Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Why Keep the Good News Quiet?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Why Keep the Good News Quiet?

Article excerpt

Shhhh! don't tell the world the happy news about your blessed event.

That's the warning Desert Samaritan Hospital in Mesa, Ariz., has been giving new parents in recent weeks.

As one way of supposedly protecting infants, the hospital no longer supplies birth information to newspapers. And in a book of safety precautions that it gives to parents, the facility even advises against posting signs at home. Skip the jubilant "It's a Boy!" and "It's a Girl!" banners on the lawn and forget about pink and blue balloons swaying merrily in the breeze by the front door. Lower the shades and triple-lock the doors. You never know where "stranger danger" might lurk. Ironically, the hospital's new policy doesn't stem from any reported crimes. Local police, in fact, see no need for concern. But the decision to stop reporting births publicly clearly reflects a nationwide increase in what has been called the "precautionary principle," the belief that no risk should be taken until all the ramifications are known. Raising a family has always involved a delicate balancing act for parents. Their task involves protecting children from legitimate dangers and at the same time finding ways to nurture their independence and freedom - even encouraging risk-taking when it's appropriate. But increasingly, the danger factor appears to loom larger than ever. From parents who feel they must walk children hand-in-hand to the school door every day, even in upscale suburban neighborhoods, to those who plant hidden "nannycams" at home to keep surveillance on baby sitters and au pairs, public concern grows that you can't trust anyone. Or anything. Even that comforting, once-innocuous staple of childhood, the peanut-butter sandwich, now carries a dangerous image as parents worry about allergic reactions. Some schools have banned nuts from cafeterias. …

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