I have a habit of reading magazines cover to cover. Which is fine. Except it usually leads to a bit of a backlog. Especially with magazines that come every week. Like BusinessWeek. Or Newsweek.
So the other day I was reading through an old Newsweek from a couple of months ago (I told you there was a backlog). I stumbled upon a really short little blurb about an uproar in New York over a mom who let her elementary school-aged child ride public transportation alone. This brought up questions about parental responsibility and all of that good stuff. And all I could think about was the way child care in Sweden is looked upon.
There are little kids everywhere on public transportation. Riding the trains, the subways, the buses. And I don’t blink an eye. Aside from the random really young kid it doesn’t seem that strange to me. If anything I appreciate it. Shows a little faith in the community. Shows a little faith in the kid. Shows a little faith in public transportation (which might be ill placed considering my experience with SL).
But in the US it seems that if the kid isn’t with the parent at all times it is paramount to neglect. Which is ridiculous. In Sweden it seems that people are a bit more trusting when it comes to kids. Which makes sense. Because when it comes down to it, the chances of your kid being abused, assaulted, kidnapped, or anything else just really aren’t that good. Sure it would be hell if it happened, but just looking at the numbers… it probably won’t happen. And plus, it must be exhausting to live that way. Constantly worried. Constantly in fear of what the worst case scenario might be.
Hell, in Stockholm during the summer months you can walk by restaurants and see strollers outside of the restaurant with little kids in them just sleeping away. And no one is stealing these kids away. It’s a very different attitude. And one which I think the Swedes have going for them. In fact, it seems like Scandinavia is big on this thing.
I seem to remember quite a while ago a woman was arrested for child abuse for leaving her baby outside a restaurant in New York. The woman was Danish. Now granted, when you’re in a different country you should probably pay some attention to the local customs. When in Rome and all that good stuff. But regardless, I think it demonstrates just how different the attitudes to what constitutes good childcare can be.
I’m all for leaving the kids outside. Or letting them ride the train on their own. It builds character. Plus, if the kid is a little shit you can get some peace and quiet. The Swedes figured that out.