Recently there’s a Japanese reality show ‘ Old Enough‘ went viral on Netflix, showing a bunch of kids ranging from two-and-a-half to five years old, walking on the street and shopping alone as they’re sent on errands for their families. People are amazed by their ‘capabilities’ considering their age, especially Americans, which also triggered a debate over kids’ safety.
So why can this ‘incredible thing’ happen in Japan? Japanese parents are not worried about their children’s safety? Is this a way to train kids to be independent? What can we learn from this?
Firstly, of course, Japanese parents are concerned about their kids’ safety, but sending them to shop is safe in Japan. According to Wikipedia that Japan’s rate of intentional homicide per 100,000 population was one of the lowest in the world at 0.3 per 100,000 inhabitants, while America’s rate was 4.7 per 100,000 people. And Japan’s gun homicide rate was 0.01 per 100,000 people, while America’s rate was 3.5 — 350 times the rate of Japan.
The second is education. We can see that Japanese school kids are often asked to clean their classrooms, serve schoolmates meals, even grow vegetables at school and sometimes cook by themselves. They are also trained to take trains or buses alone from a young age, of course, for younger kids, schools will distribute a yellow patch on their uniforms to identify them on the street so that they can start their adventurous journey more smoothly. So independence is part of Japanese education, they believe independence is the most important attribute, either from their parents or school teachers. On the other hand, parents and teachers also think being independent is the responsibility of kids.
The third and less interfering factor is the city’s infrastructure – Japanese public infrastructure is of a higher quality on roads, highways, railways, subways, etc, and they are often on time. Nevertheless in the 21st century, with the development of technology, parents can easily track their kids’ location also the public transport information.
Japan has set a high standard for child safety, why not other nations? And if you want to know more about the “how,” then start watching the “Old Enough” TV series.
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