Want a safe place to raise kids? Look to the cities
It bears repeating: Cities are safer for children than outer suburbs — and with dropping crime rates, cities are getting safer all the time. We've reported in the past on research from the University of Virginia supporting that conclusion, and now Grist has a nice article that amplifies this research, also reported in Planetizen.
The Grist article interviews Lenore Skenazy, author of Free Range Kids, who points out that many of the risks that parents worry the most about — amplified on popular TV shows — are in fact so small as to be negligible, yet they tend to drive families out to the seemingly safe environment of leafy, isolated suburbs. The chances of a child being abducted and killed by a stranger, for example, are one in 1.5 million, Grist reports.
The biggest risk by far is having that child die in an automobile accident, and deadly vehicle crashes occur much more regularly in the isolated suburbs, where cars go fast on two-lane roads.
That research also shows that the safest places to raise children are inner suburbs, many of which share some of the characteristics of cities and suburbs. They are often walkable, but also have low crime rates. But cities are safe as well, and Skenazy points out that many of the qualities that some parents fear — many strangers on the street, for example — are actually an advantage for safety. They translate to more eyes and ears on the street, giving criminals less chance to act.
Skenazy offers the following advice, as reported in Grist: "And, tell kids not to go off with people they don't know, but also teach them 'To talk to strangers. That way, if they're ever creeped out by someone in the proverbial white van, they can run to the man across the street, raking his leaves, and say, 'Help! I'm being followed!' Or they can run into a shop and say, 'Call the police!' Or, 'Can I please borrow your phone?' "
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