Michael Trapido
Michael Trapido

World’s Worst Mom

Just when you thought that the US networks had hit an all-time low with Bridalplasty, the reality TV show where future brides earn more time under the surgeon’s knife by stabbing their rivals in the back, along comes a programme that is so dangerous that it actually beggars belief.

World’s Worst Mom, another “reality” show, is an attack on what the producers believe to be over-protective parents.

Lenore Skenazy (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Genius’), the host, works with parents in order to help them overcome their fears and supposedly achieve freedom for the kids concerned.

The Genius became known as the “World’s Worst Mom” for letting her nine-year-old son ride the New York Subway all by himself.

To anyone who is yet to have a full frontal lobotomy she can be described in medical terms as a moron without a redeeming feature.

To the US networks she is a parenting expert.

The reason why today’s parents are overprotective of their children is because modern society demands that they be extremely vigilant.

On television, materialism, drugs, alcohol and a mentality of anything goes has left the boundaries of what constitutes morality so blurred as to be almost non-existent.

The internet, in its turn, offers anything from pornography to joining terrorist groups at the click of a button.

Worse, the parliaments of so-called free world countries are bending over backwards to protect the human rights of the worst offenders at the expense of criminal justice systems, clearly missing the point that if everyone has total freedom nobody has any freedom at all.

This has resulted in the police – who are terrified of violating the rights of criminals – and other authorities becoming less and less effective in the fight against crime and in protecting our children.

This means that children are daily being exposed to messages that put them in harm’s way while the authorities put in place to protect them are being undermined by the media, legislators and society.

The Genius fails to factor any of this in and does not seem to comprehend that society is not conducive to allowing nine-year-old children to ride solo on a train.

The fact that her child was not mugged, sexually attacked, sold into slavery or killed is not down to good parenting, it’s down to sheer luck. Madeleine McCann’s parents left her in a hotel room in Portugal and she was abducted within hours – how does that weigh up against the Genius’s theories?

How many nine-year-old boys and girls have been abducted, sexually assaulted, murdered or are simply missing in America?

Shitloads more than those who ride the New York subway unscathed.

Naturally the idiots who put on this show fail to make mention of the horrific statistics, electing rather to harp on the fact the Genius’s son managed to survive this act of parental madness.

No, to them, she is a parenting expert.

This might have been a wonderful concept circa 1950 but in today’s world it is a terrifying portrait of innocence at large.

Of course as soon as the ratings on this show take off, the other morons who run rival networks will be clamouring to do a bolder and more outrageous version of the same theme.

Instead of the Genius they will have an 18-year-old blonde bombshell with huge breasts called Storm Smokem – who once encountered a child when she visited a supermarket – as the leading authority on parenting.

“Hi I’m Storm Smokem and I’m speaking to you from Helmand Province in Afghanistan. As you can see I am allowing my five-year-old son to take a stroll through this park all by hisself…”

KABOOM. (IED totals five-year-old)


“John can you get those guys to run a quick check over that pathway, that’s the 4th kid we’ve lost this week. Lisa see how many wannabe TV stars we have left in the trailer. Storm I know this is irritating honey but I’m going to have to ask you to go back to makeup…”

Of course when the programme airs there’ll be not a problem in sight and people will actually think that the best place for a five-year-old to have a picnic is in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

Best way to solve that little problem is to get Storm and the production team – at gunpoint – to play a soccer match in that “safe” park.

Shouldn’t take too many corners before you can fit what’s left of Storm in a teacup.

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    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      About 25 years ago my husband and I hosted a Rotary exchange student from America. The first place we took her to was lunch at Kirstenbosch Gardens.

      Our children ran down to the river to paddle and look for tadpoles and Lauren was horrified because they were out of our sight.

      She explained the amount of missing children in America – children on all the milk bottles in every town.

      Now we have it here as well, spiced up SA style with muti killings, which had almost disappeared in SA prior to 1994.

