“What Fantasy World Does Lenore Live In?” (And An Answer)

Hi Readers! As you know, one of the reasons many folks are too scared to let their kids go outside and play, or walk to school, or breathe without a bodyguard, is that they assume “times are different” — and worse. Here’s what a lady wrote to her local California paper yesterday:

What fantasy world does Lenore live in where kids can play in a park unattended?  I live in a very nice neighborhood in Whittier and I won’t let my 10 year old granddaughter go get the Daily News off the driveway without me watching her.

In fact, in a lot of places — including America, and England — crime is going down. How can we get that message out to help calm people down and return life to the streets? (Which, in turn, makes those streets even SAFER?)

Here’s what one community across the pond came up with! A great and simple idea! — Lenore

44 Responses

  1. Unfortunately, the world we live in in one where a man who stops to help a child who’s fallen off their scooter is accused of trying to kidnap the child he has stopped to help. The same world where I feel I have to explain to neighborhood parents that my children might come knocking at their doors, inviting their children to ‘come out and play’.

  2. Lenore lives in a fantasy world where there are not pedophiles that hide behind bushes between every three houses ALL DAY in EVERY neighborhood, waiting for 10 year old girls to walk down a driveway and back.

    WHO lives in a fantasy world?

  3. I received a phone call yesterday afternoon from a telemarketer who was raising money for some sort of local police association. The funds collected would be used to support a program where the police would go from school to school teaching children about street safety, internet security etc. The fellow used such terms as “child pornography”, “predators” and “abductions” in an attempt to have me loosen my purse strings and open my wallet.

    All of this is to say that there seems to be a lot of money to be made from this insane fear….including from our own police departments. Although I hope I am wrong, I worry that as long as there are people who desire to capitalize on this fear, and as long as we remain a media and consumer driven society, those of us who prefer to free-range our kids will remain in the minority.

  4. A mom I met last weekend (who sat looking bored while her 7 & 9 y.o. kids played) tried the “things are so different…” line. I cut her off before she could talk about how dangerous it was with “yeah, kids don’t get to play anymore even though statistics say that crime has gone down.” She sort of paused for a moment and I followed up by saying that if more kids went outside to play, they could play without us standing over them and they’d be safe because they’d be together. She agreed!

    @Lis: I send my boy outside and he knocks on doors to see if kids can come out to play. Most of the parents make the kids stay in their front yards. On parent doesn’t let her kids even play in their driveway without hovering over him and aside from school, he only gets 1-2 hours of outside time. It made me rather sad. An 8 yo who can’t ride his bike around the block without mom walking with. He’s already overweight, but hey…he won’t be kidnapped. #sigh

  5. Exactly. The real danger for today’s kids are obesity related diseases. The solution to that problem takes a lot of work. Buying better food, teaching good eating habits and exercising as a family. The inflated problem of child predators presents a much more enticing solution. Plop the kid in front of the TV. Ply them with snacks to stop the boredom whining and go about your day, unbothered by the messing business of raising healthy, happy kids. People aren’t really afraid of kidnappers. They are afraid of changing their sedentary lifestyles.

  6. “How can we get that message out to help calm people down and return life to the streets?”

    Maybe we need to watch less of the 24-hour news media who appear to sensationalize crime any chance they get to improve their ratings. Perhaps we don’t need to get a message out but simply show by example by letting our kids roam freely through the neighborhood.

    I wonder why many parents have the hardest time of simply letting go? What do they expect will happen when their children are adults?

  7. That’s a good start from Cornwall. I was impressed by my local council’s anti crime campaign recently – the adverts read ‘Crime rates in B___ are low, help keep them lower’, encouraging people not to leave valuables on show in their car etc. So much better than fearmongering.

    What I’d like to see now, perhaps, is training for police and social services types about what is and isn’t legal about leaving children unaccompanied. I imagine most of them do respond appropriately to ‘concerned’ members of the public reporting children playing alone in parks or walking to school alone, but some seem to fall in step with hysterical types and just make the assumption that it must be ‘illegal’ as the person who reports it is insisting.

