Idea: Humble Americans for Math and Reason Party (HAMR)
Tony Stubblebine

Why Do We Judge Parents For Putting Kids At Perceived — But Unreal — Risk

This submission to Humble Americans for Math and Reason comes from my most humble friend, Buster Benson:

Why Do We Judge Parents For Putting Kids At Perceived — But Unreal — Risk

The article is not packed with data, but it is packed with questions that are friendly to mathematical reasoning:

The odds that a child will be abducted by a stranger — one of the fears that motivates constant supervision — are tiny in comparison with the odds that a child will be injured in a car accident. Yet parents aren’t under investigation for choosing to drive their kids to school.

That’s not quite apples to apples, but it gets to the heart of what some parents might want to measure.

And what really caught my eye were two stories that point to where HAMR would want to influence public policy.

Story #1. Single Working Parent & the Public Park

The case that really stood out to me was the one about Debra Harrell — the McDonald’s worker who let her 9-year-old daughter play in a busy public park for several hours during the day while she (Harrell) was at work. The daughter had a key to her home (which was a six-minute walk away from the park) and a cellphone. But when the girl mentioned to an adult in the park that her mother was at work, the adult called the police, who arrested and jailed Harrell and put the daughter in state custody. I thought, here’s a single mother who works for low wages for a corporation that doesn’t provide child care, and she was treated as a criminal for letting her daughter do something that is relatively safe.

The HAMR approach here would be to do the math. What is the impact of taking a kid away from their parent versus what is the impact of letting a kid play unattended in a park? They are not equal.

Story #2. Gotcha Citizen Journalism

It seems to be socially acceptable to harass parents (particularly mothers) who are “caught” leaving their child unattended for any time at all. I found several videos online where someone (usually a young man) sees a baby waiting in a car outside a store, and he videotapes himself going into the store to berate and yell at the mother of this baby. These guys are so proud of their behavior that they post the whole thing on Facebook, bragging about how they put these women in their place.

This story seems like a good place to introduce the official motto for Humble Americans for Math and Reason:

“Well, actually…”

As in, “Well, actually… the risk of leaving my child in the car was 85% lower than the risk we took driving here.”