On air: Is it harder to be a child than ever before?

Growing up is hard to do. That much we all know. But here are two key questions.

1) Are children today facing more challenges, dangers and restrictions than any before them?

2) Are parents’ efforts to protect and guide their children in danger of creating pressures and problems of their own? There are a number of reasons we’re talking about this….

1. Lenore Skenazy, a columnist for the New York Sun, remains at the centre of a fierce debate. She let her 9 year old go on the subway – something many Americans have strongly objected to. She also runs Free Range Kids which is an organisation with the motto ‘let’s give our children the freedom we have’. Is that realistic? Is that safe?

2. Parents in the UK are saying they can no longer let their kids out to play for fear of violence. A 17 year old was beaten to death in the north of England, and an 18 year old was stabbed to death in London this weekend. 14 teenagers have been murdered this year in the UK’s capital.

3. Ivory Coast, southern Sudan and Haiti and three countries named by Save the Children as places where UN peacekeepers have sexually abused children. An example of people in abusing positions of trust. Do children and parents have to be ever more aware of who is coming into contact with kids?

4. Its Children’s Day in Nigeria, where there is much discussion of the experience of childhood in 21st century Africa. Is it harder, or easier, that it used to be?

5. Helicopter parenting. This issue never goes away. The debate about whether by trying to protect and ensure to the best, parents are damaging their kids.

110 Responses to “On air: Is it harder to be a child than ever before?”

  1. May 27, 2008 at 14:29

    In England there is alot of focus on passing tests. I believe that from the age of 7 when an English child must take their SATS, t British children are examined over 111 times, through current education systems.

    Prehaps there is too much focus on children meeting targets, and not being allowed enough time to just be children. With parents trying to give their children all the opportunities they never had e.g French lessons, Ballet Class, Tennis Club, Girl Guides, duke of edingburgh etc children do not get enough time to play.

    There is so much focus on Knife crime amoung children, and paedophiles that parents are afraid to let their children play outside. The majority of children are driven to school. If they are never outside, or allowed to walk to school how are children supposed to learn road safety?

    Although prehaps my concern about children and exams is motivated by my university final in 2 days time!!!

  2. May 27, 2008 at 14:36

    Hi Ros
    In all fairness, we have come a long way since the 1940s in child welfare and education. I was one of six children in Tehran, and I remember being hit at school by my teachers and clobbered at home by my elder brother.
    I ate whenever I was given something, and slept wherever I happened to be at night. No clean drinking water, – the water was delivered in donkey drawn tanks to your house. It was stored in the cellar, needless to say we had worms crawling out of us at odd times.
    There was simply no room for children in the home, where the female hierarchy reigned, or peace when the domineering father figure was around.
    Things improved in the late fifties, but even now, child rape, forced sodomy and abuse of babies and children is prevalent in Iran.

  3. 3 steve
    May 27, 2008 at 14:37

    I tihnk a lot of what hannah refers to is the “fear” society, be afraid of everything. Everyone is a pedophile, a terrorist is going to kill you. They’ve always had pedophiles, there will always be pedophiles, it’s not like there are more of them now, yet it seems to be a panic going on. I remember some of the scare tactics when I was a kid, such as being worried about halloween candy with razor blades, poisons, etc. I remember my mom telling me about a set of twins got kidnapped from White Flint Mall in Rockville, MD and I was scared of that mall for the rest of my childhood.

    On the other side, it’s also easier to be a child these days, since the PC people forbid any form of discipline. When I was a kid, and misbehaved, I got spanked, and I wouldn’t misbehave anymore. Now kids get “timeouts” or report their parents to child protection authorities on false claims, or threaten to, so Connor or Madison can blackmail their parents into getting them an Xbox. I think the kids of today will grow up to be completely spoiled, without discipline, and even more self absorbed than the self absorbed parents “raising” them (more like dropping them off at day care).

  4. 4 steve
    May 27, 2008 at 14:43

    @ Akbar

    I have a friend whose from Iran, and he was sexually abused by an older boy in the early 1980s, and he told his mother, who took him to the authorities, and the authorities beat him and did nothing to the abuser.

  5. 5 Roberto
    May 27, 2008 at 14:46

    Yes much harder to be both a kid and a parent.

    The reason being the forced adaption of new generations to increasing technologies and modern living conditions which bear very little resemblence to tens of thousands of years gradual and thus very traditional development models.

    As more are being squeezed together unnaturally by global population increases brought about by modern health practices, the conflicts are growing in scale and number.

    The Western developed world is seeing decreased fertility in men and women, much lower birth rates, and early onsets of diseases traditionally seen in older populations such as obesity, diabetes, high blood presure.

    The 3rd world seems to be permanently scarred by violent modern upheavals of traditional tribal life which has left millions permanently short of food resources as exploding population increases had led to unnatural scenes of horror such as child soldiers and wanton slaughter with modern automatic weapons.

