To the Editor:
Every day I drive to work and pass a neighborhood road. It’s a short dead end road and my drive time is such that I see kids waiting for the school bus at the corner. Actually, I don’t see the kids. What I see are four or five large SUV’s parked in a row, engines idling. The kids are inside the cars with their mom or dad. It gets me thinking. And what I think is that there are about four things wrong with that picture:
1. It’s a short walk. Why didn’t these healthy kids walk from their house to the corner? Yes, even in the winter. It won’t kill them. Honest. Wear a hat.
2. The parents are setting an example for their children that it is OK to drive one tenth of a mile instead of using their feet. No wonder we have an obesity problem.
3. Those big SUV’s are expelling unnecessary exhaust into the air and using up $4 a gallon fuel.
4. The kids are being denied a valuable social opportunity to interact with their friends (and enemies) and goof around a little bit.
That last point needs a little explanation. A recent article in Atlantic magazine (“The Overprotected Kid,” by Hanna Rosin, March 19, 2014) pointed out that children today are never out of sight of an adult. Ms Rosin points out that a preoccupation with safety has taken away kids’ independence, risk taking and sense of discovery.
Here is a small step you can take to give some of that back. Let the kids walk to the bus stop by themselves! If you really are fearful that your child will be kidnapped by a stranger (which is no more likely than it was 30 years ago), how about have one mom walk down behind the kids, and stay respectfully away from the group, but keep an eye on them. Not to mention that a walk or run and some play time before the bus comes might be just the thing to get their blood pumping and in the right mood for school.
Tracy Van Buskirk
18 Poverty Hollow Road, Newtown April 1, 2014