Swiss vs. American parenting: Differences according to a US mom

72 points by theanonymousone on 2024-05-15 | 138 comments

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kelseyfrog on 2024-05-15

I'm not sold. My instinct says there's likely more within-group variation than between-group variation especially in the US.

My kid is in 5th grade and get himself to school every day, including waking up on time, eating breakfast, appropriately dressing himself, and walking to and from school every day without intervention. Like the author this is often before I get out of bed. I live in CA and while I know many other parents must be practicing the same parenting strategies - my son has an endless supply of other kids to walk with - I can't help but also have a feeling that some nosy neighbor or good'er-do-well will swoop in and call the police because, "These fifth graders must be attended to or something could happen!"

Maybe that difference in feeling is what the author is trying to communicate. In which case, that makes perfect sense.

mrinterweb on 2024-05-15

Many US parents would be far more open to allowing greater freedoms to their children if they were not concerned with the scrutiny of others and terrifying potential legal problems. You hear about stories about where the neighbor sees a child arrive home before their parents and when the parents get home the cops are waiting to talk to them. There are other scenarios where parents lose custody of their children for allowing their child more independence. I believe parents desire to allow more freedoms for their children, but the potential consequences outweigh the benefits.

phaedryx on 2024-05-15

An anecdote:

My neighbor came into my yard and threatened to call the police on me because my 14-year-old-at-the-time son was up on our roof helping me. I went to grab a tool we left on the other side of the roof and she "panicked because I left him by himself and he could have fallen off and died".

In comparison to when I was a kid: my siblings and I would get the ladder to climb up on the roof when my parents weren't home. One time my sister thought it would be funny to steal the ladder, so I jumped down from the roof and chased her. I was 11-years-old at the time.

I grew up in a rural area. My kids in an urban area.

I've also jumped down from that roof several times. I probably could have died.

mrinterweb on 2024-05-15

I also grew up in a rural environment, and I had a great deal more freedom as a child than children in my urban environment have. I would bet it is not just rural vs urban/suburban but also general cultural changes.

When I was young, I too jumped off roofs, would leave on my bike for many hours to go fishing by myself, etc. I know some of that was freedom was because I was raised in a rural environment, but I have a harder time comparing the differences between environments and current cultural expectations in terms of acceptable childhood freedom. I would love to give my children the same freedoms, but I understand that is not acceptable now and where I live.

phaedryx on 2024-05-15

Yeah, I grew up in the 80's.

I also have a lot of fond memories of getting on my bike and going pretty much anywhere I wanted to.

vasco on 2024-05-15

> A Texas mother who asked her misbehaving eight-year-old son to walk half a mile home through a quiet suburban neighbourhood says her life was upended after she was charged with child endangerment.

mikestew on 2024-05-15

I wonder where this takes place? (Yeah, I know, I could search...) Here in Redmond, WA, I ask because for years I've watched the kids across the street arrive home before Mom or Dad, open the garage door, and in the house they go. Just like "latchkey" kids of the 80s, if you're old enough to remember that moral panic.

And it's not just those neighbor kids, I see kids walking in groups or individually from the middle school if I'm out at that time. I'm quite confident that not all of those kids have a parent waiting at home. Yet I never hear of problems. Granted, it's Redmond, what's the worst that could happen, but still...

6bb32646d83d on 2024-05-15

I live in a suburb of Dallas and most kids walk/bike to school alone past the 3rd grade

bitshiftfaced on 2024-05-15

Are the only concrete examples a seven year old walking to school by themselves and wearing snow boots sometimes? I remember speaking to a Swiss national who boasted about how they walked everywhere. I didn't say anything, but all I could think was "well yeah, if I lived where summers were 70 degrees, a backdrop of scenic mountain beauty, and everything is in walking distance, I'd probably walk more places too."

banannaise on 2024-05-15

The design problems that prevent walking are more than just distance. Roads in most places have gotten absurdly large, as have vehicles, and crossing infrastructure is often terrible and sometimes nonexistent. By designing for car dominance, we've made walking extremely dangerous, especially for children.

This also applies to bicycling.

the_snooze on 2024-05-15

>By designing for car dominance, we've made walking extremely dangerous, especially for children.

Near where I work, there's a stretch of storefronts that's had high turnover over the past decade. All those spots are on one side of a large road. On the opposite side of the road are a bunch of stores and restaurants that have thrived long-term, given that there are more residences and offices on that side. Even though there are plenty of crosswalks, the road naturally deters people from giving business to the shops on the far side.

Roads connect places for cars. But they're walls for everyone else.

microtherion on 2024-05-15

The design problems go beyond just choices that advantage cars at the expense of pedestrians. It would not disadvantage cars at all to allow pedestrians to cut across from one parking lot to another, yet often there are fences or dense hedges placed to prevent exactly that.

Barrin92 on 2024-05-15

>Are the only concrete examples a seven year old walking to school by themselves and wearing snow boots sometimes?