    • Robin Grant

      Penn and Teller did an episode of their show Bullsh*t called ‘stranger danger’ that highlights the myths around this exact topic. They did an interview with Lenore Skenazy on the show as well. (www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vx6nGxw_hnM)

      The simple fact is that the statistics don’t lie. Statistically very, very few children go missing or are harmed by strangers. So much so, it is virtually a non issue
      This whole fear culture that has emerged alienates people in society from each other. The social devastation caused by this so called ‘stranger danger’ movement is unmeasurable. As a parent I also experience the angst and want to keep my children safe – but at what cost?

      Even the National Centre for missing and exploited children (USA) believe that it is time to retire the ‘Stranger Danger’ message because experience has shown them that most children are actually taken by someone they know or are familiar with.


    • http://none Lyndall Beddy

      Robin Grant

      They don’t have muti killings, especially of albinos, in the USA.

      I took the bus by myself from Kenilworth to school in Rondebosch from the age of 7. Those days are gone.

    • Rich Brauer

      The NYC subway is really remarkably safe. Particularly in Manhattan, and even more so during the day when kids are likely to ride. This isn’t the late 80s/early 90s any more.

      Would I put my kid alone on the train at 9? Probably not. But thousands of school-age children do use the subway everyday, unsupervised.

      I have no interest in reality television — I find the whole genre to be based largely on cruelty, and really, awfully dumb to boot — but this is pretty far from the worst of American parenting.

    • Sterling Ferguson

      @Beddy, a lot of children in the US are sold by their parents for money and they are reported missing.

    • http://theladyfingers.blogspot.com/ Ladyfingers

      Living your life in careful avoidance of infinitesimal dangers is not living your life.

    • Paul Roman

      It is a great feeling when you go into Victoria station and see young people on the train together.Riding the bus in NY with kids and their violins is also great to see and makes me feel like I live in a civilized place. When SA gets rid of their guns and educates their people I look forward to a safe journey on the local trains there as well. I have lived in many places in the world including Joberg and I refuse to live in fear or let my child live that way. The network executives are to blame for the rubbish on tv. If you turn it off they will have no advertiser’s and the show will go away.

    • MLH

      No matter how careful you’d like to be, there comes a moment in every parent’s life when, heart in your mouth, it is necessary to give your child the responsibility of looking after him-/herself for a period. I did my best to educate mine before letting him loose in any way, but you still take a chance. If you don’t, you end up with a 21-year-old who can neither think, plan or use common sense.

    • botti

      When as the last time anyone used our own metro rail system? Thousands of schoolchildren of all ages use it every day. I would not consider it a safe option, but what choice do the parents have? There is no comparison between an American subway system and our own metro train system. I must agree with Rich Brauer on reality TV – the interest in reality TV show how culturally poor we have become.

    • CJ

      Living in Germany we see children on all forms of public transport, this is how they simply get to where they need to go. Once we met a friend for coffee who when asked where his daughter was informed us she had gone to the dentist on her bicycle, on her own age 10. It was as normal for him as you can get.

    • http://MG Kenon

      @MLH – THat is absolutely true, i got a 32 yr old brother who cant do anything for himself. My father even told me i have to look after him when he dies coz he wont be able to look after himself

    • http://www.cindynel.co.za peter

      Seriously, given the morons whom are idolized, put on pedestals and in death are seen as saintly, is there any hope? It has to be realized that there are so many of these dangerous types on the planet, that vigilance is no longer advisable but has become priority number one. Small wonder that some folks have become cynical and mistrusting. This article is a reminder that there are some who can think and who are slightly disgusted with the way in which so many seek fame and fortune. If this does’nt make the morons wake up and smell the roses then nothing will. Thoroughbly enjoyable read Michael Trapido. Thank you. So nice to know that there is intelligent life here after all.

    • Dan

      Every day I see children walking to school, using the train and riding their bicycles to get to school. Yet other parents will tell me this is impossibly dangerous. When I think back to my childhood we did a lot of really crazy things, and we were better for it. Today parents, and particularly in the first world, want to keep their children locked away so they cannot experience childhood. As a result we have parents that won’t let their children roam around and play, but then complain that those same children are sedentary.

