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NWF Green Hour

Commentary on what parents should know about and can do to counteract common "nature deficit disorders" in our TV-watching, video game-playing children including encouraging a daily "Green Hour" of outside play and learning. A program of the National Wildlife Federation

Friday, December 09, 2005


Green is Safer -- Parental Worries About Kids Playing Outdoors are Wrong-Minded!

Parents generally assume that children are safer staying home online than they are playing outside where a sexual predator or other evildoer might approach them. Wrong. Here are some Seventeen Magazine survey facts that bring home the point. Of teenage girls (ages 12 t0 18):

• Sixty percent have filled out a questionnaire or form online and
given out personal information (name, address, date of birth,
phone number, or school name).

• Twelve percent have agreed to meet in person with someone
they have met only online.

• Forty-five percent have told someone they met online personal
information, such as their real name, age or date of birth, address,
phone number, or school name.

• Sixty-one percent have received pictures from someone online.

• Twenty-three percent have sent pictures to someone that they
have met on the Internet.

• Fifteen percent have received suggestive or threatening e-mail
messages that have made them feel uncomfortable.

• Thirty percent have been in a chatroom where the discussion
made them feel uncomfortable.

• Fifteen percent have read messages on the Web that have
threatened violence.

In the meantime, incidents of violence to children in outdoor settings is down by nearly 40% over past years and a child's chance of having a worrisome encounter while playing in the backyard or neighborhood is negligible notwithstanding sensational media cases indicating the opposite.


The Curiosity Response

Everyone knows that kids are naturally curious, but how much do adults end up actually stifling this young enthusiasm? Many adults may not fully grasp how interested and excited children get about being outdoors. Let's chalk it up to being beaten down by years of schooling, demanding work and tight shedules. The Wisconsin Early Childhood Excellence Initiaitive points out, however, how important it is that children get a curiosity response. But it is the Teachers and day care workers who need to have the response -- not the kids! Take a look at the Wisconsin Initiative's web page pointing out how important it is to be alert for curiosity in children and to know what to do with it, no matter how basic.


A Kid in the Bush

In the Wild with Children

Many parents go a little nuts at the mere thought of taking children out to wild places for hikes, climbs and other rustic adventures. On top of worries about injuries (and bugs), a main concern seems to be that the kids will get lost. Moreover, some highly-publicized cases have made America's parents fearful that children might be abducted by an evildoer while roaming in the woods. In New Zealand, getting kids into wild places, or the "bush," is a cultural norm. But ,even in NZ, a few pointers on commons sense approaches to fun and safety are useful. Check out this article on "Time in the Wild With Children." It can be very reassuring for those nervous parents out there.

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