Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Should we save people from themselves?

Today's question is brought to you by some (of whom I consider) stupid parents. Maybe I am just being overprotective, but these things, in general, seem like a bad idea. Agree or disagree?

Letting kids ride a bike without a helmet
A couple of kids in my neighborhood regularly ride their bikes helmet-less. I know "when we were kids" we did not do this, but the law states if you are under 12, you must wear a helmet when riding a bike. I don't know if it is parents (or kids) being lazy, feeling goofy, or not wanting to spend the money,  but when you consider the statistics and how much more expensive it will be to pay for a hospital visit, why not just do it?

What is worse is for a week I watched a dad let his two kids, a girl who looked about 10 and a boy who was probably between 12 and 15, ride a motorbike without a helmet. Not only is it extremely dangerous, especially considering the boy was popping wheelies(!), but it is also illegal for an unlicensed motorbike to be on a residential street. I drew the line in this instance and called the police, though to be honest safety was not the only factor; the noise from this bike would regularly assault our ears for an hour or two at a time. I like to think I might have helped save a life (and my ears).

Keeping kids away from fireworks
Not surprisingly, this past fourth of July weekend, I watched a group of people, including kids who probably ranged in age from 6 to upper teens, set off roman candles and play with sparklers. I could picture the littlest kids getting burnt considering how close they were standing to the fireworks. As a kid, I witnessed a firework tipping over and heading straight towards the porch filled with relatives. Scary. And although sparklers are cool looking, those babies can reach temps of up to 2000 degrees. Perhaps under the watchful eye of a parent, it may be okay for a kid (not a little one) to have a sparkler, but that's probably about it.

Not watching your kids/charges when they swim
This is my biggest gripe, especially considering the number of drownings (and near drownings) that have been reported in just over a month. I just don't understand why parents (or those in charge) are not constantly watching their kids. You cannot assume someone else is doing it, and it is silly to think that because your kid is in floaties or an inner tube, that he or she is safe.

The city pools allow kids who are six and older to swim without adult supervision. I don't care how good of a swimmer a six- or seven- (or eight-, nine-, or ten-, for that matter) year old is; that is too young to drop off a kid for a few hours You simple cannot rely on the lifeguards to keep track of everyone. I don't think I am being overly cautious here.

At our pool, where there are no lifeguards on duty, the rules clearly state that children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Considering you can be a lifeguard once you are 16 (younger in some places), that rule seems a bit stringent. But I have seen plenty of 9- and 10 year-old kids swim without a parent, and it concerns me.

My kid is a good swimmer (she moved up three swimming groups this summer!). But I don't take my eyes off her for more than about 15 to 20 seconds at a time, while swimming laps. Even then, I do the backstroke away from her and a front stroke towards her so I am watching her pretty constantly. But to just let your kid swim alone, or to talk on the phone while your three year old floats in an inner tube seems like an unnecessary risk.

Leaving your kids home alone when they are too young
I could write a separate post on this one and may some day. But it appears that once again, a Pittsburgh mom has left her young kids (in this case 7 and 4) home alone while she was at work or someplace else. Very tragically, these two boys died in a fire. I have no idea how old Jordan will be when I let her stay home alone, probably older than most would be since she is an only child, but 7 and 4 is beyond ridiculous. I think 10 and 7 would have been too young.

I am not sure what the answer is, but perhaps I will try to watch out for others and educate people, even at the risk of making some of them angry. You?

2 comments:

LaLa said...

It is absolutely *CRIMINAL* to leave kids that young alone. The age you leave your children unsupervised depends largely on the child, but 7 is inexcusable. I also agree you are asking for trouble with young kids coming to the pool alone. But how many parents ignore their kids anyway...

If the other things are what experts and the law tells us, I guess I can abide by it.

Facie said...

LaLa:, Yes, criminal. I was actually just talking to a friend yesterday who is an occupational therapist who says that people leaving their young kids alone is way more common than people think. So sad.

And I am definitely about following the law. Not sure that the pool rules fall into that category, however. If Jordan were much older (say 15 or 16) and we still went to our pool, I would probably let her swim alone.

Thanks for the comment.