Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Scare Your Children Well

Cal Pundit has a post I wholeheartedly endorse regarding the U.S.'s ridiculous culture of fear.

The problem to me is twofold. First, the belief that low probability events are actually high probability events people to be unwilling to subject themselves or their children to what are, in actuality, relatively risk free endeavours. However, there is also a second effect - a kind of "blame the victim" mentality which arises when what should be perfectly normal, ordinary, and sensible behavior is deemed to be dangerous and therefore when those low probability events do occur, there is little sympathy for the victim, and when bad things happen to children their parents are demonized.

We aren't alone this. Some years ago in the U.K. there were a few stories of bad things happening to children in London who rode public transportation (the bus) to school. Much as here, the sudden media coverage wasn't due to any real uptick in the number of abductions, just an uptick in the media's focus on it. Suddenly, it became socially inacceptable to let your kids take public transport to school and over time the percentage of kids riding the bus dropped from about 50 to 10 percent (numbers approximate, from memory, but you get the idea). The late afternoon "school run" is considered to be perhaps the major factor in the increase in london traffic congestion over that time. But, what can parents do? Only bad parents would actually let their kids take the bus.