About a year ago I posted a link to an article in Orion Magazine about getting children out into the great outdoors. Well I have just stumbled across a whole website devoted to the same topic, FreeRangeKids [^]. This site is written by another American, Lenore Skenazy, a New Yorker no less!
A furore erupted when Lenore wrote an article in The New York Sun about leaving her 9 year-old son in downtown New York to find his own way home in broad daylight:
Half the people I’ve told this episode to now want to turn me in for child abuse. As if keeping kids under lock and key and helmet and cell phone and nanny and surveillance is the right way to rear kids. It’s not. It’s debilitating — for us and for them. FreeRangeKids [^]
As Lenore points out that in 2006 115 children were abducted in America, out of a population of 300 million! Now don’t get me wrong, the fact that 115 kids were abducted is still 115 too high; but there is a greater chance of being struck by lightning.
With almost continuous media coverage of these events, like the Madeliene McCann disappearance, this very small possibility remains at the top of everyone’s minds. We take precautions to avoid being struck by lightning, and we should look after out kids – but don’t wrap them in bubble-wrap! There needs to be a point where parental responsibility and independent thinking by the child meet.