It's a much broader thing culturally from my experience well up into adult age. When I was in uni a little bit more than 10 years ago (in Germany) we used to have quite a few American expats and they behaved like kids too. Over here people can drink when they're 16, when they're 18 they move into a shared flat, do their laundry, cook their food etc. The American students were all into dorm life, couldn't handle booze, couldn't cook often, etc. American schools and colleges seem like daycare centers in comparison to education here.

I don't buy the argument that this is just about transit or environment or safety. US life seems very "on rails" all the time straight up into adulthood.

rqtwteye on 2024-05-15

"Are the only concrete examples a seven year old walking to school by themselves and wearing snow boots sometimes?"

In Germany I walked to Kindergarden around one mile in any weather. Snow boots when necessary. From 5th grade on I walked a mile to the train, and then another half mile from train to school. In any weather and it was no big deal.

em500 on 2024-05-15

I think your experience is far outside the norm for age 6 or younger (Kindergarten age). I don't know about specifics in Germany, but in the Netherlands, the fraction of children going to school unaccompanied between age 4-12 was as follows: 4(2%), 5(3%), 6(8%), 7(25%), 8(36%), 9(59%), 10(73%), 11(85%), 12(91%), according to research from 20 years ago. Anecdotally that age have been creeping upwards in recent decades.

Aerroon on 2024-05-15

The default in Estonia is that when a kid starts school they go to school and come home on their own. School usually starts at 7 years old, but some kids start at 6 or 8.

These days they might be taken to school by their parents, but they pretty much all get home on their own or go into extra curricular activities on their own. School ends way earlier than any parents could conceivably pick them up.

But kids roaming around on their own isn't that unusual. I remember being a bit sad when I turned 8 years old because riding the bus was no longer free at that age. (Or maybe it was 7?)

rqtwteye on 2024-05-15

My experience is almost 50 years ago. Back then almost nobody had two cars so once dad was at work, there was no way to drive the kids to school.

Rinzler89 on 2024-05-15

I don't get this focus of HN with pointing out walking to places for kids, as if it's feature only in rich developed countries like Switzerland or Germany.

Even in the 90's Eastern Europe we used to walk to school by ourselves several km, and pretty sure it also applies in other continents tool.

dghlsakjg on 2024-05-15

Its a contrast with American style development where much of the development is actively hostile to walking despite being rich and developed. Kids in Mexico and Peru walk places too.

Aerroon on 2024-05-15

I think the culture (not) allowing them to walk has a larger impact on this. I bet that if it was culturally ok then people (kids) would find a way to make it work.

Kids take shortcuts through grass and wooded areas. They are so thoroughly walked through by now that they are just considered normal paths. And if that shortcut leads to a road crossing, that obviously didn't have a zebra, then they just cross there anyway.

I saw that some years ago they built a larger road on the way and put up barriers and what not. Then I saw some kids walk up to it, jump over the barrier, walk across the road and jump over the other side. Obviously this isn't ideal, but if it's okay to let people (kids) walk, then I think they would figure out paths to make it work.

As long as the distances aren't too far. I think 1.5-2 miles would be near the upper limit of reasonableness.

dghlsakjg on 2024-05-15

For a lot of kids in the US suburbs, a 2 mile walk doesn’t get them anywhere interesting. Maybe a strip mall or grocery store where they aren’t really welcome. Add to that, most of the walk will be on roads that have no provision for pedestrians with drivers who have no consideration for pedestrians.

People who haven’t lived in a US suburb have a hard time appreciating how much it is a landscape that is designed entirely around either being in your private home, or driving somewhere else.

bitshiftfaced on 2024-05-15

I lived 15+ minutes away from school. I woke up, dressed myself, and got on the school bus, like many other American children. It may be the case that children are more independent in some countries. I just don't think the author can make that point based only on walking to school, which depends more on distance to the school than anything else.

microtherion on 2024-05-15

It used to be a biographical staple of e.g. Kenyan long distance runners that they ran 10+ miles to and from school every day.

FillerAccount47 on 2024-05-15

Isn't that the point? That the different environments incentive different patterns of transit and that in turn induces different modes of dependency in the children?

From my experience city kids are substantially more independent than their suburban counterparts for exactly this reason. The latter can't go anywhere without their parents unless they live particularly close to a park or some such, and even then will often be yelled at for doing so as it's "too dangerous for someone their age"

bombcar on 2024-05-15

It depends more on the parents than the locality, though parents of a particular bend may pick similar localities.

In our area kids are seen walking around and nobody really comments or cares, and it's certainly not very dense.

FillerAccount47 on 2024-05-15

I would disagree with this, just on the basis that there are localities where it becomes physically impossible to do so. Most commonly in relatively "dense" suburbs where having children walk around is a genuine hazard because of cars and because other parents will call the cops if the child looks under 12. Of course on the individual level it is possible to go against the grain but in the current cultural sphere it's definitely really hard.

