In a post titled “America’s Worst Mom?” Dr. Helen questions whether New York Sun columnist Lenore Skenazy (who let her son take the subway home alone) is in fact the worst mother in the country, as many Newsweek readers contend. Said Skenazy,

“…Half the people I’ve told this episode to now want to turn me in for child abuse. As if keeping kids under lock and key and helmet and cell phone and nanny and surveillance is the right way to rear kids. It’s not. It’s debilitating–for us and for them.”

Dr. Helen concurs with Skenazy:

When I was in graduate school in New York in the 80’s, it was a far more dangerous place. I saw kids ride the subway all the time. No one seemed to care. Now that it’s safer, no one thinks kids should come out of their homes.
Sticking the title “America’s Worst Mom” on this particular mother, Lenore Skenazy, is rather ridiculous and alarmist given the things really bad mothers actually do to their children. The term should be reserved for people who deserve it.

Not only do I agree, but I think the angry safety “lock and key, helmet/cell-phone/nanny-surveillance” moms are evidence of a huge and growing cognitive disconnect in American culture, and the subways are a perfect place to begin.
As it happens, I have written a number of posts about the rash of subway and public transportation crime in Philadelphia. Most of the subway crime is caused by public school students, and I suspect the same would be true in most urban areas with subways.
But what is happening is that students are spilling out from schools (where they assault each other, and don’t really receive attention until they do things like break the necks and jaws of their teachers) and into the stations, where they interact with the general public.
The “general public” includes many people who do not experience violence on a daily basis, but who instead imagine that they and their children can live in peace and harmony and in a nonviolent world. (Some probably adhere to the gentle John Lennon “Imagine” philosophy.)
This entire discussion simply begs the question of whether public schools aren’t more dangerous than subways. In many urban areas, they clearly are, and it is just a given. The thing is, the kids who go to those schools, cause merchants to lock their doors as they spill onto the streets at 3:00 p.m. (an hour dreaded by the Philadelphia Police Department), are just as free to ride the subways as the children of the “lock and key, helmet/cell-phone/nanny-surveillance” moms.
But they are not living in the same culture, and I suspect that Ms. Skenazy’s accusers are not only members of the latter group, but they perceive her to be either one of them, or someone who should be one of them. (Like affluent Berkeleyans who excoriate affluent moms for having too many kids, but think it’s just peachy for the “oppressed” classes to do so. “Oppressed” is PC jargon for “non white lower class” of course.)
Our “society” (if I may use that word) is being overwhelmed by such hopeless and intractable double standards.
This touches on another double standard. Assaults on subways are treated as crimes, and the perps will be arrested if found. Contrast this with assaults in schools, which teachers try to ignore or sweep under the rug as best they can:

“Violence takes place on a day to day basis but it is rarely reported, because if you’re a professional in the school district and you admit to any negative circumstance like a physical threat, you may lose your job.”

If students in Philadelphia schools are assaulted at a higher rate than are subway passengers (which I think they are) it is beyond me to understand why a parent would be excoriated for putting a child on the subway, yet forced to send the same child to a violent school. The answer, of course, is that the parents who are forced to send their children to violent urban schools are not seen the same way, nor are their children seen or treated the same way.
(While this is a different topic, there is also a rather large double standard where it comes to crimes committed against children by children, which makes no sense legally, and which I have posted about before. I fail to understand why punching an adult in the face is so much more serious than punching a child in the face, but I’m probably elevating logic above the social reality that school children are supposed to tolerate what no adult would have to.)
Only some people live in a “lock and key, helmet/cell-phone/nanny-surveillance” world in which it is child abuse to let children ride subways. They are so out of touch that it doesn’t even occur to them that they are proponents of a huge double standard — which raises a glaringly obvious question:
If it is child abuse to put a child on an urban subway, then why isn’t it child abuse to send a child to an urban public school?
The answer is determined not by reference to the legal system, or by reference to any fixed or ascertainable moral standard.
It is determined by class.