Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Innocence vs. Safety

Many parents try to protect their children's innocence for as long as they can, believing this will keep them safe. This is much of the reason behind attempts at censoring the media to expunge all reference to sex, and less often, violence in attempts to make it "family friendly". Some parents even keep their children from watching the news in order to shield them from hearing about anything negative or distressing. Opposition to comprehensive sex education stems from this same desire -- obviously, they believe adolescents will not think about sex if they're kept ignorant about the facts of life!

Some parents will go as far as to homeschool their kids to insulate them from being exposed to "wordly" influences, believing this will protect them from harm and keep them safe. Note that I'm not lumping all homeschooling parents into the same mold here; there are good reasons to homeschool as well as this misguided reason.

But we do our children a disservice when we overprotect them in the name of "innocence". In our increasingly complex society, children need to be gradually equipped with the knowledge they need to survive in our world and they need to learn how to protect themselves. To shield children from the real world is to paint a target on their backs and they'll be unprepared to deal with life when they're thrown out into the cold world when they reach adulthood.

In effect, cocooning children in bubble wrap for eighteen years in the well-meaning, but misguided, attempt to keep them "innocent" will make them less safe in the long run.


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