    A friend of mine (in Ireland in fact) was recently accosted and yelled at in a petrol station forecourt by a woman horrified that she’d left her sleeping child in the (locked) car for a few minutes while she paid for petrol. This woman was trying to take pictures of my friend’s child and was insisting she’d report her to the authorities. And the scary thing is, you can’t be certain whether she’ll get an appropriate response from them (hopefully ‘Go away and stop wasting our time).

  8. I would ask what fantasy/nightmare world does that woman live in?
    Basically she is saying “My neighborhood is super safe. Nothing ever happens. And I still won’t let a 10 year old walk 10 feet from the door.”
    The problem is you can’t use facts to change people like this. You can use them to avoid this happening to others and to change the minds of some other paranoid people, but this woman is a lost cause.

    I’m a big fan of using the facts you have put out there before-cars kill kids, there was a statistic from an article you linked to forever ago that stated that should a parent want there kid to be abducted they would have to leave their kids unattended for 700,000 years.

  9. A little off topic from what is fantasy or reality , but I’ve notice several readers in the past mentioning having autistic children, Many in my family from my dad on down to nieces and nephews have mild (verbal) autism spectrum symptoms (including myself). I’ve observed the better adjusted tended to have parents that did not protect and do everything for them. Any perspective from others on this?

  10. @Kelly why do we need to exercise “as a family?” Seems to me easier and better for my lot (none of whom, really, enjoy the same activities at the same level) for us all to do our own exercising, including allowing the kid to run around independently (not unsupervised yet; he’s 3. But I look forward to sending him off on his own when he’s older.).

  11. I think something that has changed along with the world being safer, and more ‘in your face’ ‘news’ is that many of our kids ARE less capable. And we’re making them that way. Not only is obesity a problem, but just being able to think for yourself. We are infantilizing our children. They can be capable of great things, from climbing Everest, to walking to the store. But only if we let them. They won’t magically learn how to be adults on their 18th birthday. And they sure won’t learn it from TV and video games.

  12. @Alexicographer — The conventional wisdom is that, as the kids get old enough to participate in physical activities enjoyable to adults, exercising together sets a good example and pattern. That’s often why people do it, I think. Of course you can’t take your 3 year old to the gym with you, nor do you want to follow him around while he rides a tricycle, but at some point you might, for example, be able to take a decent bike ride together, or sign up together for a 5K, or what have you. There’s value in doing things “as a family” because it sets a pattern of “what’s normal for me and my family” that can last a lifetime. But that doesn’t mean that everything has to be done together.

  13. How about “playing” together – like ball or on the swing set rather than “exercising” together? Bleah, exercise. Tennis or DDR on the other hand – FUN!

    We are fortunate that my son’s best friend has similar minded parents so that when they went cross country skiing together the plan was for the 12 yr olds to go off on their own.

  14. I used to send my boys up the hill three blocks to the playground. They knocked on the door of the boy who lived across the street from the playground to see if he could come out and play – a boy the age of my older son. Sadly, no, mom wasn’t available to supervise.

  15. I think we have to just keep trying and letting our kids out there. My two kids have friends that live across the street from each other. They would arrive and ask both kids if they could go to the park. One parent always said yes and one always said no. Their child wasn’t allowed off the street without adult supervision. After 2-3 months of this, the parents decided that since nothing ever happened to our children and they would be together that their child could join ours. Sometimes, leading by example is what it will take.

  16. Boy, do I feel sorry for that 10 y.o. who can’t even get the newspaper out of her grandmother’s driveway — she’d be on the phone with CPS if she saw my child going outside and I wasn’t in full view!!

    People live with the misguided notion that times are worse today than they were years ago — not necessarily true. We are a savvier lot, but a bigger bunch of scaredy cats. It’s a matter of having one’s priorities straight — and to use common sense.

    My SIL, for instance, is not particularly watchful wtih her youngest child (4 1/2), who may go wandering out of the house without notice, and dropping in on the neighbors next door (nothing wrong with her playing there, but my niece should be taught to inform her mom that she will be playing with the kids next door).