    Just one tiny in global scale area, Rawanda, recently had a genocide that only lasted for a couple of months but left a half million dead and millions permanently uprooted and scarred.

    Tough being a responsible kid or parent in the face of such news in advance of global warming which would only exacerbate the horrible.

    Of course, living in the somewhat protected area in the Western world, I’ve and my kids had it easy in many ways compared to what my ancesters endured, but it seems that model of development I grew up in will be the death of us all without more massive changes in our technology and culture.

  6. 6 Keith
    May 27, 2008 at 15:26

    Steve, I don’t know if you’re a parent or not, but if not you might want to go a little easy on the preaching.

    In any case, being a parent of a two year old boy and very soon an infant girl, it is indeed daunting and at times terrifying to think of raising children in the world today. I don’t believe in living according to fear, and in fact I think that since 9/11/2001 many of the powers that be in the U.S. and probably U.K. have been the proponents of fear-motivated decisions. The sense of gravity that I have about child-rearing has less to do with fear of “bad people” (they have always, and will always be there) out there who will seek to do them harm, and more to do with how one raises children to make good choices in the world.

    Our generation (those of us born in the seventies to eighties) is building a culture in the western world where responsibility and moderation are scorned and seen as prudish or oppressive. So, we binge and purge on everything from alcohol and food to credit and sex. Personal liberty is so prized and championed above all else. This is a very daunting cultural set of values to navigate around when raising children toward eventual independence. Sometimes I worry that there is a generation of emotional/spiritual adolescents raising the current generation of children. I think long-term and large scale changes, not of the sort that anyone can legislate or organize from the top down – but of the sort that comes from the inside out – are in order to correct the direction we are headed.

  7. 7 Muhammad
    May 27, 2008 at 15:33

    It’s fact that children are facing more challenges and dangers now-a-days. The reason is that we are losing moral values day by day. Information typical to adults is available to children as well and this thing is destructive for their immature minds. Technology gadgets are being used to abuse children.

    It is also true that parents’ efforts are helpless there as they can’t keep their children isolated from a society where they are likely to get spoiled.

    Best Regards,

    Gujranwala, Pakistan

  8. 8 Uzondu
    May 27, 2008 at 15:42

    We live in times that are challenging, and children are expose to lots of dangers than any other time in history.On the other hand, it is always a pleasure parenting your kid(s).
    Monrovia, Liberia

  9. May 27, 2008 at 15:43

    Hi Steve
    This is a common pattern. Mothers usually avoid making a scene in such cases for fear that their child might be sidelined.
    I was comparatively happy at preparatory boarding school in Surrey, southern England. Life was perhaps a little regimented, – it was in the early 1950s. The system works satisfactorily, partly because a matron is in attendance, who helps pupils over their personal problems and health issues. Every child should be able to go through this experience. Also, the pupils can be assessed in a candid manner, which is a great help to parents in plotting out their future and embarking on a career in later life.

  10. 10 Devadas
    May 27, 2008 at 15:43

    nowadays children have esay access to everything than the generation earlier whose parents were all faced with tough war situations , economic and food crisis.now its plenty of evrything no struggle for basics of food ,shelter,clothing, education etc at the same time facing with tough competitions in every sphere education ,sexual exploitations of teens ,kidnapping for using as child soldiers ,in brothels etc .earlier they were safe from teachers ,preachers ,parents etc but now they too are exploting the teens for their perverted use ..so its a tough time being a child nowadays .
    personally speaking i have lost my parents when i was 21 and it was so tough coming up till date .


  11. 11 Mohamed
    May 27, 2008 at 15:44

    No, it is safer to be a child today than ever before.

    Days there were when there were no drugs to treat and prevent diseases like malaria, typhoid, whopping cough and the like. Many children died unnecessarily. Today, they need not die of such diseases.

    There are more wars and conflicts today which pose a serious threat to children and mothers who care for them. The fathers too are either in wars or often away at work and have little or no time to take care of the young ones.

    In spite of this, there are more agencies devoted to the care of the child today than ever before. There are lots of schools which perform custodial and socilising functions. The child is safer here among their peers.

    The information revolution keeps the child informed about threats to his/her safety and about preventive ways.

    The child must be safe!

  12. 12 Syed Hasan Turab
    May 27, 2008 at 15:53

    Over all this is best to be a child in modern society as we have better institution’s for kids compairing to old time. No doubt first healthy adult contact always plays an important role in a child’s life i.e. parents.
    Sick & child abuse society is & was available all the time, now a days because of modern media crimes exposed quicker then old timer media.
    An uglly picture of criminal society may not deny with the progress & advancement in this regard.

