My word, when I think about what passed for safety concerns in the ’70s and ’80s it’s almost laughable.  There was “stranger danger” and our family had a safe word, kind of like a password for someone picking us up.  And I remember the year we started having to check all our Halloween candy back at the house before eating any – talk about a futile exercise in self-control.

We had Stop, Drop, and Roll…and not eating undercooked meat…and milk expiration dates that were sacrosanct.  Safety in the ’70s and ’80s hit the broad strokes.  Apparently there was rape and molestation, but nobody talked about it back then.

Nowadays you practically have to make safety issues a full time job.

“It’s six months to your due date and you haven’t baby proofed your house yet??  How will you get it all done?”

You have to talk about stranger danger, except kind of not.  Because if you land on stranger danger too heavy then your kids might not trust the authority figures they need for help, or end up getting hurt by someone they know (which is far more likely anyway).  So that means you have to have the friends/family/acquaintance danger talk, which is a much higher tightrope to walk.

There’s cigarettes and pot, alcohol and drugs.  You can’t even cover safety issues with “drugs” anymore – now you’ve got OTC and prescription pills, things you snort, things you shoot up – and explaining the fine nuance between why it’s good for Billy to take his ADHD meds but bad for you to buy them on the side.

The police used to be the end all, be all of safety when I was growing up.  That’s who you ran to when you were lost or hurt.  Now I have to tell my daughter yes, you pull over for a traffic stop, but only once you’re in a populated area.  Yes, even in the daytime.  Why?  Because safety first, and you can’t really know if that’s a “real” police officer behind you.  We’ll just avoid the fact altogether that police officers are human and therefore have the potential to be bad, too.

I have to tell my son yes, you pull over for a traffic stop, but from that point on you’d better think about every step you take.  Respectful responses, even if you disagree with the charge, can mean the difference between a ticket and a ride in the back of a police car.  Mouthing off can lead to more than a fine or a night in a holding cell, and events can spiral out of control in an instant.

People tell me the world hasn’t really changed that much; it’s just that the 24 hour news cycle puts it all front and center.  I can’t say I subscribe to that philosophy.  Not when it comes to my family’s safety.


Linda’s Stream of Consciousness prompt is a weekly event.  This week’s prompt is “save/safe.”  Check out her blog for more participants.