Stranger Danger and Our Kids

No Adults Allowed
by Lenore Skenazy

The signs on every playground in my city, New York, say this: “Playground rules prohibit adults except in the company of children.”

Apparently, because any adult who simply wants to sit on a bench and watch kids at play could be a creep, it’s best to just ban them all. The idea that children and adults go naturally together has been replaced by distrust and disgust. [ . . . ]

By separating the generations this way, we are creating a new society, one that actively distrusts anyone who wants to help a kid other than his own. Compare this anxiety with what goes on in Japan. There the youngest kids wear bright yellow hats when they go to school.

“Doesn’t that put them in danger?” asked a friend I was telling about this. To her, a kid who calls attention to himself is a kid who could be attracting a predator.

But attracting adult attention is exactly what the yellow hats are supposed to do. In Japan, the assumption is that the easier it is to see children the easier it is for grown-ups to look out for them.

Japan’s belief is that children are our collective responsibility. America’s is that children are private treasures under constant threat of theft.

Which brings me to the flip side of our obsession with stranger danger: the idea that anytime a parent lets her kids do anything on their own, she is actually requiring the rest of us grown-ups to “baby-sit” them free of charge. [ . . . ]

It didn’t matter that he was perfectly well-behaved, only that when a store employee asked his age, he was deemed an unbearable burden to the store. The manager had him detained until his father could come pick him up.

This detention outraged many people, but a significant contingent sided with the store, saying that the employees there shouldn’t have had to “baby-sit” the boy.

But, but — no one did have to baby-sit him. He was just a person in public, albeit a young one.

‘Stranger Danger’ and the Decline of Halloween
by Lenore Skenazy

Take “stranger danger,” the classic Halloween horror. Even when I was a kid, back in the “Bewitched” and “Brady Bunch” costume era, parents were already worried about neighbors poisoning candy. Sure, the folks down the street might smile and wave the rest of the year, but apparently they were just biding their time before stuffing us silly with strychnine-laced Smarties.

That was a wacky idea, but we bought it. We still buy it, even though Joel Best, a sociologist at the University of Delaware, has researched the topic and spends every October telling the press that there has never been a single case of any child being killed by a stranger’s Halloween candy. (Oh, yes, he concedes, there was once a Texas boy poisoned by a Pixie Stix. But his dad did it for the insurance money. He was executed.)

Anyway, you’d think that word would get out: poisoned candy not happening. But instead, most Halloween articles to this day tell parents to feed children a big meal before they go trick-or-treating, so they won’t be tempted to eat any candy before bringing it home for inspection. As if being full has ever stopped any kid from eating free candy!

So stranger danger is still going strong, and it’s even spread beyond Halloween to the rest of the year. Now parents consider their neighbors potential killers all year round. That’s why they don’t let their kids play on the lawn, or wait alone for the school bus: “You never know!” The psycho-next-door fear went viral.

“Stranger Danger” to children vastly overstated
by Glenn Fleishman

Of nonfamily abductions, just 115 children (90 reported) in 1999 were estimated to fit a stereotypical kidnapping by a stranger or slight acquaintance. Forty of those were killed. That’s 1 child out of every 750,000 kidnapped, and 1 out of about every 2 million killed.

Of all children reported missing (whether the estimate or based on reports), 99.8% were returned home or located; the remaining number were virtually all runaways.

Family, through noncustodial abduction or kicking a child out; a child’s own action as a runaway, for whatever cause and for whatever duration; and accidents are most of these reports. All of these problems can be mitigated by various means, but none of them fit into our picture of not letting a kid walk down the street because she or he will be snatched.

You wouldn’t know any of this from reading typical parental advice regarding stranger danger.

Of Puppies and Predators at the Park
byy Lenore Skenazy

The problem is that the very premise makes it seem as if this is a situation kids are routinely faced with, something as common as, “Would your kids eat a cookie if someone offered it?” What is so hard to understand is that first of all, the vast majority of crimes against children are committed not by strangers they meet at the park but by people they know. That means they are far likelier to encounter their abuser at the dinner table than at the park. So it is bizarre to keep acting as if the park is teeming with danger.

