We’re a nation of terrified parents. Scared of the Philip Garridos of the world, the faceless man who will come to steal our children right out from under our noses. That’s why the New York Times says we don’t let our kids walk to school anymore.
True enough, but there’s another story out here in the wilderness. Parents aren’t afraid their child is going to be touched by a stranger. They’re afraid he’s going to run them over.
The Times weekend piece “Why Can’t She Walk to School” blames helicopter parents for putting more cars on the road, parents intent on protecting their kids by driving them to school. But the increase in traffic on the roads isn’t just Amber Alert-wary moms and dads. It’s a mom AND a dad who both work out of the home. It’s a stay-at-home mom who thirty years ago might not have had her own car now using the daylight hours to run errands.
It’s the pursuit of the American dream – specifically the “car in every garage” mantra.
In 1960, the U.S. Bureau of Transportation statistics show there were sixty-one million passenger cars on the road. In 2007, that number had ballooned to almost one hundred thirty-six million. Likewise increasing are the numbers of trucks, buses, etc.
Accidents involving pedestrians make up about twelve percent of all fatal motor vehicle accidents in the United States, and according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one fifth of kids between the ages of five and nine who were killed in an auto accident were pedestrians. Overall, kids make up almost a quarter of pedestrians injured in traffic crashes.
It’s that fear that drove the Sullivan West School District in upstate New York to reverse a cost-cutting measure that would have required children living within one mile of its high school to make the walk. When parents protested the kids were at undue risk to being hurt by a driver, the school forewent the savings and opted to pick up every child within a mile of the school building.
So how scared are parents of Chester Molester? Not as scared as you’d thing: in a study cited in the Times article, only thirty percent of the parents who wouldn’t let their teens walk to school said it was fear of strangers. And another statistic pulled out points out only one hundred fifteen kids per year are grabbed by a stranger. . . a quarter of a million are injured in auto accidents.
And some of those were walking.
Do you let your kids walk to school?
Image: Daily Green
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