    And yet two weeks ago, SIL had to stand outside between the door and the front of the house to watch her 10 y.o, go up the street (at night) to bring a treat to her friend up the street (only a very short distance) — they have a registered sex offender on the block and of course he’d only come out at night (!) SIL claimed she had to do this, as the 4 1/2 y.o.was asleep (huh? ) and wanted to make sure she could hear her.

    Consequently, their young dog also ran out while the door was ajar and got hit by a car (fortunately he is okay). All of this could’ve been avoided if my older niece was allowed to go up the street to her friend’s and back, without mom hovering by the door. (And yes, my niece does have a cellphone — bought because of said sex offender.)

  17. @Kelly, sure. I’m not opposed to families doing things together. But the idea that my toddler will someday do more than triking (I do walk with him, and enjoy it; our neighborhood doesn’t lend itself to unsupervised 3-year olds on trikes) isn’t startling as I’ve got (now adult) stepkids in addition to a toddler.

    Yet while there are some overlaps in interests, my hubby and I joke (ah, but is it a joke?) that the key to our happy marriage is that he and I enjoy different activities. I mean, just to rattle off a quick list and including the stepkids but not the tot (so a total of 4 people but all capable/independent), one of us golfs; one of us rides a horse and swims; one of us bikes; three (!) of us play disc golf; three (!) of us hike; other activities over the years have included softball (2 people, opposite genders and noticeably different ages — parent/kid so not always able to play together on the same team); basketball (3 people, very different abilities); roller- and ice-hockey (1 person).

    For me in terms of exercise/being active/outdoors, finding the activity I love and doing it is a lot more fun (and thus gets done a lot more) than focusing on doing something the whole (or even a subset) of our family enjoys together. That’s not to say we don’t do things together, e.g., family camping trips that involve shared transportation, meals, tents, and responsibilities, but different daytime activities — we divide into canoers, fisherpersons, hikers, bikers on any given day and with no requirement that any group include more than 1 (or even as many as 1) person. And we turn out to support each others’ participation in (particularly) competitive events. But honestly for us I think “exercise together” would risk often (not always) devolving into a “lowest common denominator” sort of activity, where either we all end up doing something we can tolerate (but don’t really enjoy) — i.e. the one thing we can all “stand” — and/or where the behavior of the whole group gets restricted by the abilities of the least-qualified person present.

    And while I do realize I’ve gone off on a tangent from Lenore’s original post, I believe that what I’m describing is an important part of free-range kids — that part of the point is we’re raising kids to identify and engage in activities, including exercise, independently. That doesn’t necessarily mean solo, and it doesn’t necessarily mean without having parents or siblings engaged as fellow participants, but overall I’d much rather model a life that includes regular exercise as a healthy part of it and let my son figure out what he wants to do to get that into his life than to “exercise together” (unless our interests happen to overlap). Among other things, a willingness to be active independently (e.g. to go for a walk or a bike ride alone) reduces the scheduling problem otherwise so endemic to so much of our culture.

  18. I feel really sorry for any 10 year old who isn’t even allowed to go to the end of the driveway. What rubbish!

    And while I think it’s important for parents to model healthy habits, I swim a couple of mile a day, and, damnit, that’s MY time. 😛

  19. Although I grew up free range, my family did not exercise – together or apart. Despite free ranging all over the neighborhood, I had a definite weight problem. I wish my family had exercised together.

  20. I am 14 – and definetly ‘free range.’
    We live in Scotland, just 20 minutes by bus from the centre of Edinburgh but also 5 minutes away from a good couple of square miles of woods with a fairly big river running through the middle. Every weekend and for most of the summer, my neighbour who is 11 and I go down to the river for hours at a time. Just a few weeks ago we found this amazing island in the middle of the river that we have built a lean to shelter and a rope swing on.

    We’re also starting to build a raft because at the moment we have to wear wellies and wade up past our knees across the river to get their, which is fun but in summer wellies are waay to hot!

