Story in a nutshell: Mom arranges for taxi service to pick up her 12-year-old son, who is on crutches with a broken leg, after school. It does not arrive. He is at his wit's end, as his phone battery is dying. Eventually he contacts his mom who leaves work early and picks him up. She complains to the taxi company and to the media, WHICH CONSIDERS THIS A NEWSWORTHY EVENT. The story appears on the CBC -- Canada's Public Radio!
Here's the piece in all its intricate detail. (DID the taxi company send someone who arrived late thanks to traffic, or did it not?) What's fascinating is that it represents two strands of the childhood landscape today:
1 - Somehow, even a 12-year-old is presumed to be helpless when things go awry. Granted -- the crutches, the dying battery, etc. This was clearly an upsetting experience. But it's as if he's a package that got left behind, not a person.
2 - The media is apparently so desperate for "Kid alone in the world" stories that it will take a crumb like this -- a true non-event -- and turn it into "news." This stuff sells, and it just keeps reinforcing the idea that a child outside without an adult is unusual enough to be newsworthy.
So no one's blaming the kid for not knowing what to do. It's likely he lives in a place where it has become abnormal to let kids do things on their own (walk to school, play outside), so they don't grow up problem-solving, and taking action. As for the mom: I'd be mad at the cab company, too. (Would I call the media? Probably not.)
But it is indeed the media we must flog today, for adding one more drop to the stream of "Kids should not be outside unattended" messages wearing steadily away at our belief that kids are part of the world, and can learn to handle things (even snafus) once we start letting them. - L
UPDATE! A Twitterer writes:
"Missing subtext: this took place in Vancouver, where Uber/Lyft are banned, which people blame taxi companies for, and subsequently any taxi snafu is considered newsworthy."
That does sound key. Not sure this makes it any less egregious that someone used the boy-alone-outside as a hook to write about bad taxi service. But it makes the back story deeper. Thanks!