Kristin van Ogtrop poses a very serious question in her recent column in Time Magazine. There is a large movement to give kids more freedom of action, partially in response to the enormous societal trend to overprotect our kids and to become helicopter parents. I pontificated on this very subject recently here on EID.
Free-rangers are quick to point out that although our society is actually safer than it has ever been (child abductions are incredibly rare, and violent crime has declined nearly 15% in the past decade, according to the FBI), the number of kids suffering from anxiety is skyrocketing
I am a big fan of the Free Range Kids movement. Especially in light of the overreactions we often see in the opposite direction, such as when parents are arrested or threatened by social services to have their children taken away for very safe freedoms such as playing at the park unsupervised or riding a train into the city. Part of the problem is that the media scares us to death. Despite the longitudinal reduction in crimes against children, the media makes it seem like they are increasing by focusing so viscerally on them.
So this brings us to Kristin van Ogtrop’s question. How can parents be expected to free range their kids when they are faced with the constant disapproval of their community? What van Ogtrop recommends is that first we have to “Free Range” the parents. Give them the freedom to be human, make their own decisions for their own kids, and even enjoy themselves once in a while – even at the expense of one more learning activity for their kids. I have to agree.
Which camp do you fall in to? Do you advocate free ranging kids to teach them responsibility, even if it means the occasional broken arm? Or perhaps a 1 in a million increase in their risk of them becoming the victim of a crime?
Or do you prefer the current trend – safety at all costs, even if it means increased levels of anxiety, lower self-confidence, reduced high-level judgment abilities?
Image Credit: Mo Riza