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One reason why being a free-range parent is nearly impossible

Everyone knows what a free-range parent is, right? In case you have no idea, it’s a pre-90s parenting style where kids are essentially allowed to freely roam their neighborhood from morning until the street lights go on at dusk.

When thinking about writing this month’s blog, I planned on writing a light-hearted, hopefully, humorous post about how our family closely resembles a popular sitcom. I didn’t want to write about free-range parenting or the difficulties in utilizing this style in the modern world. But my brain and my fingertips forced me to address something a lot less fluffy.

Why? Well, to begin with, there was the news that broke in early February about a well-known doctor whose son was murdered by a drug dealer or “plug” selling fentanyl-laced pills thanks to Snapchat. Click here for details.

The news hit me like a ton of bricks. Sammy’s tragic story struck me so hard that for days I found myself tearing up and walking around in a daze as if I had lost my own child. Although I don’t know Dr. Berman or her now deceased son, the loss that has occurred for her, her family, and their community shakes me to the core.

Sammy could be any of our kids.

As a mom of three kids–two teenagers and one tween, I know Dr. Berman is living one of every parent’s worst nightmares. The questions that have popped to the forefront of my cerebral cortex are: Why is this happening more frequently? Why is social media once again part of this story? (Bergman’s son purchased drugs via SnapChat.)And why haven’t they been stopped?

The answer to me and any other upright inhabitant of this planet is clear: an egregious lack of ethos has quashed our society, and big tech social media outlets are the BFF of this pervasive moral void. Go ahead, call me a “holier-than-thou” person for saying it. I don’t care. It’s a crown I’ll proudly wear if it saves another child’s life.

Sammy died at home in his own bedroom while his parents were there because social media loopholes allowed it.

Although I can’t do anything to directly help Berman’s family during this tragic time, the one thing I promised myself after hearing one of her interviews on the news was to spread the word about his death. I immediately texted my closest friends and family members, posted the link to his story on two local parenting groups, messaged some parent friends who I haven’t spoken with since before the pandemic, and I contacted my kids’ school to ask them to host an emergency anti-drug/social media assembly.

And, now I write here.

Is my reaction over-the-top? Perhaps. But I’d rather do this than the alternative.

My husband and I also spoke with all three of our kids about what happened and explained why in today’s era, no one can afford to “experiment” with drugs of any kind. Ever.

One silly, seemingly harmless choice is enough for one’s life to be ended. And for what? A few frivolous minutes or hours experiencing a high that at best can quite literally eat away at your grey matter? And at worst? Well, death my dear.

Yes, yes. I know that big tech and social media can be utilized for many good things and are not the only party involved in this sad story. But the thing is, they HAVE to do a better job at protecting our children and society as a whole.

Our kids’ brains aren’t fully developed until they are in their late 20s. They aren’t yet wired to consistently make wise choices, regardless of how smart or well-behaved they might be. Moreover, kids with ADHD, like one of ours, are two to three times more likely to take a risk and try drugs than the general population.

Big tech companies make it unattainable to fully understand how to accurately enable parental controls on the devices and apps that they sell; but they sure do make it extremely easy, and appealing for the drug dealers (aka murderers), sex traffickers, and serial killers to meet their bottom lines.

It’s time for this nonsense to stop. Now!

So can you do me a solid? Please share Sammy’s story with everyone you can think of in your immediate circle, including your kids. Encourage others to do the same. Keep his story viral! Let’s contact tech companies like Snapchat and Instagram too while we’re at it to let them know that enough is enough!

Meanwhile, I’ll be trying to find a balance between allowing my kids some freedom while still powering up my helicopter when needed.

For more about being a mom and all that goes with it, please check out Paulette’s blog www.justthreepumpkins.com.

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