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  1. #1
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    Children's Right to Roam

    When I was a kid we played outside after school, after dinner, all weekend and all summer. We ran through alleys, through parks and fields, always together.

    All of that is now a thing of the past (in the West, anyway).

    Children's parents must now arrange "playdates" for children to play (with parental supervision, of course) and the rest of the time children are always within 100 yards of their concerned, correcting, micro-managing parents.

    Are things really more dangerous now, or does it just seem that way?

    Be a 'bad' parent and let your children out

    By Alice Thomson

    Be a 'bad' parent and let your children out | Dt Opinion | Opinion | Telegraph


    I asked my mother yesterday how much freedom she had as a child. "Well," she replied, "I walked to my nursery school in Cambridge alone, aged three, and by four I was roaming the fields behind my house on my hobby-horse."

    After that, she explained, came the war. "Your grandfather was away and your grandmother was organising the Women's Voluntary Service; no one knew where the four children were.



    We broke into requisitioned houses and made camps; we spent our afternoons canoeing down the Cam without life-jackets, eating sausages out of tins and, when it rained, we slipped into the cinema to watch unsuitable love stories and horrifying images of the liberation of the concentration camps.

    No one worried about us, they had more important issues on their minds. Her childhood sounded idyllic. My mother explained that it wasn't always perfect.

    She had once been accosted by a man while bicycling to her friend across the water meadows. "He tried to force himself on me but I managed to get away. I carried on cycling to my friend's house and ate my tea; it never occurred to me to say anything until I went home.

    The police were called but I was back on my bike the next day. My mother took a similar attitude to my childhood.

    My younger sister and I were allowed to take the Tube home from school across London every day from the age of five.

    My sister was hit by a car once when she crossed a busy road to go to a sweet shop. She broke her leg but, as soon as it had mended we were walking home alone again.

    If we wanted to go to ballet or Brownies, we biked on our Choppers. It was frightening going under the subways of busy streets when it was dark, but it never occurred to us to ask our parents to drive us to after-school activities.

    My brothers took the train to my grandmother's in Suffolk on their own from the age of six and spent all day without adults in the park playing football.

    When we moved to the countryside to live we had even more freedom to mess around in boats and with ponies. There was a local flasher, but as long as he didn't scare the ponies, he didn't trouble us.

    Now, according to the Good Childhood Inquiry, children have everything - iPods, computer games and designer clothes - except the freedom to play outside on their own.

    A poll commissioned as part of the inquiry found that just under half the adults questioned (43 per cent) thought that 14 was the earliest age at which children should be allowed to go out unsupervised.

    Two-thirds of 10-year-olds have never been to a shop or the park by themselves.

    Fewer than one in 10 eight-year-olds walk to school alone. After the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, we have become even more obsessed with eliminating risk.

    I'm just as neurotic as other parents. I walk my three-, four- and six-year-old to school every day, clutching their hands. Their every moment in London is supervised, with playdates and trips to museums.

    I drive them to football and tennis. No wonder they love going to the country where they can spend all day making camps in the garden, pretending to be orphans.

    It isn't just because I fear they may be abducted or run over, it's because I'm also worried about being seen as a bad parent.

    When I let my eldest son go to the loo on his own on a train, less than 20 ft from where I was seated, the guard lectured me on my irresponsibility.

    When we go to the park there are signs in the playground saying that parents may be prosecuted if they leave their children unsupervised, and at the swimming pool (where as children we spent half our holidays dive-bombing each other, without a grown-up in sight) there must now be an adult for every two children.

    It is insane. My children still end up in the A & E department as often as we did. The inside of a house can be more dangerous than the street, and sitting at a computer all day, eating crisps, carries more long-term risks than skateboarding alone to a park.

    The "terrifying" outdoors is actually safer than it was 30 years ago. In 1977, 668 children were killed on the roads, either in cars or as pedestrians. That number has now dropped to 166.

    The number of children murdered has remained consistent at around 79 murders a year. The number of children who drown in rivers or swimming pools has halved. The only place your child is now more at risk is on a trampoline.

    So let your children out: they are less likely to harm themselves bicycling to the swings than they are bouncing up and down in their own back yard.

    Let children learn by taking risks, says RoSPA

    Let children learn by taking risks, says RoSPA | Uk News | News | Telegraph

    By Sarah Womack, Social Affairs Correspondent
    Last Updated: 2:17am BST 13/06/2007

    Britain's safety charity suggested yesterday it would be better for the occasional child to fall out of a tree and break their wrist than develop repetitive strain injury from playing computer games.

    The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said parents were too risk-averse, particularly after the abduction of Madeleine McCann in Portugal, and youngsters should be allowed to bruise and cut themselves.



