work the other way too.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 4:00 PM
horizontal rule
79

Once again I am glad I live where I live, and my children can roam the streets freely. And also glad that I am not prone to hysteria or paranoia, which must be so hard to rationalise away.

I got into a stupid argument (well, one-sided, I was trying not to argue, and being ranted at), when I tried to suggest to a woman that if she had to bring her 8 year old son into the women's changing room at the swimming pool, could he not wander up and down staring at women in the showers and my daughters trying to get changed, and one of the things she said to me was "Do you want me to leave him in the foyer, where he'll be SNATCHED?" After that I just felt sorry for her, the fucking loon.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 4:02 PM
horizontal rule
80

The past was a hellhole. It has been estimated that in 1932 a 3-year-old was having his or her butt wrongly touched by another three-year-old every 1.3 seconds in the U.S.

But did Herbert Hoover care? No!

And Roosevelt was only slightly better, proposing only the passage of a stern-sounding but entirely nugatory anti-butt-touching law.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 4:10 PM
horizontal rule
81

Those pool foyers are very dangerous places. I always insist that my wife take me into the locker room with her so I can stay safe.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 4:11 PM
horizontal rule
82

A friend of mine, who has midget children, told me that my oversized giant children* are safer on the streets than hers because her "little fairy girls could just be tucked under an arm". I don't think reminding her that full-grown adults do also get abducted and murdered made her feel any better.

* - The 11 year old has now gone past 5'3" and we're wearing the same size shoes.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 4:23 PM
horizontal rule
83

I spent a lot of time roaming freely as a little kid in the 70s/early 80s, and there was indeed weird shit that happened. Only one incident that verged on the classic kidnapped by weird adult pervert thing -- looking back, I might only have been saved from that by the random arrival of other adults -- but lots of weird stuff in the pack of roaming kids.

On the other hand, today I'm very independent and self-actualized! Well, not really, but I have fond memories of my youth.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 4:38 PM
horizontal rule
84

Children are of course a permissible outlet for all kinds of paternalist adult desires that now have no outlet in broader social regulation.

I think this is 95% of it. A rhetorical mannerism guaranteed to piss me off: "oh, I don't care about X personally, but think of the chilllldrreen. I care about the chillldreeen." Sure you do, you nebshit.

We ran around all over the place in the 80s, including walking to school, but generally the place where everyone was running was my backyard (because it was flat & there was always an adult around.)

37: That strikes me as correct. When my sisters and I walked to school, there were plenty of other kids walking home. And while abduction is rare, drivers don't watch if they don't expect kids to be walking, and other kids around can come in handy if someone falls or needs help or something.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 4:55 PM
horizontal rule
85

I was also allowed to roam quite a bit, and a molester latched on to our group and eventually did molest one of the girls.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 4:55 PM
horizontal rule
86

85: The point isn't that this sort of stuff doesn't happen. It's that a) it isn't happening more recently despite all the bedwetting, and b) all the bedwetting etc. hasn't shifted the real risk profiles anyway, and it still happens.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 5:03 PM
horizontal rule
87

I know family of a few people involved in actual abductions. One was a family member. One was crazy risky behaviour. Both those kids were found reasonably soon (I have no idea how the 2nd wasn't killed, but sometimes you luck out).

The one that was never found was famous in the pictures all over the country sort of way, Lot's of coverage. 5 year old, and the parents were both maybe 20 feet away when it happened.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 5:07 PM
horizontal rule
88

whups, 87 cont.

Point being, none of the keeping kids inside, driving to school, hypersupervised play stuff would have made any difference in any of those cases.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 5:08 PM
horizontal rule
89

http://www.snopes.com/horrors/parental/kidnap.asp


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 5:15 PM
horizontal rule
90

86

"... it isn't happening more recently despite all the bedwetting, ..."

People are much more sensitive to risk in general so even if the risk is not increasing in absolute terms it may be in relative terms.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 5:24 PM
horizontal rule
91

I actually looked up the stats once, and kidnapping, etc, and it's not increasing in any kinds of terms, absolute or relative. There's a lot of publicity, and more bedwetting, and more chain e-mail forwards, but it doesn't actually correlate with any increase in risk.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 5:27 PM
horizontal rule
92

people would be more willing to let their kids have "independence" if they felt that any adults in range would be willing to help their child if in need. It is much harder to trust the "other" to do this.

I don't have time to catch up on this whole thread, but my take on this (which I agree with) is that you need to teach kids to *ask* for help. The paranoid kind of jerky guy who wrote that book "the gift of fear" and some other weird-ass paranoia-making book about how to keep kids safe actually, I think, is onto the right kind of thing: that kids who are confident are safer, both because they're less likely to do as they're told by manipulative adults, and because they're more likely to ask for help.

