One of the cities near me just announced a new initiative by the Minnesota Chiefs of Police and AAA to reward kids for being safe in their communities.
Each time a law enforcement officer witnesses a child doing things that ensure his/her safety (i.e. wearing a bike helmet, looking both ways before crossing a street, or using proper hand signals when on a bicycle), they will give the child a certificate for a free Dairy Queen ice cream cone.
Let me start off by saying that I am all for positive reinforcement. And I have no problems with the goodwill law enforcement officers are trying to create with the next generation.
But I am a little saddened by the fact that the rewards tend to favor kids with parents who can afford bike helmets (and probably ice cream cones, too).
I’m also wondering whether officers stopping well-behaved kids is such a good idea. Think about this: You’re a good kid trying to be cool… minding your own business, and now you’re going to look like a goody-two-shoes in front of your friends because you looked both ways before crossing the street? Social suicide.
And an attempt to promote safety could actually endanger children. When I was 10-years old, two men tried to lure me into their car with a rather lame story when I was out on a bike. I worry that child predators may decide all they need is a coupon for a free ice cream cone to get access to children.
Shouldn’t good behavior be its own reward? If I wear my bike helmet and wipe out, then YAY, my brain isn’t mush because I was smart and wore a helmet. As an adult, no one rewards me for following the speed limit.
Let good kids be good kids. Teach the kids who need a little extra guidance when it comes to safety. Spend the money you would have spent on ice cream cones to buy bike helmets for low-income families.
What do you think? Should good behavior be rewarded? Or should good behavior be its own reward?