Greenlake Walking

Free Range Kids and

At Greenlake I have had probably nearly a dozen conversations with kids of elementary school ages who seemed to be not in the close vicinity of their parents. Two of the kids have asked me what Romans 15:33 says. I remember thinking it was nice that they were asking me about Romans 15:33 and not Romans 16:16 and that I lucky I had two Bible verses on my sign and the first one was not about kissing!

One of the kids asked to borrow my free hugs sign and he then joyfully was enabled to hug some adult ladies or girls nearby.

Another day a different kid engaged me in some simple conversation and as I was leaving his area, said to a kid friend, "He's not wearing pants." The two kids and I were surrounded that day by dozens of others at the East Greenlake beach.

The two more extreme interactions were once when I was in pants, hugging two girls on 9/30/14, and once, when wearing a thong and no pants and walking on the walking path, two girls saying, "Stranger danger," about me and running a little bit, but without actual fear so far as I know. I don't know if I should include the 6 to 9 girls of 9 kids or so of young elementary school age who wanted to do free hugs when I was walking in a thong on 10/18/14 . . . at least at one point, an adult male was in their vicinity . . . Maybe he was a dad of some of the the girls . . . but they were somewhat free range, I suppose . . . At least, by speaking to me directly and not to the dad or adult male, they were acting like free range kids, kind of amazingly . . .

I do not initiate conversations with persons, either adults or teens or kids, generally speaking, except in the sense that I have the sign and the sign indicates to others that they may greet me. The sign actually creates an invitation to greet me.

The encounters with the kids made me wonder about kids growing up and doing things on their own and it being good or bad. At some point in elementary school I rode my bike to and from school and to and from the grocery store. I think I was in about 4th grade when I did so.

Obviously attempted lurings and actual abductions by strangers do take place but abductions by strangers seem to be more rare than people might think. According to Lenore Skenazy and her website, 1999 is the most recent year for which we have good data. Supposedly in 1999 there were 115 abduction of kids by strangers for ransom, sexual purposes and/or murder. Supposedly this is less than 10% the number of kids killed in car accidents that year.

Skenazy says she is "Fighting the belief that our children are in constant danger from creeps, kidnapping, germs, grades, flashers, frustration, failure, baby snatchers, bugs, bullies, men, sleepovers and/or the perils of a non-organic grape."

Perhaps I will do some checking to see if the numbers are accurate. Discovery News confirms, it seems, that abductions by strangers are quite rare. Between 1990 and 1995 the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children handled only 515 stranger abductions, says Discovery News.

Because of concern, the Today show had a segment about people's awareness and reactions to an 11-year-old boy doing things at a carnival, park or boardwalk. They exaggerated the story by giving the headline as being about a lost child and no one caring or noticing. Adam Walsh said he did not like it that no one stopped to make sure the kid had parents accompanying him.

Discovery News quotes child safety expert Gavin de Becker, to the effect that compared to a stranger kidnapping, “[a] child is vastly more likely to have a heart attack, and child heart attacks are so rare that most parents (correctly) never even consider the risk.”

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