Here’s an idea.
Let’s not let our children play outside. Let’s not let them ride their bikes, their scooters, and heaven forbid, their skateboards. Don’t let them them climb trees, nor run in the playground, it’s all too dangerous. Oh, and while we’re at it, let’s stop young teens from babysitting, they’re clearly not qualified.
Just as I was recovering from my disbelief over teenagers being banned from skate-boarding and riding scooters to Cromer High, I hear a call to prevent young teens from babysitting. Granted, the mouths voicing off were from nanny agencies probably irked that 14-year-olds were raking in cash they felt entitled to as they accused parents of thinking about their hip pocket over the safety of their children. And yes, paying up to $25 an hour for agency fees would be cost prohibitive for many, but most parents are savvy enough to choose who is best to look after their children, and that’s often been the young neighbour living up the street.
The agencies suggested no one should babysit under the age of 18. That’s curious because I’ve always found age is an undetermined gauge for personal responsibility. I wouldn’t leave some 18-year-olds in charge of my goldfish, whereas I know a couple of 14-year-olds more than capable of looking after a young child in bed asleep.
The agencies also outrageously claimed that because ambulances can’t always be relied upon, the fact that young teens can’t drive is crucial. Excuse me? If my daughter was so seriously hurt she required hospital attention, I would expect a sitter of any age to call an ambulance, then me, and wait for professional help, not bundle her into the back of a car and drive to a hospital.
It really disturbs me that once again someone is trying to snatch another slice of the childhood I so freely enjoyed by trying to control how we behave, act or breathe, just so we’re all wrapped nice `n safe `n tight with no room for error.
Which brings me to Cromer High.
I remember hurtling down a hill on a skateboard at age ten when the front wheels came off. I left half my skin on the bitumen, and yes, I was lucky I wasn’t more seriously hurt. But it was my parent’s responsibility to ban me from skateboarding after that, not the school’s. When the tween broke her arm jumping down some stairs at her school last year should I have demanded jumping and running be banned in the playground? Some schools sadly have already gone down that route.
Schools are also trying to control the bullying on Facebook as teachers face an increasing number of parents wanting solutions to stop their children being bullied on the site by classmates. But most of this bullying is taking place in the home out of school hours, it’s not the school’s responsibility.
If kids are getting bullied on Facebook, close your child’s account. If your kids don’t skateboard safely, or you don’t think it’s safe, take their boards. If they run up a huge mobile phone bill, limit their calls or take their phones. If they go out and get drunk every Friday night, go and haul them out of the party, the park or the pub and take them home. If you can’t find them, search until you do.
We had the children, we have to make the decisions – not the government, the school, the police and certainly not a bunch of nannies worried about kids trying to earn some extra pocket money. Sometimes these decisions are hard and unpalatable, and sometimes we make bad judgment calls and make mistakes. And sometimes we pay for those mistakes. But that’s all part of the job – the one called parenting.
Should parents be responsible for their child’s safety? Or should it be legislated?