Here's sort of a scary thought: "Many parents look to the law for what is safe behavior for their children," Cindy D'Ercole, a spokeswoman for Kansas Action for Children, said last week.
D'Ercole's statement was meant to emphasize the need for stronger seat belt and booster seat laws in the state, but it leaves sort of an unsettling image about the role the state should play in parenting. If Kansas parents are going to "look to the law for what is safe behavior for their children," legislators had better get busy.
Laws that increase the age limits for seat belt and booster seat usage would have some positive effects, including the possibility of additional federal highway funding. However, relying on the state to set the standard on safely raising a child seems like a futile and inappropriate approach.
Is the state going to set bedtimes or television-viewing quotas for children? Should the state legislate the wearing of heavy coats when the temperature drops to a certain level?
Having special consideration for the safety of children is an appropriate government role, but expecting state laws to be the guiding light for child-rearing is a slippery slope. We'd rather leave most of those judgments to parents.