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Parenting today should be easier than it used to be. Back in the day, parents were forced to distract their spawn using lousy game consoles with only one button, or, if things were desperate, the power of their own stupid imagination. These days, you can just throw a flashing iPad in a child's general direction and get back to your vodka-infused breakfast burrito like a normal person.

But alongside this increased ease of parenting have emerged stricter standards for raising one's human larvae. If you're old enough to read this while legally enjoying the aforementioned alcoholic breakfast burrito, there's a good chance that your parents' actions in raising you to be a well-rounded, delightful, Cracked-reading individual would end up with them in jail today. For example, parents can now get in major trouble for ...

5
Letting Kids Walk Places Alone

Say you're currently an adult and grew up in a place where it didn't snow 11 months out of the year and/or the roads weren't made of lava. Chances are that you walked places unaccompanied for much of that childhood. And why not? Walking is great exercise, and there are entire mascots, like United Healthcare's Health E. Hound, dedicated to telling children that exercise is good for them:

Via Amboy Guardian
"Stay in shape so you can outrun my estranged brother, Sir B. Erus."

Hell, I regularly walked to and from school as a kid, and that was in Australia, a country that most adults are afraid to enter. Many of us also thought it perfectly normal to walk alone to any local parks, playgrounds, or haunted pet cemeteries. But it turns out that our childhood hikes were not only apparently unapproved by Health E. Hound, they were also evidence of severe child neglect. Yes, walked-alone-as-a-child person, it's only due to sheer luck and your parents' regular sacrifices to a pagan road deity that you are not dead right now. I know this because ...

What It's Like Today

Kids walking places alone is currently considered so dangerous that in many places it's punishable by arrest. Take the example of Danielle and Sasha Meitiv, a Maryland couple who earlier this year had their children, aged 6 and 10, taken into custody after they dared to let them walk home from a nearby park. After picking up the children on their dangerous trek home, cops then failed to call the parents to let them know where their offspring were, instead allowing the kids to sit in a squad car for two and a half hours, so that presumably the poor couple started to believe that their road-deity sacrifice hadn't worked after all and they'd wasted all those chickens on nothing.

koratmember/iStock/Getty Images
"It's like our dark gods aren't even listening anymore."

And they weren't alone in deciding that the bodily-fluid-soaked backseat of a cruiser is a healthier place for children than bounding through nature's fresh air. After a Florida woman let her 7-year-old son walk half a mile home from a local park, police picked up the child and held him for some time in a police car before showing up at her house to arrest her, ensuring that both of them will forevermore have a healthy relationship with authority figures. But it's not only unsupervised bouts of exercise that we as a society have learned to banish. There's also the creeping problem of parents ...

4
Letting Kids Play Outside

Sometimes, even the best of us get that desire to look up from our screens and step out the front door, exposing ourselves to the harsh radiation of the sun, grass-based rashes, and the ever-present threat of bees. This impulse seems to be particularly strong in children, who in days past could spend literally hours per year not being inside. And because watching small humans pretend to be dinosaurs for hours on end isn't the most fascinating activity in the world, at least while sober, parents would generally stay inside while those children were playing and focus on playing their own dinosaur games.

Visual Ideas/Nora Pelaez/Blend Images/Getty
"The 'dinosaur' is my penis, Timmy. Now go and play."

What It's Like Today

Luckily, modern American society has decided to crack down on this disgusting habit before the nation's vitamin D levels rise to dangerous levels. That's why police visited a home in Texas after a mother let her 6- and 9-year-old children play outside their own home, even though (as the woman claimed) she was watching them from a lawn chair the whole time. The police decided that wasn't a good enough excuse and arrested her, and she spent the night in jail thinking about what she'd done.

There's more: In South Carolina, a 46-year-old woman was arrested for letting her 9-year-old daughter play in a nearby park while she worked a shift at McDonald's, and a father in Ohio also ended up in jail after his son skipped out on a church trip and visited a store down the road instead. According to the father, the resulting media coverage caused him to lose his job, which was also at McDonald's, which makes me wonder if this don't-play-outside mania is perhaps part of a country-wide conspiracy funded by Burger King.

Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images
Their next step is to leave a flaming bag of poop on the doorstep of every
In-N-Out franchise in the Southwest.

By now you may be pausing between bites of your alcoholic breakfast burrito to exclaim, "But those are just a few scattered arrests! Is this really evidence of a widespread cultural shift?" Well, to look at how much things have changed in just the last few decades, consider that 1970s seasons of the children's show Sesame Street are now sold with labels warning that they "may not suit the needs of today's preschool child," because, among other things, the show featured scenes of children playing unsupervised outside. Early seasons also included sordid scenes of grown men reading to children who weren't related to them, which ... I think I have to go lie down for a while because that's some heinous shit right there.