    Peter Cornall, the head of leisure safety at the society, said children would learn "valuable life-long lessons" by scraping knees, grazing elbows and bumping heads - not least how they would avoid hurting themselves in future - whereas they would learn little from getting RSI from playing games day in, day out on a PC.

    Around 21,000 children a year under the age of 15 break their wrists while playing outside, excluding those injured playing sport.

    As yet, no significant research has been carried out in Britain into the risks of RSI among children who spend hours on computers doing homework or playing games, but doctors report an increasing number of children with computer-related injuries. Children are increasingly unfit as a result of being immobile for long periods on a PC.

    Mr Cornall's comments came after a study by the Children's Society found 43 per cent of adults thought children should not be allowed out with their friends until they were 14 or over.

    RoSPA called for the introduction of specially made "wild" areas where children could wander around and take risks.

    "We need to ask whether it is better for a child to break a wrist falling out of a tree, or to get a repetitive strain wrist injury at a young age from using a computer or video games console," Mr Cornell said.

    "When children spend time in the great outdoors, getting muddy, getting wet, getting stung by nettles, they learn important lessons - what hurts, what is slippery, what you can trip over or fall from."

    RoSPA, which holds its International Play Safety Conference at Loughborough University on Thursday, wants to encourage parents to talk to their children about risks and how to cope with them.

    Last year nearly half a million people in Britain were estimated to suffer from some form of RSI.

    Chris Dalton, 31, a graphic designer from Coventry, said: "I wouldn't encourage my kids to climb trees because they could do more harm to themselves than a broken wrist."

    Tony Wilkens, 37, of Kingstanding, Birmingham, said: "Surely Rospa is meant to be preventing accidents not arguing which bones are acceptable to break or which injury is good for them."
    Last edited by Hootad Binky; 21-06-2007 at 01:04 AM.

  2. #2
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    I can imagine what the army will be like in 20 years time, the snipers refusing to climb up trees or onto roofs as it might be dangerous, infantry refusing to go into ditches because they might get dirty or slip and hurt themselves.

    I honestly cant remember not going to school by myself, primary school was about a 2 mile walk each way, secondry was a mile and a half walk and 2 buses each way.

  3. #3
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    ^Me too. It's astonishing to realise an entire type of childhood, perhaps the best part of childhood, has just vanished.

  4. #4
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    I was reading somethng about this the other day. My childhood was wild and free too. I got to thinking about whose fault it was that children are so restricted these days and realised that it was our fault. After all, we're their parents. What the hell happened to us to make us so paranoid?

  5. #5
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    Parenting books and the media.

  6. #6
    The Pikey Hunter
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrB0b View Post
    I was reading somethng about this the other day. My childhood was wild and free too. I got to thinking about whose fault it was that children are so restricted these days and realised that it was our fault. After all, we're their parents. What the hell happened to us to make us so paranoid?
    I really couldn't put it better myself. the West as a whole seems to be bringing up a new generation of pampered, useless, ineffectual little twats.

  7. #7
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    Add to that neurotic and self-centered!

  8. #8
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    my son is allowed to go to the park or play with his friends etc by himself, but it took me a long time to convince my wife, whose head was full of neighbourhood stories of children being abducted and sold in malaysia or thailand etc (funny how these things were never reported!). I must admit i dont give my 7 year old daughter such freedom yet though, mostly because i see some of the looks she gets from the foreign workers who hang around.

    Whenever i visit my parents at their village in cornwall i am always sad to see the park is empty - where in my day you could always go there and find someone to play with or join in a game of football. On rare occasions where one of your mates was not around you would start to go around their houses calling them out, I cant remember anyone who was not allowed out.

  9. #9
    Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb
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    I used to walk the mile to my school at the age of four.
    During summer holidays I'd be out of the house at eight in the morning with my mates, back a half hour for lunch and then back just before it got dark.
    Other things that have changed. If you saw a man holding the hand of a ten year old girl, the only thought in your head was that it was father and daughter. Not any more.
    Phuket - Veni Vidi Veni

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hootad Binky View Post
    Parenting books and the media.
    aint dat da tuth.

    it not more dangerous, it just appears more dangerous!

  11. #11
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    All of my students spend their entire time out of school either at home or at a shopping mall. They never just 'go out'. It's quite astonishing really.

    If I had kids I would kick the annoying little brats out of the house at every opportunity.

  12. #12
    Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb
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    Seems that parents have forgotten their prime duty.
    To equip their children to stand on their own two feet and make a good life.

  13. #13
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    Phaedopiles abound.

    Best not to take any chances. Too many John Mark Karrs wandering the streets.

    The difference between 'now' and 'the good old days' is that children are sexualised in the media now.

    While the media demonises phaedopiles, it also prints photos of young girls in full make up and halter tops, subconsciously pandering to all the vulnerable freaks out there.