Most adults are very paranoid about approaching other people's kids. At the same time, though, most adults really don't hate kids (though the kid-haters are really loud about it), and do want to help (even though you might not always agree with them about what's "best"). So I think the thing to do is to teach kids that most people are good, to model for them that if someone asks for help it will be given, and to explicitly tell them to ask if they need help. (I've sort of kept an eye on how PK handles himself if he gets separated from me at a store or museum, and it seems to me he's pretty self-confident.)


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 5:28 PM
horizontal rule
93

Avoiding excessive concentrations of white people also helps.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 5:29 PM
horizontal rule
94

I also happen to think that the news coverage and popular rhetoric about "protecting kids" and "being responsible for your own children" etc. is explicitly designed to debilitate the public sphere.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 5:29 PM
horizontal rule
95

94: Absolutely, which is what pisses me off about it even though not directly involved, as it were.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 5:36 PM
horizontal rule
96

I tried to suggest to a woman that if she had to bring her 8 year old son into the women's changing room at the swimming pool, could he not wander up and down staring at women in the showers and my daughters trying to get changed,

Hm. Why would you assume he'd wander and stare, and if he did, why would this be a problem? Presumably the child has seen a naked woman (his mother) before, and is no more or less likely to stare at naked strangers than a girl his own age.

I bring PK into women's dressing rooms with me rather than sending him into the men's dressing room alone. Not because I'm afraid of anything happening to him if I don't, but because *he* prefers it, and I don't see any good reason to say no. I mean, the paranoia about leering 8-year olds is surely just as silly as the paranoia about 8-year olds getting snatched.

(That said, I'm perfectly neutral on the question of whether he should wait outside if he doesn't have to change and I do--that's completely up to him.)


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 5:37 PM
horizontal rule
97

Why would you assume he'd wander and stare

I read that as being an observation, not an assumption, B. Could be wrong.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 5:39 PM
horizontal rule
98

I took it that she was objecting to the kid's actual behavior, not assuming what it would be. And while I'm with you on the general topic of nudity around children, a largish portion of the population isn't, and others' discomfort with having an opposite-sex eight-year-old in the dressing room they're changing in would seem to be a pretty decent reason to consider whether it's really necessary.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 5:41 PM
horizontal rule
99

re: 66

What's so unusual at disappearing off for hours on your own?

When we were kids we used to leave the house in the morning and come back when it got dark. We didn't roam that far, but certainly several miles away, easy. We had a handy mental hospital right next door with huge grounds.

We walked to school from age 5 [about a mile or so] and to high school from 11 [about 2 miles].

My younger relatives are fairly independent but not, I think, to quite the same degree. The massive increase in car traffic may be a factor, there. Certainly for the littler kids.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 5:46 PM
horizontal rule
100

95: Agreed, but as my 96 suggests (I hope), it's trickier than just "those paranoid people" and "those of us with common sense." I have no problem believing that an 8 year old boy in a women's dressing room is perfectly fine *and* that an 8 year old can probably take the subway by himself if he's comfortable doing so.

I think the main thing is familiarity. For a kid used to riding the subway, it feels safe to do on your own; for a kid unused to going to the Y, waiting outside the dressing room is scary. Heck, if the kid's *used* to going to the Y, but always goes with mama, using the men's room alone might be scary.

Obviously adults have to consider whether familiarity may be leading a kid to underestimate real risk, but hopefully they do so while differentiating between real risk (the major risk on the subway is that the kid might get lost--does your kid *think* he knows the route because he takes it with you every day but actually he's never really paying attention and is just following you?) and highly unlikely risk (the kid might get kidnapped). And obviously part of the equation is knowing your own particular kid--can he ask for help, or will he get shy and scared?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 5:46 PM
horizontal rule
101

I wasn't assuming, he was standing and staring, whilst his mother was busy with his sister elsewhere. And I didn't like it because I think my physically-developing daughters should be able to get changed in the communal part of the changing room without being stared at. The girls there don't tend to stare at each other. (I wasn't swimming that day, and usually I am, and if I'm in the female changing room *I* don't want to be stared at by anyone past an ill-defined "small child" age either.)

If for some reason he had to be with her, he could just sit still in a quiet spot - I don't think that's unreasonable. And anyway, the pool 'rules' are under-8's only in the opposite sex changing room, and they have family changing rooms for people like this woman.

I talked about this with friends at the time, and responses ranged from "what do you expect if you let your daughters change in the communal area?" to "stop being a prude, it's part of his learning process!"


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 5:51 PM
horizontal rule
102

My 7 year old son now changes in the men's pretty much all the time now - his choice.

