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The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Trapping Children Indoors
Here's an illustration of how children's freedom has been curtailed over the generations.

If it's not "safe" for children to roam free, then either we have failed at creating a decent society, or we have failed to prepare young people for life; or some combination of those two.  If they are not taught how to navigate the world, assess and deal with its risks, then they will arrive at adulthood without those crucial survival skills.  And they will have access to far more dangerous things than a sidewalk to bike down or a tree to climb.  They'll be driving cars and managing their sexuality, and gods help us all if they don't know how to handle dangers safely before then.

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12 comments or Leave a comment
the_vulture From: the_vulture Date: August 2nd, 2012 03:16 am (UTC) (Link)
This reminds me of a cruel irony: far more children are hurt or killed whilst being driven to school or by someone driving to school, than are actually abducted on the way to and from school, the primary fear that contributes to so many being driven.
drewkitty From: drewkitty Date: August 2nd, 2012 04:10 am (UTC) (Link)
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 2nd, 2012 04:22 am (UTC) (Link)


As I said before, this is great way to raise fuckwitted adults.

The Amish turn out fully responsible human beings around age 12-13. They do this by watching the children's skill and responsibility levels, and giving them new things to do as soon as they master the old ones. It works.

If I remember right, I was about 7 the first time I was left home alone, for about half an hour. It was pretty common when I was, hmm, maybe 8 or 9, and my parents bought me a hotdog cooker (which make a terrific little lightning show under its plastic hood) so I could feed myself. That was the age at which I was responsible enough not to wreck the house, open the door for strangers, etc. and knew what constituted enough of an emergency to call for adult assistance. On some occasions I still had a babysitter later, but mostly it wasn't necessary. And why were we doing this? So we didn't fucking starve because people figured teachers didn't need to make enough to support a family, and my parents had to take what work they could get. I was responsible enough for it, we were all okay with it, but having other options would've been nice.

This I assume is pretty much the usual explanation for kids being home alone: society refuses to pay enough to support a family, refuses to provide child care for working parents, and has pretty much demolished the extended family that used to provide free child care. Oh, and can't seem to raise adults who routinely consider children to be nonsexual beings. There is just not enough W in TF for all the FAIL.
natf From: natf Date: August 2nd, 2012 09:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is so sad. I was already obvious when I was a child in the 70s and is now ridiculous, IMHO. May I "share" this on my LJ?
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 3rd, 2012 02:11 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes, please!

Feel free to boost the signal.
natf From: natf Date: August 3rd, 2012 12:33 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes, please!

natf From: natf Date: August 3rd, 2012 12:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
*IT* was already obvious!
cissa From: cissa Date: August 2nd, 2012 11:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
My parents were ahead of their time with this. My sister and i were not allowed to roam with the neighborhood kids; I still remember being in bed at 9 pm in the summer, when all the other kids were playing kickball just outside our house... It was an abusive household, which is why my parents were so into CONTROL.

We let K be pretty free-range. She wandered the neighborhood, and DID walk to school for a few years... both of which were pretty rare by then.
judifilksign From: judifilksign Date: August 3rd, 2012 12:56 am (UTC) (Link)
In the seventies, I walked a mile to school from kindergarten to third grade, bus for 4/5, walked a short distance to middle school, and bused far for high school.

I walked to the pool, the park, and biked to the library. I spent a good deal of time outdoors (with a book) so I wouldn't stagnate indoors.

My kids get booted outdoors in our small community, which is away from a lot. They were excited to be sent to the playground down the block from grandma's by themselves. I hadn't realized how curtailed they were compared to me until how proud they were to be let out on their own, practically within shouting distance.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 3rd, 2012 01:02 am (UTC) (Link)


Those are good points.

I suddenly wonder if this, along with the horrid economy and high pressure for longer education, is contributing to offspring staying at home as adults rather than moving out.
fayanora From: fayanora Date: August 4th, 2012 02:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Pedophiles and child nabbers are greatly exaggerated danger. They are the modern bogeyman. Serial molesters are extremely rare; most kids who are molested are molested by family, friends, or other trusted adults. Most kidnapped children are kidnapped by family. This society is falling apart, being driven apart by overhyped dangers that are largely imaginary to begin with.

Children need freedom. That is just all there is to it.

When I was a kid, I would roam freely. I was usually close enough to home to be called home with a bicycle horn that Mom and Dad would honk until I got home. If I were a kid today, I think my parents would give me a cell phone instead, but would still let me roam, because they are intelligent enough to know that most of the dangers people talked about were overhyped even then. They trusted me to be smart enough to not get into a car with someone I didn't know without the password. Yes, we had a password in case they had to send someone after me because of an emergency. We never had to use it, but it was neat to have it.

There were times when I wandered so far afield that Dad had to drive around looking for me. He considered it only mildly annoying, I think. I was usually with my best friend Justin, but often I would wander off alone. And all my life, I never broke a bone, never was in major danger, never got talked to by any suspicious strangers, and never got offered drugs. I was a sophomore in high school before anyone even so much as offered me alcohol, to which I politely said no, and they were cool with that. About the worst thing to happen to me during my childhood was the time I had just seen Back To The Future, and tried to go 88 MPH on my bike down this enormous hill in our yard. I hit a bump and went flying, became skinned up pretty bad. Home was only a half a block away, but I couldn't even make it that far; went instead to one of the neighbors, who helped me out and then took me home.

Over the years, I've become convinced I'm blessed. I've had a lot of cuts that should have resulted in scars, even got burned a few times, and never scarred. Everything heals with time, for me. I've even had dreams about losing hands and growing them back. Not going to test that one, though. :-D
kengr From: kengr Date: August 4th, 2012 09:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
In the late 50s, I was was restricted from crossing the street until round age 4. After that, I was allowed to wander for several blocks to play with neighbor kids, including being out *well* after dark a few times in the summer.

Walked 6 blocks to school for fitrst grade, 10 for second and third. And almost a mile for swimming and gymnastics lessons.

The fact that I couldn't ride a bike limited me until I was in 4th or 5th grade, when I finally picked it up.

By 4th grade I was walking 2 miles to school. And wandering several miles thru the woods and down by the river.

By junior high I was ranging a dozen or more miles on my bike. (that'd be late 60s)

In the late 70s, a friend got the cops called on her when we were at a restaurant and her son was being a pill, so she had him go out to her car. Which was parked 6 feet from our table.

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