      Children learn right and wrong, and get their boundaries from their parents. All talk of television and spurious references to drugs are mere excuses to justify a state of paranoia society has created out of nothing.

      If there’s one thing first world countries don’t have it is total freedom. Countries like the UK are working very hard to take state interference and treating adults like children to new heights of absurdity. Americans who still care are doing their best to get back to the freedom ideals upon which that country was founded while their government does their best to bring about a total authoritarian state.

      But crime is lower than ever generally in first world countries, so these alleged interferences with law enforcement, and supposed excessive rights are not a problem.

      I applaud Lenore Skenazy. She is a tiny island of common sense and sanity in a sea of incredible stupidity dressed up as protecting children from myriad illusory…

    • Karin

      Unfortunately scared parents have scared kids.
      In South Africa our kids are streetwise, more than they should be – no, they do not ride the train, they look over their shoulders and run away from suspicious-looking vehicles, as my 14-year-old had to do just last week after somebody tried to pull one of his friends into a car on his way home from school.
      This is not what I would have wanted for my children. If parents in other countries feel comfortable letting go and looking the other way, let them do it. I won’t.

    • Ian

      I know a number of people who use Cape Town’s trains daily, not because they have to, but because they prefer it to driving. They’ll tell you the danger of travelling by train is wildly overstated. It’s only those living in their ivory towers who read of an incident and extrapolate it to a common occurrence that think the trains are excessively dangerous. You probably have more chance of being mugged on a Cape Town train than on the London Underground, but you’d be mistaken if you think getting mugged or having belongings pilfered never happens on the Tube.

      The above article does plainly show how easily even an educated person can fall for the false idea that the modern world is extremely dangerous, particularly for children. I’m afraid we did in fact have paedophiles and muggers in the past. But then and now stranger danger was itself a myth.

      The Madeleine McCann case is not only one in which the parents’ claims are fairly dubious, but it is merely a single incident. Unless you know how many parents left their children alone without incident one case is meaningless, telling us nothing about the real level of risk.

      When I needed to decide whether my son should wear a bicycle helmet I didn’t just go with what has become the conventional wisdom that they are absolutely essential. Instead I checked the statistics, read studies on their effectiveness and dangers, and I studied bicycle helmet design. As it turns out the fearmongering conventional wisdom is wrong…

    • Nic

      In the long list of difficulties I have with the argument in this article, the assertion that children are more at risk in “modern society” is the one that forces me to actually put finger to keyboard – on budget day. Human history of war, and slaughter, rape, sacrifice, slavery, the extensive use of child workers in early European industrial development … and earlier: when humans all humans existed on the edges of nature, subject to predation, the whims of the weather … children are more at risk today? Parents are more urgently required to defend their children? The commercial interests that propagate the panic about how vulnerable children are in “modern society” are usually the ones manipulating the fears of anxious parents the better to sell them toddler car seats and passive-aggressive parenting books – and columns … or governments hoping to censor the internet because of “child porn” … inevitably a false-flag for authoritarianism.

    • Dan

      What’s really wrong today is we have too much information. Even 20 years ago you’d never hear about most incidents. Today we’ll hear about every disaster, every crime. It’s this same endless flood of information that fuels the incorrect notion that there are more disasters or wars today than ever before. Humans are ill-equipped to deal with all this danger information.

      Good article on this modern promotion of parental fear – http://gap-runner.blogspot.com/2011/09/josef-stalin-and-parenting.html

    • Kalahari Doringboom

      Robin Grant, what about those parents who have to identify their young daughters in Durban, who were kidnapped, drugged, and prostituted by thugs.

    • Schums

      Michael, I don’t think you’ve ever seen the actual show, have you? I watched it for the first time this weekend and disagree with your conclusion about the show. Lenore Skenazy doesn’t deal with parents who are protecting their children for their own good – she encourages a normal parental degree of control and protection.

      The episode I saw has a mother who didn’t let her children dress themselves, brush their own teeth or do any kind of sport (because bruises and scrapes would make her feel like a bad parent). Her oldest daughter was 10 years old and was already showing symptoms of severe paranoia and OCD. She wouldn’t go on sleepovers (which her mom let her do once – with her grandparents) because she was scared something would happen to her parents.