I'm far from being a paranoid parent, but I think it would be nice for my daughters as they go through puberty to have at least one place where they can be naked and NOT be subject to the male gaze (if you'll excuse my channelling Twisty for a second).


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 5:58 PM
horizontal rule
103

97, 98: Ah, okay. In that case the answer is obviously "sweetie, people tend not to like being stared at when they're naked. If you don't stop staring, I'm going to make you wait outside." And the issue isn't that the silly mother is afraid to make her kid wait outside; it's that she's afraid to tell him about social norms (and too wimpy to be able to enforce a "no," if she did tell him not to stare).


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 5:58 PM
horizontal rule
104

103 was me.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 6:00 PM
horizontal rule
105

99: Yeah. That part of the Fifties (and Forties) were no fantasy, and I lived right on the NYC border, it wasn't Penrod country.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 6:01 PM
horizontal rule
106

103, 102: Agreed, that staring in dressing rooms is rude and that if there's a family dressing room you use it--duh.

The staring plus the his being in the dressing room makes me wonder, idly, if he had some kind of developmental disability or other. In any case, yes: "staring at people is rude, especially when they are undressing" is a perfectly valid complaint.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 6:02 PM
horizontal rule
107

Most adults are very paranoid about approaching other people's kids.

This is so depressing. I really, really love kids. I love their boundless energy and totally unpredictable imaginations, miss it in myself, and whenever I see them in public, I can't help but watch them and smile. Which will totally earn you unfriendly stares from their parents. Except, oddly enough, with babies. It still seems to be acceptable to smile at babies if you're a man.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 6:04 PM
horizontal rule
108

107: I agree that it's depressing that people don't trust men who like kids.

That they don't trust you, personally, Apo, is probably wise, though.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 6:06 PM
horizontal rule
109

re: 105

I was born in the early 70s. I don't really remember the paranoia setting in until the late 80s. It was always worse for the kids from the better off families, too. More protective parents, etc.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 6:08 PM
horizontal rule
110

The staring plus the his being in the dressing room makes me wonder, idly, if he had some kind of developmental disability or other.

Yeah, I wondered that at the time too, and tried really hard to be nice about the whole thing. But figured it still didn't make him any more likely to be "snatched".


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 6:10 PM
horizontal rule
111

The staring plus the his being in the dressing room makes me wonder, idly, if he had some kind of developmental disability or other.

If I was 8 and in a changing room with lots of naked ladies I didn't know, I'd have been staring too.

Not because I was a wee perv but just because, you know, it's naked ladies, and when you're an 8 year old boy you don't see many of them.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 6:10 PM
horizontal rule
112

I think it depends if you are with your own kids. I agree that is always ok to smile at babies, or wave or whatever. For some reason, kids will come up to me randomly, but that is because I am usually supervising my own brood.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 6:12 PM
horizontal rule
113

109: My kids were born in '68 and '70. They were free-range as soon as we could trust them to watch out for cars and snakes. But that was Alabama then, not the edge of NYC.

The whole concept of the "helicopter parent" was totally alien to me and the X, we always thought our job was to make ourselves un-needed. We weren't considered strange (in that respect) either.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 6:14 PM
horizontal rule
114

111: Well, admittedly PK is 7, but the last time I had him in a womens dressing room he didnt stare--he worried about being stared at (I suspect that by the time hes 8 he will be too self-conscious to use the womens dressing room, which is fine, too).

110: Oh, I dont agree with the mother re. the being snatched thing. But if the kid was mentally disabled, it might reasonably make her both more protective and less trusting in the kids ability to look after himself for a few minutes.

(My apostrophe key seems to be not working, so dont bother pointing out my lack of apostrophes in this post, kthx.)


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 6:18 PM
horizontal rule
115

re: 114

Yeah, I hated communal changing rooms at that age as the fear of being stared at trumped the curiosity. But the curiosity [basic nosiness] was there.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 6:20 PM
horizontal rule
116

My apostrophe key seems to be not working

You could just type "'". That is, if you really cared about us and respected yourself.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 6:22 PM
horizontal rule
117

My kids were born in '68 and '70.

Are you my daddy?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 6:25 PM
horizontal rule
118

if you really cared about us and respected yourself.

Luckily, I dont.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 6:30 PM
horizontal rule
119

The whole concept of the "helicopter parent" was totally alien to me and the X, we always thought our job was to make ourselves un-needed. We weren't considered strange (in that respect) either.

When the conventional wisdom is to scoff at the idea that there is a social safety net or that a social safety net could exist in our capitalist utopia, the family is the only safety net.


