"Bravery is being the only one who knows you're afraid." - F. P. Jones

April 4, 2008

Why I Let My 9-Year-Old Ride the Subway Alone

I hope I am as brave as this mother when the time comes. One key point that I've known for a long time, but that she reiterates here, is that "Justice Department data actually show the number of children abducted by strangers has been going down over the years.". We're just so much more aware of it now that the world seems more dangerous (a point not new to me, obviously, but made many times in more eloquent ways by others.)

But the author here has touched on the core point, I think, which is not that your child is in danger if s/he uses the subway or walks home from school alone, but, rather, that the parent is in danger of having Child Protective Services called for allowing the child this measure of independence.

When Josh was nine, he was often in charge at home with no adults about, taking care of his seven year old brother and two year old sister (and, when he was 12, another sister as well). He changed diapers and made food and gave baths and was the caregiver for hours at a time. Although today, of course, we'd be shocked and DHS would probably be called to interview his mother, I honestly believe that this is a big part of the experience that shaped him into becoming such a responsible adult (not to mention an excellent father).

So, when my son is old enough, I hope I'm brave enough to let him be independent. Because its not the "stranger danger" I'll be afraid of -- its the other parents and the Culture of Fear that I'll be bucking against.