May 1, 2006
Stranger Danger and Transportation
I came across an interesting blog post from a family trying to live car-free for a year.
One of the interesting aspects is getting the kids to various places. This launches into the topic of "stranger danger", the fear that someone is going to abduct our kids. Certainly I know that when our kids were younger, they did not have the same range of self-mobility that I had when I was their age (lo those many years ago). Yet the statistics on abduction by a stranger show that the real risk is much lower than many other risks we accept regularly.
I wonder how much of our congestion is due to parents driving kids on trips that they could really make themselves on foot, by bike or on transit? The consequences in terms of childhood obesity and other health issues are very real as well.
I wonder if this is going to change with technology (or with peak oil)? As the post mentions, there are a range of new technologies coming online that will let you track your child's location via GPS (including implantable devices!). Will this put parents' minds at rest and let kids take more trips under their own steam? I want to be hopeful about this...
May 1, 2006 8:51 AM
Peter W Says:
For any given school, I wonder if the risk of a student being stolen while walking to school is greater than the risk of a student being hit by some other student's parent driving that kid to school?
May 1, 2006 11:33 AM
My understanding is that a vast majority, perhaps over 90%, of child abductions are perpetrated by somebody who already knows the child -- most often by an estranged parent (divorced father, etc.).
However, the media blows these cases up without providing context, and the amber alert system further terrorizes parents until they feel that it is safest to drive their kids to school rather than let them walk.
I walked, biked and/or took the Tri-Met bus to school when I was growing up. I can count the times that I was driven to school on one hand, I think.
It's clearly a matter of perception, and therefore a re-education/safety campaign may be all that it takes to turn the tide. If parents become more aware of the real risks vs. the real costs of their decision to provide for their child's commute to school, they may choose to make different decisions.
May 1, 2006 5:12 PM
Jason McHuff Says:
Also keep in mind that there's lots of children and (hopefully) few abductors. There should be a low chance that they'll pick your kid.
May 1, 2006 10:01 PM
According to that site, there are 115 cases of strangers abducting children in the US each year.
And only 50 of them die from it. Which has got to be the lowest rate of anything happening in this country... and apparently its the most-anxiety causing? Very interesting... people really are irrational, aren't we? Kind of like the terrorist alerts...
May 9, 2006 9:58 AM
Jessica Roberts Says:
The chances of your child being abducted by a stranger are less than him/her being hit by lightning, yet I also suspect that a great deal of otherwise unecessary car trips are made out of fear of this...and yes, those car trips disproportionally endanger kids and adults who aren't in a car.
What a sad state of affairs....