Security Theater… Parenting

Enjoy the opening of my upcoming, expanded parenting book!

I rush through the airport hoping I don’t miss my plane. The line at security is longer than I expected. Sigh. Finally I place my shoes, watch and phone in the gray tub. Dangit. I forgot I wasn’t checking my bag, and now the agent has taken my little bottle of hair glaze. I’ll have to buy another when I get home.

And I wonder through it all how effective all this is against terrorist attacks.
Now, let’s get this straight. The last thing I want is another 9/11, and I will happily comply with whatever means will prevent that. Done.

But I can’t help asking the question: are these the means that will counter terror? Are these random searches, shoe scans and limited liquids the best we’ve got? It turns out they are not.

It turns out much of this is simply theater. Security Theater. These measures are in place to get us to feel secure. As we scan our shoes, we feel confident that if anyone tries to pull that shoebomb stunt again, he will be caught. Yes.

But real security comes from intelligence. Inside information that none of us see. Background information and observation. The classic image is a casino. A casino has no sign of security, but just try to pull a fast one and security enforcement will come out of nowhere.

A casino doesn’t need to feel secure, but it needs to be secure. Air travel needs to be secure and feel secure (or people won’t travel).

Security theater, then, is designed to help us feel safe to travel. Real security is designed to prevent terrorist attacks. Both are necessary for people to choose to fly, but they are different.

As we raise our children into adulthood, we wonder how we’ll keep them from the terrors of a world-gone-mad. What security checks will prevent those dangers we dread? How do we even get perspective on the dangers without overreacting (living in fear) or underreacting (being oblivious)? We want to secure our children without binding them. We also want for ourselves security without losing our freedom.

This book is a journey of separating real security from security theater. I have taught this material to parents who find relief from the enormous burden of security theater—putting rules in place to provide for their teen’s security, though they can see all around them rules do not provide security. If your child is young, you got this book at the right time. If you have teens or young adults, you will find that your relationship with them will shift as you read this. Even if you don’t have kids, you will find freedom for yourself. This is about you, because a parenting journey starts with the parent, and a personal journey begins with you.

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