Posted by: peter` | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 6:40 PM
horizontal rule
120

You're missing an apostrophe in 118. In other news, I am now almost completely incapable of typing the word "apostrophe" without spelling it a-p-o-s-t-r-o-p-h-e-r-backspace unless I type very, very slowly.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 6:50 PM
horizontal rule
121

120: I sort of thought, as I was writing "apostrophe", that you might have that problem.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 6:56 PM
horizontal rule
122

Among others.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 6:58 PM
horizontal rule
123

Hmong others.


Posted by: hpostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 7:05 PM
horizontal rule
124

We live near a wonderful Olympic-sized outdoor public pool but last summer I was rarely able to use it. No family changing rooms, and no boys over the age of 3 allowed in the women's room, and my son was too young to go into the men's room by himself. I mean, I thought he was a bit young (5) to change all by himself, and he thought so, too: he was afraid to. This summer I think he'll be okay.

He now refuses to go into women's bathrooms with me. So if there's no family bathroom, and he really has to go, I'll send him into the men's room and stand outside waiting for him to come out, all the while hovering anxiously telling myself it's silly to worry, and wondering, 'Does it looks as though I am weirdly hanging out just outside the men's room?'


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 7:06 PM
horizontal rule
125

hiphopstropher


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 7:10 PM
horizontal rule
126

hiphopopotamus


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 7:27 PM
horizontal rule
127

119: the family is the only safety net.

I buy into that, mostly. No-one else really gives a damn.

117: Apo, do you have blue eyes? If so, then yes.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 7:35 PM
horizontal rule
128

Green. But I was conceived in Alabama in 1968.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 7:36 PM
horizontal rule
129

128: Er. Um.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 04- 3-08 7:48 PM
horizontal rule
130

In a BBC programme some years ago behaviourists conducted an experiment. They tied a young girl aged about 8 to a railing outside a supermarket and asked her to simulate tears.

Virtually every woman passer-by stopped and asked her if she was alright, where were her parents etc

Virtually every man passing by took one glance and hurried on, except for one one oldish guy who stopped and simply asked "Who dun that?" (!!)
(My exclamation marks)


Posted by: Herr Torquewrench | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 12:31 AM
horizontal rule
131

124 - how frustrating. Wanting a 4 year old to get changed alone is pretty ridiculous. I hope you get to use it this year.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 1:27 AM
horizontal rule
132

I think the first time I walked on my own to school must've been roughly at age 4 or 5; it helped we only lived five minutes walking from school and didn't need to cross any dangerous roads. When we moved two years later or so and did live across a more busy road our parents showed us the safe route to school which we largely ignored after that. Also used to wander around for hours after school, getting into rosebottle or blowpipe fights and such, or wandering down the new development and nicking bricks and planks for our treehouse.

Mind you, all this was in a nice safe suburban neighbourhood with very little cars and lots of young children about where everybody walked or biked everywhere (and our school actual forbade chidlren living less than five or ten minutes away from biking to school rather than walking) which helps. It must be that much more harder to make your children independent if you're livign in car based neighbourhoods, or in a largely childfree one.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 2:00 AM
horizontal rule
133

It was pretty common for all the kids at my primary school to walk. Although usually the first few months or more, they'd walk with parents or friend's parents. Typically after the first few months [when the kids are only attending for half days, anyway] most children walked with no adult supervision.

There were some kids whose parents walked them for longer. Those kids were seen as odd or coddled.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 3:25 AM
horizontal rule
134

I also happen to think that the news coverage and popular rhetoric about "protecting kids" and "being responsible for your own children" etc. is explicitly designed to debilitate the public sphere.

You bet, Bitch. Data.
The supposed rise in low-level crime in the UK turns out to be entirely accounted for by the cops arresting kids who they would otherwise simply have yelled at. Why do they do this? Because successive home secretaries buy into the CRIME CRISIS WON'T ANYBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN???? rhetoric and demand TOUGHNESS!

Cops deliver. The rate of detection of course goes up. OH NOES!! CRIME UP!! And so on, and so on, in a sort of infinite recursion loop of rightwing bullshit.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 4:36 AM
horizontal rule
135

124 -- There are a few pools in my area like this too. I don't get it -- are they afraid your 4-year-old little boy is going to be leering at the naked female bodies? that the females will be leering at his naked boy body? (It's even more dumber in my community, where it seems the majority of the women go into the bathroom or shower stalls at the pool to change lest the other females see them naked.)


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 5:44 AM
horizontal rule
136

I don't get it -- are they afraid your 4-year-old little boy is going to be leering at the naked female bodies? that the females will be leering at his naked boy body?

Hmmmm. Is this the same unfogged community that unanimously condemned a pool for disallowing full-body bathing suits for muslim guests? And the same one that near-unanimously approved of female-only hours at a Harvard athletic facility?