    When I were a lad, mags like 'Jackie' and 'Bunty' had articles about how to make biscuits. Now they have headlines like "Give your boyfriend the best blow job ever !"

  14. #14
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    i doubt 'Bunty' has gone that far. Maybe 'Jackie' - they were always a bit more risque

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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Ghost_Of_The_Moog
    Phaedopiles abound.
    Jeez! I'd hate to live in your world.

  16. #16
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    healthy photos of hale and hearty young chaps playing leapfrog....

    Welcome to www.boys-heaven.com
    Last edited by The Ghost Of The Moog; 21-06-2007 at 12:38 PM.

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    Kid freaks out when his Mum tells him to stop playing computer game...


  18. #18
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    When we were kids, my brothers and sisters would go for walks up in the hills by our place( lower cashmere-chch).
    We would spend what seemed like hours exploring the pine forests and farms.
    As 5-8 year olds we would think nothing of walking or riding 5km to hunt for lizards or chase sheep.
    Only once we were harrassed by a land owner, after we strayed on to his property.

  19. #19
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    I was allowed complete freedom on our property, from the time I was a toddler. There were few girls nearby, so as I got older I played with the boys -- rough and tumble. We climbed trees, caught crawfish in the creek, shot BB guns and made our own bow and arrows with sharpened sticks -- it's a wonder we didn't put our eyes out. We captured all sorts of animals and usually weren't allowed to keep them -- small snakes, lizards, turtles, sometimes even a baby raccoon.

    My parents were leery of water until we learned to swim, but that was early. At that point, we swam at both the gulf beaches and at my aunt's bay cabin -- both salt water. One thing that strikes me is that there always was someone teaching the young ones what to do -- this is how to handle an undertow or cross current, this is what to do for a jellyfish sting.

    The best thing my ex-husband did with my son was get him involved in camping and Boy Scouts. Otherwise, the suburban lifestyle would have been far too sedentary.

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    Nowadays (in Canada), you can check with the police if there are any pedos in the neighborhood: couldn't do that in the past. Perhaps because there is more awareness it seems more dangerous, but I haven't seen any hard evidence that things actually are more dangerous. Depends on where you live, I suppose.
    Quote Originally Posted by LesBonsTemps View Post
    I was allowed complete freedom on our property, from the time I was a toddler. There were few girls nearby, so as I got older I played with the boys -- rough and tumble. We climbed trees, caught crawfish in the creek, shot BB guns and made our own bow and arrows with sharpened sticks -- it's a wonder we didn't put our eyes out. We captured all sorts of animals and usually weren't allowed to keep them -- small snakes, lizards, turtles, sometimes even a baby raccoon.
    Sounds idyllic. I actually know firsthand parents who won't let their children out of the house and also refuse computer games and t.v.! What a drag!

    There won't be any Xbox or PS3 in our household, however; my son aside, I'm the one that can't stop playing it!

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    Wayne Jnr knows his way around our neighbourhood and has the tuk-tuk drivers under control when it comes to going to the market-return, but tonight when we went out to buy beer he just about walked in front of a taxi roaring down our soi ... he'll be waiting until he turns 5 at least before I'll let him walk in the street by himself. Not giving him the freedom to roam is one of the biggest disappointments for me living in BKK.

  22. #22
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    I remember driving near Ranong for a visa run, and saw two little boys in shorts, tees and flipflops with home-made fishing rods over their shoulders obvioulsy headed for a river in the jungle. Not a care, just laughing and walking along. That's how kids should grow up, I reckon.
    Still, I always loved going by myself or with friends to galleries and museums when I was little. No charge then either. And nobody ever asked if we was lost.
    True about playgrounds. There's one near my house and I rarely see kids there, but I know there are many in the neighbourhood. The sign says "Children must be supervised at all times." Sad really.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Kerr View Post
    Wayne Jnr knows his way around our neighbourhood and has the tuk-tuk drivers under control when it comes to going to the market-return, but tonight when we went out to buy beer he just about walked in front of a taxi roaring down our soi ... he'll be waiting until he turns 5 at least before I'll let him walk in the street by himself. Not giving him the freedom to roam is one of the biggest disappointments for me living in BKK.
    But he's only 5! That's appropriate. I think 7 or 8 is a better age for short, unsupervised excursions.

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    Thumbs down

    It is sad that Children can't go out on their own. We were in England two years ago and took ours to the park with our friends and their children. I took out my camera to take a photo of them all playing and someon came over and told me not to include their child in the shot - bloody hard to do as his child was about 200 metres away, but..................the parkkeeper arrived and told us that we weren't allowed to photograph anyone incuding our own children. WTF is that all about

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobbins
    WTF is that all about
    It's about the triumph of safety over freedom and liberty (and fun, for that matter).

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