Directions: In this part, you will have 15 minutes to go over the passage quickly and answer the questions on Answer Sheet 1. For questions 1-7, choose the best answer from the four choices marked A), B), C) and D). For questions 8-10, complete the sentences with the information given in the passage.
Would you let your fourth-grader ride public transportation without an adult? Probably not. Still, when Lenore Skenazy, a columnist for the New York Sun, wrote about letting her son take the subway alone to get back to her Manhattan home from a department store on the Upper East Side, she didn't expect to get hit with a wave of criticism from readers.
"Long story short: My son got home, overjoyed with independence," Skenazy wrote on April 4 in the New York Sun. "Long story longer: Half the people I've told this episode to now want to turn me in for child abuse. As if keeping kids under lock and key and cell phone and careful watch is the right way to rear kids. It's not. It's debilitating(使虚弱) - for us and for them."
Online message boards were soon full of people both applauding and condemning Skenazy's decision to let her son go it alone. She wound up defending herself on CNN (accompanied by her son) and on popular blogs like the Huffington Post, where her follow-up piece was ironically headlined "More From America's Worst Mom."
The episode has ignited another one of those debates that divides parents into vocal opposing camps. Are modern parents needlessly overprotective, or is the world a more complicated and dangerous place than it was when previous generations were allowed to wander about unsupervised?
From the "she's an irresponsible mother" camp came: "Shame on you for being so careless about his safety," in comments on the Huffington Post. And there was this from a mother of four: "How would you have felt if he didn't come home?" But Skenazy got a lot of support, too, with women and men writing in with stories about how they were allowed to take trips all by themselves at seven or eight. She also got heaps of praise for bucking the "helicopter parent" trend: "Good for this Mom," one commenter wrote on the Huffington Post. "This is a much-needed reality check."
Last week, encouraged by all the attention, Skenazy started her own blog - Free Range Kids - promoting the idea that modern children need some of the same independence that her generation had. In the good old days nine-year-old baby boomers rode their bikes to school, walked to the store, took buses - and even subways - all by themselves. Her blog, she says, is dedicated to sensible parenting. "At Free Range Kids, we believe in safe kids. We believe in car seats and safety belts. We do NOT believe that every time school-age children go outside, they need a security guard."
So why are some parents so nervous about letting their children out of their sight? Are cities and towns less safe and kids more vulnerable to crimes like child kidnap and sexual abuse than they were in previous generations?
Not exactly. New York City, for instance, is safer than it's ever been; it's ranked 136th in crime among all American cities. Nationwide, stranger kidnaps are extremely rare; there's a one-in-a-million chance a child will be taken by a stranger, according to the Justice Department. And 90 percent of sexual abuse cases are committed by someone the child knows. Mortality rates from all causes, including diseases and accidents, for American children are lower now than they were 25 years ago. According to Child Trends, a nonprofit research group, between 1980 and 2003 death rates dropped by 44 percent for children aged 5 to 14 and 32 percent for teens aged 15 to 19.
Then there's the whole question of whether modern parents are more watchful and nervous about safety than previous generations. Yes, some are. Part of the problem is that with wall-to-wall Internet and cable news, every missing child case gets so much airtime that it's not surprising even normal parental anxiety can be amplified. And many middle-class parents have gotten used to managing their children's time and shuttling them to various enriching activities, so the idea of letting them out on their own can seem like a risk. Back in 1972, when many of today's parents were kids, 87 percent of children who lived within a mile of school walked or biked every day. But today, the Centers for Disease Control report that only 13 percent of children bike, walk or otherwise get themselves to school.
The extra supervision is both a city and a suburban phenomenon. Parents are worried about crime, and they're worried about kids getting caught in traffic in a city that's not used to pedestrians. On the other hand, there are still plenty of kids whose parents give them a lot of independence, by choice or by necessity. The After School Alliance finds that more than 14 million kids aged 5 to 17 are responsible for taking care of themselves after school. Only 6.5 million kids participate in organized programs. "Many children who have working parents have to take the subway or bus to get to school. Many do this by themselves because they have no other way to get to their schools," says Dr. Richard Gallagher, director of the Parenting Institute at the New York University Child Study Center.
For those parents who wonder how and when they should start allowing their kids more freedom, there's no clear-cut answer. Child experts discourage a one-size-fits-all approach to parenting. What's right for Skenazy's nine-year-old could be inappropriate for another one. It all depends on developmental issues, maturity, and the psychological and emotional makeup of that child. Several factors must be taken into account, says Gallagher. "The ability to follow parent guidelines, the child's level of comfort in handling such situations, and a child's general judgment should be weighed."
Gallagher agrees with Skenazy that many nine-year-olds are ready for independence like taking public transportation alone. "At certain times of the day, on certain routes, the subways are generally safe for these children, especially if they have grown up in the city and have been taught how to be safe, how to obtain help if they are concerned for their safety, and how to avoid unsafe situations by being watchful and on their toes."
But even with more traffic and fewer sidewalks, modern parents do have one advantage their parents didn't: the cell phone. Being able to check in with a child anytime goes a long way toward relieving parental anxiety and may help parents loosen their control a little sooner. Skenazy got a lot of criticism because she didn't give her kid her cell phone because she thought he'd lose it and wanted him to learn to go it alone without depending on mom - a major principle of free-range parenting. But most parents are more than happy to use cell phones to keep track of their kids.
And for those who like the idea of free-range kids but still struggle with their inner helicopter parent, there may be a middle way. A new generation of GPS cell phones with tracking software make it easier than ever to follow a child's every movement via the Internet - without seeming to interfere or hover. Of course, when they go to college, they might start objecting to being monitored as if they're on parole(假释).
1. When Lenore Skenazy's son was allowed to take the subway alone, he ________.
A. was afraid that he might get lost
B. enjoyed having the independence
C. was only too pleased to take the risk
D. thought he was an exceptional child
2. Lenore Skenazy believes that keeping kids under careful watch _________.
A. hinders their healthy growth
B. adds too much to parents' expenses
C. shows traditional parental caution
D. bucks the latest parenting trend
3. Skenazy's decision to let her son take the subway alone has met with _______.
A. opposition from her own family
B. official charges of child abuse
C. approval from psychologists
D. somewhat mixed responses
4. Skenazy started her own blog to ____________.
A. promote sensible parenting
B. share parenting experience
C. fight against child abuse
D. protect children's rights
5. According to the author, New York City ____________.
A. ranks high in road accidents
B. is much safer than before
C. ranks low in child mortality rates
D. is less dangerous than small cities
6. Parents today are more nervous about their kids' safety than previous generations because _________.
A. there are now fewer children in the family
B. the number of traffic accidents has been increasing
C. their fear is amplified by media exposure of crime
D. crime rates have been on the rise over the years
7. According to child experts, how and when kids may be allowed more freedom depends on __________.
A. the traditions and customs of the community
B. the safety conditions of their neighborhood
C. their parents' psychological makeup
D. their maturity and personal qualities
8. According to Gallagher and Skenazy, children who are watchful will be better able to stay away from __________.
9. Being able to find out where a child is anytime helps lessen parents' ___________.
10. Nowadays with the help of GPS cell phones, parents can, from a distance, track their children's ___________.