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Still Crazy But …Top 10 Free-Range Kid Moments of 2010

safety tips, child safety

Kids taking back their right to use pencils.

2010 was something of a watershed year for over-the-top parenting. Not that things got terribly out of hand — still no mandatory bubbles for newborns to age 5. Parents are not yet pre-chewing our baby birds’ food to ensure maximum non-chokability. Rather, this year marked something of a turning point.

There were attempts to get a grip. A small but growing number of parents voluntarily grounded the helicopters.

Blame the recession, blame burn out, blame the media. Or blame (actually, thank) Lenore Skenazy. She’s the terrible mom who let her then 9-year-0ld son ride the subway alone in New York City a couple of years ago. And then wrote about it. And suffered everyone’s panicky outrage over it.

Since her sons well-fated train ride, Skenazy has made it her mission to call out new stories that foster an unfounded fear of child death and dismemberment over at her blog Free-Range Kids.

Skenazy awards the best of them one of this year’s “Golden Helicopter Parent Awards.”

Among them: those who panicked over video Barbie, schools that hire “friendship coaches,” and a British musicians union which instructed flute teachers to not touch their students’ fingers.

But, this being a season of hope, we’ll focus on her other awards, “Top 10 Free-Range Kids Moments of the Year,” where cooler heads prevailed. Makes you think we might be allowed to let the kids off the compound without risking arrest after all.

1. But She Could Have Been Abducted! A Northern California 3-year-old saved her collapsed daddy by walking to the fire station to get help: http://bit.ly/fjETFO

2. Why Can’t He Sit in the Back of an SUV and Sulk Like a Normal Kid? After initially saying no, a school board reluctantly reversed itself and allowed a boy to ride his bike to school: http://bit.ly/gDHKCv

3. The Nerve! Two Canadian fifth graders gathered 250 names on their petition to be allowed to play with balls during recess: http://bit.ly/eF0zCy

4. Now Even Lumberjacks are Okay: British Airways ended its “All men are perverts” policy of moving any male seated next to an unaccompanied minor. (Okay, after it was sued for sex discrimination.): http://bit.ly/d43n07

5. The Rosa Parks of Roses: Volunteer flower arranging ladies at Gloucester Catherdral in England (average age: 70) were told to undergo background checks to confirm they weren’t convicted child molesters. The chief volunteer refused, calling it insulting. Others followed her lead.  http://bit.ly/eXgoB3

6. When it’s Not Strep Throat, Viral Is Good: A fed-up Texas mom (who is also a cancer researcher) blazed onto the parenting scene with viral “Mom-Petitor” cartoons ridiculing parental perfection: http://bit.ly/fyXk8O

7. Annoy Me Again and I’ll Make You Renovate the Library: After a mom got chewed out by local police for letting her 10-year-old walk to soccer, she became an activist and got her small Mississippi town to put in new sidewalks and bike paths: http://bit.ly/ck9d2S

8. How Could Kenneth Branagh Ever Leave This Woman? Emma Thompson (a.k.a. Nanny McPhee) told the world that kids need to take risks and even get a little bruised to end up resilient and happy: http://bit.ly/gl6Kg4

9. Not the “Predator Picnic” The Media Promised It Would Be? Children made new friends and played without being dragged off and killed, during first annual “Take Our Children to the Park…and Leave Them There Day” — despite rampant fear-mongering in the press: http://bit.ly/9ATz3Y (And follow-up comments: http://bit.ly/9wYHGo)

10. Somehow We Missed This on Nancy Grace: A massive federal study found all child abuse down by a stunning 26% from 1993-2006, and child sex abuse down even more—38%!  http://bit.ly/elfmUA

Of course, modest Skenazy’s doing great work herself. She should give herself one of those awards. Or at least a big pat on the back. (Not too big though! Self-administered back pats put you — and your child — at risk for a number of neck injuries, some of them leading to a permanent disfigurement and vulnerability to pedophiles and low-ranking state colleges.)

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