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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Smothered by safety: the dark side of overprotecting kids

Walter Olson at the excellent Overlawyered links to the Lenore Skenazy (of the also excellent Free Range Kids blog) piece at Cato:

Throughout history until just very recently, tree stumps were things for kids to stand on, jump off, sit on, or use as tables for tea parties. But seen through the lens of risk, they are simply hazards.

That’s the lens government is looking through all the time. If to a hammer everything looks like a nail, to a government agency charged with protecting children, everything looks like a health threat, death trap, or predator.

But the dark side of protecting kids is how easily this slips into over-protecting them from ever doing or encountering anything on their own, and insisting on constant oversight of everything they might encounter. At its very worst, whether out of real concern or political pandering, the government steps in and tells parents that their children are in such danger that only the authorities can do a good enough job of protecting them.

The message to parents? The government is better at raising your kids than you are. The message to kids? You are weak little babies. The government will swaddle you in safety.

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