I am annoyed I cannot find a great case study I saw of this being done where an unattended child of 8 was playing by themselves on a playground and had the cops called on them multiple times by multiple sets of "concerned parents." This being despite the fact that kidnappings and incidents of that nature are actually extremely rare compared to basically every other form of injury for minors

UtopiaPunk on 2024-05-15

Hmm, I don't think that's right. I'm just anecdata, but I currently live in the suburbs with a very young child. The nice places to hang out and play either require driving or, at a minimum, walking on sidewalks directly next to fast traffic and crosswalks at very busy intersections. As an adult, I find it uneasy to walk, even when it is possible. I don't think I'd be okay letting, say, a 10 year old run around here without supervision, mostly because about vehicles and how much they dominate the landscape around my house.

I want my kids to grow up and be independent. To that end, we are planning to move away from our car-centric suburb to a dense city in the next couple of years. So I think that's a locality thing (although, maybe to your point, it's somewhat self-selecting).

laeri on 2024-05-15

Your point stands but in summer it gets up to around 35 degrees, 95 fahrenheit to be correct.

bitshiftfaced on 2024-05-15

Since I wanted to describe a typical summer, I used a reportedly average summer day. I agree that highs and lows will vary.

> From July to August the daytime temperature range is 18 to 28 °C (65° - 82° F)

theanonymousone on 2024-05-16

Numbers in thst link are not realistic. Not in recent years, and certainly not in July and August.

bitshiftfaced on 2024-05-16

It looks like that link was accurate. July highs in Zurich average between 70 and 80:

theanonymousone on 2024-05-15

If only summers were 70F (~21C) here :'(

microtherion on 2024-05-15

They've never been, at least since we stopped hunting mammoths.

Sure, temperature (and even more so severity of storms) have increased in the last decades, but not quite that much.

PopAlongKid on 2024-05-15

The description of "Swiss parenting" would also accurately describe most American parenting 60 years ago.

dave78 on 2024-05-15

Even less than that - I walked to elementary school by myself every day in the 1980s. For the busiest streets, 5th graders served as crossing guards for the younger kids, which something I also did.

From what I can tell, the mentality of not allowing kids to get around on their own has really been in the past ~20 years or so. And (IMO) it is largely caused by some subset of people who freak out when they see kids alone unsupervised. Other parents (like me) would love to give our kids more freedom, but feel limited by the possibility that nosy neighbors will call child protective services if we allow too much.

01100011 on 2024-05-15

Yep. Born in '75 and raised in Seattle area suburbs. Walked miles every day to school in 5th grade, including crossing PCH which is a major street. Had my own knives, a dangerous chemistry set, and was more or less a latch key kid starting around 10. Even younger than that, I would walk miles to play alone in wild areas and hike down a steep hill to a raging river. I'm not going to be this permissive with my kid as some of it was too far, but I'm going to do my best to raise an independent child.

H1Supreme on 2024-05-15

While I didn't walk to school (too far), I did walk to the bus stop by myself (with siblings) in the 80's / 90's. There was a group of kids who did walk to school though.

My friends and I did ride our bikes all over town though. To the swimming pool, to the basketball courts, to our friends houses on the other side of town, and everywhere in between. I had to leave my mother a note when I left, and be home when the street lights came one. Other than that, we were basically on our own riding around town and drinking water out of random garden hoses when we got thirsty.

bombcar on 2024-05-15

The nosy neighbor is a big issue for those who even want to let kids have more freedom.

You have to gauge the area/neighborhood and find out what's common - do you see ten year olds walking around? Twelve? Fifteen? And then you have to get to know the neighbors to reduce the risks, and then deal with all the other issues that may pop up.

dave78 on 2024-05-15

Agreed. My 9 year old has finally started getting comfortable riding their bike around the neighborhood and going to the park by themselves. I had to convince them to do this, because they didn't think it was OK. Luckily there's some other kids the same age who also have started venturing out alone too so I didn't feel like I was the only parent doing it, otherwise I would have been more apprehensive about the nosy neighbor possibility.

My kids don't walk to school (I get to sit in the maligned drop-off lane) because our school is unfortunately at the intersection of two very busy roads. I still think my kids could manage it, but literally not a single other kid walks to school so it feels like having my kids do so might draw too much unwanted attention. The school doesn't even have a bike rack, which is appalling to me. My memories of elementary and middle school were of many bike racks stuffed full each day.

prmoustache on 2024-05-15

Is the reason the nosy neighbors or the child protection services? I mean if you aren't doing anything wrong, child protection services won't do anything regardless of people calling them.

Disclaimer: I am not in the USA nor have experience living there.

dave78 on 2024-05-16

> if you aren't doing anything wrong, child protection services won't do anything regardless of people calling them

Sadly, this is not always the case in the US. There's plenty of stories out there of CPS taking kids away from parents for extremely questionable reasons. A lot of time there are vague laws that they can use to back up their actions. For example:

> In Illinois, the law defines a neglected minor, in part, as “any minor under the age of 14 years whose parent or other person responsible for the minor’s welfare leaves the minor without supervision for an unreasonable period of time without regard for the mental or physical health, safety or welfare of that minor.”

