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When I was six, I walked home from school every day, two miles across town. I played for hours outside of my house, where my parents couldn't see me, if they were even home. 150 yards is nothing; I was playing out of sight of the house a lot farther than that when I was a kid, in a more dangerous world. I didn't just "get lucky." I was in the statistical majority: almost no one ever gets kidnapped by strangers. In 1980, when I did this, there were more than 200 stranger abductions, and 63 million children in the US. Last year, there were 115 out of 73 million children (that's 20% more children, but almost half as many abductions, for those keeping score). The US is much, much safer, and yet people like Lisa and Trebor feel the need to blame the mother, here. You two are part of the problem, part of the mentality that is making us feel less safe, and forcing us to keep our children inside, where they are becoming less active, less healthy, less creative, less intelligent, less resilient, less wise, and less brave. Instead of piling on the mom, maybe you should look into your own house. What were you doing at 6, cowering in the closet for fear that someone would steal you out of your bed? I doubt it. You were learning the lessons of independence that you recommend stealing from these children. Stunt your own children's emotional and mental growth, if you must, but don't attack this mom for letting her kid be a kid. (A side note: this isn't a liberal/conservative issue. The "concerned neighbor" is just as likely to be a "family values" conservative "thinking of the children" as a "nanny state" liberal who "hates freedom." Let's keep the focus where it belongs: delusional attitudes about how our children's lack of safety and inability to be independent run across party lines, and those attitudes are doing real harm to them in the long run, in a variety of ways.) The lesson here is clear: make CPS work for it. Make them get a court order to enter your house or talk to your kids, and have a lawyer present. When CPS calls us, and they will call many of us, our first call should be to a family lawyer. Then we can call our mother/best friend/ spouse/ whatever. That's a hard lesson to learn, but I know I've learned it, here. When this happens to me, and I'm sure it will, I'll make them work for it. And that busybody neighbor? All we can do is thank her when she shows up, next time. The best revenge is to keep on doing the right thing. I'm sorry this happened to you; thank you for sharing. If you believe that she should have been watching, instead of letting her older child learn lessons about responsibility (a lesson I will bet has been painfully learned, by now), read
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Sep 17, 2014