If you haven't seen this story yet, you've probably heard some like it.
A 5 year old child awoke one Saturday morning thinking it was time to go to school. Despite his father — who was attempting to sleep in — explaining that today was not a school day, the kid got dressed and went to his school bus stop. Frustrated that the bus didn't come, but determined to go to school that day, the kid decided to walk there. During his trek, someone in a passing car spotted the child and called the police, who picked up the kid and brought him home.
That should have been the end of it, and the story should have been a funny tale for friends and relatives. Sadly, this is modern day America, and we don't do humor anymore. The father is now being charged with child endangerment.
Coming across stories like these is always infuriating. There is another from June 2015 about a family who had their children taken away by CPS because their child played in the front yard unsupervised for 90 whole minutes. Hold your gasps.
When I was a child, walking to and from school wasn't anything people thought twice about. I can recall using the bus during my elementary school days minimally, and when I did, I hated it. On foot, or on the two wheels of a bicycle was the way to go. It wasn't uncommon to see my brother and I hoofing it, not just to school but to the corner store, or the Dairy Queen, or a friends house as well. I'm willing to bet readers of mine who are older than me have similar stories as well.
Today, the government is cracking down on parents who allow their kids to have the necessary independence for children to develop life skills. This used to be called "parenting," but today it's been categorized as a subculture called "free-range parenting." This gives off the impression that teaching your children independence by giving them freedom is somehow not the norm. According to too many Americans and government authorities, the norm is keeping your child by your side at all times, preferably with a leash and a tracking device.
My question is why? It's never been a safer time to be a kid in America. Child mortality rates are down, and missing persons reports are hardly ever due to an actual kidnapping, as the Washington Post reports.
But even these numbers include an awful lot of scenarios that you wouldn't typically worry about when letting your kid walk to the park. For instance, among all missing persons cases (adults and children) in 2014, roughly 96 percent were runaways -- kids or adults deliberately trying to escape a situation at home. In fact, only 0.1 percent of missing persons cases were what we'd think of as a "stereotypical kidnapping" -- where a complete stranger tries to abduct somebody and carry them off by force. These figures comport with a more detailed analysis of child-only abductions carried out by the Justice Department in 2002.
With these numbers in mind, why do authorities of any level think that the children of America need to be supervised so closely that any break from a parents gaze requires a CPS visit, and criminal charges. It seems to be that the only entity threatening children with kidnapping is the government authority who is deciding for the parents how free their children should be. It's this entity that takes children from homes, puts them in places they don't belong.
But this is a pattern you can see. Public schools have taken it upon themselves to decide what is best for the child, over the parent. Republican Senator Konni Burton of Texas decided enough was enough, and introduced a bill that would require the public school to assume its rightful place in regard to the child, which is under the parent's authority.
While our children should be treated with kid gloves, we should be gloves-off as much as possible. A child who is not allowed to grow, won't, and lessons of safety and responsibility are only good when they're practiced next to elements of danger. There are always dangers when it comes to independence and freedom, but those dangers are preferable to the dangers of overbearing authority, and lack of self-reliance.
There is growth in danger. Ask anyone who learned a lesson after hardship.
These are dangers that our children should be embracing early on, and this means making sure our government let's go. Government is not the parental authority we need. Not to your children, and especially not to you.