A reader of this blog sent me a piece of paper produced by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Apparently she had paid a visit to someone who is a member of that society and they were talking about how to best care for her children. There were two "handouts", one for the parent of the child and one for the child. They were basically the same, with a couple of interesting differences that I will mention later. For now let me consider the advice given by the quasi-government organization to parents in this fearful land.
The AAP describes itself, in part, in this way, "The AAP advocates for access to health care for all children, adolescents and young adults. The AAP believes that each child should have a 'medical home' --a model of health care where care is accessible, family-centered, continuous, comprehensive, coordinated, compassionate and culturally effective. The AAP works with government, communities and other national organizations to shape many child health and safety issues." In other words, the AAP is a lobby group dedicated to taking my money and using it for its own purposes. What are its purposes? Consider this, "AAP recommendations form the basis of pediatric preventive health care. The AAP issues policy statements, clinical reports, technical reports and practice guidelines on a broad range of topics. The AAP collaborates with two other organizations to produce the annual recommended immunization schedules for children and adolescents used by schools, public health agencies and pediatricians."
If this were strictly a voluntary organization I would have no problem with it, regardless of the content of its recommendations for child care. The fact that my tax dollars are used to fund some of its activities is nothing more than legalized theft. Last year the AAP operated on a budget of $106 million. Roughly half of that budget was spent on salaries for employees, leaving about $56 million to do whatever it is they do. Government grants made up $16 million of the operating budget for the year. That is $16 million too much. Nevertheless, this blog post is not about wasteful government spending. It is about the obsession for safety in our society, some of which can be found within the AAP.
The parental handout included many innocuous exhortations for parents including, "Spend time with your child" and "Know your child's friends and their parents." The only thing that concerns me with advice of this sort is what it reveals about the enormous superiority complex to be found among those who write such things. Do they really believe we are so stupid we do not know that it is a good idea to spend time with our children?
Leaving that aside the worksheet also enforces all of the government approved bans upon what should be legal and moral behaviors. The "Make sure your child knows how you feel about alcohol and drug use" exhortation would blow up in their faces in the homes of Welshmen. There are two reasons for that. First, we don't really care how we "feel" about drug and alcohol (as if it is not a drug) use. What we think about alcohol and drug use is much more important. Second, the Welsh train their children from a very early age to use drugs responsibly. Young children are introduced to alcoholic beverages at a tender age and shown how to enjoy them responsibly. In that sense we are continuing the historical practice of the American Puritans who would not send their children off to school each morning without a fortifying glass of mead.
The section entitled "Violence and Injuries" is the one that angered me the most. Here were the rules to be found there:
- "Make sure everyone always wears a seat belt in the car." The choice to wear a seat belt is a personal choice and should not be mandated by government. I always wear mine and would require my children to do so as well but the current state of government rules and regulations related to child safety seats are agonizingly overreaching and burdensome. They should all be abolished.
- "Do not allow your children to ride ATVs." I wonder if this was written after Amy Van Dyken's accident? Of all the potentially dangerous physical activities a child could engage in why should this one be singled out? The list did not say to not allow your children to jump out of airplanes or put on a wingsuit and jump off a cliff. I wonder why? Personally I despise ATVs. I would much prefer that everyone in the universe be required to hike when they are in the backcountry rather than allowing them to ride around on noisy machines. But my preferences do not matter. I am not the center of the universe and everyone is free to do whatever they want to do, regardless of what I might think about it. My kids would never ride an ATV, at least not while they are under my authority, but if you want to allow your children to do so, go for it dude!
- "Make sure your child knows how to get help if he is feeling unsafe." A child will naturally go to his parents when he feels unsafe. All but the most criminally abusive parents are aware of this fact. That is not good enough for the AAP. Although they do not come right out and say it, what they mean here, I believe, is if a child "feels unsafe," whatever that means, they should go to a government employee (teacher, guidance counselor, or, worst of all, a cop) for help. My advice to my child is to avoid all government employees like the plague. They are the danger.
- "Remove guns from your home." My personal favorite. Guns are patently unsafe and they all must be banished forever. A child is far more likely to be injured by hundreds of household items before he will ever be injured by a gun, as it sits passively in a corner of the bedroom closet. Does anybody detect a bit of anti-gun bias in this exhortation?
- "Wear protective gear including helmets for playing sports, biking, skating, and skateboarding." How did I survive my childhood without a helmet? How did you?
- "Healthy dating relationships are built on respect, concern, and doing things both of you like to do." My first thought about this exhortation is why is it listed under the category entitled "Violence and Injuries?" Are most "dating relationships" associated with violence and injury? I don't know since I didn't "date." Furthermore, my children will never "date." But thanks for the advice. I know I feel a lot safer now than I did before.