There are some traditions in which exposing one's naked or half-dressed form to the opposite sex (even children thereof) is social and/or religious taboo.

I personally wouldn't object to a little civil disobedience if a facility had that rule and had no family changing areas, but I can understand that there may be reasons other than prudery or paranoia for having the rule.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 6:23 AM
horizontal rule
137

There are some traditions in which exposing one's naked or half-dressed form to the opposite sex (even children thereof) is social and/or religious taboo.

And those with this concern can change in a bathroom or shower stall, no?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 6:38 AM
horizontal rule
138

My morning would have been moderately less stressful if BitchPhD had been my mother.

I was just about to head out the door to catch my bus to work, and decided to put something on my chapped lips. I reached for my cherished Labello, and it was missing. Damned kids! So I grab Fleur's Burt's Bees lip balm and apply it. As I was putting it down, I notice that the label says "With subtle, luminescent color." I look in the mirror: I'm wearing lipstick! Soon I'm furiously scrubbing my lips, realizing I have no time to go and find another lip balm because I'll miss my bus, lamenting my acquiesence to heteronormative notions of male grooming. I blame the patriarchy.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 6:39 AM
horizontal rule
139

We live near a wonderful Olympic-sized outdoor public pool but last summer I was rarely able to use it. No family changing rooms, and no boys over the age of 3 allowed in the women's room, and my son was too young to go into the men's room by himself. I mean, I thought he was a bit young (5) to change all by himself, and he thought so, too: he was afraid to. This summer I think he'll be okay.

He now refuses to go into women's bathrooms with me. So if there's no family bathroom, and he really has to go, I'll send him into the men's room and stand outside waiting for him to come out, all the while hovering anxiously telling myself it's silly to worry, and wondering, 'Does it looks as though I am weirdly hanging out just outside the men's room?'


ARGAAGGGGG That really pisses me off.

I have the same problem, except my daughter is 16. If BR isnt with us, I am stuck with

1. Walk her fast into a men's room handicapped stall and hope she doesnt get to friendly with men peeing as we walk out.

2. Stand outside the women's bathroom or locker room and ask nice ladies to help my daughter change or go to the bathroom. "Hey goodlookin', wanna wipe my 16 yr old daughter's butt?"

Family changing rooms are really important.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 6:41 AM
horizontal rule
140

I look in the mirror: I'm wearing lipstick!

KR, we dont care if you like to play dress up. If Fleur believes your story, more power to you!


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 6:42 AM
horizontal rule
141

And those with this concern can change in a bathroom or shower stall, no?

Shower stalls are not always provided, and a person with those concerns might well wonder, as she squeezes into a toilet stall, why she should be the one to be inconvenienced rather than the parent of the child.

Like I said, if I were a parent in that situation, I would probably flout the rule, but I don't think the rule is only explicable with reference to paranoia about molestation.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 6:44 AM
horizontal rule
142

139: Ouch, I sympathize with your dilemma. Family facilities are indispensable, and all too rare.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 6:47 AM
horizontal rule
143

It hasnt happened in a while, but, on occasion, my daughter has walked into the women's locker room and refused to come out.

So I am stuck on the outside, pleading for her to come out.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 6:50 AM
horizontal rule
144

Around here, the big shift in people's outlook on the likelihood of children being abducted happened with the Jacob Wetterling case . It was strange to be a teenager at the time (2 years older than Wetterling) since the paranoia kicked in for everyone just younger than me. So I just kept doing the things I'd always done, but everyone I knew who was younger than me was suddenly getting fingerprinted and ferried everywhere by anxious parents. Interestingly, even though we had our own local Satanic Panic in the Scott County investigation. But most people in the cities seemed to have a fairly reasonable take on it, and we still roamed freely. I was allowed to walk with friends to the park a little over half a mile away when I was 6, and by myself when I was 7. By the time I was 8 or 9, my friends and I would go all over a four square mile area, and by the time I was 10 I was trusted to ride the bus all over the cities. I think the main safety issue my parents worried about was my penchant for fire, but I was really pretty safe about that most of the time.

As much as aspects of childhood really sucked, the level of freedom and initiative I had seems idyllic in comparison to the restricted lives of kids today.