Secondly, there is something twisted and weird about only looking at risk when we think of kids. Every aspect of children’s lives is seen as somehow dangerous: what they’re eating, wearing, watching and doing and, of course, what could happen to them if they ever left the house.

Which, increasingly, we don’t let them do — despite there being a crime rate that is similar to the one in 1963.

Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis by Robert D Putnam review – concerned, scholarly
by Richard Reeves

The concatenation of advantages and disadvantages is visible in economic sorting at the neighbourhood level, leading to social sorting in terms of schools, churches and community groups. Putnam writes: “Our kids are increasingly growing up with kids like them who have parents like us.” This represents, he warns, “an incipient class apartheid”.

Bootstraps Aren’t Enough
by W. Bradford Wilcox

For the well-educated, the phrase “our kids” may well bring to mind conditions of relative affluence, in which children grow up in a family with two married and attentive (even overattentive) parents; attend high-performing schools; and feel themselves embedded in a network of friends and mentors ready to help them navigate life’s challenges. By contrast, “their kids”—the kids of poor and working-class parents—face a world in which social capital is in short supply. As Mr. Putnam shows powerfully and poignantly—combining reporting with empirical analysis—the disparity results in too many children in nonaffluent circumstances feeling alone, emotionally stunted and unable to summon the will to climb today’s economic ladder into the middle or upper class.

Richer and Poorer
by Jill Lepore

The American dream is in crisis, Putnam argues, because Americans used to care about other people’s kids and now they only care about their own kids. But, he writes, “America’s poor kids do belong to us and we to them. They are our kids.”

Robert Putnam: When Did Poor Kids Stop Being ‘Our Kids’?
by Sarah D. Sparks

“If it takes a village to raise a child, the prognosis for America’s children isn’t good: In recent years, villages all over America, rich and poor, have deteriorated as we’ve shirked collective responsibility for our kids,” Mr. Putnam wrote. “And most Americans don’t have the resources … to replace collective provision with private provision.” [ . . . ]

Mr. Putnam, whose 2000 book Bowling Alone looked at declining civic ties among adults, argues that students in poverty growing up in the middle of the last century had greater economic and social mobility than their counterparts do today in large part because adults at all socioeconomic levels were more likely then to see all students as “our kids.”

The terrible loneliness of growing up poor in Robert Putnam’s America
by Emily Badger

“If we can begin to think of these poor kids as our kids,” he says, “we would not sleep for a second before we figured out how to help them.”

Why you should care about other people’s kids
interview by Paul Solman

PS: Sure, but Herrnstein’s point was that it could be genetic, it could be nurture, but that sort of mating is happening and it’s going to pose a huge inequality problem in this country.

RP: He’s right. And if it were just genetics, there might not be anything we could do about it. But if it’s partly just the resources that we’re investing in these kids, which is my thesis, that’s fixable in principle. That’s not like a law of genetics. My argument is basically we need to think of these kids coming from poor backgrounds and broken homes – they’re also our kids.

When I was growing up in Port Clinton 50 years ago, my parents talked about, “We’ve got to do things for our kids. We’ve got to pay higher taxes so our kids can have a better swimming pool, or we’ve got to pay higher taxes so we can have a new French department in school,” or whatever. When they said that, they did not just mean my sister and me — it was all the kids here in town, of all sorts. But what’s happened, and this is sort of the bowling alone story, is that over this last 30, 40, 50 years, the meaning of “our kids” has narrowed and narrowed and narrowed so that now when people say, “We’ve got to do something for our kids,” they mean MY biological kids. [ . . . ]

PS: But liberals like you make this argument about all kinds of things, like infrastructure or education: pay now or you’ll pay more later. Americans feel that they’re already paying enough in taxes and they don’t trust that those investments will be made efficiently enough.

