Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Free Range Kids 2

If you explore the FreeRangeKids link from my last post, you might have seen How children lost the right to roam in 4 generations.

When George Thomas was eight he walked everywhere.

It was 1926 and his parents were unable to afford the fare for a tram, let alone the cost of a bike and he regularly walked six miles to his favourite fishing haunt without adult supervision.

Fast forward to 2007 and Mr Thomas's eight-year-old great-grandson Edward enjoys none of that freedom.

He is driven the few minutes to school, is taken by car to a safe place to ride his bike and can roam no more than 300 yards from home.

This graphic is especially telling.


  1. Anonymous07:49

    Our sixth grader is allowed to take public buses or bike to most places in Boulder. If it's a new bus route, we rehearse with her the stops, what to do if she forgets to get off at her stop, etc, but I suspect that she could figure it all out of she wanted. We probably ought to let her do that more. Our fourth grader is theoretically allowed to take herself to school on the public bus alone, but in practice it's only happened maybe once. Now, what about kids cooking? (sharp knives! hot stoves!) Or being left home alone for a few hours? (house fires! pedophilic home invaders!)

  2. Of course parents don't let their kids ride public buses anymore, because parents no longer have any idea where the buses go.

    LA is particularly difficult. The bus stations have movie posters on them instead of maps and schedules, so the MTA website is really the only way to figure out how to get somewhere.

  3. In my family, it didn't take 4 generations, it only took 2. My kids walked and biked to school, my grandson does not even though the school is only a couple of blocks away with no major streets to cross in between and plenty of crossing guards. This fear for our children's safety seems to have arisen abruptly after the McMartin trials and other high profile child abuse cases.

  4. In the McMartin case, the abuse is alleged to have happened in the preschool, not on the way. It was a huge, sensational case, covered by the national media. When the case was dropped because it turned out the "memories" of abuse were all planted by psychologists bent on proving the prevalence of repressed memories, the national press did not report on that.

  5. Mr. Gaia's grandfather talks of walking the 10 miles from his home to the county seat and back. He'd stay out all night with his dogs hunting raccoons and then make his way home sometime the next day. He points out the "mountains" he hunted and they really are no where near where his house was.

    When the kids get to go to the farm, they are allowed to explore, within reason. If they had dogs to go with them, I'd probably let them go farther (a lot of snakes - rattlesnakes, copperheads and cottonmouths).

    At home? They are allowed to walk to the end of the block and that's pretty much it. And that's just this year.

    Of course, in our case it's not to do with worries about abductions, etc. It's to do with the way people drive here and the vehicles they choose to drive. It's not safe for anyone under about 5 feet to cross the street (the minimum height you need to be to be seen over the grill of an SUV or truck).


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