    I’ve always been like this – when i was 4 i was playing out in our road with a boy who was my age who lived nextdoor and by 7 i was walking to school and down to the park unaccompanied and by 10 i pretty much could go where ever.
    Now my parents aren’t really concerned where we are or what we’re doing. They know we’ll be back an hour or so after it starts to get dark at the latest or just whenever we get hungry! They say they’d rather they didn’t know what we were doing because then they’d probably worry! 😀

    I was looking through archives on this blog and found something about dirt being good for kids, about how it builds up your immune system and me and my mum agree!
    I always come home filthy yet i am NEVER ill. In 9 years i have never been off school sick and the sickest i’ve ever been is a quite bad cold where i lost my voice for a few days! Some of my school friends though who are constantly being made to wash their hands with antibactereal soap are off sick on a regular basis – at least every month!

    Go free range! 🙂

  21. “How can we get that message out to help calm people down and return life to the streets?”

    BE the example. You can throw facts and numbers and statistics at people until you’re blue in the face, but they still won’t allow reason to override their fears. So show them that the world isn’t a scary place.

    Last summer in my neighborhood, I only saw 4 kids under the age of 12 playing outside by themselves: my 5 & 3 yr old girls, and our 5 & 6yr old neighbors. Our houses are situated so that the kids have a large area that they can play in and any one of the three families can see them at all times. So they played outside all day, every day with each other, parents keeping an eye out and intervening when needed.

    Now, ever since the weather has perked up this year, I’ve lost count of the number of kids that are out and about. I have kids coming up to my door that I don’t even know asking if my girls can play! It’s awesome!! And just today, my kindergartner walked 6 blocks home from school all by herself for the first time.

    The point is just to lead by example. If your neighbors see your children outside every single day, and nothing more serious than a scraped knee or wandering wee one happens, they’ll eventually follow suit. And, if they still refuse to let little Jane and Johnny outside……..well, at least YOUR kids are having a great time being kids!! 🙂

  22. The answer I would like to give this CA woman is, What kind of fantasy land does SHE live in?

  23. I don’t see a lot of evidence that there is widespread paranoia about other safety issues today. It seems focused on kids/parenting. I still see parental-aged people biking, walking, and carousing in my medium-sized city, despite almost weekly deaths by cars and the occasional murder.

    My gut tells me it is coming from something about how Gen X and Y grew up. It could be too much competition from indoor activities. In general, staying at home, inside, and especially watching TV makes people exaggerate the dangers of going out. When I was a kid in a single-parent home, there were usually only books, not-so-great TV, and chores inside for me. So despite having no yard for most of my childhood, I got bored and walked around town a lot (still do). I dreamed of walking to the next town in fact (9 miles), and tried it with my girlfriend Gabby when we were about 11. We had to stop walking along the freeway when we met some CalTrans (highway) workers, who sent us home. We were pretty thirsty by then. I believe they were nice to us, gave us sodas, and no one was too mad at home. Nobody called the authorities. It would have been pointless and mean to do so. It was not a school day and no harm came of it. I still admire our spunk!

    However, today I think highway workers would call someone. This is I think due to something beyond paranoia and our litigious society, and is more likely based in parental competition combined with a liberal dose of judging others. Kids for at least the last decade have been incredibly, truly horribly, overscheduled. This is got to be coming from adults (parents and teachers) who are overidentifying with kids’ successes and traumas. (I guess if you send them to enough activities, they will give you something to brag about.)

    There may also be a genuinely justified fear that other adults–the village–will not watch out for your kids, as those CalTrans workers did me, when they fall down a bit.

  24. @ Dot Khan and Rich Wilson…

    Sort of to both comments. Dot, I have a very good friend who has one child, almost 19. He is ‘gifted-learning disabled’ which basically means he’s super smart, but ADDish and I suspect somewhat Asperger’s, though that has never been diagnosed. This boy lives his life (and this is where Rich is totally right) on the computer. His entire life is virtual. My friend said the other day that she’s just waiting for him to start his life.
    Meahwhile… he didn’t learn to ride a bike until he was 15, and he’s taken exactly one bike ride on his own, to the drug store about 6 blocks from his house. She got him graduated from high school, then filled out his college papers for the community college, filed his FAFSA, took him to class. College is 2 miles from house. He has no job, has no idea how to look for one, no idea how to do anything but use his computer and the microwave. He did very poorly his first year at college, and probably won’t be going back, although she recently remarked that she’d file a FAFSA for this year in case he changed his mind.
    Why does she do all this stuff for him? His ADD and social awkwardness. He’s not able to do it on his own. She never even attempted to teach him how to use public transportation. It might be difficult for him. He actually has a girlfriend (almost as odd as he), and she managed to teach him how to ride the bus. He is a year older than my youngest, and incapable of figuring things out. He’s also about 260 pounds. No real handle on hygiene… I really won’t be surprised if he’s in her house in another 10 years. Which is just so sad.

