On child proofing the CH with locks on drawer and cupboards
From: Sharon Villines (sharonsharonvillines.com)
Date: Wed, 26 Jun 2019 08:00:42 -0700 (PDT)
One of the things I do in my community that drives them nuts is writing emails 
looking at issues in a broader context than I object, though I do that too. I 
don’t remember discussing this issue here before so I thought this one on 
child-proofing the CH might be useful and even enlightening. Even if I say so 

This one addresses the problems that child-proof locks create for adults and 
how they are counter productive for children. And make life less fun for 

 Edited for clarity.

A reminder that we had a long discussion about safety locks a few years ago and 
ended in the position that drawer and door locks would not be replaced without 
further conversations about where they are actually needed and where they are a 
needless inconvenience. 

Someone has replaced the ones on the drawers in the beverage bar and I'm about 
to take a hammer to them. Please stop doing this until we have a discussion 
about where they are really necessary and where they are just a nuisance.

I can’t open the locks with one hand and when I need to get one open, I am 
usually carrying things. I have to use both hands. This is frustrating when I’m 
 decluttering the CH and putting things away. I can’t just open a drawer or 

The only places where there are dangerous things is in the kitchen — knife 
drawer and under sink cleaners. Children are not stupid. They learn very 
quickly what is okay and what isn’t. They don’t need locks to tell them.

Like my tear-up-a-puzzle theory, each child will do it once. They will get into 
the markers, for example, once. They stop when they see how upset the adults 
are. We shouldn’t have waterproof markers in the CH (allergic reactions) and 
washable ones can easily be cleaned or painted over.

I would much rather that a child learn to think twice about whether they should 
or should not do something based on substance not possibility. Locks everywhere 
teaches children that if it isn’t locked up, it’s free for the doing. Then the 
locks have to be used everywhere because their absence gives permission.

And child-proof locks deprive kids of one of the few adventures left to them. 
Dumping tea on the floor is fun and hurts no one. Markers on the wall is a bit 
more bothersome but is it a catastrophe? Certainly doesn’t hurt the child. 
Until we have a serial tea dumper or a frenetic marker artist amongst us, I 
can’t imagine why we are worrying about it. (I pledge to clean up any of these 
messes anytime.)

We used to worry that kids would figure out how to go to the basement and 
discussed a lock or key or something to protect them from whatever might be 
down there. Then one day the gang of 3-year-olds did go to the basement. They 
were proud of being so brave but also a little frightened — they couldn’t find 
the light switches —  and never went again. 

In almost 20 years, only one trip to the basement by unaccompanied children. 
Can you imagine how inconvenient it would be to lock up the elevator?

If we had a special needs child or adult, then the argument changes. But we 

(There are also locks available that can be used during parties when 
non-resident children are on the loose that can be used just for special 

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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