"Unreasonable" is poorly defined, and overzealous CPS officials can easily claim that letting a child ride around alone in a neighborhood represents a "health and safety risk".

Unfortunately, these kinds of things have happened with CPS. I can't say how common it is, but the threat does exist.

chrisco255 on 2024-05-15

Not even that long ago. The so called "latch key generation", or Gen X, lasted into the 80s.

bluefirebrand on 2024-05-15

I suspect that more Millennials grew up a similar way than people realize too

I was routinely left to my own devices even as young as 8, me and my friends would be out roaming through empty lots and along beaches and stuff for hours in the late 90s

Stuff really seemed to accelerate past that. Partly because the empty lots filled in, the park with a rope swing got replaced with a playground with seating for parents...

Density does limit kids options too

freeone3000 on 2024-05-15

Density should expand kids’ options. If everything is closer, it’s an easier walk! But the concept of having a park near your house is so foreign…

wil421 on 2024-05-15

Millennial here and I was outside everywhere. Walked to middle schools because it was close and biked to high school. My kids elementary school it’s about a mile away and I’ll bike with them a day or so a week.

eigenspace on 2024-05-15

Same situation for me in the early 00s, though I suspect that was more because my parents didn't have the bandwidth to helicopter parent me due to one sister being disabled, and the other being a psycho.

I think the amount of independance I got would probably have been described as neglect if I had turned out poorly, and in my teenage years I really did flirt with a pretty bad path, but it turned out good so I remember it rather fondly.

Aloisius on 2024-05-15

I suspect today's helicopter parenting culture is partly a reaction to all the 80s media sensationalizing the "horrors" of being a latchkey kid.

theGnuMe on 2024-05-15

Well the parents were more likely latch key kids themselves so that hypothesis does not make sense to me... Helicopter parenting is, I suspect, a fear driven phenomena to get kids into elite colleges. There is also a sports version of helicopter parents as well.

friend_and_foe on 2024-05-15

60, try 20. Many of us millennials remember having a key to the house on a string around our necks. I walked to and from school with no adults since I was 6. I was out around the neighborhood from the moment school let out until the sun went down, by myself on my bicycle with all the other neighborhood kids. I was a teenager 20 years ago and I came and went as I pleased, no cell phone.

wil421 on 2024-05-15

Millennial here and I was outside everywhere. Walked to middle schools because it was close and biked to high school. My kids elementary school it’s about a mile away and I’ll bike with them a day or so a week.

By the time I was 11 I was biking everywhere with big groups of kids. Or my buddy and I would go to the store and grab a drink or snack.

glimshe on 2024-05-15

My teenager kid scoots a mile to high school (using a "manual" human-powered scooter, not electric/gas) back and forth under any weather, including severe rain, here in the US. He has walked to school since 5th grade.

bwanab on 2024-05-15

Having lived with young kids in Switzerland, I agree, but one also has to add that there are very few places your kids won't be safe in Switzerland. Most places you could leave your bike unlocked and have a reasonable expectation it would still be there when you came for it.

alistairSH on 2024-05-15

Aside from getting run over by a car, are there that many places a kid isn’t safe in the US? Yes, there are rough neighborhoods - I’m asking about normal suburbs and white collar neighborhoods?

The school drop off line is absurd in my neighborhood. The school complex (K-12) is on a shared property. It’s less than a mile from my house. No road crossings at all to get there. Yet the kids bused or driven.

maxsilver on 2024-05-15

> , are there that many places a kid isn’t safe in the US?

It depends on what you mean by "safe".

In most of US "normal suburbs", your kid isn't likely to get like, murdered. But if they leave a bike unlocked and unattended for a few hours (the way the parent poster describes Switzerland), then yeah, it's going to vanish, even in many "nice" US neighborhoods.

alistairSH on 2024-05-15

Maybe, but that shouldn’t preclude the kid walking places instead of being driven.

bombcar on 2024-05-15

The "unlocked kids bike" is a pretty good way of testing a neighborhood over time.

throwway120385 on 2024-05-15

Speaking from personal experience I would do that more for the local busybodies than out of any real fear for my child's safety. There are a ton of older people in our area who never had kids but feel like they can police how you parent.

alamortsubite on 2024-05-15

Is it more disturbing to sacrifice a child's development by isolating them 1) due to irrational fears, or 2) merely to satisfy the local busybodies?

throwway120385 on 2024-05-15

Well when the busybodies spread rumors about you you end up isolated either way.

toomuchtodo on 2024-05-15

Is crime low because everyone is so well off it’s pointless to steal a bike? Or more social norms and culture like Japan?

barrkel on 2024-05-15

Crime seems sufficiently low that police have bandwidth to deal with more petty crimes. However I would not expect an unlocked bicycle to be safe, there is still quite a bit of bike theft. But I would expect a simple lock to be enough, most of the time.

