Why don't we see kids playing outside anymore?

In 1930, an alarming one in 10 children did not reach the age of 20. By the year 2000, that rate had dramatically declined to one in 100. According to the Department of Justice, 82 percent of child abductions were by known family members, 11 percent by friends or acquaintances and often connected to a custody dispute. Only about 2 percent are considered legitimate stranger abductions and the suggested risk of abduction is about one in six hundred thousand children.

To put the risk in perspective consider the following. When compared to abduction, there is a two times greater risk of dying from influenza, a four times greater chance of dying from heart disease, a 17 times greater chance of dying from suicide, a 20 times greater chance of dying from playing youth football, a 30 times greater chance of dying as a pedestrian in a car accident and a 100 times greater chance of dying from an automobile accident. The loss of a child for any reason cannot be diminished or overlooked. It is a gut-wrenching tragedy of titanic proportion.

Maybe that is why we do not let our children go unsupervised all day anymore. They are not jumping off dangerous cliffs; they are not walking on train trussels, taking rides with strangers or participating in other obviously, stupidly dangerous pursuits. Maybe there are good reasons why we do not see children outside playing very often. Maybe that is why so many more children survive to adulthood today. Remember all kids count.

Scot Hurlburt can be reached by e-mail at hurlburt@wildblue.net

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