Besides, et in arcadia ego and all that -- this obsession with protecting people from early deaths veers into the morbid quite easily.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 6:53 AM
horizontal rule
145

Minneapolitan's parents may have been culpable for not protecting Minneapolis against him, however. He's a great big anarchist, you know.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 6:55 AM
horizontal rule
146

It's funny John, I never got into the serious juvenile delinquency stuff until I was no longer a juvenile. In fact, hanging out in the anarchist milieu was definitely a contributing factor in my not goofing off and acting the fool very much in my late teens. Didn't want to do anything to embarrass myself in front of all the impossibly hip and serious 22 year old radicals, you see.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 7:07 AM
horizontal rule
147

I wandered pretty freely from the time I was about 7, but I wasn't allowed to take the train from my (fairly bucolic, but also fairly urban) suburb to the city proper until relatively late. Still, walking (and later biking) to school was so great; it's hard to imagine ever depriving my kids of that.

Walking home from school I thought was great, but it used to take me as long as two hours to cover a little over a mile because I was reading the whole time.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 7:08 AM
horizontal rule
148

Like I said, if I were a parent in that situation, I would probably flout the rule,

There's no flouting the rules at NYC public pools (which is mostly a good thing, because most of the rules make sense). You don't just wander in on your own...you have to be let in by an attendant.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 7:14 AM
horizontal rule
149

All those naked people, flouting: it'd be quite a scene.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 7:16 AM
horizontal rule
150

Shower stalls are not always provided, and a person with those concerns might well wonder, as she squeezes into a toilet stall, why she should be the one to be inconvenienced rather than the parent of the child.

But, as MC's comment demonstrates, the parent of the child isn't merely inconvenienced by the rule, but may very well be excluded entirely. I mean, I have a daughter, so it's no skin off my back. But not all moms plan that far ahead.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 7:16 AM
horizontal rule
151

the parent of the child isn't merely inconvenienced by the rule, but may very well be excluded entirely.

And the child is excluded too. In fact, now that I think of it, he really fell between the cracks because they have a height requirement for going into the changeroom without an adult...and he wasn't tall enough to go into the men's room, but was considered too old to go into the women's room with his mother.

Problem is, these facilities were built in the 1930s (this pool was built for the 1936 Olympic trials), so the setup is quite old-fashioned. It would be great if they had a family changeroom, but I don't where they'd put it, even if they wanted to have one. So I think they should loosen up the age rules. I can understand why some women wouldn't want an 8-year old boy in the changeroom (though it probably wouldn't bother me), but a 5-year old?

New York is oddly retro in all sorts of small ways. Lack of public bathrooms can be a real problem...if it weren't for Borders and Barnes and Nobles (not public, of course, but its bathrooms are generally available to the public), a lot of parents and small children would have to stay home.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 7:30 AM
horizontal rule
152

It would be great if they had a family changeroom, but I don't where they'd put it, even if they wanted to have one.

Just make a bathroom a family room or unisex. Screw the shower. My kid just needs a toilet and some privacy. That is all that you really need.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 7:51 AM
horizontal rule
153

I've heard some of the men at the gym complaining about little girls in the locker room. Of course, they were more concerned for the children, you see. Five years old does seem to be right around the threshold where the kid kind of knows what's going on with naked bodies.

Tangentially, I note that I was walking along a couple of weeks ago and a little girl grabbed my hand and said "Daddy! Look! Daffodils!" Her real daddy, a blond white guy, took it well.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 8:09 AM
horizontal rule
154

Tangentially, I note that I was walking along a couple of weeks ago and a little girl grabbed my hand and said "Daddy! Look! Daffodils!" Her real daddy, a blond white guy, took it well.

Indian guys' stuff down there looks like daffodils?


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 8:12 AM
horizontal rule
155

I've heard some of the men at the gym complaining about little girls in the locker room.

It's important to bring enough to share with everyone. This is normally covered in kindergarten.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 8:15 AM
horizontal rule
156

Five years old does seem to be right around the threshold where the kid kind of knows what's going on with naked bodies.

What exactly is "going on with naked bodies" in the locker room that is so awful to expose a 5-year-old to?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 8:55 AM
horizontal rule
157

What exactly is "going on with naked bodies" in the locker room that is so awful to expose a 5-year-old to?

Nothing. This culture is particularly (but not uniquely) stupid about nudity.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 8:59 AM
horizontal rule
158

a toilet and some privacy. That is all that you really need.

Boy, did the Beatles have it wrong.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 9:03 AM
horizontal rule
159

Boy, did the Beatles have it wrong.

The words mean the same thing.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 9:05 AM
horizontal rule
160

What exactly is "going on with naked bodies" in the locker room that is so awful to expose a 5-year-old to?

What's the age at which people think it is appropriate to start worrying about these things? Roughly the time that the kid might be figuring out sex? Or roughly at or about the age at which an adult might be interested in the kid? I would think the latter is the real issue. (So ogged goes to a pool populated by pedophiles; different strokes, people.)


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 9:10 AM
horizontal rule
161

The words mean the same thing.