Similarly with motorbikes: steering lock seems to be enough, judging by the lack of extra security I see on other bikes.

kimi on 2024-05-15

It's because the little crime there is will be taken very seriously. Police will investigate your missing bike. And yes, culture and social expectations.

rootsandstones on 2024-05-15

That‘s a good one. They write down your frame number and tell you they get back to you. Then you never hear from them again.

huhtenberg on 2024-05-15

> Police will investigate your missing bike.

They most certainly will not. They won't generally investigate property-related theft and crimes, including non-violent home break-ins. They just issue an incident report for your insurance and that's the end of it.

dgellow on 2024-05-15

They definitely won’t investigate your missing bike unless it is a really valuable one. If you would have any experience living in the country you would know that’s absolutely not true. We also don’t have a single police, it’s handled at the canton level and they can be drastically different.

kimi on 2024-05-23

Well, it depends of course, but in general police presence is way more attentive to "smaller" issues than in neighboring countries. As for experience, I have been living in CH for almost 20 years now.

rootsandstones on 2024-05-15

Its just not true. Bikes get stolen a lot even when they are locked. But There is not a lot of violent crime in Switzerland, so you can walk around everywhere without any worries.

derelicta on 2024-05-15

> Is crime low because everyone is so well off

Apparently it's a controversial statement for some folks, but yes, having good material conditions basically makes it stupid to commit crimes.

Why would you risk your life or your freedom for some quick bucks when you can enjoy social comfort and 5 weeks of guaranteed vacations per year?

You can thank trade unions for that lifestyle. They fought very hard until very recently. Nowadays it's getting tougher for them and for all of us for sure...

dgellow on 2024-05-15

Not everyone is well off in Switzerland, the country is relatively rich and lots of rich people moved there but the wealth isn’t distributed equally among the population. It’s not necessarily as visible as other countries due to the low density.

The vast majority of people couldn’t afford to live in Zurich or Geneva.

prmoustache on 2024-05-15

Adults bikes get stolen, a lot. But kids bike almost never because there is no money to be made selling kids bikes.[1]

[1] I mean the regular department store kids bike, not some kids specific high end mountain bike some people would buy for their kids.

atemerev on 2024-05-15

Switzerland is very expensive. A stolen bike won’t bring you much money by local standards (and the crime will be investigated by police).

piva00 on 2024-05-15

Not that much more than NYC or SF to be honest, I've traveled to all three in the past year and spent more money in NYC than I did in Geneva for the same amount of time (around 4 days in each).

dilyevsky on 2024-05-15

I spent some time in Zurich and at this point it's not measurably more expensive than SF and parts of south bay yet here we are

prmoustache on 2024-05-15

>and the crime will be investigated by police


atemerev on 2024-05-15

Well, I reported my stolen scooter to the police. They haven’t found it, but the case is open! And they helped me in other cases.

PKop on 2024-05-15

Low crime and being well off, along with good social norms and culture, likely all go together and come as a collection of traits of certain groups of people.

typeofhuman on 2024-05-15

Switzerland is seeing a huge increase in violent crime. 16.6% between 2021 and 2022. Serious bodily harm and rape were the crimes that saw the biggest rises, increasing by 17% and 14.5%, respectively.[0]

- [0]:

HatchedLake721 on 2024-05-15

> Switzerland is seeing a huge increase in violent crime. 16.6% between 2021 and 2022.

2020-2023 data should be mostly ignored, especially by news websites trying to generate clickbait content.

It's like when UK politicians gloated how they reduced shoplifting/burglary rates.

Yes, it was lockdown with shops closed and people sitting at home, of course rates went down.

Same thing here, there's no point drawing conclusion in data between 2021 (lockdowns) and 2022.

> The FSO noted [...] crime rates have shot back up to 2019 levels.

PKop on 2024-05-15

It's because immigration is increasing, and more non-Swiss are in the country.

dgellow on 2024-05-15

HN isn’t the place for xenophobic, racists comments like this one

PKop on 2024-05-16

I'll note you didn't say "that's not true" because you know it is.

You should be ashamed of yourself for wanting to oppose discourse that speaks truth, in service to upholding some religious incantation denouncing those that discuss truth as "racist".

Don't you care whatsoever about the quality of life degradation for people living in these countries that are suffering with this problem? No, you care more about words and labels.

dgellow on 2024-05-17

Are you from Switzerland? Do you have knowledge of the country from anything else than online content? Looking at your history the answer seems to be no. I was born there and lived there for 24 years of my life, I know and care deeply about the country and its culture. Your comment was obviously not true, not that you actually care about it. It was also xenophobic and racist, with no substantive content, there isn’t anything to respond in it.

PKop on 2024-05-17

>I know and care deeply about the country and its culture.

Then why would you want foreign immigrants from places with a drastically different culture coming into your country? It makes no sense.

>obviously not true

I know many Swiss people, what they say is very different from you. In say the last 5 years the composition and quantity is markedly different. I've been to Switzerland 3 times, it is a uniquely beautiful and wonderful nation. It would sadden me if it changed. The Swiss have made it a great place.

