Lifestyle

Walkies kiddies! Should children be on a leash in public?

Are we treating children like dogs when we put them in a harness to to keep them from running away in public?
Are we treating children like dogs when we put them in a harness to to keep them from running away in public? Jupiterimages

TWO of our columnists have found themselves on opposite sides of the fence when it comes to putting children in a harness, attached to a leash, in public places to keep them safe.

Carlie Walker prefers to see children unleashed while Amanda Coop is in favour of the practice.

Which side do you support? Vote in our poll at the end of the columns to have your say.

Carlie says:

WHY do parents feel the need to turn their children into a walking punch line?

It's bad enough putting your child on a leash and therefore consigning them to the same status as the family dog without picking out a leash attached to a backpack in the shape of a monkey.

Every time I see one of these poor helpless children being led around by the monkey's tail, I almost can't help myself.

"Having a bit of trouble getting that monkey off your back?" I want to yell.

There are just too many variations really.

The first time I voiced my opinion on leashing children, I was at a friend's baby shower.

I didn't realise I was being controversial.

But judging by the expression on the mothers' faces, leashing children is all the rage and I'm completely behind in the times.

"What if they run out into traffic?" my friends ask me.

"What if they wander off and some stranger snatches them away?"

My friends have the best of intentions I know - plus they actually have children and I don't, so possibly they have some experience in this area.

But to me, leashes are just an excuse for lazy parenting - and maybe a little degrading for the child.

I'm not saying my friends are lazy parents, just in case they decide to stop speaking to me and defriend me on Facebook.

But in my opinion, you should be keeping a watchful eye on your child no matter where you are rather than depending on a leash that is questionable in taste and shaped like a flamin' monkey to do the work for you.

I'm seen leashed children get into huge amounts of mischief because their parents, confident that they aren't going to run away or be taken by a stranger, pay no attention to them.

That means they quietly get into other people's purses and run amok within a limited space - and their parents, who are busy not paying attention to their leashed children, let it happen with the quiet confidence that their children at least aren't out of their view.

Neither my brother nor I were leashed as children and we are still around to tell the story - so obviously not leashing a child can and does work on occasion.

When and if I ever procreate I will leash my children - to my own hand.

If they get away and wander off, I'll even chase after them because I won't be depending on a piece of material to rein them back in again.

Sometimes I might even carry them around or put them in a pram.

But no, I won't be using a leash.

Amanda says:

WOULD I put my kids on a leash?

Absolutely.

I'd draw the line at adding a choking collar and muzzle but, frankly, kids are leashed for the same reason dogs are - their own safety.

I should possibly point out before you phone child services on me that the politically correct term for a leash worn by a child is, in fact, a harness.

It's usually in the form of a backpack the child wears with the leash part attached to the backpack so the parent can hold on to it.

I haven't seen too many kids walking around with studded collars around their necks and those who are, I'm sure, are doing so thanks to questionable fashion choices.

It used to crack me up seeing little kids walking around with their backpacks/leashes attached.

It reminded me of someone walking a dog.

That was before I had a child and realised that going out with a toddler is, in many ways, like walking a dog.

They're excited, they're playful, they want to sniff other toddlers' butts (well maybe not that one so much) and they have no road sense.

They're quick and, because they're so much shorter than you, they're not that easy to just reach out and grab. 

And, like the family pooch, you love them, you're responsible for their safety and you'd never forgive yourself if anything happened to them.

I have a very excitable 18-month-old daughter who usually sits in her pram when we go out.

There are two reasons for this - one, she's still too young to walk long distances without tiring and, two, it's a lot bloody easier than chasing her everywhere. 

Occasionally when I leave the house it is with some purpose in mind and it can be somewhat difficult concentrating on what you have to do/get while following a small child around keeping them out of everything and within arm's reach.

As for holding their hand?

Great idea, if you can manage to hold everything you're shopping for in your other hand while also getting your purse out, paying for items, etcetera.

And I've only got one child to try to keep in my sights.

Multiply this for anyone with extra mouths to feed and feet to chase.

My tot has reached what I like to call The Age of Resistance (The Age of Reason comes much later down the track when she gets old and starts listening to John Farnham). 

She doesn't like being in the pram for long periods of time.

She wants to walk by herself - or, should I say, she wants to run around like a crazy woman pulling stuff from store shelves and dicing with death in the car park.

For now I'm limiting her out-of-pram time to when we're inside a shop but as soon as the time comes that we ditch the pram, I think the tot will become the proud new owner of her very own harness.

Am I being an over-protective helicopter parent?

Am I just being bone lazy by not reining her in a little better (no pun intended)?

Maybe. You be the judge.

What's more fun than judging others?

Clearly not every little kid has a leash and most of them survive to tell the tale.

But have you noticed how car parks are getting smaller while cars are getting bigger?

Kids dart out on the road without thinking and we're not always quick enough to grab them, or the driver able to stop in time.

Not to mention the increasing presence of road-raging jerks around the place.

If my little lass was hit by someone's bullbar because the driver was too busy flipping the bird to watch the road, I'd unleash some rage of my own.

I'm not saying you should put your 10-year-old on a leash (although I'm sure it is tempting for some) but for a toddler who cannot realistically be expected to make judgments about roads, traffic or why it's so important to stay beside mummy or daddy, I'm all for it.

If the tot goes through life and the worst thing that happens to her is that her mum embarrasses her by strapping a harness on her, I think she'll do okay.

Are you in favour of putting children in a harness with a leash in public?

This poll ended on 22 February 2013.

Yes - 74%

No - 25%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Topics:  amanda coop carlie walker children editors picks harness leash safety



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