I think Apo is alluding to All You Need is Love, not Happiness is a Warm Gun. (Or maybe it was Everyone's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey)


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 9:12 AM
horizontal rule
162

As any parent knows,

All you need is privacy and a toilet.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 9:22 AM
horizontal rule
163

What's the age at which people think it is appropriate to start worrying about these things?

My instinct is that it's at about roughly the same age that you stop worrying abut sending the kid into a locker room alone. But then, for me that would probably be around 15, which is probably not quite the answer either.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 9:22 AM
horizontal rule
164

There's nowhere you can dress that won't bring stress.
Nothing you can be except undressed.
Nowhere you can change that won't make Will feel strange.
It's easy.

All you need is privacy (and a toilet)!
All you need is privacy (and a toilet)!
All you need is pri-va-cy... and a toilet.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 9:26 AM
horizontal rule
165

163: Huh. I guess I never realized that people worried about sending kids into the locker room alone for reasons other than that they might fall into the toilet or be a pest or something.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 9:27 AM
horizontal rule
166

165: The paranoias of a loving mother run deep.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 9:32 AM
horizontal rule
167

But beyond worrying about creeps or weirdos or whatever in the locker room, there's plenty of rather ho-hum stuff. Will the five year old forget/lose stuff in the locker room? Need help with a suit strap? Take a ridiculous amount of time without a supervisory adult at hand to remind him/her to hurry it up?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 9:34 AM
horizontal rule
168

Mad rhyming skills like 164 could get you a sweet position with the new Mike Gravel campaign, Apo. (I missed the news that Gravel joined the Libertarian Party last week.)


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 9:36 AM
horizontal rule
169

In toilets there is privacy, in privacy you may go to the toilet.
That is all you know on earth, and all ye need to know.


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 9:42 AM
horizontal rule
170

What's the age at which people think it is appropriate to start worrying about these things?

I was wondering this the other day when my 7 1/2 yo son climbed into bed with me for his usual morning cuddle. When should I not be naked for that? And then - will he stop getting into bed for a cuddle before I need to stop being naked?


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 9:52 AM
horizontal rule
171

I missed the news that Gravel joined the Libertarian Party last week.

And Bob Barr is running for president as an independent.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 9:55 AM
horizontal rule
172

When should I not be naked for that?

When he has friends spend the night.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 9:56 AM
horizontal rule
173

I was thinking about this in relation to a previous campaign, in which Bob Dole mocked Hilary's book, "It takes a Village". We would not be having this discussion if we all lived in small villages. It is the anonymity of the city, or even large suburb that causes the anxiety of the parent. The reason that young hipsters move to the city, so that they are no longer under the watchful gaze of their hometown, is the flip side.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 10:11 AM
horizontal rule
174

If only Gravel/Barr was as popular as granite countertop.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 10:12 AM
horizontal rule
175

Just as farm work by kids in a wholesome environment is really dangerous, so domestic violence and other abuse don't disappear when you know everyone. No anxiety, though.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 10:22 AM
horizontal rule
176

When should I not be naked for that?

When you feel uncomfortable, he feels uncomfortable, or when naked pictures of you start showing up on the internet.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 10:27 AM
horizontal rule
177

175: Indeed. It's still true, media hysteria aside, that most abducted kids were abducted by a relative, and that most abused kids are abused by someone they know. All knowing everyone does is make it harder for a stranger to get away with hurting a child, and give the child more adults go to if they are scared.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 10:33 AM
horizontal rule
178

One thing that has come out of the pedophile priest scandals is that all parents in the archdiocese who volunteer at school have to go to special training to learn how to spot warning signs. At first, I resented the implication, and the fact that I had to go to training because someone else had fucked up. But it was worthwhile in that it changes the perception of danger from the stranger, to watch those who try to get too close to your kids. I am being vague on purpose, but I did find it helpful. If we can interrupt some of the cycle of abuse, so much the better.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 10:42 AM
horizontal rule
179

We would not be having this discussion if we all lived in small villages.

No, we'd be concealing it under a mask of hypocritical silence.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 10:48 AM
horizontal rule
180

Yeah, isn't the paradigm case for abusive environments small rural communities? "What's a South Carolina virgin?" Et cetera. Similarly, I read an article in Legal Affairs a couple of years ago about abuse in Amish communities that was really upsetting -- about patterns where even apparently benign and concerned members of the community prefer to close ranks against outside interference rather than protect the abused.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 11:03 AM
horizontal rule
181

The basic principle is: if they seem odd, stamp on them. If they do something really evil, shut up about it; it might affect the structure.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 11:06 AM
horizontal rule
182

