Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How Children Lost Their Independence

This article is about Great Britain, but the same phenomenon is true in the U.S.

My father could roam the hills and valleys of West Virginia without his parents knowing where he was all the time. I could roam my own neighborhood in much the same manner. But my children? The youngest daughter isn't allowed to leave the house without her brother along (granted, she's old enough now that I figure she can ride her bike around the neighborhood, but the habit is ingrained).

Why are we limiting our children's freedom? I suggest 2 reasons. One is a fear of crime. We spend so much time watching the news about all the horrible things happening to somebody's children that we fear it happening to our own. This is why parents won't let their kids walk home from the elementary school alone, the way generations before them did.

The other reason, IMO, is a lack of sidewalks. My neighborhood has sidewalks within it, but the busy streets do not. This limits how far anyone can walk safely (kids do walk to the middle school and high school, but it isn't safe).

The greatest freedom to roam that most children have is on the internet, and that's probably far more dangerous than walking to the local strip center.