      She literally was hysterical when Lenore had her parents go out of town for a night and her grandparents stay over – in her own house. You will agree that’s not normal. Parents like this deprive their children of a normal upbringing and make their children exhibit the same kind of paranoia.

      America is full of media hysteria – it makes parents think they’re bad parents if they let their kids do anything unsupervised or “dangerous” (like skateboarding for goodness sake!).

      So while I do agree with you that the world is full of dangers, the world is also full of magical childhood memories. It would be a shame to deprive the little ones of those.

    • http://none Lyndall Beddy


      The poorer you are the more likely to sell your kids to the human trafficers. It is rife in Africa.

      Peter Biddlecombe writesin one of his books of one mother who openly told him that she was fattening up her baby (by binding its feet so it could not walk) to sell to “the men in the cars” for money to buy a new stove.

    • Tim

      This was a terribly written article. I disagree with the opinion, but everyone is allowed to have their own opinion. The opinion is not my bone of contention.

      I just wish the expression of these opinions would be a lot better.

      But hey, at least it sparks discussion.

    • http://roryshort.blogspot.com/ Rory Short

      Luckily my children became adults many years ago. Looking from the outside, so to speak, I am glad that they are not starting their lives under present circumstances. it is not as though there were no odd people around, they have always been around. When I was at secondary school in the 50’s there was an adult man who continuously tried to ingratiate himself with my group of friends and we just ignored him that is all. We never reported him to anybody, we never even thought of doing so in fact.

    • Chan

      I fully agree, this woman should be taken off the air, In what unstable mental frame of mine was she in to put her 9 year old child on the subway on his own. She is mad and should be in stray jacket rather than be on tv giving advice to parents who are taking the necessary steps to protect there kids from all the sick people that roam this world. I love to sleep peacefully at night knowing that my kids are all warm in there beds and If that means being over protective and not having them wonder the streets, parks and subways on there own well so be it, and I am not a worst mom. A worst mom as she wants to call it are parents who abuse, neglect and hurt there kids If producers wanted to give her a show they should of given her a show based on a Careless, parent who neglected her 9 year old child and made him ride the subway on his own…Get a grip people cause your sending the wrong message to good parents and making it a whole lot easier for the sick kidnappers, rapist and murders of the world..by listening to this sick woman.

    • Julie

      Wow, what I have just read is… Well actually, I am speechless… Honestly, I think that was a total lack of common sense.

      Even though children are obviously at risk of being kidnapped (they are children!!), if you educate them well, they know how to react to these situations! Even at 9 years old, they have enough common sense to know! I’m not saying that subway idea was genius, that is something I would actually consider dangerous, and I would never want to put my kids in that kind of risk. But If the park is something like, 5 blocks away, I honestly think my 9 year old is mature enough to go there and back without putting them in danger.

    • Pete

      I’ve been watching the show and I have to say I wanted to drown some of these parents. No common sense, complete fear, brains left on the floor, decisions made on anxiety and not reason … If you make the effort to think about it (How many kidnappings compared to how many kids in the area?) then you’ll definitely will get a better grip on REALITY! King of the stupids is an understatement. I REALLY FEEL SORRY FOR THESE KIDS.

    • Are you serious

      Afcanistan, you are comparing this show to Afcanistan. This takes place in America. No minefileds of stuff like that.
      I want to know how is it ok for a mom to keep her kids locked up in the house all the time and not let them play sports and go everywhere with them. How about a mom whos says that there are monsters in the room so her 9 year old would come and sleep in her bed and the husband sleeps in the kids bed. Kids are not allowed to iron their clothes. Not allowed to use a knife at the aeg of 16 to cut their meat. Not allowed to walk the dog.Theres a limit for gods sake. Parents should protect their kids for sure but not take them prisoner. Thats how you raise loosers and weirdos and whatnot. Feel so sorry for the kids in this show, but they are getting help so it’s all good.

      This comment has been edited.