Will Stoned Snipers from Al Qaeda Kidnap Your Kids?


The author of The Paranoid Parents Guide examines some survey data and lists parents' top five fears about what might happen to their kids (*):

1. Kidnapping
2. School snipers
3. Terrorists
4. Dangerous strangers
5. Drugs

Then she notes the actual leading ways children are hurt or killed:

1. Car accidents
2. Homicide (usually committed by a person who knows the child, not a stranger)
3. Abuse
4. Suicide
5. Drowning

[Via Bruce Schneier.]

(*These are presumably American parents, though the NPR piece where these lists appeared doesn't make that clear.)

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  1. The no. 6 fear parents have? That it’s not “just a phase”.

    1. Oh no, homo!

      1. Homo? That’s nothing: My kid wants to save the fucking whales!

        Please tell me it’s just a phase!

        1. Yeah! Down with celibate whales!

          1. Well, I suppose it’s better than going down on celibate whales.

            1. That’s a good way to get crushed.

            2. wasn’t there a guy who died in SeaWorld after sneaking in after the park was closed and tried fucking a blowhole, or did I just imagine that happening?

        2. Nuke a gay whale for Jesus

          1. Don’t Do It For Jesus, Do It For Me

        3. non-f*cking whales should be harvested?

  2. Sometimes, for a brief, fleeting moment, I wonder if I’m too lax of a parent because I don’t worry about all the shit that other parents worry about. Then I see a list like that and I’m reminded that, no, it’s everybody else who’s bat-shit crazy.

    1. You’re just a different kind of batshit crazy.


      1. Your ideas intrigue my wife and she wishes to subscribe to your newsletter.

  3. So, the number one fear of parents is really “probability”.

  4. School snipers? Really? Not school shooters? Is this just a matter of semantics, or are parents really being so specific that they’re saying they’re afraid of potential Charles Whitmans but not Harrises and Klebolds?

    1. School campuses are gun-free zones now, so they would pretty much have to be shooting from a distance. Use your head.

      1. Right, right. Good call.

  5. Then she notes the actual leading ways kids are hurt or killed:

    1. Car accidents

    What she’s not telling you is that those car accidents are caused by terrorist strangers who are high on drugs, racing down quiet streets to either kidnap your children or shoot kids in a schoolyard.

    1. No, they have car-guns.

      Mostly they fire off Mazda 3s and Chevy Cobalts, but some are loaded with Escalades and Hummers.

  6. What is meant by “Abuse”? Does it overlap with “Kidnapping” and “Dangerous strangers”?

    1. abuse” is a euphemism, you know…

      1. We prefer to call it “Onanism.”

        1. I just learned that word about a month ago (oddly enough while translating a song from German to English) and all the sudden I’m seeing it everywhere.

          1. The word, the word. I’m seeing the word everywhere.

            1. Yeah right.

            2. Now we know why you think Club Med sucks.

      2. I never knew how lucky I was to make it out of my teenage years.

    2. I suspect that, like homicide, it’s mostly abuse at the hands of some the child is close to. Sadly. So doesn’t overlap with dangerous strangers. Since kidnapping is also most often done by a parent, then there may be overlap there.

      1. Familial kidnappings make up only about half of all kidnappings, so even if parents committed all familial kidnappings they still wouldn’t commit most kidnappings.

        1. really? i thought true “stranger” kidnappings were a very small minority, compared with familial / custody dispute kidnappings

          /too lazy to google it

  7. What happened to alien abduction? We’d better get MSNBC on the case.

    1. “”What happened to alien abduction?””

      It’s been rebranded. It’s now illegal immigrant kidnapping.

      1. You mean undocumented.

        1. Depends on who you ask.

  8. 1 2 and 4 from the first list, and 2 and 3 from the second list are not mutually exclusive.

    1. I think it’s understood that the kidnappers feared in the first list are strangers, although most kidnappings, like most homicides and most child abuse, are committed by someone the victim knows. Also, most homicides are not committed by terrorists or school snipers.

