When Sam attended a START parent program and shared this reflection with other parents in his school community, the library grew silent, and heads slowly began to nod.
I’ve been thinking lately about my own childhood, and how my parents gave me a curfew. I guess they did that because they imagined all of the things that could go wrong at night, under the cloak of darkness. They wanted me home because the streets weren’t as safe at night, and as adults, they knew the risks. They watched the 10 o’clock news, and when it was over, they walked down the hall to double check to make sure we were in our beds.
So as I think about the experience of parents today, it makes sense that we feel safe and secure knowing that there really is no need to have our kids out on the streets at night. They are under our roof, where they should be, where we can keep our eyes on them. I saw an article this year that talked about how in the past decade, teen pregnancy and teen homicides are hitting an all time low. Kids aren’t out together getting into trouble like we did back in my day.
But. As I think about how that article shared that teen homicides are down, I’m also aware that teen suicides are on the rise. Our kids aren’t killing each other; they are killing themselves. And I can’t shake the stat that the average age of first porn exposure is now 10 years old. That’s definitely not something I want my kids to entertain in secrecy at an age when they are trying to learn what it means to love and respect others.
So I’m beginning to realize that just because they are under my roof, they aren’t necessarily as safe and secure as I think they are, especially if I let them keep their devices with them all night long. When I find them in the morning, still asleep, with a device in their hands, the truth is, I have no idea where they have been or who they have been with all night. It is like I am inviting the darkness of the streets into their own room—and the darkness is actually more aggressive than it has ever been. All of the things my parents worried I might be exposed to if they let me stay out past 10 p.m. are indeed a reality, and now they are at my child’s fingertips. It makes me shudder…and realize that—even though they might not like it (just like I didn’t like it)—it is a fight worth fighting to give their phones a curfew, and keep the darkness out on the streets at night.