Oh I am not saying that abuse does not occur in small town. I am saying that there is less "stranger danger" anxiety, because strangers stand out more, and are more closely watched than in the anonymous big bad city. Whether this is a net positive was not discussed.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 11:09 AM
horizontal rule
183

180: Oh god. I read that too. Horrifying. And the cops defer entirely to the community to take care of their own business. Ugh.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 11:13 AM
horizontal rule
184

when naked pictures of you start showing up on the internet

Too late!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 11:13 AM
horizontal rule
185

And the cops defer entirely to the community to take care of their own business

Unless they go undercover to find the real killer.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0090329/


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 11:16 AM
horizontal rule
186

182: You (for nearly all values of `you') are at most risk is from people you know, not strangers. Abuse rates in small towns are significantly higher than urban settings, I've read, but underreporting is even higher there so it's really hard to have any sort of solid numbers.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 11:17 AM
horizontal rule
187

con't.

186: But you are quite right about the anxiety side. Strangers are certainly treated with suspicion (and even abuse) in many small towns.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 11:19 AM
horizontal rule
188

When should I not be naked for that?

My wife was raised in a nude-around-the-house family. I believe that it stopped by silent, mutual understanding somewhere in prepubescence. IOW, you won't have to think about it - you'll know. Child will probably evince slight discomfort/embarrassment soon after you start to think, "Maybe it's time," and then you'll just stop.

There was no open nudity in my house growing up, so the couple of times that it happened, I was weirded out - even though my parents didn't react at all awkwardly. Some of this may have come from having a 5 years older sister - by the time I was old enough to "get" norms, she was already too old for me to be seeing naked (we did bathe together, but that must've ended by the time I was 4 - what 10-y.o. takes baths?).

We have a fairly nudist household, but now that the neighbors know us well enough to drop by unannounced, we've curtailed things. Life in the big city.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 11:21 AM
horizontal rule
189

Oh I quite agree that one is most likely to know one's abuser, rapist or murderer. That familiarity is what is being preyed upon.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 11:22 AM
horizontal rule
190

about patterns where even apparently benign and concerned members of the community prefer to close ranks against outside interference rather than protect the abused.

Yeah, they take "turn the other cheek" pretty literally. Amish communities don't really have any kind of punishment mechanism--the most the do is a kind of formal shunning that lasts for a month or so, followed by the sinner's repentance and full reacceptance into the community.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 11:23 AM
horizontal rule
191

Query:

Is a high vehicle traffic area with lower average speeds more dangerous to juvenile pedestrians, or a low traffic area with a higher average speed. What I am getting at is if Johnny is used to walking on the sidewalk of a busy street, with a lot of cars he is more likely to look before crossing, as opposed to Janey who plays on a quiet street, where drivers periodically tear past because of less traffic?


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 11:28 AM
horizontal rule
192

The low traffic/high speed one is a bad combination. Not just for the reason you state (less likely to look) but humans are very bad at judging oncoming velocities in general. The higher the average speed, the more likely you misjudge the time you have. This is why people are fairly routinely killed running across freeways, too, not because they didn't look.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 11:32 AM
horizontal rule
193

191: the latter. This is the big impetus behind traffic calming, which can create congestion but lowers speeds and thus increases safety. See also woonerfs, where the fact that pedestrians and bicycles are likely to be found in the roadway makes drivers much more aware of them and increases safety.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 11:32 AM
horizontal rule
194

Also the drivers looking is quite a bit more important (well, at least as important) as the pedestrians doing so, and the drivers have more ability to stop something bad from happening.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 11:33 AM
horizontal rule
195

194 is true to. Kids walking in a place that drivers expect kids is usually safer.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 11:34 AM
horizontal rule
196

The correlation between higher numbers of pedestrians/slower traffic speeds and lower pedestrian fatalities can be sort of intuitively seen in this list.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 11:36 AM
horizontal rule
197

the fact that pedestrians and bicycles are likely to be found in the roadway makes drivers much more aware of them and increases safety.

Yep.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 11:39 AM
horizontal rule
198

I wonder if that list was OCR'd at some point. It counts ...6,7, a, 9, 10 ...


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 11:40 AM
horizontal rule
199

Which leads full circle to making all the kids walk to school. More kids walking: slower traffic, exercise for fat kids, explore environment, more confidence, extremely small chance of "stranger danger", fewer gas hogging SUV miles, live within walking distance of school, etc. Comity.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 11:41 AM
horizontal rule
200

199: ayup.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 11:42 AM
horizontal rule
201

199: exactly. There are positive feedbacks in either direction.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 11:47 AM
horizontal rule
202

172 gets it exactly right. Kids will pick up all the nudity taboo they need and then some without any particular reinforcement at home. Just don't freak out their friends.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 04- 4-08 12:29 PM
horizontal rule