RP: America’s best investment ever, in the whole history of our country, was to invest in the public high school and secondary school at the beginning of the 20th century. It dramatically raised the growth rate of America because it was a huge investment in human capital. The best economic analyses now say that investment in the public high schools in 1910 accounted for all of the growth of the American economy between then and about 1970. That huge investment paid off for everybody. Everybody in America had a higher income.

Now, some rich farmer could have said, “Well, why should I be paying for those other kids to go to high school? My kids are already off in Chicago and I don’t care about [other kids].” But most people in America didn’t. This was not something hatched in Washington – small town people got together and said, “Look, we ought to do this for our kids… We ought to have a high school so that every kid who grows up here — they’re all our kids — gets a good high school education.”

45 thoughts on “Stranger Danger and Our Kids

    • There are many larger factors involved in the loss of community and social capital. It is hard to know what is behind it, beyond the general destructive forces of neoliberal globalization, crony corporatism, plutocratic capitalism, unbridled consumerism, and faux meritocracy.

      Do those in power understand the consequences on the human level? I’m sure to some degree they do, especially in terms of poor minority communities. Some of that is at least partly intentional, as part of social control of the masses. On the other hand, I suspect many people in power are simply disconnected from reality on the ground. They just don’t see it, because it’s not part of their lived experience in their wealthy suburbs and gated communities. The divides in our society are massive.

      Even someone like Robert Putnam demonstrated that. He admitted, at the end of his book Our Kids, that before researching the growing generational inequality he didn’t realize that opportunities of mobility had fundamentally changed since his childhood. How could someone like him, a well-educated liberal who is an expert in social capital, be so clueless? Simply being a wealthier old white male creates a disconnection of experience, even for people who should know better.

      If even the liberal elite have intentionally or unintentionally turned their back on our collective problems, it makes you realize how these problems were allowed to get so bad. No doubt there were those in power more than willing to cynically manipulate this ignorance. I’m not sure it matters if it is willful ignorance, smart idiot effect, or whatever else. It’s the same end result. In any case, there is no moral excuse for it.

    • If they do, I think they may not care. Or they have decided that getting richer is more important than addressing the issues of community engagement.

      It is literally a matter of selling one’s soul to the devil. I think that if you were to interrogate a tobacco executive, they would not care either about the health effects of their products. Similar idea – making money is more important.

  1. That seems especially true after the 9-11 attacks.

    I always felt the Bush administration took advantage of those attacks to suppress democracy.

    • It is nice that at least PBS is doing that kind of reporting. Now that the truth is out in the open, what we need is a national truth commission to get the guilty to admit their wrongdoing or, failing that, an international tribunal to force justice.

    • That shit depresses me. I feel simultaneously outraged and helpless.

      What does one do when one lives in a terrorist state? What does one do when one knows that one’s tax money funds torture, secret prisons, and certainly much worse as well? What does one do when one is personally benefiting from a violently oppressive global empire?

      How can such a vast thing be fought against or resisted? If elections or protests made a difference, we would have seen major political reform long ago. When all non-violent demands of change have failed, what is left? Under such conditions, even standard activism becomes yet another expression of impotence and apathy.

  2. By contrast, you can see quite a few places in the Alternative Media and foreign media that has covered this pretty extensively (including the Guardian of course which originally aired it).

    • Since Americans have failed to hold their government accountable, who will do so? If enough global citizens demanded justice and were willing to stand behind their demands, they could force an international tribunal.

      This isn’t just a failure of Americans. It’s a failure of humanity. When any country is out of control, it is the responsibility of the world’s population to do something about it.

      If the governments of enough countries got together, there is no way the US government could avoid the issue. If the alternative and foreign media represented a serious moral accounting, there would be wide-scale demands for justice, not just investigative journalism but forceful demands with threats of what would happen with further failure of justice.

      Who is willing to put everything on the line to challenge US oppression? All who fail to do this are complicit.

