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Thread: Is childhood truly terrifying or just a culture of fear?

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    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    Is childhood truly terrifying or just a culture of fear?

    There are so many reports of the fragile mental health of those attending post-secondary education and how colleges and universities are having to enlarge their mental health services at great cost. Why is this happening and needed?
    Are we treating childhood as a disease and protecting our children to the point that they never discover their own strength and resilience?
    This CBC http://www.cbc.ca/news/opinion/prote...hood-1.4297653 article explores some of this.

    Quotes:
    The latest contretemps over children not receiving 24/7 supervision in Canada comes from Vancouver, where Adrian Crook, a single father of five, found himself under investigation by B.C.'s Ministry of Children and Family Development.

    His offence? Allowing his four oldest children ages seven through 11 to ride the bus unsupervised. Crook took pains to ensure his children were prepared for the 45-minute transit ride to their school, going along with them at the beginning to make sure they were capable of handling the trips themselves...

    Crook learned (well, we all sort of learned) that it is apparently verboten for children under the age of 10 to be left alone for any amount of time in B.C., whether indoors or outdoors. Moreover, two provinces Manitoba and New Brunswick prohibit leaving children under the age of 12 unsupervised. Ontario law goes further, prohibiting leaving children under the age of 16 alone...

    It is a far cry from the situation in Japan. Akiko Kitamura Suzuki is well familiar with letting children take public transportation unsupervised. A Japanese teacher in Tokyo, Suzuki is the mother of two sons, ages four and seven, and the elder of the two began taking the train alone this year.

    "A little nervous" is how Suzuki described both she and her son to me in a recent interview, although he soon became a confident rider.

    Getting her son to take the train alone was not simply a matter of dropping him off at the station and hoping for the best. Rather, as is common practice, Suzuki rode with her son on a few occasions before shadowing him from greater distances much like Crook did with his children. "When he didn't need to check back with me about anything, he finally took the train alone," recounts Suzuki...

    Incessant helicopter parenting and/or state intervention deprives children of important learning experiences and instead fosters a sense of learned helplessness. Rather than following the Japanese model and encouraging children to confidently take on new tasks, the trend in Canada is to leave them smothered and fearful."
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

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    My opinion is that having children ages 7-11 riding a public bus alone is child neglect. It would depend on your local law, of course. When I raised my children in Illinois, 11 was the minimum age they could be left home alone. 11-12 was when we started to leave them for short periods--like 45 minutes while we went somewhere out of the house. I knew some mothers of latch key kids about 10 years earlier than that, in the early 80's, who had 6 year olds going home to an empty house while they worked. To me, that was child neglect.

    I would not let them go out on a public bus without an adult at the ages you are describing.

    This was very different than how I was raised--we wandered all over the neighborhood; I baby sat at the age of 7, etc. etc.

    I don't think, based on child development principles, that we were more mature or the world was safer. I think we were neglected. I know for example that I was approached by child molesters.

    I decided that my children, at those ages, were not going to be exposed to the kind of neglect and risks that I was exposed to.

    I think encountering the child molesters had a lot more to do with leaving me fearful than being protected would have, if that makes sense.

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    Senior Member JaneV2.0's Avatar
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    I rambled all over my tiny beach community at a tender age; never had any trouble. Of course, I was accompanied by my dog--a very protective Doberman. I'm pretty dismayed that children these days are so cosseted, and I don't wonder that colleges are reaping the results of it.

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    I wandered all over my small town at an older age, say, 8-10. I could go where I wanted to go, but didnt actually go all that far, probably half a mile at most from home.

    When I was a kid I was approached by a predator in his car who offered me a quarter to get in his car. My mother was horrified when I came home and told her of this, and called the local sherriff of course. Never found the guy. I wasnt afraid of this man, I guess befause he sat in his car while talking, there was never any attempt to touch me.

    I would not want my children of the same age running around here in my neighborhood. NO WAY, absolutely not! Roving gangs of wannabe thugs from the public housing projects nearby are threats. But in that same small town today, it would be ok.

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    I run licensed childcare so i am on the conservative side at work for sure, sometimes i disagree. Soooo glad i don't care for diaper age kids though. The providers have to log every diaper change and take a lot of steps in the process.