  13. 13 Katharina in Ghent
    May 27, 2008 at 15:53

    Is it harder to be a child today than it was 20 or 40 years ago? I honestly don’t know. When I grew up, my father (a teacher) was pressuring us very strongly to have good grades (which thankfully came quite easily, otherwise I would have been in trouble), but otherwise we were free to do what we wanted – at home, but not on the street. My mom on the otherhand had free range over the streets, but being the oldest, she had to watch her five younger siblings and was in troubles if something happened to them. I try to give my son the opportunity to run around as much as possible and explore his limits (we just moved to a house with a big garden), but he’s a bit the scared child, so I actually have to push him a little bit.

    I’m not the parent who organizes one after-school activity for the kid for every day of the week, so when we come home, he can just be (usually in front of the TV, but now less so because of the garden), and I think that this is important. Kids need their time off, too, if they’re just organized all the time, then they can’t experience being themselves anymore – and you as a parent just get more stressed, too.

  14. May 27, 2008 at 16:00

    “Free range parenting”? That will last until child predators zone in on the children taking part of this ideal.

    “Is it more difficult to be a child these days?” is a word problem without enough data. First it depends on where you are, who you are, and what defines being a child. Generally here in the US it is more difficult because it is easier. I know that sounds like double talk but bear with me. Growing up even as recent as my fathers generation children had a physically harder life. It was much more manual and labor intensive existence then. Many children were required to do things that would make working in one of Kathie Lee Gifford’s sweatshops seem like time off. But that gave the kids a sense of purpose and a place in life. That is crucial during the formative teenage years. They weren’t just learning to be good people by watching their parents; they were actually able to mimic the movements. Cut to today. Today life is not as physically demanding. It is easier to do nothing. Children are not required to work or even participate in life. Many rarely see their parents, even the “good parents”. They work 49 weeks a year, 40 hours a week, many when their children are at home. The responsibility of giving children these days has been case into the breeze in hopes that somebody will do it. When they fail, the parents blame the school, the schools blame the parents and the government doesn’t know what to do to fix the problem. Because we have it so easy, technologically speaking, children have harder path that requires more self-discipline to reach adult hood successfully. Of course the meaning of “Success” is a term that also needs to be defined before the posted question can be truly answered.

  15. 15 Brett
    May 27, 2008 at 16:02

    1. Lenore Skenazy, a columnist for the New York Sun, remains at the centre of a fierce debate. She let her 9 year old go on the subway – something many Americans have strongly objected to. She also runs Free Range Kids which is an organisation with the motto ‘let’s give our children the freedom we have’. Is that realistic? Is that safe?

    I listened to an hour long interview with Mrs. Skenazy on NPR and she posed a very intelligent and well thought out debate as to why she allowed her 9 year old to go on the subway. Included in this were angry mother callers who acted on emotion rather than logical statistics which Skenazy easily shot down.
    I was appalled and the begining of the show. By the end I had come around and could completely understand and even commend Skenazy.

    Is it harder to be a kid now?

    YES, no doubt about it. The psychological pressures, social pressures, and others are so much higher now than they used to be. The only thing that kids have easier nowdays is that they don’t do work. Kids complaining about “Chores” such as taking out the trash twice a week would be laughed at 100 years ago.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  16. May 27, 2008 at 16:04

    The situation of children has changed because of a change in the notions of families and neighbourhood and how they relate to each other. In the past, the role of parents was that the mother took care of the children while the father was out at work. Neighbours used to be like an extended family whose children can mix easily. Children were relatively safer.

    Today, family structure has changed. The extended family is becoming a matter of the past. There are increasingly single parents with a single child. The child is left alone at home or in the care of schools. The itinerary from school to home can be dangerous for weak children as they have to move in a space where there can be a pack of children ready to attack as there can be malicious adults ready to sexually exploit the child.

    It has always been normal that weak children are bullied by strong ones. What is worrying today is that some children are getting more violent, committing even murder. But there is no need to be alarmist despite all this as child safety is still guaranteed as long as child tutors know how to guide their children and to teach them how to be both safe and sociable. It is the lack of social skills on the part of children that makes them either aloof, frightened or aggressive.

    Children should be given the opportunity to live their childhood fully. Neglecting them or overprotecting them can have adverse effect on their personality. They need guidance as well as the skill to make choices. They should not be dangerously exposed to scenes fit for the adults who can discern their right and wrong aspects. This has to do, for example, with the violence they’re exposed to on TV and video games.

    The world can be safe for children as long as the adults, who should be concerned about their future, make it safe for them. If adults become totally disengaged from the education and the welfare of the children, each according to their responsibility, this can result in having children adrift, at the mercy of dangers that should be avoided.

