Even if you happen to be one of those people who believe the world is just one giant bear trap waiting to snap shut on the children who live in it, it’s hard to imagine that there’s a much safer place for kids than their own backyard, particularly if you can glance out your window and easily see them.
At least one person disagrees with that summation, according to a mother who had the pleasure of an impromptu CFS visit when a neighbor of hers alerted authorities to the shocking environment and imminent danger the mother’s kids were playing in. And by shocking environment, we mean fenced-in backyard, and by imminent danger, we of course mean whatever the opposite of that is.
Jacqui Kendrick is the Canadian mother in question, a stay-at-home mom whose blatant disregard for her children’s safety allowed her to justify letting her 10-, 5- and 2-year-old children play in the family’s fenced-in, secure backyard without her. Some neighborhood hero decided to take matters into their own hands and call the Winnipeg Department of Child and Family Services, who in turn sent a social worker to the house.
Kendrick was then treated to a barrage of questions about her parenting, including how she disciplines her kids and whether or not she drinks and does drugs. Even though Kendrick and the family’s home ultimately checked out, the family will now live with a permanent record of the CFS investigation.
For letting her kids play in their own backyard. Their own fenced-in backyard.
Please, just let that sink in for a moment.
Things have been officially out of control, paranoia-wise, for a while now. There’s no small number of parents who believe that the world is personally out to get them and their children, sure that if they take their laser-focused parental supervision off their kids for even a moment, something terrible will happen. Probably as some kind of punishment for being less than vigilant, even though the world doesn’t work that way.
And if that’s how you want to live, hey, enjoy it. Your kids will reflect fondly on the childhood they spent being escorted into public bathrooms well into their teens and never being able to touch a kitchen knife lest they nick themselves and learn that there’s actually blood under their skin, not sunshine and rainbow beams.
But once your neurosis starts to impinge on other people, interrupting their functional, day-to-day family life and marring their reputations with black marks for completely sensible parenting decisions, it’s time to rein it in just a little. Or at least learn to stop projecting all your fears and insecurities onto other people.
Kids should be able to play on playgrounds and beaches and walk home from school without fearing that they’ll be picked up by the cops for it. Parents should be able to confidently send their kids out into a world that has never been safer without fearing CPS/CFS at their door.
A psychologist who spoke to a local news outlet about Kendrick’s case noted that part of the reason we keep seeing more and more tattletales waste the authorities’ time on nonissues like this is that social media allows everyone a nice little echo chamber of validation. We’re inclined to agree.
As more and more people whip themselves up online about the dangers of the world and the irresponsibility of parents who don’t carry a child-size hamster ball with them at all times, very stupid and wrong ideas about child safety and the environment that children live in can seem like very good ones. What may have once been a simple disagreement between neighbors becomes a “won’t anyone think of the children?” crusade to prove how wrong people are.
But real life is not the internet, where you can choose to surround yourself with people who agree with you at all times. Your opinions might not just differ from your neighbors’, but in some cases they can be wildly inaccurate. In some cases, the actions you choose to take to punish people for disagreeing with you can have lasting, detrimental outcomes for the people you’ve convinced yourself you’re hoping to educate or protect.
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