Friday, June 05, 2009

Absurd DHS Begs for Oregonian Rebuttal

Amy Alkon wrote about the "minimal acceptable standards" published by the Child Protective Services office in Arlington County, Virginia.

That DHS demands (and has the authority to penalize violations without trial):
8 years and under: Should not be left alone for any period of time. This includes leaving children unattended in cars, playgrounds, and yards.

9 to 10 years: Should not be left alone for more than 1 ½ hours and only during daylight and early evening hours.

11 to 12 years: May be left alone for up to 3 hours, but not late at night or in circumstances requiring adult supervision.

13 to 15 years: May be left unsupervised, but not overnight.

16 to 17 years: May be left unsupervised for up to two consecutive overnight periods.
I plan to write to the Oregon Child Protective Services office, asking them to mock this absurdity as a father's day present to Oregon's dads. (My county does not even have its own CPS office, only a local branch for the state level.)

Oregon should brag about how safe its cities are, and how responsible its children are!

I need help brainstorming example satire. How about this to start?
2 years and under: An infant or toddler child unable to be left alone, at home, for up to five minutes while a parent is busy at the oven or in the restroom is in a dangerously non-child-proofed home. Why hasn't at least one room been made child proof? How about using the crib or a play yard?

3 to 5 years: A child of preschool/kindergarten age who cannot play safely in a fenced yard while unsupervised needs proper training about Oregon's many poisonous plants. If the neighborhood is one of the extremely few in Oregon that ever experience a kidnapping by a stranger then the family should consider a dog to cause loud alarm about sneaky trespassers for the adult who is at the computer or in the kitchen with half an ear alert for the child's noises.

5 to 8 years: A child of early elementary school age should be able to play unsupervised at the homes of many friends, with the parent of the friend home in case of an emergency (if you cannot trust your child at his or her friends' homes, your child needs different friends). A large group of children of this age should be able to play at a playground or park with only one adult watching by using well-established habits of always staying with a designated buddy, behaving properly around strangers, and checking in with the adult before entering a restroom or other building.

9 to 10 years: A child of late elementary school age should be able to play unsupervised in the neighborhood until the street lights turn on. A
child this age should also be able, without supervision, to use the local bus system (except for the Portland metro area), to help a lost younger child get help, and to prepare a meal for his or her family

11 to 12 years: A child of middle school age should be polite enough to not avoid eating dinner with the rest of the family just because he or she has a friend visiting. Even on nights with a sleepover, the otherwise unsupervised children should each communicate with their parents before going to bed and before leaving for school in the morning (for the guests who are away from home, a text message or tweet is minimally sufficient). A child of this age should be familiar with the habits of unsupervised yet safe internet surfing, household cleaning with bleach-water and/or vinegar, and rifle use, even if his or her own home does not participate in these practices.

13 to 15 years: An Oregonian teenager unable, with a buddy of similar age, to pack backpacks and then survive in the wilderness alone all weekend needs to catch up on time spent outdoors. (Not that teens should do this, but they should be able to.)

16 to 17 years: Huh? Although they are minors, in Oregon we don't call these people "children", at least out loud (but if they have never had a job and driver's license we probably call them "children" in our head).
As a tangential note and conclusion, I do not want to be insensitive to parents of children with special needs, but do not have room for such detail in this attempt at satire.

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