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September 26th, 2021

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The Top Parenting-Hysteria Stories of 2020

Lenore Skenazy

By Lenore Skenazy

Published Jan. 18, 2021

The Top Parenting-Hysteria Stories of 2020
Yes, we're a few weeks into 2021 — a few BIG weeks — but before we get too comfy, let's pause to promise this year will not be as nuts! Because for kids and parents, 2020 was strange and crazy in ways big and literally microscopic. As in, virus-size. The craziest helicopter-parenting moments?

No. 1: Pointing Fingers

A 6-year-old with Down syndrome made a finger-gun gesture at her teacher and said, "I shoot you." That was enough to get the school to call the cops in Tredyffrin, Pennsylvania, because district policy mandates "safety threat assessments." Apparently, even when there's no actual safety threat.

No. 2: Pregnant Brew-Ha-Ha

A professor obsessed with coffee the way Liam Neeson characters are obsessed with vengeance published a study saying pregnant women shouldn't drink even a sip of the brown brew. The fact that he cherry-picked only a couple dozen studies from the 1,000+ on caffeine made his research dubious, and yet it got published in the prestigious BMJ. As one critic said: "I don't think we need to worry about coffee. I think we need to worry about this relentless pursuit of pregnant women and regulating of pregnant women's choices."

No. 3: Intrusion on the Pod People

The day before the start of school, Pennsylvania suddenly informed parents that any learning pod of six or more children had to develop COVID-19 protocols in sync with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, document an evacuation plan, background-check all relevant adults and comply with the local zoning ordinances. That's not too much to ask 24 hours before the beginning of the worst school year ever, is it?

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No. 4: Mary Janes or ... Mary Jane?

"Beware of marijuana edibles in your kids' Halloween stash," warned Yahoo News in October. The fact that there is zero incentive for a person to give away their high-priced edibles? That point did NOT get mentioned in the incredibly long and terrifying story that did manage to mention that a child's overdose could lead to coma.

No. 5: Swiss Mess

A Swiss 8-year-old who asked if he could use play money to buy something in a local shop was investigated for counterfeiting because, said the manager, "It is our store policy." The cops then spent three hours at the boy's home, investigating the crime.

No. 6: Sunday the Rabbi Got Arrested

A Brooklyn rabbi who let his kids (11, 8 and a 2-year-old in a stroller) walk a few blocks to the store was arrested and charged with endangering the life of a child. The charges were dropped about 12 hours later, but not before the police called an ambulance to the scene. Because in the spring of 2020 in New York City, ambulances certainly had nothing better to do.


No. 7: White Vans

Kevin Johnson, a Springfield, Ohio, man, spotted a white van he was convinced was trying to kidnap a girl. He chased the vehicle while somehow also filming the incident for social media. While the van got away, the video went viral prompting local station WHIO TV to follow up with the police. The cops said there had been no substantiated reports of attempted kidnappings, whereupon the reporter told viewers: "Anyone who sees something suspicious or is a victim of a crime like this is urged to call police immediately." A crime like ... what?

No. 8: You Can't BB Serious!

In September, a Louisiana school suspended fourth grader Ka'Mauri Harrison for six days when the teacher glimpsed a BB gun in his room during a Zoom class. The boy was moving it so his brother wouldn't trip. At a school board hearing, Ka'Mauri was asked: "Are you aware you were suspended because you brought a BB gun to school?" "I didn't bring my BB gun to school," he replied. The school board has refused to remove the suspension from his permanent record.

That's it, my friends. Here's to a saner year to come!

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