Watch A Dad Explain Why Kids In Japan Have The Freedom To Be So Independent
His viral video is a response to the latest school shooting that shows how other societies approach children’s safety.
This week the United States is once again reeling in the wake of a school shooting. In Nashville, a gunman murdered three elementary school students and three teachers, and in response, millions of parents are asking why we haven’t taken more steps to keep our kids safe, from better gun control laws to better mental health support.
One dad, Timm Chiusano, who recently took a vacation with his family to Tokyo, Japan, posted a moving video on TikTok about one of the reasons he thinks American society needs to change in order to keep our kids safe.
“We were sitting on the subway in Tokyo across from a super cute mother and daughter,” the video begins. “At least we thought they were mother and daughter until the kid who was maybe 6 years old got up herself and got off the subway. I remember Kelly and I looking at each other and thinking: what the hell just happened?”
He goes on to explain that the elementary school kid riding the subway was just the first of many young kids navigating the city alone, from small kids running errands to older kids shopping and going to parks.
“On our last night, we made a new friend named Kela. As a local, we had to ask him what was the deal with [kids being alone] along with the yellow hats,” he continued.
Kela then told him that, “Children can commute to school and do errands starting at a very early age. In short, it’s just that safe in Japan. The really young ones with the yellow hats is safety in crosswalks and to let adults know they might need a little extra help.”
He then realizes that the reason kids can be so independent is because Japan as a society has taken responsibility for them as a nation.
“In Japan, the idea is that the children are the collective responsibility of society to keep safe. I’m going to repeat that: children in Japan have an extraordinary amount of independence because they have decided as a society it is their collective responsibility to keep their children safe.”
Finally, he ties it back to America, making reference again to the school shootings and violence.
“It’s a choice they made. And for the life of me, I can’t see? understand? is there a word missing here? why we’ve chosen something different,” he finished.
What Chiusano saw in Tokyo is common across the country. Kids are encouraged to be independent from a very young age, and children as young as 3 or 4 are commonly sent on errands while elementary school children often walk to school without adults.
There’s even a popular reality television show on Netflix, Old Enough, that showcases Japanese kiddos trying to run errands (with hilarious captions).
It’s also important to note, though that Japan has strict gun control laws where no citizens outside of the police or military may own hand guns or rifles — hunters and marksmen may own shotguns under strict conditions. The result is that while the United States had about 40,000 gun deaths in 2018, Japan, a country of 125 million people, only reported 9.
Some argue that Japanese culture is the reason that they’ve only had one instance of mass school violence in 25 years. Others argue that it’s that exact culture that led to their gun laws.
Whatever the case, it does seem clear that kids in Japan have an easier time being independent because society as a whole is looking out for them and supporting them — and because their parents don’t have to worry so much about something bad happening. It’s something to think about.