  9. The fears largely involve things parents can’t control at all. The more probable events can be seen as often involving something over which the parents exercise at least some control.

    Intellectually, I understand perfectly well that the most danger my kids face on a typical school day is when they are in the car on the way there and back.

    Emotionally, it’s sometimes very, very difficult not to imagine some random-ass crazy person hurting them when I am not there to protect them.

    1. Well put. And it’s not like you sit around all day and worry that a stranger is going to kidnap you child. But, when asked, you’re naturally going to focus on things out of your control.

      1. Well, that may indeed be “natural” but it’s certainly not rational. Worrying about things that are truly “out of your control” is worse than pointless because it makes your life worse with no offsetting benefit. On the other hand, worrying about things like car accidents and drowning — things you can have at least some control over, makes sense as it may lead you to take reasonable precautions.

        1. Everyone does both. “Naturally” you take precautions to help them avoid the things you have some control over (seat belts, swimming lessons, etc). And you don’t fret about those you can’t control. But, you do think about them because as unusual as they are, they do happen, and the horror one feels when it does happen to someone else’s child is palpable.

    2. Exactly, I was about to post something similar but you did it better than I could.

    3. Not to mention, homicide and ‘abuse’ are two reasons parents fear kidnapping and strangers. It’s not like parents would fear kidnapping if it only ever involved a trip to the ice cream shop and a ride home.

      1. A kid and a clown are walking through a forest at night.

        “I’m scared.” The kid says.

        “Your scared!” The clown says. “I’m the one who has to walk home alone.”


        (Joke stolen from a friend.)

    4. Yes, but those things parents fear are several orders of magnitude less likely than those things that might actually kill their child.

  10. Drugs is #5 on the parents concern. They are the ones who support the drug war, and a reason why you won’t see any meaningful drug law reform. The drug war is for the kids. Most of the real reasons often have a subtance abuse element.

    1. Yeah. The problem is that a lot of the negative effects of drug abuse are related directly to the fact that they are illegal, but people don’t seem to understand that.

      1. Many of the parents concerns about drugs have little to do with the legality. Sure there is violence and other issues that blackmarkets bring. But alcohol is legal and parents have to deal with that. For parents, I would think the issue is more about bad judgments from young intoxicated minds.

        1. Which is why acohol was higher on the fear list… oops.

          1. By the way, I doubt we think much differently on this. My point is that parents have a much greater fear of “drugs” vs alchohol, yet it doesn’t quite click for them that the consequences of being illegal is a big part of what makes them dangerous.

          2. “”Which is why acohol was higher on the fear list… oops.””

            Right, lol.

            Might have been #6. But drugs are illegal so they are worst, for some reason.

        2. For parents, I would think the issue is more about bad judgments from young intoxicated minds.

          Which is how many parents ended up with kids in the first place.

          1. “”Which is how many parents ended up with kids in the first place.””

            Exactly, Parents don’t want their kids making the same mistakes they did.

    2. DARE to keep kids off Ritalin.

      1. Exactly. Dextroamphetemine is much more fun.

  11. How about comic books, video games, obesity, and low self esteem????? Surely we cannot ignore these ever-present threats!

    1. What about sex, teen pregnancy, and homosexuality?

      Oh wait, those used to be huge concerns and now aren’t. Maybe there’s some hope after all.

      1. They’re not on the list because neither Fox nor NBC ran scare stories on them the week before the survey.

        If Fox or NBC had run a big scare story about the risks of developing cancer due to playing home computer games, it probably would have been on the list.

        1. “home computer games” or Homo computer games ??

          1. There’s a difference?

            1. Of course there’s a difference. One of them is full of dirty, musclebound male characters chasing other men in tight-fitting costumes in order to spray them with gunfire or pound them with handtools.

              The other ones are totally gay.

      2. “”Oh wait, those used to be huge concerns and now aren’t. Maybe there’s some hope after all.””

        They gave up on those.

