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« Overcoming Challenges | How Parents Approach Child's Challenges | Main | Separate Property | State Bar Takes a Position on Pending Legislation »


R Gould-Saltman

I'm jumping into the stream here a little after the fact (a lot, actually) but I'd like to see more discussion of realistic risk assessment, and the presentation of accurate information regarding risk to kids in court when varying parental views are argued.
As Dubner point outs, parents risk their kids' lives and safety all the time; it's the decision they make every time they decide to drive a car, get on a plane, etc.
Their assessment of the true risk, however, is often lousy.
As pointed out in the original Freakonomics, the actual risk of death to a pre-teen child, from going to a friend's house with a swimming pool is provably orders of magnitude HIGHER than the risk of going to the house of a friend whose parent keeps a firearm at the house. (death rate from pools per year: roughly 1 per 11,000 pools; death rate from firearms per year; roughly 1 per 1,000,000 guns) This is NOT a comparison of differing consequences; it's deaths ONLY.

Similarly, the risk of "stereotypical abduction" is miniscule. Working from the stats cited, and comparing them to Weather Service stats, approximately as many people are killed by lightning each year in the US as children are killed in "stereotypical abductions". Both numbers are again orders of magnitude smaller than the number of kids killed on bicycles, or, as noted above, even in swimming pool drownings (about 500 per year) and far smaller still than the death rate from motor vehicle accidents.

If you're concerned about leaving your kid at a bus-stop, in mid-day, for a half hour, at age 9, then remember: in eight years, your kid may be 3000 miles away at college, or enlisted and carrying a weapon for his country overseas. The risk to your child from being afraid of the world, and lacking the coping skills to get through it, is probably objectively greater than the danger at that bus-stop.

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