>anything else than online content

Just because it is online does not mean it's untrue. In many different European nations, immigrants from certain places are committing crimes at much higher rate than native Europeans. I don't care what label you apply to this fact describing truth.

dgellow on 2024-05-18

Ok, so you know absolutely nothing about the country and its cultures. Switzerland is an extremely fragmented country with 26 cantons, 4 official languages. The country is diverse, you won’t get a unified view and understanding of it by speaking to a few people. We identify with our regions more than with the country itself. The country has almost no resources and developed itself thanks to massive immigration waves. The fear of foreigners is a pretty clear bottleneck to the development of the whole area.

When I was growing up the far right was screaming about Albanian and Kosovar coming to the country to steal and destroy it. Of course that was complete rubbish and the country continued to develop extremely well. Before it was against Portuguese, Spanish, Italian people. Since the 2000s the focus has been towards Muslims and black people, which is obviously what you’re hinting to and seem too afraid to express. The discourse is the same. It’s just standard populism: vote Swiss’ People party to be protected from all those tribal uneducated bad foreigners who don’t fit in a 1900s picture of the country!

The truth is that the traditional view of the country you’re defending is a modern lie that never existed.

I will stop the engagement here, there is no point in exchanging with someone who is too much of a coward to truthfully express what they mean - likely because you know it’s xenophobic and racist, and cannot recognize their ignorance on a topic.

typeofhuman on 2024-05-16

They can't care. If they did, they'd lose membership in every group that they're a part of. It would literally cost them everything. Even if they were affected personally, they won't give up this ideology because without it, their entire worldview crumbles.

typeofhuman on 2024-05-15

But the increase is attributable largely to the recent immigrant population.

Some cultures think it's perfectly fine to assault and rape women. Those cultures are bad and good cultures are suffering the consequences by inviting them in.

xutopia on 2024-05-15

My kids are tween and teen and they thanked me for giving them the freedom they get. I get weird stares from other parents like I neglect my kids when what I do is actually consciously educating them to be autonomous.

mayormcmatt on 2024-05-15

Back when I grew up in the 80s and 90s there was a child abduction scare due to high profile cases like the Michaela Garecht case in Hayward, California. In fact, we lived in the same general community as her family (my parents knew the Garechts). Yet they still allowed my sister and I to choose how we got to and home from school (bus, walking, or bike) or to our friends' house. Speaking to them in adulthood about it, they said their choice to allow that was a combination of what you said -- teaching us to be autonomous -- and also that it jibed with their busy professional lives. Seems like they also got stares of disapproval from other parents, but I think it was the right choice.

bombcar on 2024-05-15

It's interesting to me (viewing somewhat from the outside) that as you have more and more two working parent families that the kids have (apparently) less and less autonomy.

But again, it may be that we're not seeing it for what it is; when I was a kid there wasn't much to do at home so we'd go wander around - if I was a teen today I'd probably be playing video games or wasting time on the phone.

the_snooze on 2024-05-15

Reminds me of this 99PI article/episode about how the built environment in urban Japan enables a lot of independence for little kids. You can't do that in a lot of the US because speeding cars make it unsafe to walk, and there's nowhere worthwhile within walking distance anyway. So of course US parents keep their kids on a short leash; the environment around them is hostile to anyone outside a car.

cscurmudgeon on 2024-05-15

Cars are not the main issue (but a huge issue due to urban sprawl caused by NIBMYism):

This is typical in large cities:


"San Jose girl attacked while walking home from school, police say | KRON4"

> Police said Martinez is known to hang out in “The Jungle,” a sprawling homeless encampment that stretches along a creek adjacent to Senter Road and Keyes Street.

This is one of the richest cities in the US. A city which has squandered 100s of millions of dollars of homeless aid:

This is a real issue:

> Student activists said they do not want to criminalize homelessness, but insist walking to school in fear has to stop.

chrisco255 on 2024-05-15

Walking in Switzerland isn't without risk of collision from street cars, buses, cyclists and cars, especially for an unsavvy 5 year old. But the short leash rule extends to areas of parenting beyond just long walks to school. America is obsessed with infantilization all the way to the legal drinking age being fixed at 21 and strictly enforced.

cafard on 2024-05-15

You can thank the Reagan Administration for that one. The Department of Transportation had ideological scruples about mandating airbags, and came up with numbers to indicate that raising the drinking age would decrease automotive fatalities by a comparable rate.