    When they were younger, he and my son were best buddies. But one decided to go explore his world, the other ‘couldn’t’. My kid, at barely 18, has traveled internationally, has a job (that he got himself), a 3.95 after 2 years of college (which he did completely on his own, other than me writing a check for $20.00 for application fee), has lived with roomates, paying his own rent for over a year. He rides his bike to the lake (25 miles) and has since 15. He deals with the financial aid office unassisted, his landlord unassisted, his boss unassisted. And this was the kid who still hid behind me at age 10. But rather than label him as ‘too shy to manage’ we encouraged him to try new things, to challenge himself, and he’s an incredibly capable kid, who has a tight circle of incredibly capable young friends. Last summer, his then-girlfriend and her friend (18 and 16 at the time) used their own money to take Greyhound to Pennsylvania, and spent 6 weeks on the Appalachian Trail. On their own. Even left their phones at home 😉

    The difference, as I see it, is the level of trust and encouragement to push themselves out of their comfort zones as opposed to having those comfort zones padded and guarded for them. It’s so sad where my friend’s kid is in relation to all the other kids I know whose parents sent them out on bikes, into their world. And I really believe that my friend continuing to use his very very very mild disability (I mean seriously… this kid is totally not incapable, other than having been made that way) as the reason she needs to do every. thing. for. him. is why he is where he is.

  25. And sorry I wrote a novel… I tend to do that. Even voicemails… if the program cuts me off because it gets too long I call back and pick up mid-sentence.

  26. The problem is some people think with their hearts and not weith their heads. I’m sure the woman watching her kld get the paper is a good woman who loves her child, but facts and proof will never sway her. Obviously, her “very nice neighborhood” will never be nice enough for her kids. Sad, really.

  27. IT’S A CONSPIRACY! The fear mongers convince the populace to be scared, to keep their kids inside so they can watch TV and surf the INTERNET. The television stations show them ADVERTISING for junk food. They get FAT and have to go to the MEDICAL ESTABLISHMENT and be prescribed PHARMACEUTICALS which in turn and unbeknownst to the patient make them more docile to obey GOVERNMENT edicts. All so that in the end the SPACE ALIENS have nice sleek fat humans to EAT.

    So if you teach your children to be independent and give them freedom to learn to make the right choices and decisions, you will actually be AVING THE WORLD! (and your kids)

  28. I once had a neighbor who really did think this way. She had pulled me aside one day because my son (who was 9 at the time) had spoken to a stranger.

    There’s this little old man who routinely walks his toy poodle twice a day through our neighborhood. My son made the grave mistake of asking him if he could pet his dog.

    Then my neighbor let me know that she doesn’t even let her kids stay in the front yard when she sees him coming. Apparently the very sight of her children might incite the man to violence!

  29. I’ve been tempted to report people like that to the authorities. I think it’s abusive and demeaning to never allow a child the opportunity for unsupervised time or to make their own decisions. One of these days, when someone comments on the ‘dangers’ of allowing my children out on their own, I really will point out the dangers of never doing so.

  30. Leave your kid at the park day is nuts and shows total ignorance. I have 2 good friends that are cops and both would press charges against a fool that left their kid alone at the park. Here it isn’t even legal to leave kids alone in public until 12 and up. I live in a very nice, upperscale area in Johnson County, KS, and a couple weeks ago, at a very crowded soccer field at Noon on a Sat, some man sat down on a bench between 2 12 yr old boys after trying to talk to them. They were able to get away, but still, WHO wants their kid to go through that. At another park in Mass this weekend, a naked man grabbed a 6 yr old girl, whose grandmother happened to be nearby. Imagine what would have happened to that girl if granny followed this foolish advice.
    Stop trying to make a living by endangering children.