      The reality is that other Western governments and Western populations benefit from US global imperialism and they know it. They would rather have an out-of-control US government that tortures and starts wars of aggression than risk China growing in power and the Middle East gaining independence.

      When a challenge finally comes to the US, it is unlikely to come from the West. The Guardian report is great truth-telling, but in another sense it is yet more empty words. Truth-telling is easy when it requires no personal cost.

      The US wouldn’t have the power it has if not for the alliance with the UK which allowed the US to build on the foundation of the British Empire. If the Guardian wants to make a difference, they would demand a moral accounting of their own government’s complicity, would demand that their government either demands justice from the US government or else breaks all ties with the US government. Not going to happen.

      The British have their own moral accounting to face. They aren’t in much of a position to demand it of others. The problems of oppression in the world are the responsibility of multiple major governments working together. The US government only gets away with what other governments want it to get away with.

      Only an international movement is going to make a difference.

    • In fairness to the Guardian it is mostly a mainstream media source, so you’re not going to get news that is just “out there”.

      For what it’s worth, they do publish demands to hold people accountable:


      They are not perfect by any means, but they are at least calling for it, or publishing editorials calling for it.

      That being said, you will occasionally see the mainstream media in the US calling for sensible action:

      But yes, I agree the whole world needs to demand accountability.

    • The power that rules the world is larger, more sprawling, more complex, more subtle, more hidden than most people comprehend or want to admit. It’s not just that the US as a powerful country also has many powerful allies that are complicit in its actions (and hence that the taxpaying citizens of all these countries are to varying degrees complicit as well).

      The ruling elite no longer have national loyalties and are no longer limited to patriotic ties. They aren’t geographically contained within particular communities or even governments. Many of the political and economic elites in America have multiple citizenships. It is related also to the revolving door between big gov and big biz. These traditional social boundaries are fluid and in some cases non-existent. What separates one sphere from another, one country from another is often vague.

      This is true for the average person as well. Increasing rates of immigration and mixing of populations have made nationality, ethnicity, and race increasingly uncertain categories. The ties that bind countries aren’t just political and economic but also social and personal. The world is becoming a smaller place.

      In this highly interconnected world of concentrated wealth and power, holding the ruling elite accountable is tricky. Who is going to force that moral and legal accounting?

  3. The way things are going, I see this ending up like the Roman Empire, likely collapsing internally due to the excessive greed of the very wealthy.

    They will abandon the US when they see that there is no more wealth to their “tax free” locations – or they will end up retreating behind gated communities. I think the end result will be something like the Roman empire. The Eastern part did ok for a long period of time – I think that many of the Blue states will do ok too for a period of time. Only it will not be “barbarians” like the Romans that help push over the ledge, but purely self-inflicted wounds.

    They will do everything possible to prevent any real accounting from taking place until the consequences are overwhelming, then use their wealth to try to scape it.

    Edit: It looks like my comment earlier got eaten again.

    • I sometimes worry that the US will follow the path of the Roman Empire. That was the longest lasting empire in Western history. If the US is similar, it could last a few more centuries. I don’t think it will last that long, but I do think it might last a lot longer than many expect and would prefer.

      So, another comment is missing in action. What was it about? I’m not even getting notifications for these disappeared comments. I approve comments the moment I notice them and I”m just not seeing these comments at all. They apparently don’t show up anywhere. They must be disappearing the moment you hit “Post Comment”.

  4. No, it will be much faster than the ancient Romans.

    Probably decades rather than centuries. In fact, I think that the US is already deep in the hole and seems to be unable to recognise how deep the problem is,much less take corrective action.

    • The ruling elite of the US government aren’t likely to as foolishly overstep their reach, as did despots like Napolean and Hitler. The beauty of American power is that it isn’t dependent on any single person or family. It has the kind of flexibility that isn’t typical of empires, since its unconcerned with colonizing.

      Despite its massive military presence, the American oligarchy has mastered soft power and built a technocracy upon it. This system of power and manipulation is not a foe to underestimate. The US government may be in a hole, but it has the capacity and is in the position to take much of the world down with it.