      3. By odd coincidence, I awoke this morning to my alarm radio carrying a representative of something called the National Lipids Society, who announced, without any supporting citation, that due to the Childhood Obesity Crisis, we face the First Generation of Children in a Century with Life Expectancies Shorter Than Their Parents.

        True, parents fear for their children, especially over things they cannot control. But it does not help that we are surrounded by profession panic-mongers who, for their own purposes, spout off nonsense like this.

        Footnote 1 – Every time I take my daughter shopping, go to a school event, take her to her summer camp, etc., I anxiously look around for evidence of this alleged epidemic of youth obesity. I have yet to see it. Are the all obese kids sitting at home?

        Footnote 2 – It was only a few years ago that we were supposedly facing a Body Image Crisis, especially among teen girls, who supposedly were all turning anorexic and bulemic in the mistaken belief that they were “overweight.” Are you now saying that they were correct after all?

        1. You know how one minute coffee is bad for you (by scientific study!) and the next it’s good for you (by scientific study!)? Same thing with all this public health shit.

        2. That shorter life expectancy “fact” always puzzles me a bit. Don’t we have to wait until the current generation dies to find out? If lots of people are getting fat, won’t that encourage development of treatments for problems such people are likely to have? Like a lot of the nannies’ favorite facts and statistics, it seems to assume that nothing will change at all from the way things are now.

          1. No you fool – they are experts! Experts with models! Perfect, infallible, all-knowing models.

          2. This from the Cracked article “6 Slacker Behaviors That Science Says Are Good For You

            When we say that some fat can help you live longer, we’re not talking about being obese here. Obesity is still worse for your health than trying to ride a bear that is riding shark. But…

            In a rather morbid study, Canadian researchers observed thousands of people for 12 years, carefully noting when they kicked the bucket. Not surprisingly, the super obese subjects died first, proving once and for all that all the video games where you gain more health as you eat more are not scientifically accurate. However, people at what was considered a healthy weight tended to die second, leaving the not-exactly-svelte to laugh as they slurped a milkshake. Then the milkshake came out of their noses, and that made everyone laugh.

            Here’s the link to the Canadian study..BMI and Mortality: Results From a National Longitudinal Study of Canadian Adults

          3. it seems to assume that nothing will change at all from the way things are now.

            Reminds me of stories that around the end of the 19th century there as a great deal of concern that the rapid growth of cities was outstripping their ability to deal with horse shit.

            1. Unfortunately, that prediction may have been true…

              …oh, sorry, not that kind of horse shit!

        3. Footnote 2 – It was only a few years ago that we were supposedly facing a Body Image Crisis, especially among teen girls, who supposedly were all turning anorexic and bulemic in the mistaken belief that they were “overweight.” Are you now saying that they were correct after all?

          Shh… Like the global cooling crisis of the 1970s, we aren’t supposed to talk about that any longer.

    2. How about […] low self esteem?????

      Good call, low self esteem should definitelly be illegal.

      1. If we made low self esteem illegal, I’d never get laid.

  12. From watching Nancy Grace, I’ve learned that only white children get abducted.

    1. Typically blondes. That’s why hair bleaching is my number one fear. It ratchets up the other dangers.

      1. Just feed your kids lots of chocolate and ice cream.

        Fat kids with zits never get abducted in TV and the movies.

      2. -“You dyed your hair.”
        -“Well, you said blondes were the most likely to get skin cancer.”

  13. My number one fear is what my kid wil learn in school from both her teachers and friends, not the car ride to and from. I don’t think this is an irrational fear.

    1. My top five fears:

      5. The government going bankrupt and the economy collapsing before my kids graduate from college.

      4. ME going bankrupt paying for my kids’ college.

      3. My kids choosing to rebel having terrible taste in music.

      2. My kids growing up in a society where civil rights are an anachronism.

      1. DCFS taking my kids away for any number of retarded reasons (like taking a picture of my 4-year-old helping out with homebrewing).

      1. Your #1 is also my #1. I fear NJCPS more than I fear Lily suddenly deciding to embrace a life of misguided environmental activism.