    I would be nervous, i also grew up in a place with no busses. Our choir takes the bus to events as a group, that is elementary age. It works really well and there are adults, but not as many as you would think. Meanwhile when kids are done with an after school club i make all the parents come to the lobby and sign the kid out, except a couple 5th graders that i have talked to parents about. We try to transition the olders, and i will tell parents if they are not acting like they can manage it. Over the years i have had more issues with not enough supervison, kids left on the playground at 6:30 am in winter, not picked up after school, allowed to not come to after care they are registered for to play outside unsupervised. One parent who didn't sivn up for care this year because i wouldn't let kids ages 6-9 walk home alone at 6 pm or let a young teenager pick them up. It is actually rules i have to follow, but i feel good about them.

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    This is the part I disagree with:
    "Are we treating childhood as a disease and protecting our children to the point that they never discover their own strength and resilience?"
    Spend any time in recovery rooms and you find that many, many children are neglected and abused, and often grow up to abuse alcohol and drugs. These are the children who never have the chance to discover their own strength and resilience because they never had a childhood.

    I don't think the incidence of college students using mental health resources has any correlation with protective or over protective childhoods.

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    Tybee, that is very wise! My one staff who stuggles with everything as an adult was neglected and abused, and my meditation group is filled with people in recovery. They also come from backgrounds that were more neglectful, hands off, etc. My oldest had a LOT of neglected friends, no supervision, support in school, dental care, and no one taught them to drive. They are late 20s and some didn't really get out of it.

    I raised my kids to be very independent, but i specifically taught them the skills. Simple example, they are all introverted so i taught them to order in restaurants, let them practice with me even when we played, and had to coach and encourage things like asking for a refill or a fork. Their dad after we were split would get angry when they didn't know how to do things and if he was the only parent i think they would be struggling more. They wouldn't have learned to interview for jobs or talk to teachers or take the bus in highschool. The difference is that when they learn something you let go of that.

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    Zoe Girl,
    That's an important sentence: "I raised my kids to be very independent, but I specifically taught them the skills."

    That's the difference. It's good to not encourage being overly fearful of the big wide world, but it's wise to also be realistic and let them understand what they might encounter.

    I read a story recently of a single mother who was in the hospital for a procedure. She had 3 children who were waiting out front for her to finish her paperwork and be released. (I think a family friend had dropped them off and had just gone inside). The 3 children had been in a training about dealing with strangers. In this case, the children were approached by 3 adults - a female and 2 males - who asked them to come with them because someone needed their help. The children were skeptical because they were taught that normal adults would ask other adults, not children, for help. The children refused to budge despite the 3 adults continuing to coax them. Finally the parent came outside and the 3 adults took off. Her children told her what had just happened and she realized they'd probably just avoided an abduction.

    When I think back to my own childhood, especially with the Catholic school training that you were always expected to obey adults, I would have been one of the kids who would have gone off with the 3 adults. So should kids be taught to be fearful? No. Should they be trained to be cautious and have boundaries? Yes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tybee View Post
    This is the part I disagree with:
    "Are we treating childhood as a disease and protecting our children to the point that they never discover their own strength and resilience?"
    Spend any time in recovery rooms and you find that many, many children are neglected and abused, and often grow up to abuse alcohol and drugs. These are the children who never have the chance to discover their own strength and resilience because they never had a childhood.

    I don't think the incidence of college students using mental health resources has any correlation with protective or over protective childhoods.
    I would say the correlation has more to do with our push to get mental health, and its stigmata separated.
    There are certainly kids who are overprotected, as well as those who grow up too fast. (thinking of a friend who grew up with a UC LEO father and a drug/alcoholic mother) as well as those who I would think would be more rounded then some (myself, abducted as a kid, dealt with a serial killer as a kid, few more experiences). I always felt like childhood was a switch. I knew I could no longer be/act as one at points, and knew there was really no such thing as security, although back then I only knew it as safety.

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    Not being able or knowing how to take the bus/train anywhere alone (not at any age until many years after I'd been driving) is one reason why I could not wait to drive (doesn't seem the case nowdays), it was the ONLY way I knew to get about, so bam 15 1/2 and in driving school as fast as one can (and it's not safer really)
    If you want something to get done, ask a busy person. If you want them to have a nervous breakdown that is.

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