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3
Leaving A Kid In A Car

OK, let's get this out of the way: Dozens of children die in hot cars every year, and it's extremely dangerous to leave a young child alone for more than a few minutes even on an 80-degree day. Clearly, any person who deliberately leaves a child or animal alone in a hot car while they visit a bowling alley for Free Nachos Night should be locked up in some sort of extra jail where lions roam the hallways. But what about dashing inside to grab some milk with your kid still in the vehicle on a not-particularly-warm day? I remember this happening several times during my own childhood, and the only long-term ill effect was some extra exposure to wacky morning DJs.

Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty
I still can't hear klaxons and fake chicken noises without screaming.

What It's Like Today

In 2009, a New Jersey woman left a toddler alone for five to 10 minutes while she grabbed some items in a party-supply store. I hope those items were not supplies for her "not getting arrested and charged with child endangerment" party, because she was arrested and charged with child endangerment.

And there's a long list of parents and caretakers who have faced charges after leaving their children alone in cars for short periods of time, including this woman who left her 4-year-old in her vehicle while she ran inside to purchase a single item at a store on an overcast 50-degree day, was filmed by an onlooker, and ended up being charged with "contributing to the delinquency of a minor," because apparently leaving a child alone in a car for five minutes is enough for him to turn irrevocably to a life of crime.

lanych/iStock/Getty Images
They found him with a Paw Patrol backpack full of car stereos.

Since in neither of these cases did the temperature of the car seem to come into play, I'm left to conclude that there must be other factors at work here, like maybe America's parking lots are secretly filled with roaming pedophiles armed with Jaws Of Life, or parents might be really prone to going into a convenience store to grab one item and then being mesmerized by the Doritos display for several hours and forgetting their children. I don't know; I don't make the rules -- the lizard people who live at the center of the Earth do. And they're also not in favor of ...

2
Swearing Around Your Kid

Adults have always had a thing about swearing and children. You can show everything from Pulp Fiction to Snakes On A Plane on network TV as long as no one hears Samuel L. Jackson using the F-word between the various scenes of violent death.

Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images
"We're shocked at the kidnapper's refusal to use child-friendly language in his ransom note."

And clearly our obsession with childhood aural purity has been getting worse lately, because ...

What It's Like Today

Ask this South Carolina woman, who was arrested in a grocery store after allegedly using the F-word in front of her children. Officials explained that the woman was arrested because local laws prohibit "obscene words or epithets" spoken "in a state of anger," so apparently you can swear legally in that city as long as it's accompanied by a polite doff of one's top hat. The mother in question protested that she was actually swearing at her husband, who was tossing frozen pizzas in the cart and crushing some soft bread already in there.

moniaphoto/iStock/Getty Images
"I'm tired of these monkey-fighting pizzas on this Monday-to-Friday bread!"
-South Carolina woman

The poor woman later indicated that the arrest had her "wanting to move back to Ohio," and if that isn't evidence of long-term emotional trauma, I don't know what is.

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1
Having Naked Children

I'm not sure if it's wise to release information on the Internet that might be used against me later by future employees, but here goes: I used to take my clothes off in public. Just, like, in front of total strangers. OK, I was 2 years old at the time, and I only know about it because my parents told me stories about that one time I did it in an international airport. But clearly those factors do nothing at all to excuse these terrifying and society-destroying acts, because ...

What It's Like Today

Earlier this month in British Columbia, police visited a house after receiving the shocking news that a 4-year-old boy was running around outside without clothing. Apparently, while celebrating the end of Canada's long, dark, eternal winter, this child had a water fight outside, got wet, and instead of getting changed like his parents asked, simply ran back outside naked. A neighbor, presumably after lying on a fainting couch for a while and then being revived with sniffing salts, called the cops. No arrests were made, but the police did return later and warn the parents that they would take "further action" if the child was found outside naked again, and (I assume) provided an iron chastity belt that the filthy little exhibitionist could poop into for the rest of his childhood.

Image Source White/Image Source/Getty Images
"Cover up those shoulders as well, you slattern."

And don't think you only have to pay attention to covering up your child outside your home: In 2012, a couple lost custody of their children after pictures they were developing at Walmart showed their two young daughters in the bath. Naked. In the bath, if you can believe that. The children were taken from their parents for a month before being returned with no charges filed, maybe just with a warning that they should bathe their children clothed from now on and also to wear a blindfold while changing any diapers, to prevent lustful thoughts.

Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images
Above: a baby wearing only a diaper. Be sure to minimize the screen before
someone walks past and calls the authorities.

C. Coville has a Twitter here and a funny book on sale here.

For more from C. Coville, check out 4 Universally Hated Things (That Are Somehow Still Popular) and 5 Reasons Conspiracy Shows Don't Work Today.

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