Prime Time Crime


(Published in the Chilliwack Times week of Mar. 21, 2011)


Living in a very scary world


  By John Martin


At first I assumed I had accidentally ended up on the satirical The Onion webpage where fictional, bizarre stories are mischievously passed off as factual new items.

Unfortunately, such was not the case.

It turns out I came across a fully legitimate Associate Press news story titled, "Keep children in booster seats longer--as old as 12--say pediatricians".

They're serious.

The latest recommendations suggest keeping children in booster seats until they've reached a height of four foot nine. As I recall, that would cover about 10 per cent of the student body when I was in grade eight.

The author of the study reports, "There are certain things I'm willing to negotiate--bedtime, teeth brushing and broccoli for dinner. But safety is nonnegotiable. If parents establish that early in life, they'll get less pushback over time."

Exactly how humiliating would it be to be strapped into a booster seat like a three-year old toddler, being driven to your first day of junior high school?

Sadly, many will accept the advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics and assume that by keeping their kids in a bubble, they will be safe and sound.

This is the mentality that has encouraged schools and parks to get rid of playground equipment so no one gets hurt falling off a swing or being bounced off a teeter-totter.

A few years ago we saw a movement across the land to ban the game of tag because some kids got hurt running into each other.

Dodgeball is long gone and even such timeless leisure pursuits as soccer and touch football are being banned at schools because they're considered too violent.

Sure there's an epidemic of diabetes among children. But hey, at least they don't have scraped knees.

And now we're supposed to keep 12-year-olds buckled into booster seats. My, my--we've sure come a long way from the days of 12-year-olds doing all sorts of jobs on the family farm including driving a tractor.

Maybe this shouldn't come as a surprise whatsoever. After all, it's perfectly normal and socially acceptable for 25- and 30-year-old men to live in their mom's basement. If grown men can live like teenagers, perhaps we shouldn't be overly concerned about someone approaching adolescence being treated like an infant.

I was recently informed of an incident in which a woman contacted university administrators. Her son, 18 years old, was getting ready to start his first semester of university and would be living in residence. The mother explained that he had never been away from home for longer than a weekend. She requested permission to bring a mattress and bunk with him in his room for the first few weeks to make sure he didn't get too traumatized during the transition.

No doubt, on rainy days, she would insist on driving him to his classes.

In a government-approved booster seat of course.

John Martin is a Criminologist at the University of the Fraser Valley and can be contacted at


Prime Time Crime

Contributing 2011