Sweet jaysus. I may only be six-and-twenty, but I can now honestly say it was very different in my day.
According to a survey, parents no longer let their kids out to play. Which is terribly, terribly sad.
What gets me is that the adults who aren’t letting their kids out know exactly what they’re not letting their children do; they’re willingly removing an essential part of growing up in the pursuit of an illusion of safety.
Why an illusion? Well, because the streets are, if anything, less dangerous than they were a generation ago. No more children are being snatched than were in the past; the number of road accidents involving children has gone down. And if a child is going to be abused, they are immeasurably more likely to be abused by someone trusted by the parents than by a passing stranger.
But because we’re brought up to be scared of the bogeyman, of the strange man down the street with no friends, of the unknown, children aren’t being allowed any independence until they are sent out into the world on their own. Which no idea of how to deal with it.
I honestly can’t believe how much and how quickly this has changed; it’s only fifteen years since I left primary school, and at that time everyone was doing silly things like walking to school, throwing people into rivers, exploring tunnels where little streams appeared from1, climbing big-ass trees, making rope swings, without adult supervision. Now 43% of people say that children shouldn’t even be allowed out with friends until they’re 14. Nonsense; kids at 14 are so much more breakable it’s insane to send them out without the benefit of years when they were able to bounce back from near-fatal injuries…
1 – Obviously this stopped for a while after It was released, but only for a little while.