Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Should you put your child on a leash? Japanese mothers weigh in

Should you put your child on a leash? Japanese mothers weigh in

That's interesting.  I haven't seen anyone with a child on a leash here in Japan, but I have seen people walking cats on leashes.  I had no idea you could even do such a thing.  Japan is, to make a generalization, a safety-conscious society, so the idea child-leashes would eventually make their way here is less surprising than realizing they weren't already here, or a Japanese invention in the first place.

Still, there's a strange disparity between safety and the idea of what constitutes actually being safe.  Kids much younger than would be allowed to in the US take the city buses to and from school.  In the US, there would be concern about the kid being snatched by a human predator.  This happens in Japan, just as it does anywhere.  Some parents here may think along those lines, and others may be entranced by the idea frequently stated by people I've taught here that "Japan is safety," and therefore, nothing can happen to their kid as he or she commutes solo.  And actually, my main concern when I see those kids is they might get so caught up in their DS games they just forget they're supposed to get off at a particular stop and end up at the end of the line.

I think it's necessary for children (and even most adults) to wear sturdy and appropriate protective headgear while riding bicycles, but kids simply walking along their school routes frequently wear plastic helmets.  In some places, this seems to be from fear a piece of the sky may fall on them.  They're walking along with nothing overhead whatsoever.  On the other hand, what possible protection could these flimsy-looking helmets provide if a wall or an electrical tower came down on top of the kid in an earthquake?  Maybe the point is the helmet might help in case of a fall.  The kid would have to do some kind of gymnastic tripping to avoid landing on his or her unprotected chin-- as I did when I was six, and still carry the scar from-- and instead land on the helmet.  Maybe deliberately dive off a garden wall onto the pavement.

Anyway, the leash.  Time for a "curb your kids" campaign.  Probably it would be a good idea to spay and neuter them as well.  Or let society take care of it.  Society seems to do a fantastic job in that department.

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