  17. 17 Keith
    May 27, 2008 at 16:04

    Hi Katherina,

    I completely agree with the over-scheduling thing. I think too many parents have some kind of need to achieve and be seen as successful by others, and their children become an extension of that. They schedule and push things in various areas where the child might be able to achieve enough to make the parent swell with pride and feel like they themselves are of value. Value is sought outside of the self for parent and child and inner value is lost. The net result is busy parents who have little time or peace of mind with children, and children who are too busy to enjoy being children. Where I live there are little suburban kids who play hockey and have to get up at 5 AM on sundays for games. Supposedly, the kids want to do this. It’s just crazy.

  18. 18 Yoshiteru Yanagita
    May 27, 2008 at 16:14

    …And in Japan,there are many children who have their own mobile-phones,which,in many cases,have the function to make access to internet,and therefore have been the hotbed for children being involved into crimes.I mean some children make access to pornographic sites and those sites inviting to Enjo-Kosai(having sexual relationship with adults with monetary aid),and are involved into crimes.Prime Minister Fukuda recently made an official recommendation to prohibit children to have mobile-phones,because of the rapidly increasing number of children involved into crimes.My opinion to this sad situation is that children should have only those mobile-phones whose function is only phone-calls and Ichi-Navi(a function to make parents know the location of their children via GPS).…hhhmmm,,,I also think children are now in danger.

  19. 19 Zak
    May 27, 2008 at 16:28

    I don’t think the case of the woman in NY is so daunted a decision as it’s being made out to look. Kids end up on there own regardless of what parents do or don’t do so you might as well give them the freedom to roam. There’s no more danger now then there was 20 years ago say. About that long ago I was left, somewhat unintentionally, at the SF international airport for about 4 hours, at 9 I had no problems.

    Here’s another example of real neglect from parents that did no harm:
    A good friend of mine Iris was a 12 year old traveling with her parents and her brother form CA to WA. They stopped at a rest stop near the Oregon border. Iris got out of the car and before she got back her parents had taken off. The drove all the way to WA without her in the car and didn’t notice. We all saw her on the news that night as an abandoned child. It was really more comical than sinister – but that was her family too.

  20. 20 Chishimba John
    May 27, 2008 at 16:29

    It is harder to be a kid especially in developing countries where children have to move long distances to reach the school, for a example. Lusaka Zambia

  21. 21 steve
    May 27, 2008 at 16:36

    What’s a more important issue is that these kids are going to grow up thinking they’re entitled to a better life than their parents, they will not come remotely close to the lifestyle their parents live, based upon the buying things with money you don’t have days, which will soon be gone, so kids will have to drive small, economical cars, and rent, or live in very small homes, rather than McMansions.

  22. May 27, 2008 at 16:41

    The dangers facing children has different aspects according to regions. They are prey to the dangers according to the environment in which they live. In other words, this has to do with the practices of the adults in general.

    There are children who are the victims of AIDS from the wombs of their mothers. There are children who are smuggled from one country to another for labour. http://www.news24.com/News24/Africa/News/0,,2-11-1447_2319824,00.html

    There is also the danger of exposing children to drugs. There are drug dealer who sell their goods to (school) children. There are those who start drinking alcohol at a very young age.

    Helping children to live in a safe world has to do with preparing a clean environment for them. As long as the laws are barely enforced and some adults themselves need care and supervision, the victimized children will be left to face their situations helpless because of the failure society to have adequate means to help all children have a normal life.

  23. May 27, 2008 at 16:46

    Is it harder to be a child? It’s harder to be a parent cause we are in a raging conflict. In our modern society we have been told by sociologists, psychologists, pedagogues, pediatricians and another boat load of experts all the things we should or should not do to achieve certain outcomes.

    We have consequently abandoned all our own judgement, instincts and experience for an experts opinion. We want to be thought of as rational, modern and transcended. Yet we end up being pathetic, obsessive and cowardly.

    Children have to learn life skills. They have to be tested. We cannot put them in a protective bubble and isolate them, so that when they get their first problem they fall into a modern state of despair and anxiety.
    People have always taken advantage of children. This is not new. But we have accepted the notion that we can and should constantly control the universe. Well, we cannot.

    Children must learn how to listen to their own voices, how to be alert, how to understand difficult situations. If we are always preventing them from such experiences and if we are always there, they will atrophy their inherent abilities to develop coping skills.
    As parents we need grace and patience. To each child a different path and a different pace. There is no recipe or standard. And, the truth is no one is in control, just because their child is a high achiever.

    My daughter once when I was saying that I am a bad parent truly got offended. I did not understand why, till she explained: If you say you are a bad parent, you are implying we are your bad product.

    All parents should understand and take with a grain of salt all the scoldings and advice. You love your children and you do your best. Have the grace to accept that there is no control, just a modern delusion.

