Boy, 10, Saves 2 Adults…And Yet Authorities Consider 10 Too Young to Be Unsupervised (via Free-Range Kids)

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Hi folks! Lenore from Free-Range Kids here, with a heartening story: A 10 year old British boy, rowing around in his dinghy, rescued two canoeists who’d been in the water for 45 minutes. (Sad to say, one of them was a “canoe instructor.” Maybe the other one might want to ask for a refund?) Anyway, all the boy had with him was 4 feet of rope, which he used to tow the two the half mile. They couldn’t climb in the dinghy because they realized they might capsize it. (Score one for the canoe instructor!)

Contrast this boy’s actions, with what some laws and bureaucrats believe a child his age is incapable of. Let’s see, there’s the story of a  mom arrested for letting her kids, 11 and 7, walk to the local pizza shop. So I guess the dinghy boy shouldn’t have been on his own for another couple of years, at least. (Sorry, drowners.) And there was this school, where the principal  suddenly prohibited 5th graders from going to the village green after school, unsupervised, as they’d done for decades. (Media attention and general outrage reversed this.)  Then there was the Aussie mom chided by police for letting her 10-year-old daughter catch a bus, solo. How dare she let her kid be competent! And here in America, any 10-year-old, hero or no, is  no longer allowed to ride Amtrak without an adult by his side. Thirteen is the age kids can travel as “unaccompanied minors.”

And yet, somehow the boy was perfectly fine, alone on the water, saving two adults’ lives.

Hmmm.  – L.

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37 Responses to “Boy, 10, Saves 2 Adults…And Yet Authorities Consider 10 Too Young to Be Unsupervised (via Free-Range Kids)”

  1. #1 |  Jim March | 

    Attorney David Kopel wrote a law review article about a series of court cases in the late 19th Century that involved the right to self defense and were decided by the US Supreme Court. Most came from the bench of Judge Parker, a “hanging judge” who didn’t believe the concept of self defense was at all legitimate. The Supremes overturned him time and time again.

    Many of the cases involved kids shooting guns in self defense, as young as 14 or less.

    http://davekopel.org/2A/LawRev/Self-Defense-Cases.htm

  2. #2 |  Deoxy | 

    As much as I hate these sorts of developments, counter-examples like this don’t address the real issue that drives them.

    Sure, there are competent children… but there are also utterly INcompetent children as well. The changes in these laws and social norms are driven by people who are severely averse to bad outcomes of the incompetent actors – the price paid by the restricted competent actors is an inconsequtially small (to them) price to pay not to have to hear about the kinds of bad things they don’t like to hear about.

    In short, they are willing to handicap entire generations of children for their own convenience and comfort.

  3. #3 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    Actually, the overall sentiment “you can go solo on the water” is dangerous and irresponsible. They’d been out in a single sailing boat on a quite difficult stretch of tidal water without carrying proper communications.

    In fact, this was within sight of a harbor and the lad’s an experienced rower (and critically, I’m told, had both a radio and mobile with him, in waterproof casings – if HE had got into trouble he could of called for help).

  4. #4 |  Matthew | 

    I’m pretty sure the reason he towed the adults to shore, rather than letting them get in the dinghy, is because if they’d been that close to the boy, they’d have been physically incapable of not raping the shit out of him. They’re adult men, after all, and clearly no adult man can avoid abusing a child’s dinghy.

  5. #5 |  Tim | 

    I love your blog, but sometimes it is completely one-sided. You make it seem like every kid 10 years old and up can handle him- or herself in every situation. Clearly that is not the case. I’m sure many children have been injured or have died while on their own doing unsafe things. Sometimes having fun and being independent can lead to a child making the WRONG decision (because let’s face it children do not have enough experience to always make the right decision) and turning into a parent’s worst nightmare.

    I’m all for the “free-range” concept, but please don’t make it seem like all 10-year olds are competent enough to be boating by themselves, riding trains, or doing any other activity they wish. You have to draw the line somewhere.

