|Kids on NYC subway, Flickr's Victor Shoup|
Today's implication was that Granton could've been murdered at any moment, even though half a million NYC students take the subway or bus to school every day, and no less of an authority than New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says it's perfectly safe for children ages 8 and up to ride the subway to school by themselves.
So to show how life is actually terribly risky in URBAN HELLHOLES like New York, The Today Show's Jeff Rossen sent an 11-year-old BY HIMSELF to extremely safe, busy public areas, then told bystanders they were history's greatest monsters for not immediately treating him like a kidnapping victim.
"At New York's famed Coney Island amusement park, Bjorn boarded ride after ride with no mom or dad in sight," reported Rossen, with absolutely no hint of self-awareness that he was actually describing an idyllic day for an 11-year-old of any previous generation. When Bjorn asked questions of strangers, they helpfully gave him whatever he needed.
Fortunately, Rossen was able to turn to John Walsh to inform people on the boardwalk that Bjorn was actually lucky to have survived the hour without being murdered by a lurking predator:
"Yeah, but he seemed comfortable and confident, self-assured," replied one. "He seemed old enough, it's broad daylight, lots of people around."Even if a child looks totally safe and secure, you must still treat them like they're terrified and in grave danger!
But Walsh pointed out: "They're not going to be crying or hysterical. And kids are so vulnerable, at that age particularly. They're so trusting, they're so innocent, and you don't want the bad guy to come up and say, 'I can help you.'"
The experiment continued at a much quieter park where Bjorn walked through a group of adults, passed women pushing strollers, and listened to a musician. No one even looked twice. When the Rossen team had Bjorn sit alone on a bench for many minutes with no guardian in sight, no one said anything.An 11-year-old sitting by himself with no one bothering him in a park filled with parents, and no one called the police? YOU SAVAGES.
The moral of the story: If we see an 11-year-old outdoors alone, we should be constantly asking him if he needs help. But having spent my entire childhood roaming the streets of Boston with friends with not one horror story but plenty of Kareem Granton-esque adventures, all I could conclude was:
- Bjorn had fun
- No one bothered him and he didn't hurt himself
- Whenever he needed help, there was always a grownup right there happy to assist him
Minutes later, Today launched into a new warning to parents: "Kids hooked on the Internet can suffer from chronic sleep deprivation, poor nutrition and academic failure."
Might letting them out of the house once in a while by themselves ease that problem? Sorry, we'll have to leave it there!