Friday, February 4, 2011

Alarm Backpack: Safety or a Bit Much

You have babies and then you want to protect them. It's so very natural. They are your little souls walking around the world.  And as a gringa in Rio de Janeiro, I really feel that.  I live in a great neighborhood and I know that this city is far safer than CNN would have you believe, but you still get nervous.

It's just a little different down here. We don't have the Amber alert system. Hell, we hardly have any kind of system like that in place at all.  It's almost as if Brazilian society is sittings somewhere in between ignorance is bliss and we have to do something.  And it's a shame because I've always loved this relaxed your-kids-are-safe-everywhere-here attitude.  Reality has a way of just biting everyone in the ass.

Then I saw this Alarm backpack. Your kid get snatched and they call pull an alarm.  And these backpack sellers really hit a core with parents.  They say, you put alarms on your buildings, why not your children? Robbery went down after alarms, why not kidnapping?

And initially, it sounds pretty damn good.  I mean, who wants their kid snatched. Not to mention, I bet a screaming backpack, attached to a screaming kid, would even get the attention of busy Cariocas.
But if you follow along these lines of safety, why not put a Lojack bracelet on their ankle.

On the other hand, while safety is important, how safe is your 4 year old going to feel being attached to an anti-kidnapping system. What kind of innocent childhood can they have always looking over their shoulder. Isn't it bad enough that we are. Hell, playgrounds are now padded to keep the scrapies away.  I'm surprised people aren't making their kids use helmets in pools!  Isn't it all getting a little out of control?

I've decided to go old school on safety. I'm going to get an ulcer worrying about my child and they will never know. I will hover in a semi-discrete manner. I will hide around corners when necessary. And I will not attach my 4 year old to a cordless leash.

Who am I kidding, I'm not a discrete hoverer by any  means!

It comes down to this: horrible things happen.  Our job is to protect our children from these horrible things.  But I have to take a step back when I feel that my protection methods are interfering with them actually living.

I don't think this backpack, a tracking devise, or melting my children to my legs so we can become one would help.  It's just a big old slippery slope of paranoia.  You need to be careful and conscientious. And I know that it does not always work with the world the way it is, the way it was, and the way it will be.  But I won't have my kids worrying about it. I think I worry about it enough for the both of us.

What would you do? Backpack or no? Do you think countries like Brazil, without the protective programs of the US, suffer from more child abductions? 


  1. hmmm i think if i lived in Rio or in SP city (or NY or LA), why not? huge, crowded, an individual vanishes. if they have been proven to actually work that is. i think it depends on where you are. in my city (SP interior) no way would that be necessary. my little city is pretty damn docile. i mean, one is always supposed to worry about their kids, but in small quiet cities, it is much easier (i think, not that i have kids) but if i did i know that i would worry a lot more in SP city or Rio.

  2. The first thing I thought of reading this was that NO WAY would this work with my son. He'd be so tempted to pull that cord and sound the alarm just for kicks. I tried one of those stuffed animal backpack leash things when he was 2 and that worked all of one or two times, he wouldn't wear it. I just try to keep an eye open at all times, hold his hand whenever we're out. It's getting a little more difficult as he's at the age where he wants to do things by himself, like go to the bathroom and I'm more worried of him getting lost than being kidnapped. I still take him to the woman's bathroom, even though my husband thinks he's old enough to use the men's. I voiced concern over the potential for some pervert and my husband said "you're so American". He knows never to go with any strange people, even if they say they are your "tia"...and that he can always yell if he's scared...but I am not trying to freak the guy out, It's hard to know where to draw the line.

    He knows his phone number and address and we have a local bar/restaurant where everyone knows him that is a meeting point if he's ever lost in the neighborhood. Plus several backup places (it's nice to live in a true neighborhood as people know you and your kids). He knows where to go if lost at the beach...beyond the basic precautions, I don't know what else. I hate to think of kidnapping, bad people, bad things, and I am completely unaware of the statistics here.

  3. Rachel,

    I would totally get the alarm backpack plus the Kids Harness, the ones we see in the Mall sometimes where kids can't run too far from their parents because they are attached to the harness like pets.
    Kids don't have the same concerns/priorities are we do, so I say absolutely, every tecnology available would be welcome.
    Big cities are crazy enough to justify it.