    On a related note, I hate it when people say “I did X, and look how I turned out”. But they don’t see that there may be people who did “X” and who died (or were seriously injured), and cannot counter this argument by responding “I did X and look what happened to me – I died”.

  6. #6 |  MassHole | 

    Hide ya dinghy, hide ya oars, they rapin everybody up in this pond.

  7. #7 |  RobSmalls | 

    I picture the Harbormaster sailing up to the two floaters and telling them to swim away from the dinghy and over to that wave over there, a safe distance away. You know, for the children.

  8. #8 |  divadab | 

    Let’s teach kids top be coddled, fearful, chicken littles. Lets keep them in an extended juvenile status so they are forbidden to do adult things or exercise their free agency. Let’s make them into worthless little lord fauntleroys.

    My little brother took the city bus to school from the age of 5. I used to walk a mile and a half carrying my skiis to the ski club bus with my younger brother at 9. My mother could have driven us, but she believes, and I agree, that children should learn independence at a young age. It’s easy to let fear run your life and ruin your kids. I’m grateful for my mother’s strength and wisdom.

  9. #9 |  el coronado | 

    Smart, tough, capable, independent kids usually grow up to be adults with the same qualities. The kind of people who want no “help” from any governmental entity. The kind who view expansion of government power with suspicion. The kind who agitate against government’s ever-increasing encroachment upon their freedoms. Or, as the government sees them, troublemakers & rabble-rousers & domestic terrorists.

    Easier to nip that sort of thing in the bud. And so they try – very *very* hard to do so.

  10. #10 |  Charlie O | 

    Your comment about riding Amtrak is interesting. I lived in Japan when I was 9 and 10 years old. I went to school on the Naval Base at Yokosuka but we lived off base in Hayama, near Zushi. At that age, I rode the local trains and buses nearly everywhere. Pretty much always alone.

  11. #11 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    Actually, I’d like to see “some people’s” reaction to this;

    http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tickets/14554.aspx

    Yes, 5-10. Unaccompanied, on the London Tube. Which is…not exactly the most friendly environment at the best of times.

    (They can scan the photocard and get the address of the adult responsible for the child…which is sensible)

  12. #12 |  Mattocracy | 

    When we lived in the UK, my brother at age 10-11 took the train to and from school. I don’t know if it was the tube or not, but he did it by himself.

  13. #13 |  Bill Wells | 

    #2: “Sure, there are competent children… but there are also utterly INcompetent children as well. The changes in these laws and social norms are driven by people who are severely averse to bad outcomes of the incompetent actors – the price paid by the restricted competent actors is an inconsequtially small (to them) price to pay not to have to hear about the kinds of bad things they don’t like to hear about.”

    This, of course, drives laws regulating ADULT behavior as well.

    In the eyes of the scumbags who want to impose their values on others, everyone is a child. Except themselves, of course.

  14. #14 |  Bill Well | 

    #7: “Let’s teach kids top be coddled, fearful, chicken littles. Lets keep them in an extended juvenile status so they are forbidden to do adult things or exercise their free agency. Let’s make them into worthless little lord fauntleroys.”

    And ensure that they become malleable adults.

  15. #15 |  Warren Bonesteel | 

    I’m of two minds about this issue. Yeah, in general, kids are *way* oversupervised in this day and age.

    otoh, my neighbor’s four kids, aged 4 y/o to 13 y/o, are absolute holy, howling terrors when they’re left unsupervised for more than a few minutes at a time. (Their mother and step-dad blame everyone but themselves for the kids’ behavior.)

    Am I evil for calling DHS and the cops when those kids get out of control and start destroying not only my property, but my peace of mind?

    As with most issues, it’s not always as easy or simple as many people seem to think.

    If not for DHS and the cops, my only option would’ve been to revert to the use of force in order to resolve the issue…in order to save my property, as well as my peace of mind.

    Unsupervised kids are a good thing? I don’t friggin’ think so.

