Sunday, November 13, 2011

Safe Community or False Security?

With all the buzz about the Penn State scandal and ensuing advice from leading news sources recommending that children never be alone with an adult, I am afraid I do not know how to live in this new American society.  This wasn't the America I grew up in.  It isn't the America I left behind 15 years ago.  Now I wonder, is it safe for my children to play on the playground?  Can they walk down the street by themselves?  Do I need my eye on them all the time in the grocery store?  Do I need to have those conversations about good touching versus bad touching and "don't talk to strangers?" 

It also makes me wonder about where I live now.  It seems refreshing to live in a place where children can be outside without the constant watchful eye of a parent.  Children from the age of first grade walk to school and home on their own.  Moms leave their infants in strollers outside the shops as they run in to buy something. Boys and girls change for dance lessons in one open room in front of all the moms and dads dropping them off.  Prepubescent girls can go topless at the pool.  (I admit those last two make me uncomfortable.)  I have never heard a story of molestation or kidnapping.  I'm not naive enough to think it never happens but there surely isn't a spoken fear of it happening.  But then I wonder, should I fear?  Is this culture of innocence just false security?  Or has America gone over the deep end by fostering fear and distrust?  Maybe the answer lies somewhere in between.  I would like to know what that line is. Where do you draw the line between freedom and safety?

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