Surely you have heard people joke about child leashes before. The phrase typically elicits an amusing reaction because of the safety device's misconceptions. People will often find these devices cruel or bizarre-looking, but in reality, they are an excellent choice for today's hectic world. Perhaps today more than ever, a child leash is the perfect safety option while on the go.
Are child leashes ethical? The question is warranted, as leashes are associated with wild animals and house pets, not children. For many parents, and even onlookers, the safety device can seem inhumane or just plain strange. All it takes is a bit of education regarding the devices to realize that it all comes down to perception. Read on to better understand child leashes.
What Is A Child Leash?
A child leash or child harness is a safety device used to keep toddlers from being separated from their parents in crowded areas. The devices can be adjusted to fit children from two to four years old, with certain models made for older children. Today there are a variety of harnesses available, with each model providing a similar function. The history and use of these harnesses have always been surrounded by controversy.
History of the Child Leash
Versions of the standard child leash or child harness have existed for years, but the modern harness has only recently seen spikes in popularity. Originating in Europe, places like the United Kingdom even have regulations for the safety device. In places where the device has become more common, the controversy surrounding it has disappeared and the device is becoming more accepted.
Different Types Of Child Leashes
Child leashes come in different shapes and sizes. Each type of child leash is designed to suit the children's needs and behavior. A parent has options today regarding child leashes and there is more research than ever before on each product. The following child leashes are some of the more popular choices on the market today:
The Standard Harness
Standard harnesses will either have a waist or chest strap and two shoulder straps. As with any other harness, the lead is attached to the back or sides and the parent can attach the other end to their wrist.
The Backpack Harness
Backpack harnesses are a popular choice today because they are not conspicuous. Parents can be attached to their children in public with little thought, as the rein is attached to a fashionably designed backpack. From cartoon characters to unique designs, the design of the backpacks can be anything a child likes.
The Wrist Link
The wrist link is a subtle type of leash that can be placed on the wrist of a child, with the other end attached to the wrist of the parent. The wrist link leash is simple in its design but can be effective. The wrist link has safety concerns, since if the child tugs away with enough force they may hurt themselves or the parent. A distributed weight harness is always recommended as a better option than a wrist link.
Child harnesses were originally made of leather, but over the years they have evolved to increase comfort and practicality. Today's child harnesses are made of lightweight materials such as nylon, and they are easily washable and storable. Because the leashes should be easily transportable from one place to the next, the focus in recent years has been on practicality.
Why Do People Use Child Leashes?
Now that you know what a child leash is, you are likely wondering why people use them in the first place. Child safety is the main reason people use child leashes: it is that plain and simple. Parents who want to have an added sense of security while out and about with their child will find a child harness very useful.
A Solution for Safety
Imagine yourself walking around with your toddler in a crowded street market, perhaps holding the child by the hand. You let go for a moment to inspect the ripeness of a couple of fruits and notice the child has gone missing. The panic that such an event would create would be immeasurable, and child leashes were born from a need to prevent it.
If you have more than one child, especially if you have an infant and a toddler at the same time, it's easy to get distracted. Toddlers don't understand safety as adults do and under certain circumstances will not hesitate to run into a street, into the path of a bike, or even towards a strange dog faster than a busy parent can react.
A Training Device
While the term “training device” immediately adds fuel to the controversy of child leashes, it is accurate. Child leashes have been shown to provide children with a sense of space. A child understands in time that he or she must not leave the parent's monitoring radius. The leash creates a “safe space” in which the child can operate. Additional studies need to be made regarding these claims, but they are claims child harness advocates push.
An Affordable Choice
Child leashes are popular not only for the safety they provide but because they are generally affordable. Child leashes can be purchased at most major retailers at a cost of $20 or less. While there are some high-end options out there on the market, the safety device's affordability is an attractive factor. Parents looking for a safety device option for their children have a valuable product in child leashes.
Are There Risks Associated With Child Leashes?
The standard child leash is a safety device above all, and the American Academy of Pediatrics does not have any data that shows child leashes can cause injury. On the other side of the coin, there is also no data to support that they do not. What is for certain is that a child leash is not a substitute for close parental supervision. A child's behavior should always be monitored to avoid accidents.
It could be argued that certain child leashes can cause harm. Wrist links are the worst offenders here. If a child were to bolt off on a parent with enough force, there is a potential for wrist injury. Ultimately the parent has control at the end of the rein and the devices are designed to accentuate this. Should a parent feel that forceful movement is occurring, he or she can ease the pressure and lessen the chance of an accident.
Are Child Leashes Ethical?
And so we arrive at the burning question: are child leashes ethical? Yes, child leashes are ethical when used for their primary function: child safety, not child control or a substitute for parental supervision.
The controversy that surrounds child leashes is based on a misguided idea that the child is being treated like an animal. However, certain similarities in the behavior of a toddler and that of a house pet are undeniable. All of the following apply to both:
Once again, this is not to say that a child is equivalent to an animal. The questions that should be asked regarding child harnesses are: How? When? Why? By answering these questions we can better understand why child harnesses can be important.
How are you using the harness? The type of child harness you choose and how you use it while out and about with your child is an important part of the process. The harness should be used with care and attention and cannot be solely relied on to keep the child safe.
When do you use the harness? While out in crowded areas it is natural to use a child leash as a safety device, but should it be used elsewhere? One of the arguments against child leashes is that they not allow the parent and child to establish a relationship of trust. If you can limit the use of the child harness eventually, this could be a good thing for you, them, and your relationship.
Why do you use a child harness on your child? Has the child shown behavioral problems in the past? Perhaps the child suffers from a condition where a child harness can benefit both the child and parent. Whichever the case is, it is always best that the parent is well aware of the reasons they are using a child harness on their child. The reasons should be re-evaluated constantly so you can stop using the harness as soon as appropriate.
Now that you know what a child leash is and how it used for child safety, it is up to you to decide where you stand. The safety devices have shown over the years to be a good option for parents who want increased safety on their children while out and about. Nothing can take the place of attentive supervision, but there is nothing wrong with exploring different options. The debate continues: what do you think?
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