  31. I should have added above that when the man sat down between the boys, he offered them ciggarettes and groped them. They were able to get away, thankfully.

  32. “A little off topic from what is fantasy or reality , but I’ve notice several readers in the past mentioning having autistic children, Many in my family from my dad on down to nieces and nephews have mild (verbal) autism spectrum symptoms (including myself). I’ve observed the better adjusted tended to have parents that did not protect and do everything for them. Any perspective from others on this?”

    The autism spectrum is huge, and people given as ASD diagnosis can range anywhere from high-functioning to non-functional. The most severely affected will need their parents to protect and do almost everything for them; there’s no choice there. My moderately autistic daughter will probably never be free-range because she has no sense of danger and we live within a shot of three different bodies of water. Our plan is to teach her to do everything can possibly can for herself, but it’s going to be a long uphill fight.

    gramomster, your story made me feel a little bit sick. You’re making some awfully huge assumptions there — that your child is so awesome because of your parenting and the disabled child leads a limited life because of the parenting he was given? Really? Have you seen his medical diagnosis? Talked to his therapists? Have any real knowledge of what his capabilities are? To me, this is just as offensive as a parent bragging that *their* child is running marathons while lazy Johnny is just sitting around in his wheelchair.

  33. @Ella

    Interesting that they don’t address that exact question in the Johnson County FAQ:


    They do say there is no specific rule about kids being left alone at home. I have to say I’m surprised:

    Obviously, young children under age 10 should not be left without supervision at any time.

    Obviously that’s not so obvious. And we’re not talking about a park here, we’re talking about a home. Don’t you have latchkey kids in your upscale Johnson County?

  34. My 12 year old son has been playing at the park 2 blocks from the house with his buddies for a couple of years now, he stays therewithout a parent hovering around him. one of us does go check on himfrom time to time but neither of us feel the need to supervise

  35. Gramomster, there may be a lot more going on there than you know.

    Take the bike thing, for instance. Many autistics (which I am using as a general term that covers the whole spectrum) simply do not have the balance or gross motor skills necessary to ride a bicycle. Is this fixable? With a lot of work and practice, maybe (though I know some people who have been trying to learn without success for YEARS), but there’s some amount of effort at which it is NOT WORTH IT to learn to do something.

    Taking public transportation? To go someplace you’ve never or rarely been before? This can be a very difficult thing when you have trouble with directions or literally can’t recognize a place you’ve been before if you happen to approach it from a different angle. Here I am, an adult, and I’m extremely reluctant to go ANYwhere new unless somebody goes with me first, because I get lost. Even if I can get there (which is no small task), there’s no promise I’ll be able to get BACK. (You laugh, but I once got lost directly in front of my own house. Why? Because I’d been driven home and gotten out of the car opposite of where I usually did.)

    Of course, I ask for help a lot. This is a skill I had to learn – I actually end up rehearsing what I say before I say it… and I have to hope there’s no miscommunication or, worse, outright trouble understanding somebody. (Auditory processing is a pain in the butt. I hear just fine, but can I understand what I’m hearing? Not always, my friend, not always.)

    And of course, this is assuming that the noise and chaos on the bus isn’t especially overwhelming, that the bus runs on a fairly predictable route, that the lights don’t flicker too much and hurt his eyes.

    He lives his life on the computer? He might grow out of that. I had no social skills whatsoever until I learned to type, and found myself in a place where it was all of a sudden much easier to understand people, and where what I intended to say often came across more like what I meant and not what people heard, and where if I did mess up, I could go back and SEE where the confusion had arisen… and where I could choose my own social group and deliberately not stay with people who had no interest in being other than vicious to me.

    No real handle on hygiene? Or no desire to kowtow to the strange and arbitrary rules of other people whom you don’t know and don’t like anyway? Especially when showers are loud and painful, soap is drying and stinky (I find the feeling of the smell of perfume by far the most disturbing one, and you can’t get away from it!), toothpaste is strong and toothbrushes are awkward, and it hurts to comb your hair… all this added to the inherent trouble of setting up a new routine.

