Recently in Ontario County, New York, a mother of forty-four was arrested by the local police for leaving her ten-year-old child alone in the Lego Store at Eastview Mall for approximately two hours while she was shopping. She is charged with endangering the welfare of a child, reports WHEC.
To many readers, this will seem like an absurd overreaction. Have we come so far down the road to coddling and security hysteria that an act that would have been completely normal only fifty years ago in America today is considered endangerment?
Some will also argue that the experience of seeing your mother arrested is far more traumatic and a real endangerment to mental health than can be justified by risks of highly theoretical dangers of leaving your child alone in a mall store for two hours.
Still, the fact remains that many places in the U.S. there are laws for leaving your child alone in any public place. If you send your child to the playground unsupervised, don’t be surprised to see a police officer knocking on your door. (It’s happened in Maryland.)
Conservative author and provocateur Ann Coulter has explored the causes of this hysteria in her bestselling book “Adios America.” The laws regarding child supervision came in place after a string of high-profile child abductions in the 1970s. In and of itself such legislation was excessive, but it must also be understood in the context of a crime wave following the 1965 immigration act, and the Great Society welfare reform.
Welfare created strong incentives for single motherhood, which according to Coulter is the source of 70% of all crime in the U.S. Leftist policies of lax policing and weak sentences for crime created incentives for lawless behavior to spread. Finally, immigration shifted from European countries to third world countries with far higher crime rates, importing trouble to America.
In combination, they resulted in the dramatic decline of inner cities that we have seen across America. Among ordinary people, there is a general sense of fear that something has gone utterly awry and that the country has become fundamentally unsafe.
That feeling is not unfounded. It is relevant to compare the practice in other nations to get a sense of how pathological America has become regarding child supervision. The mother who was detained in Ontario County is of East-Asian descent, and so she most likely acted based on her cultural heritage from Asia. It is therefore instructive to see how the practice is in these countries. In Japan, for instance, it is not uncommon to see eight-year-old students travel on the subway alone to school. The same is true in other East-Asian countries. Here is a parent testimony from Singapore.
As parents, we understand that we need to help our children travel around, and also teach them how to travel around. We don’t want them to rely on us for the rest of their lives. We want them to grow up and be independent. But the question is, at what age?
If I’m a parent, I will start to train him to be independent probably at the age when he first enters primary school, which is age 7. This is still a young age. Hence, a lot of teaching and guiding is needed, but I think it is a suitable age. At that age, they are going to school and attending school on their own (without parents being around). Hence, it is a good age for them to start learning.
Many Americans see their nation as the land of the free, where independence and individualism are moral virtues. At the same time, in many Asian countries which we often think of as collectivist, parents foster a much greater sense of individual responsibility and independence in their children from an early age. It would be unthinkable to arrest a mother in Singapore or Japan for leaving her ten-year-old child alone in a store.
It is also worth noting that Japan is a highly homogenous culture, with very little immigration. Singapore has more diversity but has no welfare state and is tough on crime. Only immigrants who can fully pay for their stay are allowed into the country. As a rule, people in Singapore feel completely safe. Crime is virtually a non-issue. Also, both Singapore and Japan have almost no single mothers.
Americans, therefore, need to start asking themselves some tough questions about what liberties they have been willing to give up. Today you can be arrested for leaving your ten-year-old child unattended for two hours in a Lego Store. Is that the price Americans pay for the welfare state and the 1965 immigration act? If so, is it worth it?