        Every time someone comments on a skinned knee or a scratch on her face, I get the shivers thinking I’m a target for an abuse investigation, simply because I have not rubber-roomed my house and yard. Yikes!

      2. 3. My kids choosing to rebel having terrible taste in music.

        OMFG!!!! Isn’t Fallout Boy the best band ever?!?!

        1. That’s why you have to start with indoctrination early. If it works for religion and public schools, I don’t see why it can’t work for instilling a love of metal in my child.

          Right now when given an option of music in the car, my 3 year old grabs my phone to play “Ra-Ra” which is translated in to either Opeth or Lamb of God depending on which of the 2 he chooses.

          That’s what I call superior parenting.

          A good start is the Rock a Bye Baby series. It’s contemporary music played with bells and glockenspiel. Bands such as Radiohead and Metallica are represented. Maiden too, I think.


  14. Where are “Libertarians” on the list?

    1. And zombies. And wolves. Also vampires.

    2. Can’t you read? It says “dangerous strangers” in plain english.

  15. Will Stoned Snipers from Al Qaeda Kidnap Your Kids?

    After this morning’s tantrum, I should be so lucky.

    HEY NOW!!!!!

    1. The Ransom of Red Chief?

      You might actually come out ahead.

      1. By a strange coincidence, O. Henry’s Full House is airing again tomorrow morning at 8:00 AM ET on the Fox Movie Channel.

  16. I’m curious…

    In Afghanistan, the leading causes of death for children are probably:

    1. School snipers
    2. Terrorists
    3. Kidnapping
    4. Dangerous Strangers
    5. drugs (poppy-growing warlords)

    Does that mean Afghan parents irrationally fear their children will die by car accidents, homicide, abuse, suicide, or drowning?

    1. I think “NATO” belongs on that list.

      Also “Unmanned Drones”.

      Both of those may overlap with #4 on your list.

    2. Do Japanese parents irrationally worry about Mister Kamikaze, Mister DNA?

      1. Not anymore, now that they’ve enlisted the Smart Patrol to defend Japan.

        However, I hear that Israeli parents fear their children will get a job, wear a hat and bring home the bacon.

        1. Hey, they’d at least be happier than you and me.

          1. Space Junk should be a rational fear of parents all over the world.

        2. +one Star of David.

      2. I think Japanese parents of boys worry about Godzilla and parents of girls worry about tentacle rape.

        1. “Don’t talk to any 200-ft tall lizards! Come straight home!”

        2. If there is one thing the internet has taught me it is that we ALL need to worry about tentacle rape.

          1. Especially from the Kochtopus.

  17. I guess the point of her article is to make me feel more reassured, but unfortunately, my list of fears is reflected more accurately on the “actual ways they die” list. I am reasonably confident that drugged-up terrorists will not kidnap my children, but it’s not a stretch to imagine some local jackass 16-year-old who will drive over them when speeding through my neighborhood.

    1. In all seriousness, the ‘jackass 16-year-old’ is far more dangerous to himself and his passengers than to pedestrians of any sort.

      1. Yeah. The bigger worry should be that your kids will BE that 16 year old jackass someday.

  18. Homicide is the second most common cause of child death? I find that hard to believe.

    1. Why is that hard to believe? Children tend not to die of illness or disease any more. It is not that child murders are very common, it is that other causes of death are very low.

    2. Actually, that doesn’t surprise me… after all, kids don’t die all that often. (Also, you have to take into account that most of those “murdered children” are teen-aged gang members who get killed in shootouts, but they’re still murdered children.)

      As far as the article title goes, I’d say the only danger to your kid from a stoned Al-Qaida sniper is if your kid is a Girl Scout, in which case they might just scare them off so they can get at the cookies…

      1. kids don’t die all that often

        The hell we don’t.

    3. You’re right. That is hard to believe.

      Maybe they are excluding natural causes.

      Or, maybe they count all deaths from starvation, disease, etc. as homicides caused by capitalism?? With a more “fair” system no one would ever die prematurely.

