>So, one of our struggles here in Jordan has been that we try and keep our kids young for as long as possible. We buck the prevailing trends in child rearing in many, many ways. A friend sent me a link today from a letter in the Jordan Times. It was very well written and over the last year, I have become a huge fan of Nermeen Murad. I haven’t me her, but this lady is smart, with-it, and well-spoken. I feel certain I would like her ;). At any rate, today’s article is called False Sense of Security. Here’s an excerpt:
It is exactly a month since five-year-old Ward went missing. I believe that all qualified agencies have employed their resources to find him. I know that people have prayed for him and empathised with his family’s plight. But all I could think of over the past month was that this child of five was sent out on his own for a 200-metre walk to the baker and the hummus shop.
And this is one of those things that amazed me from the minute we moved to Jordan. As I take the Beans to school each morning, I pass two government schools, one for boys and one for girls. At each, but particularly the boys’ school, I pass children who are far too young to be walking to school alone. The lucky ones are in the care of their older siblings (you know the 6 year old is responsible for the 4 year old), but most are walking alone or in groups of 5-6 little tiny boys. Many of these boys are 4 and 5 years old. It is hard to see them over the hood of the car. And they are roaming the streets on their own. At first I couldn’t believe it. I get that people here don’t fear kidnappings like Americans do, but what about the crazy drivers or potential molesters?
Having experienced that for the last few years, the story of poor Ward doesn’t surprise me. How terrible his parents must be feeling. How helpless it must make you feel. And yet, how societally acceptable it is to send a five year old alone on the streets. I see 3 and 4 year olds playing unattended in the streets. As a crazy American (accused more than once of being overprotective of my kids in my vigilance against opportunities for abuse), I wouldn’t even consider letting my SEVEN year old go one block alone. My five year olds? No way. Not a chance.
While I think Nermeen is perhaps a bit hard on the parents, I do think that the false sense of security she calls out exists. And it does need to be addressed. Is prosecution of parents like Ward’s the answer? I really don’t know. What I do know is that I will pray for Ward and his family. I hope that they will know peace and find closure. And I hope that the tale will become a cautionary one about pushing our kids to grow up too fast…