Kids, (legal) drugs, violence, predators
Everyone seems to agree that in Nicaragua kids have poor access to health care, good schools and, well, just about everything else. But, is Nicaragua a bad place to bring up a kid?
I was discussing the mounting evidence that the legal drugs used in the US to fix what are perceived as psychological and behavorial issues have serious site effects -- one of them being violence -- with an NL member. The response I got surprised me. I don't want to out the person who wrote it but I think it is a very interesting point. The message was
I have been concerned about pumping kids full of drugs.... they need lots of play outside, but no one wants to leave their kids alone..... for fear of predators
When I moved to Nicaragua nine years ago I was innundated with neighborhood kids who wanted to meet my dog. I then set up a computer for guests which became a second kid attraction. Eventually I started meeting some of the parents but, initially, my house was regularly filled with kids from 0 to 12 years of age. My first thought was that their parents were being irresponsible but I quickly realized that unlike the places where I lived in the US, neighbors talked to each other. Clearly everyone knew the kids were safe.
In my years in Estelí I saw kids walking alone after dark in the streets. Sometimes it was a five year old being responsible for her three year old brother. Leaving a 10 year old at home to manage his/her younger siblings was not uncommon. While I am sure child molestation happens in Nicaragua (and expect that, like in the US, it tends to be an uncle or some such) I doubt it is any more common than in the US where the nanny state is protecting you and where, apparently, you are afraid to leave your kids alone.
Let me add one more data point. I took this photo in Panajachel Guatemala when I was there. Their mother sells mostly articles of clothing near the lake. When I took this picture the kids were a few blocks away from where their mother usually sells things. They had a basket of small craft items they were selling on the street. I was sitting talking to a friend. They saw me, ran over and joined us.
I was talking to a friend about the attitudes in the Lake Atitlan area. (He was there almost 40 years ago but currently lives in Panama.) He had two comments about the photo:
- By California standards you are clearly molesting those kids.
- I don't see any smiling Indians where I live.
I have not been in the US in 11 years so I defer the US side of the comparison to those who have but the feeling I get is that the use of professionals and drugs to address behavorial problems and expecting the government to protect our kids from, well, everything is depersonalizing the relationship between parents and children which, in itself, is creating a bigger problem.