New York's Safety Police

Like Matt, I think the uproar over this is ridiculous. By the time I was in fourth grade, I was allowed to walk home from school by myself, past several housing projects, across major avenues, and through a neighborhood generally regarded as a short step away from the slums. I'm not sure whether I got to ride the subway, but then, back in the 1980s, the New York subways were actually dangerous. I was certainly shopping alone at Bloomingdales in junior high. And I'm pretty sure that my best friend, who went to school on the east side, was riding the crosstown bus unescorted even younger than nine.

I don't understand why, as New York has gotten safer, parents have gotten more overprotective. At a dinner party last summer, a woman apologetically explained her decision to stay home with the kids on the grounds that she had to take them to and from school every day. How old were these kids? 13 and 9. At thirteen I would have committed seppuku rather than bear the shame of having my mother escort me to school. And I'm trying--and failing--to picture the look on her face had anyone suggested such a ridiculous idea. Yet to hear this woman tell it, all the parents at her child's school shuttled their children back and forth.