Christine observed a fascinating difference between suburban and urban parenting. Several times a week, she has the opportunity to observe the beginning of the day at two different Minnesota public schools, one in a suburban setting and the other in an urban setting.
This is what she observed:
A long line of SUVs and buses dropping kids at school. Not a single child walking to school even though the school is surrounded by residential housing. Crossing guards on the corners standing around with nothing to do.
St. Paul (Urban):
Hundreds (literally) of children walking and biking to school without adult supervision.
My first reaction was, “Yeah, but you are comparing different socioeconomic groups. The parents in the urban area don’t have the resources the parents in the suburbs have, like time and transportation.” She said, “No, the school is in Mac Groveland, one of the wealthier neighborhoods in St. Paul.”
So I looked it up:
Demographics in the suburban Eagle Creek neighborhood
While the incomes are a bit higher in the suburb the net worth is almost the same… hmmm, who do you think has more debt?
What makes this even more interesting is the irrational behavior of the suburban parents. While the suburban neighborhood is one of the safest neighborhoods in America, they waste time and energy waiting in line to drop their kids at the front door of the school. Why don’t they drop them on the corner and make them walk half a block? They’d save 20 minutes and a gallon of gas.
- Traffic is far heavier near the urban school.
- Total crime risk near the urban school is 6 times higher than the suburban one.
- Violent crime risk near the urban school is 5 times higher than in the suburban one.
- There are 13 times the number of registered sex offenders near the urban school.
- 95 registered sex offenders live within 5 miles of the urban school – one directly across the street.
- Only 7 registered sex offenders live within 5 miles of the suburban school.
So why the difference? Why are suburban parents more controlling? Anybody want to take a stab at it?
Malcom Gladwell, where are you?
My best guess is…
More suburban parents watch television news and listen to talk radio and it distorts their perception of risk.