    • The other model I always look to is that of the British Empire. They had a slow decline, without entirely collapsing.

      Their citizenry, including many of their ruling elite, became less supportive of imperialism. The British public had little desire to fight against the American Revolutionaries. They had little desire to hold onto the old colonies, in different parts of the world. It just seemed to be no longer worth the cost and the effort. They lost the political will to rule so much of the world.

      I could see the American public losing that political will to rule, to economically and militaristically participate in foreign lands that have no direct relevance to the everyday lives of Americans.

      American decline may (or may not) be inevitable. Even if it is inevitable, it could take many forms and could take different periods of time to culminate in some final result. I’m just thinking I’d rather not see the US go down fighting with its entire military might, because that could get messy.

  5. I think that they may overstretch at some point. Inequality for example is pushing to a breaking point. They are pushing global warming to a breaking point as well.

    The American public never really “had” the “will” to rule so to speak. Even during the so called Golden Age of capitalism, the elites always had control.

    I think it’s far more likely the US could end up like the USSR, bankrupting itself on the military and then the military will fall largely into disrepair. One of the things I’ve learned is that the US military is not the superpower force that popular American military worship culture would have you believe. For one thing, it does not always win its wars – not against insurgents, and not even conventional wars at times. That’s because of the military industrial complex, which is actually very bad for having a competent military force.

    If it does happen, it could end up splitting up much like the USSR. There may be a core dominant part (modern day Russia could be the equal for the USSR), but it is a very real possibility. If that happens, probably the northeast or perhaps parts of the West Coast (at least the areas with ample rain like the Northwest) are the best places to live.

  6. If it does happen, then:

    I expect these areas to look like Canada:
    – Northeast
    – The West Coast
    – Parts of the mid-West

    I think that in other cases, particularly Appalachia and the Deep South – it will look like a developing nation. For all their anti-government talk, they are the ones being subsidized by the Federal Government. That and the South will simply not be able to afford to have a military.

    I’d also guess that some sort of authoritarian government is probable in those areas.

    No it’s not the worst fate. It will be difficult for a decade or two though if a split actually does happen. In the long run though, it may lead to a happier situation – at least for many of the “Blue” states.

    • I wonder if new technologies will simply change the conditions of everything. A large distant central government could become a hindrance or unnecessary. Many technologies have the potential of bringing much back to the local level, from alternative energy to 3D printing. In a highly technological world, I’m not sure that a massive nation-state/empire would be most effective even for warfare.

  7. If it means anything, the number of nations around the world is rising.

    That would suggest where people are going. The other is that allegiance to large central governments is not as strong as it is to location.

  8. It will come down to if there are advantages still for economies of scale. There might be. If there is, then a nation state will be favored. If smaller is always better, then ti will be probably local that is favored.

  9. The more I think about it, the more convinced I become that the US is evolving towards a lower and lower trust society.

    Part of that is due to the income inequality, but another part of that is because that’s what the rich want. Divide and conquer, literally.

    • It’s what the American rich think they want. I tend to see the rich as being more clueless than they or most others realize. They have a lot less control than they realize. The illusion of control they have is simply because recent history has been fairly stable, both politically and socially. Even with the economic problems, the stability isn’t yet really threatened. But it wouldn’t take much for that stability to disappear and with it the illusion of control.

  10. Maybe so, but the damage that they can do to society is very real.

    They think they want it – and they have the political power to do it. The problem is that they by doing things like cutting wages to boost corporate profits and paying CEOs, wealthy shareholders, etc, they are doing very real damage to society.

    It’s true, more money will worsen their problems and they are blind to that. But they can still do a lot of damage.

  11. The other problem is that people are buying it.

    The Southern Strategy has been effective, as have many other strategies.

    • They have, for the time being. But some things are changing.