  24. 24 Keith
    May 27, 2008 at 17:01

    Steve, you are so right! I think it is a wonderful thing for their sake that they will have to learn to be less of the irresponsible raging materialists than their parents. I imagine it won’t be without some pain and even resentment, but it had to happen sometime. Our economies, our environments…I’d go so far as to say our souls, however you want to interpret that, are at stake.

  25. 25 Abdi in Mandera Kenya
    May 27, 2008 at 17:09

    Children’s life is becoming more harder all over the world especially African Kids.Many people have become “animals” by tormenting their own kids kids let a lone strangers!.
    (1) we have heard a father preganting his daughter!
    (ii) we have heard Parents using abusive and bad languages while shouting to their kids.
    (iii) we have heard a father who kept his daughter as a wife for 27 years

    So What else is left unheard off?

  26. 26 Will Rhodes
    May 27, 2008 at 17:27

    Is it harder to be a child than ever before?

    Simply put – no.

    Relating back to my childhood and the childhood that kids have today is quite laughable. Children have, for the most part, nothing to do. They are given all and everything with little consequence if things happen that they are responsible for.

    All you have to do is go back just 20 years and you will see the change – and why is that change? The State has taken over parenting. The State needs to get its nose out of things that are nothing or very little to do with them.

    Look at the use of the RIPA law in the UK – councils spying on the community over dog fouling or even which school a kids goes to – how is that organised crime or terrorism?

    The PC brigade have cause so many problems today that some bright lawyer out there could make a fortune suing them for their idiotic ideas.

    I try to put up with them but they make it really hard work so I just try to ignore them at the least.

  27. 27 Kevin
    May 27, 2008 at 17:42

    I’m convinced that children have it much harder in today’s world as of what I would say of the past. I belive a good deal of it attributes to war.

    Around World War 1 and 2 society was a bit more tame. Households in general had a mother and father around for their children. Sometime after these wars, a lot of children grew up missing 1 or both parents. I belive it’s caused a catastrophic chain reaction that even in today’s age proves, that we have yet to even begin to realize how destructive war is to society.

    Kevin, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

  28. 28 Scott Millar
    May 27, 2008 at 17:45

    + Harder? Where is the evidence? Today, there are different challenges. Tomorrow, there will be different challenges. If you can argue it’s harder, you can also argue it’s easier. More transparency, more social outlets, more access to information, more avenues for help, etc. It would be an easier argument to make that life for children in developed countries is more complex then ever before; but harder—NO!

    + Portland, Oregon

  29. May 27, 2008 at 17:45

    Of course it is. Children today, especially girls, have less freedom than I did growing up. I believe that freedom comes with environment – if one wants to provide there child with more freedom, then they should find an environment where freedom is possible. As for the nine year old taking the train, we’re talking about New York City where taking the train to school is as normal as car pooling. If this child is ready for the train and can handle him or herself, then bravo. I envy that child because where I live I have to get in the car everyday and shuttle my kids to school and waste ridiculous amount of gas.

  30. 30 steve
    May 27, 2008 at 18:00

    @ Keith

    The problem is that though they will not be able to buy those things, they will feel entitled to it, hence really bitter. Every generation is told that you have a higher quality of life than the previous generation, and that’s simply not going to be true. The parents will have higher standards of living than their kids these days. But the kids of today will grow up hearing they are entitled to a higher standard of living, what happens when they don’t get it, I don’t know. I’m guessing lots of crime.

    I was at a BBQ yesterday for memorial day, and this guy I’ve known for about 8 years said “if not for my family, and my new wife, I’d probably be a hitman, I would have no conscience”. He was concerned about his mortgage payment and other bills and how life is difficult.

  31. May 27, 2008 at 18:03

    I think what some people don’t understand is that no one in their right mind would ever lay a hand on a child in the subways of New York due to the simple fact that he would be bombarded with a well deserved verbal and physical assault from everyone on the train.

  32. 32 Vijay
    May 27, 2008 at 18:06

    Spare the rod, spoil the child.
    Children in the UK are living in a clockwork orange culture ,children are disinhibited in their speech and behaviour.
    Definitely a reintroduction of corporal punishment is necessary for the under 12.Also childrens homes ,Borstal ,young offenders centres and conscription are needed to deal with the antisocial, residivist underclass.

  33. 33 Luz María Guzmán from Monterrey, Mexico
    May 27, 2008 at 18:08

    I am a parent of two girls. I think today is harder to be a parent than 25 years ago (when I was a little girl). There are definitely more dangers, challenges and restrictions for children and their parents today than before. For instance, I put sunscreen on my girls every time they play outside during summer (my mother only put sunscreen on me when we went to the beach), I take them to school myself (my mother went to school walking by herself) and I never let my daughters stay at sleepovers at their friends´ houses (I used to go to sleepovers to my friends´ houses all the time when I was growing up).