      1. I think, as how a lot of surveys are reported, unfortunately, the data are not worldwide. A lot of reports just fail to tell you, “in this country”, for instance. Maybe it’s just advanced contries in this case.

    4. You don’t have kids. If you did, you’d want to strangle the bastards every waking minute.

    5. Casualties of the Drug War.

      Exclude gang violence and I’m sure that homicide would drop off the list.

    6. This indicates manufacturing defects are the #2 cause for the 1-14 set.

    7. a lot of the murdered “children” are 17 year old gangbangers killed during turf battles

    8. Depends on age group. Here on statistic that has homicide at #2 for the age group 15-19:


  19. most homicides are not committed by terrorists or school snipers.

    Next, you’ll probably try to tell me I’m more likely to die from falling down the stairs in my own home than by being hit by a meteorite.


  20. I find that hard to believe.

    Too high, or not high enough?

  21. Who are these crazies she claims to have surveyed? Did she really keep numbers or just make them up an ordering to read as sensational, i.e., look how off base parents are?

    If it’s anywhere near true, is the problem that rarities make news, news is the only thing that gets att’n, so people misjudge the rare as common, the common as rare? Because if that’s true, it’d be a lot more important to come up with a way to counteract that tendency than to give advice about kids.

    But on the topic of advice, AFAICT from looking into the data and talking to experts 20 years ago (admittedly when use of passenger restraints was less common), it’s in cars where people should primarily wear helmets, not so much on bicycles, if they had to pick either one. Yet it seems the comments about helmets assumed use on bikes only, not in cars.

  22. I’m curious: While car accidents are the leading cause of death for children, what are the actual chances of even that happening. Sure, my kid is “most likely” to die in a wreck, but even the “most likely” occurrence is only .001% of the population (or whatever).

    I think that parents have too much leisure time, and thus worry about too much shit.

    1. Turns out there is a lifetime chance of about 1 in 115 that my kid will die in a wreck.

      1. There’s a lifetime 1 in 1 chance s/he’ll die of something.

  23. All in all, the fears listed are ridiculous.
    Real things parents should fear:
    sex (no, no, not the kids – themselves, at their age they could slip a disc)
    drugs (no, no not the children – the adults, have you seen the price of prescription drugs???)
    rock ‘n roll (tinnitis)
    snack foods (not the kids – the adults have to worry about cholesterol)
    college tuition costs

  24. “”stoned Al-Qaida sniper “”

    File that under things not to be on Halloween. I would hate to be the main character in a Balko article.

  25. “Will Stoned Snipers from Al Qaeda Kidnap Your Kids? ”
    I would hope so.


  27. A writing assignment: Top five fears of libertarians, and the top five things they really should be worried about.

  28. Children tend not to die of illness or disease any more.

    Guess again.



    0-1 years:
    * Developmental and genetic conditions that were present at birth
    * Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
    * All conditions associated with prematurity and low birth weight

    1-4 years:
    * Accidents
    * Developmental and genetic conditions that were present at birth
    * Cancer

    5-14 years:
    * Accidents
    * Cancer
    * Homicide

    15-24 years:
    * Accidents
    * Homicide
    * Suicide

    1. Interesting, thanks.

      1. Funny, I would have thought abortion would have been at the top of the 0-1 list.

    2. I’ll bet 99% of the homicides are black gang bangers raised by single moms on multi-generational welfare who have never known a positive male role model with a J-O-B in their short, violent lives.

    3. Not relevant without the total number of deaths per 1000 (or some ratio) to put it in perspective. If 5 children out of 1 million die of disease, while unfortunate, you could reasonably state that children tend not to die of disease.

      1. “If 5 499,999 children out of 1 million die of disease, while unfortunate, you could reasonably state that children tend not to die of disease.”

  29. My kid’s top five fears about what might happen to my kid:

    1. Another nightmare about a giant, red pig chasing him.
    2. Being left alone at the playground.
    3. Having to eat vegetables.
    4. Next visit to the dentist.
    5. The part of swim class where you have to dunk your face under water.

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