Trees and cat are too dangerous for kids

I love this story:

It’s one of the many “What are Americans thinking”-stories that we just shake our collective euro-heads at. And it’s not like we haven’t become much more protective of our kids - when I was kid I biked on the road from age 6, and my kids only bike on paths unless they’re with a grownup. Our car didn’t have seatbelts in the backseats and nobody had invented the kiddy seat yet, but still.

I remember one story a few years back where a Danish mother left her sleeping infant outside a café in NY (while keeping an eye on the carriage through the window). This is very common in Denmark, but she was arrested by NYPD and her kid spent a couple of days in Child Protective Services care while our enbassy and her lawyers tried to sort things out.

And regarding the story above, we have many so called “forest kindergartens” where kids are collected in a bus and spend all day running around in a forest. No fences, no manufactured toys and only adults to supervise play.

It’s insane. Especially when you consider that conditions in a typical inner city elementary school really are dangerous.

To be fair, it’s not like Eurohippie parents are entirely immune. I remember years back when bicycle helmets became common, some parents insisted that their kids wear them when at the playground. With the result that quite a few kids were hanged as their helmets got stuck in jungle gyms.


I’m finding that tough to believe too. Do you mean they were hanged to death by helmets?

Source is likely : or

We received a report in 1992 from Anders Slatis, then a consultant for a Swedish helmet manufacturer, documenting six cases from 1984 to 1992 of asphyxiation by helmet straps when the helmets caught in Swedish or Norwegian playground equipment. All victims were boys under six. “Thirty or forty” more incidents occurred without injury.

I have always heard this regarded as a myth, as it only ever gets presented by the “bicycle helmets don’t save lives, they KILL!” crowd.

Accidental hanging by helmet straps

There are cases of young children playing (on or near bunk beds, trees, clothes lines, play equipment etc.) suffering death or severe brain damage as a result of hanging by the straps of their bicycle helmets.[81][82][83][84][85][86][87][88][89][90] As a result, European Standard EN 1080 was developed, which uses a weak retention system designed to open under load.[91] Such helmets are not intended for use anywhere motor vehicles are present.[92] To avoid serious accidents, parents and carers should take care to ensure that children do not wear bicycle helmets during unsupervised play, or when using climbing equipment.[93]

It’s true that it’s a general warning not to use bicycle helmets on playgrounds because a kid might get stuck and strangulated in a jungle gym or such… but whether that is based on a single incident or just over careful “It just might happen worries” I don’t know.

I definitely has no recollection of an epedemic of parents sending their helmeted kids to their death on European playgrounds, so Krise must provide something better than his own vague recollection.

His first point is unecessary to make, since I’m saying the exact same in my post. We are not immune and we are more protective than our parents generation (and even more so than generations before). But it’s nothing like the USA stories like the above describe.

And while me and the wife often talk about when we’re just being careful (using the knowledge and possibilities technological advance gives us as parents compared to earlier generations) and when we’re perhaps being over protective - we still look in wonderment at others. And it seems like the US is a world leader in overprotectiveness or just general fearfulness too.

Ah, too slow…

What scares us and what actually kills us are rarely the same things.

True, and that’s perhaps part of the point I’m trying to make. Some people - and I posit that a large number of Americans are really bad at this - are just more prone to act on their (unjustified) fears than others.

Well, it’s not like there were dead kids hanging from playground equipment all over the place, but yeah it did happen. Also, the “bike helmets kill” crowd is fucking stupid.

Some of this was undoubtedly due to kids simply getting off their bikes to play without changing headgear, but there was a trend of “if it’s good when they ride bikes then it’s good when they don’t” right about the time bike helmets became popular and public campaigns promoted their use.

However, this was individual parents being silly rather than (as Hans’ linked article) the government being silly, so admittedly it’s somewhat apples and oranges.

And hey, worrying about your kids comes with the territory, especially when there aren’t any hard answers. Letting small kids play with nitroglycerin is probably a bad idea, but so is locking them in the basement until they’re 20. The trick is to find a balance somewhere in between.

Well I’m convinced.

I don’t think that this has much to do with the “safety crazy” culture in the U.S., as it has to do with the “Sue first, ask questions later” society.

That whole Free Range Kids blog is great. Tons of facepalm worthy stories about overprotective parents freaking out and trying to make sane people feel like terrible parents.

I sometimes walk to work along a path through a forest near a preschool/kindergarten. Without fail there are always children running around in the woods and playing in giant puddles of mud with no adults anywhere in sight. I have heard that it’s also no big deal here to let your young (say 4 years old) children wander around anywhere in the city.

I have also of course seen lots of strollers outside shops and cafes with children in them and no parent.

I know the financial crash hit Iceland hard… but I assume they still have some cars and fuel left, so letting a 4 year old wander the city is probably where my personal boundaries would be crossed.
Sure they’re not slightly older?

American regulators are not scared of children getting injured at schools, more the resultant litigation that would follow such an incident…

“but you should have foreseen that low hanging branches could poke Billy’s eye out…”

The city is pretty small. To be fair this is what I’ve been told, not what I’ve seen in practice.

Exactly, it is more about protecting their own asses than protecting the kids.

Reminds me of the scene in “A Mighty Wind” with the low hanging floral displays that someone with a walker might get caught up in and fall. Are these plants too high? If someone was running around, one of these branches could poke them and they could go blind.