Monday, May 3, 2010

Who ya gonna call?

Postings here have been irregular recently, which I blame on my 4 body problem (2 academics with 2 children).

I am behind on writing: At some point, I plan to blog about the rise and demise of what had been called Take Our Daughters to Work Day, now called Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, which would have been April 22.

I am behind on reading: I just learned that free range kids had declared Take Our Children to the Park and Leave Them There Day on May 22.

This follow-up posting at free range kids caught my attention, especially these observations:

Ultimately though, they were no more definitive than CPS in answering whether my son could go to the park alone. To quote them, “It depends…”

This ambiguity is extensive. I can’t even study it scientifically, because the very records that document what constitutes “neglect” — the court records and the CPS case reports — aren’t generally available to the public, as they involve juveniles. So in the end, it would seem, there is no legal certainty for us parents. The law will only be found in the courtroom, before a judge, on a case by case basis. Unfortunately, at that point, it’s too late.


Perhaps, since there is no clear law on leaving a child at the park, the numbers give support to what many of us parents feel out in public everyday: the cultural effect of CPS, the furrowed brows of neighbors and strangers who see a young boy biking down the block and think first to call a government department instead of slowing down their car.

I don’t want to make light of their mission. CPS protects children from very real abuse and neglect, from parents who beat their children or leave them alone for days. And I want to make it clear that if you leave your child alone and your child is hurt or breaks the law, you’ll likely be arrested. It’s that simple.

But I also want to make it clear that laws on neglect are subjectively enforced. And that’s why taking your kids to the park…and leaving them there is culturally important, because it seeks to change our perspective, our world view, and the world view of every stranger who has CPS on their speed dial.

Sounds like a job for an anthropologist.

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