Two young school children are seen running across the game lands of Kenya on their way to school. All of sudden they come upon a family of elephants and the adult elephants are ready to charge as they sense the children’s presence. This scene played out in a great documentary my wife and I watched on Netflix titled “On the Way to School”. The 2013 documentary showed how kids across the globe endure incredible journeys to school each day. The quote that struck me the most in this film was a father speaking to his two young children as he cautioned them to “watch out for the elephants” as they ran 7 miles to and from school across the Kenyan wilderness.
In contrast…kids in North American suburbia for the most part are spoiled when it comes to getting to and from school each day. Just get behind a school bus as it stops at each driveway on the street and watch one child after another make the frantic dash from their front door to the bottom step of the bus as though they make be abducted right on the front lawn of their house.
As we watched the kids from around the world I was amazed at how in tune these kids were to their surroundings. They had to be. It was a matter of life and death. In contrast it also reminded me of how out of tune the kids of typical suburban North America have become as they are sheltered, protected or distracted by their array of personal electronic devices complete with HD screens and ear buds to throughly block out the world around them. No wonder they are so "out of tune" with their surroundings.
This hyper-protection that we are offering our kids today may be making us feel good as parents but I don’t think it is doing the kids much good. The reality is the day is quickly coming when they will have to face life alone and must figure out what to do with the elephants the come into their lives?
Now I am not advocating releasing our children into the world with the evolutionary attitude that the strong will survive. But what I am saying is we need to create opportunities for them to look for the elephants in their life and figure out how to avoid them and move around them. After all, we won’t always be able to be there to guide them. They are eventually going to need to figure it out on their own.
If you want to learn more about this topic Gavin DeBecker does a wonderful job explaining this very concept in his book Protecting the Gift. You can find it used on Amazon for a few dollars.
This is John Baker for safetysolutions4schools.com. Image courtesy of www.huffingtonpost.com.