    Some people think I am an overprotective parent, however, I don’t think so. All of the restrictions and safety measures listed above have a valid reason: if I don’t put sunscreen on my daughters during the summer, they get sunburn (also, there is history of skin cancer in my husband’s family); it is not safe –at least in my town- for children to walk in the streets (too many traffic); and the statistics of cases of family violence, bullying and child abuse have increased in the last decades. My children know the reasons why my husband and I impose these restrictions and safety measures in our household… We never use the phrase: “Because I am your mother / father.”

    I work as a field researcher on family violence and child abuse. I know these dangers have always been there, however, we have more awareness of them today than before. In addition, criminals –especially pedophiles and sexual abusers- have benefited from some technologic innovations (e.g. Internet, web cameras, digital cameras, cell phones, etc.) to further their criminal purposes and to built networks between them.

    Maybe children today are more sheltered than before; but they also have more information to protect themselves. Unfortunately, this is the world we are living –full of violence, abuse, dangers, pointless competition, consumerism, etc. – so I am not taking any chances with my children.

  34. 34 Angela in Washington D.C.
    May 27, 2008 at 18:12

    I completely agree with Steve. Most parents don’t discipline their children. Kids are told they can be and do whatever their hearts desire, but parents often fail to tell them that achieving their goals require a lot of hard work. I know a lot of kids that don’t care because they know their parents will always bail them out when things get tough, thus have no sense of responsibility. These kids don’t think about the consequences of their actions, until after the fact.

  35. May 27, 2008 at 18:12

    My mother was a bit ‘airy’ in my upbringing sometimes and lost me in stores and did not notice my partial drowning as she sat on a Jersey beach in the fifties. I had been washed off a concrete bunker on the beach to be out of my depth. I was swished about drinking gallons before a lucky wave pushed me back on to the concrete. I crawled back to where my mother sat oblivious. She also brought me to London from Wales to see the Coronation. I was ten. We slept outside Westminster Abbey on the pavement. The next day she sent me to go to the bathroom alone. They were under Parliament Sq. I got confused and went to the wrong exit and was on the other side of the Square. It took me an hour to find my way back. She was not upset. She acted as though I had only been a moment. I did not show any concern. I have been courageous all my life as a result of my mothers attitude. I am glad my mother was not a fussy worrier?

  36. 36 Allan via email
    May 27, 2008 at 18:14

    The world has been just a “dangerous” in the past as it is in the present. The media covers the “dangers” more than before. As a result, it builds fear in everyone’s minds.

    Allan, Ohio

  37. 37 Petra via email
    May 27, 2008 at 18:15

    I wonder, have people stopped reading their history books? Do we forget times when there were no laws governing child labor and there was no concept of childhood, per se? For those in the West, we have forgotten times when there was no concept as foster care – if parents died, children were left to beg or starve. Or imagine having your village sacked, your parents killed and being sold into slavery?

    While this sadly still happens in the 3rd world, our children in the West have more laws governing children’s safety now more than ever.

  38. 38 Christine
    May 27, 2008 at 18:16

    I agree with Lenore that it is not that more crime is occuring than when I was young, but that the media creates this fear that it happens all the time. Personally, though, as a mother of a six-year old son I do not want to take the chance that something might happen to him so I do keep a close eye on him at all times.

  39. 39 Zak
    May 27, 2008 at 18:16

    When you look at the streets of Richmond, CA, or Anacostia DC where you can guarantee there will be youth with guns on the street it looks pretty bad but there’s worse times for kids. Look back at history, in many parts of the world such as Persia, 1000 years ago any child who was left out would either be carrying a sword or fighting to the death in a battle. Otherwise it’s certain that child would be snatched by Gypsies.

    Point being there was a time in history when it was guaranteed that a child found out of the home would be taken. Now it’s a far remote chance with a much higher probability that the child will be safe. Ultimately the acceptance of not of war is the determinate here. In Baghdad the chances of a child surviving are less, but probably still more than at times in history.

  40. 40 steve
    May 27, 2008 at 18:17

    I have to agree with the mom, I think it’s the news that portrays the world as a scarier place than it is. Especially local news in the US is all about “are we all going to die really soon? stay tuned, after this commercial break”.. However, I really don’t know about how wise it is to let a 9 year old take the subway alone because they want to. There were lots of things I wanted to do at 9 that my parents wouldn’t let me do.

    Parents seem to hav ea problem saying no. The NYC Subwaty isn’t exactly a horribly dangerous place, but it is crowded, and not too long ago, there were people getting shoved onto the tracks (from the be very scared news networks) deliberately by crazy people. But this kid will probably be fearless when he’s an adult. I used to be scared to death every time my parents brought me into NYC becuase it was so big, and so crowded (and this was early 1980s, when it wasn’t as safe as it is now).

