(Cross-posted from Commonplace)
Beleaguered parents have only the media and the marketplace as sources of advice and help. The parenting magazines indict a hazard of the month, providing fretful mothers and fathers with a ready list of names for their vaguest fears: television radiation, chlorine, medicine droppers, iron pills, automatic garage door openers, latex balloons, trampolines, drawstring sweatshirts. The newsweeklies chime in with perils of a less concrete, more moral nature. "How Can We Keep Our Children Safe?" asked the cover of Life magazine in the mid-1990s, ringing the vulnerable face of a blond-haired, blue-eyed girl with a boldfaced wreath of horribles: "sexual abuse, abduction, television, accidents, neglect, violence, drugs, vulgarity, alienation." The article, like the pieces on chlorine and sweatshirts, offered few solutions that were not purchasable, and private.