Stranger Danger?

Last 4th of July weekend, I made the attempt to hitch-hike from my home in Los Angeles County, to Utah. While some told me this was a crazy and possibly dangerous idea, I was looking forward to the adventure of the unknown and new people. Do I recognize that hitch-hiking could be potentially dangerous? Yes, just as I also recognize that I could get in a deadly car crash every time I drive on the freeway….or that a shark could eat me while I’m surfing. Fortunately I realize that trying to completely eliminate risk means letting fear rule my life…one that would end up being rather boring.

While my father is far from perfect, I am sincerely grateful for his understanding of this principle. In his wisdom, he allowed me to experience life and to make my own decisions (including my own mistakes) according to my maturity and the trust I had earned through my previously demonstrated responsibility. Inch by inch…well, more like foot by foot, my father loosened the rope and eventually cut it.

Awhile ago I came across an article of a mother who similarly resisted the growing trend of paranoia among parents. Lenore Skenazy allowed her 9-year-old son find his way home in New York City. The result? In her own words, “My son got home, ecstatic with independence.”

Skenazy relates, “Half the people I’ve told this episode to now want to turn me in for child abuse. As if keeping kids under lock and key and helmet and cell phone and nanny and surveillance is the right way to rear kids. It’s not. It’s debilitating – for us and for them.”

She also quotes a spokesman for the research center STATS.org who, in reference to the awful but rare violent acts committed against children, said:

“The statistics show that this is an incredibly rare event, and you can’t protect people from very rare events. It would be like trying to create a shield against being struck by lightning.”

Skenazy closes by saying:

“The problem with this everything-is-dangerous outlook is that over-protectiveness is a danger in and of itself. A child who thinks he can’t do anything on his own eventually can’t.”

In my short 24 years, I’ve lived quite the life…fearlessly experiencing all the adventures and joy life has to offer. I’ve had a lot of fun, and I’m not dead yet. Thank you dad.

PS- Thought you might find the video below a bit more entertaining than the article. Enjoy!

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18 Responses to Stranger Danger?

  1. garrettmyler says:

    Tyler: I shouldn’t have used the word “far”… which I suppose I did in an effort to drive home the point that while no parent is perfect, they can still do a great job raising children so long as they teach and exemplify fundamental principles of success, such as responsibility, independence, and letting children learn how to make their own wise decisions.

  2. Tyler says:

    I was curious as to what you meant by the saying that your dad is “far from perfect”? I was wondering what made you include that?

  3. Ness says:

    haha you would do something like that…

  4. Jeff says:

    for me i dont want to risk making my 7,8 or 9 yr old one of the stats. the more responsibility my future kids earn, the longer the leash will grow lol. i need to be able to trust their capabilities

  5. garrettmyler says:

    Jeff: I don’t mean to come across as confrontational, you know I love you…but rather to make a point that oft times, our concerns or fears are irrational. For example, a parent may be too scared to ride rollercoasters, yet allow their kids to ride them. If the parent’s fear could be rationalized by facts and statistics regarding the safety of roller-coasters, that specific park or ride, etc., then the parent would certainly not allow their children to ride it, and may even seek to get the ride shut down.You get my drift?

  6. garrettmyler says:

    Jeff: If it’s so ridiculous, even though statistics and a NY resident who is more familiar with conditions and who’s son DID in fact make it home safe (I suppose you feel this was a fluke, or an exeption) suggest it is safe, I would be anxious to have you share the information and rational that led you to make such a conclusion. Just because you can believe or say it, doesn’t make it valid.

  7. Jeff says:

    im gonna go with new york is not a safe place to let a 9 year old try to find his way home. its ridiculous to say otherwise… you meant “heck ya” right???

  8. Scott Myler says:

    hey, I’m not that far from being perfect…….. (you could have left the word “far” out) Thank you son – I admire you for your courage and all you’ve become… you are a great son and I am proud of you….. just remember to be careful Your loving Dad

  9. garrettmyler says:

    Oh, I almost forgot. On a lighter note…I barely missed my bus today coming home from work, and I wasn’t having luck catching up on my skateboard. So I hopped in the bed of some dude’s truck until I could hop out and skateboard in front of the bus (at a red light) to the next bus stop. Risky? probably…fun? hell yeah! Mentos, the fresh maker!

  10. garrettmyler says:

    Letting a 9-year-old take the New York City subway home alone may be extreme…but with a closer look at facts, instead of media-driven emotional hype…it may not be.I don't know what information or statistic led you to say that crime in NY isn't rare…but I did a little research:NY 2007 – .005% chance of being murdered (less than the year 1968) & .2% chance of being robbed (less than the year 1967).The FBI's National Crime Information Center reported 518 stranger abductions in 2007. With over 73 million children in the US (1996)…well, lets just say its way more rare than your 2.6% chance at roulette.While I agree with Ruth's comments on the media's role…I blame the people who actually get sucked into the hype and drama that is created with the obvious motive to increase ratings.

  11. Nick :) says:

    Eaten by sharks… Who suggested that? Seems familiar. HEHEHHE. You rock and when this life is over yours is going to be quite a biography

  12. The Tyler Nelson Family says:

    obviously, there is a balance between intelligently protecting your child and hanging on too tight until your kids are too old. a 24-year-old guy trying to hitchhike from Utah to LA is very different from a 9-year-old riding the subway in New York City. crime in NY is not a rare thing. if someone tried to beat up a 24 year old guy, they would be much less successful than a 40 year old man picking up a 9 year old boy and running away with him. the child wouldn’t be able to do anything at all to stop him. again, there’s a huge difference between taking some risks and adventures in your life and foolishly putting your child in danger. as a mom, I try to give my kids as much independence as they deserve and can handle. I try to encourage them to try to accomplish things on their own as much as they can, but I also recognize their ages and abilities and safety. I think moms should just remember: don’t be stupid about it, you know?

  13. Jeff says:

    garrett, this is Brooklyn talkin…. i think you are a very interesting person. ill leave it at that…..

  14. Ruth says:

    Working in my particular profession, I see parents from all walks of life… and with many different ideas on how a child should grow up. People these days are so scared that something bad is going to happen to their child that they don’t even let them go play at a park with neigbor friends. The school I live next to has a lot of places where you can walk through to get in and use the playground when it is closed. You would think more people would use it… but parents are often too scared to let the children go play by themselves, and then too lazy to take them.I honestly think the news media, and the over abundance of cop shows are to blame. If a child gets kidnapped, you get updates on what’s going on for like a month. I constantly hear people talking about these cop show as if they are real! People get all riled up because even though it’s the same child over and over again–or just a TV show–they feel the emotions that would be felt if it was a new child everyday. Accordingly, they get too scared to let their child out to play.

  15. Jeff says:

    haha that is a pretty funny story! its even funnier to find out you just stood there haha. id say its good to spread your wings and fly as long as you put some thought into what risks you take… hitch hiking to me is like playing roulette. you might get off the hook you might not. that is very courageous and funny tho. i dont think id let a 9 year old be alone in new york city tho haha. i do think there need to be guidelines and your dad sounds like he did it the right way… inch by inch and foot by foot kids should get more responsibility in the decision making process. its our responsibility to guide our future kids. help them get on the path and make the right decision on their own.

  16. Kendell Wrae says:

    hahah i never knew you did that. lol. love this blog g dod… i mean g dog… right… dog….

  17. garrettmyler says:

    Haha…I actually stood there till it got dark, and no one picked me up. Got plenty of honks, waves, and thumbs up…but no ride. I might try it again some day at a more effective location.

  18. S.Shepherd says:

    So how far did you get?

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