Before that, the drinking age was up to the states.

chrisco255 on 2024-05-16

It still is up to the states but I suppose they would lose 10% of their highway funding if they went against the law:

To be honest I think Federal laws like this that carve out "obey or be punished financially" dictates should be outlawed and unconstitutional. Or if the Federal government wants to make funding conditional then the taxes for that initiative should not be enforceable for the state that chooses to forego that service.

rootsandstones on 2024-05-15

Nothing in life is without risk but children need to learn about the risk and what to do to minimize it.

sandworm101 on 2024-05-15

It isn't all about the traffic. Japan also enjoys famously low crime rates by almost every metric. The most dangerous parts of Japan are safer than the best low-crime neighborhoods in the US. This bleads into all aspects of the culture. People who feel safer themselves then don't panic as much about their kids walking out of sight.

bombcar on 2024-05-15

There's also societal expectations - in Japan if a five year old unaccompanied minor asks an adult a question they'd get an answer; in the USA that same thing likely will result in a call to the cops and CPS will get involved.

sandworm101 on 2024-05-15

>> if a five year old unaccompanied minor asks an adult a question they'd get an answer

Well, cops would be involved. While walking my dog in the woods (pacific northwest, about 500m from the nearest road) I came across a young kid. She spoke no English and was clearly separated a tour group. Sun was setting. We had maybe a half hour before flashlights would be needed but my dog and I knew every tree. I wasn't sure which path she came from. She wanted help, but if I lead her back to the road I would be the one explaining my actions to the police. So I left her in the woods. (No. After some shouting into the woods, a member of the tour group came running.) My point: In the west, our fear of being accused of something nefarious can actually cause us to hesitate even when child is literally lost in the woods.

Rinzler89 on 2024-05-15

>Japan also enjoys famously low crime rates by almost every metric.

Japan is also a highly conformist and homogenous society with very little ilegal immigration.

a_c_s on 2024-05-15

What does some people not filling out paperwork before moving to another country have to do with how the society treats 5-year-olds?

Rinzler89 on 2024-05-15

Please stop your strawmen. My arguments were to the comment on why Japan has a very low crime rate, not how and why it treats 5 year olds.

alextingle on 2024-05-15

No. You were clearly insinuating that illegal immigrants are likely to commit crimes.

Rinzler89 on 2024-05-15

Maybe you didn't read the part about a conformist society and yet focused on the illegal immigration part due to your subjective inner bias because you haven't called anyone a racist online in the last 5 minutes.

I never said foreigners commit crimes, as if locals do not, but being very selective with your immigration does help keeping crime lower in every country that does so.

As a country you already have the crime rates of the locals, so you want to not import crime rates as well, therefore you want your immigration being a net positive across the board so you'll have to be very strict.

Why are people offended by an obvious fact?

philwelch on 2024-05-15

By definition, they already have.

elzbardico on 2024-05-16

Well, they aren’t?

Rinzler89 on 2024-05-15

>You can't do that in a lot of the US because speeding cars make it unsafe to walk

Not just speeding cars but specifically those shitty monster-trucks with crap visibility that can just run over everyone who isn't Shaq. Why in the name of all that is holy does every insecure suburban dickhead need to own a Ford F-450 Super Duty to play cowboy in the city?

And now they're worshiping the Cybertruck which has the pedestrian crash safety of a giant prison shank making it illegal in Europe. How do you expect to have safe roads for kids considering a nation's worshiping of oversized impractical cars?

orangecat on 2024-05-15

Why in the name of all that is holy does every insecure suburban dickhead need to own a Ford F-450 Super Duty to play cowboy in the city?

Largely fuel economy regulations that perversely incentivize making larger cars with worse efficiency (e.g., which in turn increases demand for them, because if everyone else is driving a Canyonero you'd better get one too so you have some hope of surviving an accident.

barrkel on 2024-05-15

Top of article photo is Baden, 5 minutes walk from where I live. Small world.

atemerev on 2024-05-15

Well, what she describes is the way of parenting in German-speaking parts of Switzerland. Here in Geneva, which is French-speaking, walking alone to school usually happens only at 12 years and older kids. We have a lot of differences even within our small country.

theanonymousone on 2024-05-15

Well, if only Geneva was considered Switzerland :D

(/s just in case for people unfamiliar with the sarcasm)

dgellow on 2024-05-15

The note about differences is true, the country is pretty complicated and fragmented. But where do you get this 12 years old from? I grew up in the 90s, so things may have changed drastically but I remember going to school by myself since 6-7 years old. And it was the same for other kids who wouldn’t live too far from our school.

And I’m from Romandie (Vaud, Lausanne to be specific)

bombcar on 2024-05-15

I've been in places where it varies school-to-school in the same town/area.

In fact, you can often cause a change yourself if you have a few families that just start having the kids walk.

Other times it's an actual policy of the school (they can't really prevent kids from walking to school but they can forbid them to leave without supervision).

huhtenberg on 2024-05-15

Geneva - maybe, but that's not true for Vaud or Valais. Small kids, aged 7 or thereabouts, walk and ride buses to/from school all the time, en masse. This is a routine.

prmoustache on 2024-05-15

I think your experience is more specific to Geneva than German vs French speaking parts in general.

bubbleRefuge on 2024-05-16

My son plays American football at the high school level. He rides the school bus to school every morning and I try to pick him up everyday and catch the tail end of his after school practice. It is one of the great joys of my day. Its about a 20 minute car ride home and we spend the entire time talking about football, school, gossip, whatever. As a single parent who works long software dev hours, I cherish this time.

bern4444 on 2024-05-15
mandibeet on 2024-05-15

Parenting is the hardest thing to do.

renewiltord on 2024-05-15

The problem with this style is frequently not your children but other parents. They present a risk via the straightforward thing that they are bad drivers so risk killing your children, they will report you for letting your kids be more independent, and eventually their kids will grow up and be obsessed with "going to therapy" and therapyspeech and will politically espouse helplessness, parasitizing the few productive members of society.