      We are now hitting the point where the younger generation of Americans have less than a third of their population with more or less clear racist/racialist views. The racism of the Silent generation is still extremely high, and their influence will be decreasing rather rapidly. Then there was a big drop off with Boomers.

      It has been a very slow but steady decline since. Yet, if we go by the Strauss and Howe model, the fourth generation following the Boomers will likely show a similar big shift because they will be born into an entirely new cycle, having no personal memory of what came before. That would be the generation immediately after Generation Z. The new cycle is supposed to be in the process of beginning, but if the theory is correct we won’t notice the changes until it more fully gets into gear.

      When the last generation with living memory of Jim Crow dies, that will be a powerful transition. Many whites in positions of power and influence grew up with white privilege of an extreme variety (Bill O’Reilly grew up in a sundown suburb that had a covenant disallowing blacks from moving there; my father used to visit the Deep South during Jim Crow). It shaped who they are. Sadly, nothing will change until they are gone, because they keep Jim Crow alive in their memories and hence in their politics.

  12. There is evidence that things are starting to change. I suspect that the 2014 elections and the ones in 2004 may prove to be the high point for the Southern Strategy. The Demographics are changing for sure.

    But even then there’s still a large conservative part of generation Y.

    As you’ve noted, I think that the current Blue States would do very well if the US did indeed split. The Blue states would probably end up something like Canada or Western Europe.

    Strauss and Howe have a fascinating theory. They may have a point. The generation after Z will be growing up at a time when the worst of global warming is starting to emerge. There is that to consider. Necessity might demand some pretty serious changes.

    • There are some conservatives in GenY, but fewer and a different variety.

      I’m not exactly sure how those differences will get expressed in the future. I do know that the younger generations have a more positive response to both socialism and libertarianism. That implies that they are less content with the status quo.

      The younger demographic is smaller in the Republican Party. Still, the young Republicans are extremely right-wing, although they probably care less about the old culture war issues.

      I still think interesting changes will happen in the Deep South and the Southwest. The emerging minority-majority is going to impact those regions in unpredictable ways. Those minorities aren’t just more supportive of the Democratic Party, but also more supportive of alternative politics.

      I think I’ve pointed out this before:

      “There is growing willingness to name corporate rule and global capitalism as key problems, and to look to decentralized, place-based economies as the answer. While capitalism is viewed more favorably among all Americans than socialism, the reverse is true among those under 29, African Americans and Hispanics, and those making less than $30,000 a year, according to a Pew poll. And more Americans have a favorable view of socialism than of the Tea Party.”

      One interesting area of potential conflict is between blacks and Hispanics. The former demographic has a more positive view of liberalism while latter has a more positive view of socialism. Either way, the status quo of corporatism won’t continue to be taken as an unquestioned assumption. Wouldn’t that make for interesting debates?

      Certainly, the viscerally real impact of climate change will change the way Americans (and everyone else) thinks about nearly all issues. Environmentalism will go from being about a small set of special interest groups to a central priority of society.

  13. Equally interesting to consider, for generation Z and the generation after, America not being the world’s superpower is likely to be the norm, something that you only read about in history books – kind of like what the people in the UK think of their superpower status in the past today.

    • I’m definitely not sure how that will play out. The US could go through a period of greater isolationism. That could happen because issues at home might become more immediate and overwhelming. Also, the kinds of wars we’ve been having are what countries do when they have lots of money to waste. The US might find itself needing to be more careful about how it uses its wealth and resources, especially if costly problems present themselves with climate change.

  14. I noticed this article about Canada and racism:

    That is one thing the US has going for it. It is much harder for us to ignore our problems in dealing with minorities. We Americans definitely don’t do enough, but we are nonetheless forced to be aware of our failures.

    All the world knows America’s failures. It’s a global discussion. It’s getting harder and harder even for hardcore racists in the US to deny the obvious. That is one of the advantages to being one of the main global superpowers. It forces certain issues to the surface.

    If not for global forces and global opinion, the US civil rights movement may never have gone anywhere. It sometimes requires outside influence to force change.