  16. #16 |  liberranter | 

    “I care about people”

    Stuart Crang

    No doubt Stuart will discard that philosophy as he ages and discovers firsthand that no good deed ever goes unpunished.

  17. #17 |  Bill Wells | 

    #7: “Let’s teach kids top be coddled, fearful, chicken littles. Lets keep them in an extended juvenile status so they are forbidden to do adult things or exercise their free agency. Let’s make them into worthless little lord fauntleroys.”

    So that they will grow into malleable adults who can be persuaded to support any idea, no matter how brain-dead.

  18. #18 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    #7,
    “Let’s make them into worthless little lord fauntleroys.”

    Little Lord Fauntleroy was actually a rather self-sufficient little chap, if too sweet and nice for words. Maybe the poor boys (my Grandfather was one) whose mothers went for the fad at the time weren’t; if you are going to have a small boy wear that kind of velvet-and-lace- crap it helps if the author is on your side.

  19. #19 |  Bill Wells | 

    (Does this site eat sequential comments by the same author? Twice now, I’ve posted something in this thread only to have it disappear into a black hole. Here’s a more or less repost, which I’m betting will go through.)

    #12: “As with most issues, it’s not always as easy or simple as many people seem to think.”

    Oh yes it is. What you describe is the product of bad parenting, not lack of supervision. Had those children been taught, with a strap if necessary, that destroying property and peace of mind is not tolerable, the lack of supervision would have been unimportant.

    I’m fine with the idea that child criminals need to be supervised, but that’s no excuse for requiring parents to supervise all their children all the time.

  20. #20 |  faloi | 

    @12 “Unsupervised kids are a good thing? I don’t friggin’ think so.”

    Millions of children, including myself, grew up as “latchkey kids.” I got home before my parents and spent the time after school unsupervised for years. Somehow I managed not to destroy property because my parents weren’t there.

  21. #21 |  Mattocracy | 

    What Bill Wells said.

  22. #22 |  MikeV | 

    When I was 11 where I took train to a city 120 miles away, changed to another train that took me 300 miles, and switched to a bus (after a 6 hour layover) for the remaining 100 miles.

    I bought the tickets myself and the only thing they checked was that I had the money to pay for it.

    If I remember correctly, I also had a semi-auto .22 rifle in a case in my luggage.

  23. #23 |  Highway | 

    Bill Wells @ #13:

    In the eyes of the scumbags who want to impose their values on others, everyone is a child. Except themselves, of course.

    No, many of the people who want to treat everyone as children include themselves in that estimation. “I can’t quit smoking on my own, so the government needs to prevent me from doing it.” “I can’t make a decision about health care on my own, the government needs to make the choice for me.” “I can’t stop texting while I drive, so the government needs to pass a law against it to stop me.”

  24. #24 |  Bill Wells | 

    #23: ‘No, many of the people who want to treat everyone as children include themselves in that estimation. “I can’t quit smoking on my own, so the government needs to prevent me from doing it.” “I can’t make a decision about health care on my own, the government needs to make the choice for me.” “I can’t stop texting while I drive, so the government needs to pass a law against it to stop me.”’

    Child: “Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat.”

    Adult: “But that trick NEVER works!”

    “This time for sure!”

    (pulls lion out of hat….)

    Silliness aside, I stand corrected. Some people do consider themselves as children…but never stop to consider that that makes them incompetent to tell others how to run their lives.

  25. #25 |  Mannie | 

    #15 | Warren Bonesteel | August 14th, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Am I evil for calling DHS and the cops when those kids get out of control and start destroying not only my property, but my peace of mind?

    No, you are protecting yourself. Not too many years ago, you would have been completely within your rights to slap the spit out of them, too.

    Ah for the Good Old Days ™ (How I miss the Diptheria.)

  26. #26 |  johnl | 

    Here is a story about United losing an unaccompanied minor. The unaccompanied minor policies seem like shakedowns. Some 10 year olds can find their way from gate to gate by themselves with no problem. The ones who can’t should be put on direct flights. Because airlines aren’t babysitters, even if they charge you for babbysitting.

