Should disturbing news affect our parenting choices?

The world recently learned of the astounding story of the three women who were found alive in a house in Cleveland after being kidnapped on the streets about 10 years ago. Two of the women were teenagers when they disappeared. I’ve never been one to let sensational news guide by parenting. I send the kids off to school each day without thinking of the terrible Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. I try not to think of all the people who die in car accidents when I hand the car keys to my 16-year-old son. But every now and then I stop and wonder if I’m making the right decisions in the freedom I give my kids. Just days after the Cleveland story broke, my 12-year-old asked to walk alone to a store about a mile away. I first told him to take a friend, but when one wasn’t available, I told him to take his cell phone. His dad, on the other hand, was completely opposed to the idea, fearing our son would get mugged. I consider our neighborhood safe, but is any neighborhood really safe? When is a kid old enough to walk alone? What’s a responsible parent to do? Liz Atwood is a former Baltimore Sun features editor who teaches journalism at Hood College. She is the mother of two sons, ages 12 and 16.
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