Go Leave Your Kids Alone in a Park

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Stop worrying: go leave your children in a playground somewhere. "It almost seems that, the safer our society becomes, the more we feel compelled to ramp up the fears about unlikely dangers," argues Lenore Skenazy at The Guardian. She's defending her decision to declare last Saturday a special day--"Take our children to the park ... and leave them there" day.

I'd come up with the idea as a way for neighbourhood children (including mine) to meet each other, and even be forced to entertain themselves. Try it for half an hour, I'd suggested, just to break the ice. I said it was for ages seven or eight and up, because seven is the age kids walk to school, by themselves, in most of the world.

The crime rate in America, Skenazy points out, is actually "lower today than it was in the 70s and 80s," when children playing out of doors unsupervised was considered normal. Why, then, is unsupervised play so rare today? She thinks it's because "we have been force-fed a media diet of 'You and your loved ones are in terrible danger from (fill in the blank)' for about a generation." In her view, we hear too much about such everyday dangers--makeup, cancer-causing cell phones, and kidnapping--when the world is actually getting safer.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.