  27. #27 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @19 – Ah yes, teaching them that violence is what they can expect from adults, growing up to be significantly more violent, etc.

    Or you could actually fix the issues rather than being a sadist. Nah!

  28. #28 |  Bill Wells | 

    #27:

    If you want any substantive response to whatever point you were trying to make, you should express your disagreement in civil terms.

  29. #29 |  el coronado | 

    Best of luck with that, #28. It has been pointed out that hardcore leftwing fantasists don’t really DO ‘civil’. Their causes are too important!! There no *time* for civility or good manners! Dammit!!

  30. #30 |  En Passant | 

    @ #28 Bill Wells & #29 el coronado:

    DNFTT.

    Helmut O’ Hooligan passed word to me in an earlier thread.

    I’m just passing it forward.

  31. #31 |  el coronado | 

    #30 – you’re probably right. OTOH, if one does not take vigorous steps to eradicate cockroaches or vermin, one soon finds one’s domicile infested with same.

  32. #32 |  John Spragge | 

    Amtrak won’t let unaccompanied kids under 13 ride? Great. Just ——- great.

    When I was eight, my parents took me to the station. Here’s the train, here’s your ticket, your grandparents will meet you at the station. Two years later: here’s the train, here’s your ticket, here’s a subway token, you know where your grandparents live.

    I had my share and more of childhood and adolescent fears, but they did not include a fear of coping with the world.

    As for teaching kids not to destroy property: look kids do need limits. And I believe those limits include an absolute prohibition on harming other people, hurting animals, or damaging their property. But I believe most adults, if we work at it, can get that message through to children without hitting them. I agree most corporal punishment does not arise out of sadism, but I still consider it, at best, a last resort.

  33. #33 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @28 – Just like you do, with your belt? You learned that lesson good! I was being civil, since I didn’t accuse you of anything criminal. Seems I may well have been wrong.

    @30 – Good Stalinism!

    @31 – Ah yes, like any good bigot your views come out into the light. Thanks! A typical “nits make lice” comment, from a enemy of modern civilization. How many million do you want to kill?

  34. #34 |  Bill Wells | 

    #32:

    I don’t want to write an essay here but here’s some food for thought: There is a difference in kind between a punishment that the child fears and a punishment that makes the child fear the punisher. The former *may* be appropriate; the latter never is. This distinction is independent of whether the punishment is corporal or of some other kind.

  35. #35 |  Windy | 

    When I was growing up, any adult who viewed a child doing something destructive of property or harmful to others (animals or human) would scold the child and then inform the child’s parents so they could deal out whatever punishment they deemed proper. It worked fine. Nowadays, most parents do not want others to call their children out on bad behavior, trouble is too many of those parents are not doing their job and frequently their children would clearly benefit from a scolding by a non-related adult.

  36. #36 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @32 – There’s a distinct difference between a quick slap to get a child to stop doing something dangerous or malicious and other forms of physical punishment.

    One of my absolute red lines is using anything but your hand for this.

    My parents sent me to the corner when I did things wrong, and it worked for them, in retrospect, to an age when I should “really have known better”, which speaks to their parenting skills.

  37. #37 |  Warren | 

    First off, I am not the other Warren.
    Secondly, to Tim. Not all 10 yr olds are the same or capable of the same, is all part and parcel of being free range. That boy in the dinghy was fine on his own, Lenore’s New York City raised son was fine on the subway. Both parents would agree that they would not be ready to switch situations, as they grew up in different surroundings.
    As for those of us that said we did X, and are here to talk about it are not doing anything wrong, by raising our children based on our successful upbringings.
    Unfortunately children get injured and some die. It is awful, but it is life. Things happen, and you cannot stop living for the fear of dying.
    My 13 yr old wants to go skydiving, she thinks it would be a rush.
    Guess what? She has now been given the task of finding the jump school nearest us.

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