2024throwaway on 2024-05-15

This comment took a turn from valid concerns into lunacy. Heaven forbid someone seek therapy!

mindslight on 2024-05-15

It's not lunacy to think that labeling kids with "conditions" will cause them to externalize their locus of control in terms of those labels. And then it's not like the medical system is even that competent at treating less-subjective conditions.

typeofhuman on 2024-05-16

Well they are finding this constant focus on "feelings" and ruminating on them is having an adverse affect leading to more anxiety, issues, and an increase in medication usage.

The pendulum swong way too far the other way.

renewiltord on 2024-05-15

For the ill, the doctor is necessary. But only for the ill.

ineedaj0b on 2024-05-15

If you find sex with a stranger okay there is nothing wrong with a prostitute. If you find laying bare your emotional self with a stranger okay there is nothing wrong with a therapist.

oh but only one is an expert? they both are.

both are doing it for money.

there is no free lunch

2024throwaway on 2024-05-15

Not sure what argument you’re trying to make here.

I would consider them both to be experts.

DrNosferatu on 2024-05-15

Not so:

It’s very different a stranger that wants to have sex with me because they want to, rather than just because they were given money.

Also: even if not the majority, volunteer psychologists are a thing.

qwertyuiop_ on 2024-05-15


snowpid on 2024-05-15


meepmorp on 2024-05-15

I'm pretty sure they mean "immigrants will attack your kids"

TeeMassive on 2024-05-15

I wouldn't let kids alone in Chicago of all places

tetromino_ on 2024-05-15

Chicago is big: over 200 square miles. I'm sure there are parts of it where you would not want young kids walking alone (near a busy road, or a place where broken glass on a sidewalk is a regular occurrence). And I'm also sure there are many parts of it where young kids walking alone will be, realistically, about as safe as if they were driven in a car.

m_ke on 2024-05-15

Because you were raised in the US and probably grew up being afraid to step outside.

PKop on 2024-05-15

Don't excuse the fact that Chicago has around an 18 per 100k murder rate, while Zurich has a 3. I'm referencing murder rate as a proxy for overall crime as well.

Now, many like to cope with this disgusting fact of conditions in US cities by projecting a "tough guy" bravado.. "Oh are you scared of the big city, not me I'm cool with my city being a shithole"

I'd prefer government puts criminals in jail so we can all live in nice places like the Swiss.

abap_rocky on 2024-05-15

The author of this article lives in La Grange which is a relatively wealthy Chicago Suburb (this is public information on her Twitter profile). Using those same 2019 FBI crime stats referenced in that Wikipedia article, you can find that La Grange experienced zero murders and had an overall violent crime rate of 10 per 100k (vs. Chicago's 943 per 100k).

Given the low crime rate in La Grange, citing crime statistics in this case does not fully account for differences between parenting in Switzerland and US suburbs, even if that suburb happens to be a Chicago suburb.

m_ke on 2024-05-15

I was one of the only white kids at a high school in Jamaica Queens and spent a ton of time in some of the roughest neighborhoods of NYC. Nothing dangerous ever happened to me because poor people are not animals, and if you interact with them enough you'll realize that nobody is our there attacking random pedestrians and that most dangerous crime is either gang on gang violence or domestic disputes.

orwin on 2024-05-15

I think the "Jail everyone" reaction is some cases useful (my opinion changed recently, but i can't explain it shortly. And english isn't my best language), but this isn't the US issue. The US incarceration rate is 531 per 100.000, which is honestly a rate i thought was USSR level, and its youth incarceration rate is the worst in the world. Worst than Salvador or countries with real Cartel problems, worst than communist countries.

wonderwonder on 2024-05-15

incarceration rate should probably be 2 - 3x more. Arrested 2x for an unprovoked assault of someone on the street or the knock out game, 20 years. Do it again, life. Push someone on the train tracks, life. Drive by even though no one was killed, life. Robbery, car jacking, etc with a weapon, life.

All of these life sentences should consist of hard but humane labor. Short on workers to pick strawberries? Hire from the prison. The money should go towards ensuring humane conditions in the prison, no more giving the contract to the lowest bidder. Government run prisons, the idea of paying a private company to run a prison is insane.

I'm fine with some lee way with property crimes, drugs, anything in that crime level but we really should not have to deal with violent criminals in society released to hurt people again and again.

PKop on 2024-05-16

Because we have more criminals.

throwway120385 on 2024-05-15

The few criminals I've known won't mess with your kids but will gladly steal the wheels off your car for a buck.

2024throwaway on 2024-05-15

Yes, the photo in the article of a nice, tree lined sidewalk, looks terrifying. /s