CORRECTION: In our June/July 2009 article "10 Ways to Save Your Child’s Life," we incorrectly stated that about 115 children reported missing each day are the victims of "stereotypical" kidnappings. The correct statistic is about 115 each year. We regret the error.
(And no, I don't read Working Mother. The correction is via Regret the Error.)
To give credit where credit is due, the hardworking intern at Working Mother who assembled this feature did put automobile accidents in the first slot on their list of dangers to kids, and kidnapping last. But the rest of the list has been filled out with stuff like fireworks ("Solution: The AAP is unequivocal in its recommendation: People of any age simply should not use private fireworks, and their use should be banned. If you want to celebrate with a 'bang,' attend a professional fireworks display") and biking ("Each year more than 800 people die in bicycle-related accidents." Though a quick google suggests that only about 200 of those are kids. It's not like the relevant figure for kids was hard to find, so why go for the scarier stat?).
I'm sure the folks at Working Mother have only the best intentions. But scaring the crap out of a bunch of moms who are already trying to "have it all" (or so I assume from the title of the mag), isn't a kindness and it can lead to a series of small damaging acts, as parents try to insulate their kids from every bump, bruise, minor burn, and personal failure.
For a great, thorough treatment of this issue, check out a new book (and blog) by Lenore Skenazy, Free-Range Kids. (I have a mini-review of the book in the upcoming print edition of Reason.) The book contains excellent slicing and dicing of the statistics on risks to kids. One of Skezany's goals is to tweak motherly brains back from catastrophe—the thought of which leads to clamoring for more rules, more guidelines, more laws, and more limits on kids and parents—to ordinary life. Like this post, where she urges parents to share stories of all of the times they briefly feared their kid had been kidnapped, and then the kid turned up and everything turned out OK, as it does "99.999 percent of the time."
The whole thing started with this article, "Why I Let My 9-Year-Old Ride the Subway Alone."