  41. 41 Chris via SMS
    May 27, 2008 at 18:18

    The dangers to children are a perception in the mind of the public, created mostly by the media. We all think all these bad things are going to happen to us or our own children.
    Chris in Namibia

  42. 42 steve
    May 27, 2008 at 18:19

    2 murders of teens in the UK over the weekend? That’s a good couple hours in Chicago or LA!

    In Aril, there was weekend in chicago were 9 people were killed during 36 separate shootings. That’s just one city! Not an entire country!


  43. 43 James Seller
    May 27, 2008 at 18:22

    25 years old, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

    When I was growing up only 10 years ago, every day during the summer we we’re kicked out during the day and told to go run around, come back for meals and be back by dark.

    The fact that this isn’t the case any more is a sad sad affair, The statistics off something horrible happening I don’t believe have grown so significantly in that time that childern must be kept in a bubble.
    I agree that the more your protect them the more that they will be open to harm later in life.

  44. 44 Julie
    May 27, 2008 at 18:23

    I agree that we have become paranoid as a result of the media, but things have really changed since I was a child in respect to neighborhood involvement.

    Back when I was a kid if my neighbor saw me throw a rock at a car, they knew me and would tell my parents. Today… that wouldn’t happen. They either will not know me or the would be too busy or unconcerned to pursue action.

  45. May 27, 2008 at 18:23

    It is a pure fallacy to say that London is more dangerous than New York. Fifty shots fired into a vehicle there in a case that hit the news recently. Violence is massive. Just in my city of Jacksonville there were 150 killings/shootings last year. The odds of being involved in violence in London is still very remote. At least in the UK is makes the national papers when there is a killing? I would never send a child alone on the subway however as there is a considerable danger there. There are too many ‘nutters’ around and we saw several that you would watch and distance yourself from immediately.

  46. May 27, 2008 at 18:24

    the media’s obsession with child abuse (which drives up sales and viewing figures) fuels paranoid parenting, but that goes onto do other things in western society : it prevents children socialising and they spend loads of time on the internet in their bedrooms, it probably drives obesity as well, makes them fearful and dependent, it negatively impacts their mental health. It also drives a wedge between adults and children. When I was a kid I wandered freely in cities and the countryside and never encountered anything I couldn’t handle. A child facing danger can always run!

  47. 47 paul primarolo
    May 27, 2008 at 18:24

    In the past it was religion that kept people in fear of damnation. Today it is the media and governments that try to keep people in a low state of fear as it is so much easier to control them. Afraid people do not go out, do not mix and just shiver behind their tv’s. Paul

  48. 48 Marianna via email
    May 27, 2008 at 18:24

    I just tuned in so I’m not sure if I’m off topic but I wanted to comment about the mom who didn’t give her son a cell phone on his first solo trip on the new york subway. I think the cell phone would most likely just been a distraction to call friends etc, in the meantime he would have paid less attention to his surroundings.
    Marianna in Portland Oregon

  49. 49 Andrew via email
    May 27, 2008 at 18:25

    Three cheers to Lenore. It is refreshing to hear a parent with such a sensible attitude. You would think, as she noted, that the streets are full of unsavoury characters just waiting to devour children. It is true that in many countries children are preyed upon, but in the west this is not such a problem as the media makes out. For those nations consider the situation of breakdown in law and order or civil war or extreme poverty.

    Hear is a point…. Bear in mind, crime stats will bear this out, most child abuse and child killing occurs within the family by other family members.

    Bad things can happen and do happen in the world. But live your life don’t spend all your time thinking what could happen and then instil a sense of fear and panic in your children. Take sensible precautions, but other than that live your life.



  50. 50 Andy via email
    May 27, 2008 at 18:26

    Your guests are spot on right.

    In Tokyo, it’s completely normal for unaccompanied minors to ride on the trains. When I lived there, I saw kids riding it all the time with their own cell phones tied on strings around their necks.

    It would probably be best if kids could use transportation by themselves. When my mother was a kid, she got separated from my grandparents and got lost on the NYC subway.

    I think the critics of your guest are much worse mothers.


  51. 51 DMS
    May 27, 2008 at 18:26

    I grew up in NYC in the nineteen fifties and my parents let me take the bus — special events — when I was 7 or 8.

    So what Ms. Skenazy did seems to me as completely reasonable.

    Yes, I know that times have supposedly changed — except it’s my view that we are simply more _aware_ now of the horrible things which can be done to children. Make no mistake, there were monsters in the 1950s. Gang violence as well. Our view of the past is through a gauzy haze.

  52. 52 Allan via email
    May 27, 2008 at 18:26

    Ros had named figures of 14 have been stabbed to death based on facts and figures. In the world, there is a least a death a minute. 14 stabbed to death in almost 6 months really is a small figure. More people die from bees than sharks, yet sharks are a huge fear. It’s all perception.

