Tuesday, September 21, 2010

By the Seat of Our Pants

Read Lisa Belkin's New York Times article, "Keeping Kids Safe From the Wrong Dangers."

Best Quotes:

"There is an inherent hypocrisy in our attempts to control our odds — putting the organic veggies (there is no actual data proving that organic foods increase longevity) in the trunk of our car (researchers tell us there is 'evidence' but not 'proof' that car emissions accelerate heart disease), then checking our e-mail on our cellphone at the next red light (2,600 traffic deaths a year are caused by drivers using cellphones, according to a Harvard study)."
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"And while we certainly make constant (mis)calculations in our adult lives, we seem all the more determined yet befuddled when it comes to the safety of our children. For instance, the five things most likely to cause injury to children up to age 18, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are: car accidents, homicide (usually at the hands of someone they know), child abuse, suicide or drowning. And what are the five things that parents are most worried about (according to surveys by the Mayo Clinic)? Kidnapping, school snipers, terrorists, dangerous strangers and drugs.

'Parents are just bad at risk assessment,' said Christie Barnes, a mother of four and the author of 'The Paranoid Parents Guide.' 'We are constantly overestimating rare dangers while underestimating common ones.'"
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"[W]e put them in that car and we drive — to the orthodontist, to school, to their friend’s house two blocks away — because 'if I let them walk and they were abducted I would never forgive myself.' This despite the fact that the British writer Warwick Cairns, author of 'How to Live Dangerously,' has calculated that if you wanted to guarantee that your child would be snatched off the street, he or she would have to stand outside alone for 750,000 hours. And while we are busy inflating some risks, we tend not to focus on others — like the obesity and diabetes that result when children are driven someplace when they could walk, or when they play video games inside instead of playing in the park."