Friday, October 07, 2011
"Stranger Danger" & Obesity
It happens, but very rarely.
A U.S. Department of Justice report* estimates that about 115 children a year are abducted by a stranger and taken far away or overnight or held for ransom or killed. It's a calamity for each family. But by comparison more than 1,500 children under age 15 are killed and almost 600,000 are injured in car crashes in the US each year according to CDC statistics.
Yet parents are scolded and shamed (or worse) if they let their kids play in the neighborhood without a minder shadowing their every move. And parents load their kids into the car and drive them to school (remember the leading cause of death of children in the US is car crashes) because they are afraid to let them walk there or even wait for the school bus without a parent posse on hand.
The "stranger danger" hype on TV has real consequences.
How does it relate to obesity? Think about it. Free outdoor play is discouraged. Walking or bicycling to school forbidden. Kids are kept inside or in the car. While fear of abduction by strangers is not the only reason that children today aren't as active as earlier generations, it certainly plays a role... and the toll of rising childhood obesity may be shorter lives.
So should we really spend so much time worrying about strangers? Or maybe a little more time worrying about the effects of the familiar TV set.
Read the full discussion in “House, M.D. vs. Reality”
*Note: The Second National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children (NISMART–2) is currently being updated with research that will go into NISMART-3.