    • It’s quite bad in Canada.

      Many of the Aboriginal reserves are alike developing nations. Taking to the Native Americans, I suspect that the problems are similar too.

      Australia too has very similar problems with its Aboriginals.

      That’s the scary part – if you were to take the typical living standards in cities in Canada, they’d be on par probably with the Nordic nations. It’s the inequality that is a problem.

    • The US, Canada, and Australia all have similar histories with their indigenous peoples. The British colonial history creates much commonality. The history of Native Americans is more well known, but it’s the same basic type of events that happened elsewhere.

      Then again, I suppose the Canadian First Nations are even worse off because of their greater isolation. Native Americans at least are tied directly into the national road infrastructure. It’s not particularly difficult to drive to a Native American reservation, which is what makes it possible for them to operate casinos and such.

      I don’t know much about the Canadian or Australian systems. It could be interesting to read a detailed comparison.

      I was looking at crime rates lately, in terms of race and ethnicity. I was also looking at urban vs rural comparisons. Native Americans are the only population to have a majority that has remained continuously rural for the entire history of the country. Native Americans is the only group that often fares worse than blacks on many indicators of social problems.

      Another problem is that many toxic waste dumps have been placed on Native American land. This has happened to poor minority communities in general. This is one of the reasons poor minorities in the US have such high rates of heavy metal toxicity, especially lead pollution.

      Even the poorest of white communities don’t have the same rates of mass poisoning.

  15. Canada and Australia have much lower populations than the US and large parts of the nation are thus, sparsely populated.

    But if you look at living standards, Canada and Australia on average do better in most areas than the US.

    • There are a number of large countries.

      Canada and Australia are two countries that have a lot of land for a relatively smaller population. Large areas of both countries are uninhabited. Russia is the same with more land per capita, despite having a larger population, but that is because it is such a massive country, also with large uninhabited sectors.

      China is the only large country that also has a larger population. It has around the same land mass as the US and yet a much larger population. It does that with having even less good agricultural land than the US. This is why China is dependent on other countries and has bought up agricultural land in places like Africa. Such lack of self-sufficiency doesn’t bode well for them.

      I’m not sure about the indigenous people in China. I never hear about that. Are there any tribal people left in China?

      Brazil is more similar to the US. Both in terms of size, population, and land per capita. I also don’t know about the indigenous in Brazil.

      The US has a lot of irrigated land per capita as well. A few other large countries are similar to this, such as Spain. Larger farming areas means larger rural populations. I know the US maintained a majority rural population much longer than many European countries. American blacks didn’t become majority urban until somewhere between the 1940s and 1970s.

      However, being rural in the US doesn’t mean being as isolated. Because of farming, the US has massive rural infrastructure. Rural farming areas in the US have almost as many roads as do urban areas. That creates a different kind of social environment. Even poor rural people have more connection to the larger society.

  16. This amused me:

    “WASHINGTON—Saying that in most places they are piled up 5 or 6 feet high, a report released Thursday by the Pew Research Center revealed that every one of the country’s ditches is currently overflowing with the children of worried parents. “Following an exhaustive survey of ditches and gutters across the U.S., we found that every single one is presently filled beyond capacity with young children whose mothers and fathers are, at this moment, wondering where their kids are and when they’ll be back home,” said lead researcher Alicia Smith, noting that of the millions of 4- to 10-year-olds nationwide who had been allowed to play unsupervised in the backyard for a few minutes, bike to a nearby convenience store, or walk to a friend’s house just across the street, virtually all of them are now wedged in between countless others in a muddy, filth-strewn drainage culvert. “Given the overwhelming quantity of kids lying facedown beside our nation’s roadways, it is essentially guaranteed that if your child has been out of your eyesight for even a minute, then he or she is already four or five bodies deep alongside a remote stretch of highway or unlit country road.” The report urged the nation to address the issue soon, as the sheer number of children in ditches meant they would likely begin spilling out into streets in the coming days.”

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