    I have no idea what the situation with this young man is, of course. I don’t know him. But then… truth is, you don’t really know him either, do you? I mean, you know him better than I do, but is he likely to share any of this with you, or are you more of an acquaintance? Because I doubt you really know what’s going on inside his head or his family unless you’ve moved in.

  36. Ella, cops don’t press charges; district or states attorneys do. Cops arrest on charges but its up to the DAs to decide whether or not to go ahead with the case. So I have to wonder what the DAs do in your wonderful county if you have cops arresting parents for letting their kids play in the park.

  37. This may not be the place to post this, but I am sure if it is of interest. Please excuse me if it has been already posted:

    Empathy Dropped 40% in College Students Since 2000

    from the article:
    “Without unstructured free time with playmates, children simply don’t get to know each other very well. And you can’t learn to connect and care if you don’t practice these things Free play declined by at least a third between 1981 and 2003–right when the kids who hit college in 2000 and later were growing up.”

  38. This woman is really frightening to me! A 10 year old should be able to go outside by herself easily. At that age I was outside with my friends all day every day. Going to the town centre on our bikes, building huts in the forest, going to the local swimming pool.

  39. Things are very different this day and age, tying back to your last post about safety fears being greater than fears of health problems… which are much more real.

    Nowadays, our children get FAT FREE crappola from 1 year up, soy, carbs in every shape and whole grain form, and are told repeatedly to shun healthy meats (protein needed for growing bodies!), saturated fats (desperately needed for growing brains!) … pile that on top of an active lifestyle and you get health problems. Not to talk about piling it on our fearful, sedentary lifestyles (year round school?).

    Yes, things are very different indeed.

  40. You know, nothing that happened in our neighborhood could have escaped the eyes of all the kids roaming the streets until well after dark. We saw all, and blabbed all – no “Block Watch” needed.

    Make up a fancy title like “Youths On Patrol Against Crime” (YOPAC) and maybe the 6PM to 10PM game of kick the can can come back.

  41. I love the coments about crime rate going down, I mean seriously have you seen the youth of today? There is more graffiti, more thefts, more P platers causing car accidents most resulting in someones death, more bashings, the list goes on, and these youths get away with it cause they are under 18 and their identities can’t be reveiled so once their sentance is over (if they got one) they think it’s okay to do it again. These youths had free rein to do what they want when they wanted to with no disaplin from parents. Really wake up to reality and see that the world isn’t like it used to be. I believe kids should be free range but there is a limit. And don’t get me started on all the creeps out there that pry on little boys and girls. The world isn’t even a safe place for adults to be free range anymore. Why do you think there is so many people trying to seek assylum in other countries but their own? Why do you think there is more people choosing to stay home after dark? Our children need to be protected to a certain degree, otherwise what is the point in being a parent? If we can’t protect them from the bad things (I’m not saying to keep them locked up in your house) what is our job?

  42. It seems that crime rate is relative depending on where you live. Perhaps checking your local police crime map would be a more accurate gauge than the tv and newspaper. Most crimes near us appear to involve damaging/stealing things rather than people.

  43. Personal observation is one of the worst forms of evidence, Kersty, because we tend to notice what fits in with our belief system. So if you believe that there is more graffiti – that is what you will notice. If you believe children are less disciplined then you will notice children that are not being disciplined. It may interest you to know that Plato complained of exactly the same things you are.
    People may be choosing to stay home after dark because there is more to do there (internet for example) that is less expensive, not that it is more dangerous out there.

    Our job as parents is not to “protect” our children – there’s a limit to which we can do that at any rate. Life is tenuous and bad things happen to people who do everything right. Our job is to make our children resilient, know that bad things will happen and may happen to them however they are strong. They can and will survive and thrive. Making children afraid of the world is not helpful.

  44. @Kersty, you are not using facts. The facts are that the crime rate is down.
    You remind me of my sister. She talks the same way. How everything is so dangerous and out of control, not like when she was a child. One big problem: she was running with Hell’s Angels at 13. It’s funny what memory can do to us.

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