    Allan, Ohio

  53. 53 Angela in Washington D.C.
    May 27, 2008 at 18:26

    I think parents are paranoid. I know when I become a parent I will be extremely cautious. I think every parent should and must raise their kid the way they choose.

    I will not allow my kids to go around by themselves until they are at least sixteen. Kids are vulnerable and I would not want them to be in a place where someone could take advantage of my kid.

    However, I don’t agree with the lady in New York. I don’t ask random people for directions in New York. I would only ask someone directions if they worked in a store.

    The difference is that if any thing happened to any of these people’s kids, they would be complaining about the dangers and trying to have laws changed.

  54. 54 Scott Millar
    May 27, 2008 at 18:27

    + If everything was as simple as Steve proposes (and apparently a lot of others believe) how exactly did these allegedly unspoiled people of the past create spoiled kids? We seem to be romanticizing a past—a past that didn’t exist. Everything was great before and now it’s terrible! Yeah, right.

    – Portland, Oregon

  55. May 27, 2008 at 18:35

    To send a child of 9 on this trip on a daily basis is to court danger. My one off Coronation incident was a mile from going on the subway daily in New York.

  56. 56 Zak
    May 27, 2008 at 18:36

    Definitely a reintroduction of corporal punishment is necessary for the under 12

    Add to that a 9mm handgun with a case of magazines and that kid is ready to roll. How about beating the Sudanese child into carrying an AK-47 until he kills at will? Never mind the notion that violence breeds violence – that’s just nonsense pervaded by pacifist monks awaiting guidance from their ruling republic.

    all that came from the backside of a bull

  57. 57 Angela in Washington D.C.
    May 27, 2008 at 18:36

    I have known several people who have lost their children, in different incidents. I think some parents have a fear of losing theit children and they will do everything possible to protect them.

    It can be hard to let kids run outside because an accident can happen so suddenly, especially in busy areas. Several of my mother’s friends have lost their children to accidents and regret that they allowed their kids to play outside in a busy area, with a lot of traffic.

  58. 58 Tom via email
    May 27, 2008 at 18:37

    I think Lenore Skenazy is right about the current atmosphere of fear, but I think it comes from our decades of descent into Conservatism, the politics of fear-mongering. The decades of Conservative talk radio, the many years of Bush-league speeches trying to scare people about a very few terrorists in the world, all designed to get people to quiver in their boots and accept the far right taking away civil and human rights!

    The Bush “war against terror” really amounts to a Bush War of terror against the people of the world.

    Bend, OR

  59. 59 Eric via email
    May 27, 2008 at 18:38

    there is absolutely no reason for a nine year old to be on the ny city subway system by himself. i am 56 years old and i did go on the subways by myself, but in retrospect i think my parents were negligent. i was approached by a weirdo and am lucky to be alive!


    melbourne beach, florida

  60. 60 Shannon via email
    May 27, 2008 at 18:38

    I worked at a college here in the United States, and in my experience, the students who were finally free from their overbearing parents were more irresponsible and made poorer choices because they didn’t know how to handle themselves without the parental controls. Overprotective parenting does a disservice to the child – 18 year olds ought to be able to function for themselves.

    Portland Or. – OPB

  61. 61 Abdelaleem via email
    May 27, 2008 at 18:39

    My name is Abdelaleem from Durham, NC USA. I just wanted to say that when I went to a third world country, I wasn’t allowed to even leave the house without someone coming with me. So my point is, I’m 25 but the family I was staying with was also very protective of me. On the other hand, the baby of the family who was 13 was allowed to several blocks on his own.


  62. 62 Linn via email
    May 27, 2008 at 18:39

    I have just begun to send my child out on his own – he is 7 years old. Last week I sent him 4 or 5 doors down to buy himself a treat at the neighborhood bakery. I never thought about what OTHER people would think . It was a challenge for myself and my son for us to both find a comfort level with his independence.
    I was molested by my own brother as a child, no body was around to protect me because it happened at home, which is supposedly a “safe” place.
    We need to trust our children and act responsibly and reasonably.

  63. 63 Mary via email
    May 27, 2008 at 18:40

    I pity the child who is never allowed out of their parents sight. How will they ever become independent adults? My 8 year old boy is desperate to go places on his own and more and more we are allowing him to in appropriate ways (walk to the library, let him stay on his own between school and baseball practice, walk to a friend’s house). I find when he is allowed to do this he behaves responsibly and with good judgement and I can see him becoming a capable young man.

    Pacific Grove, California

  64. 64 Debbie McDonald
    May 27, 2008 at 18:40

    Children need to take risks to figure out the world. They want to know what they’re capable of handling and only learn that through experience. Parents also need to know what their children are capable of handling and can create safe opportunities for children to be tested.

    Not only has the media perpetuated a climate of fear, in the United States our current Administration is guilty of using fear to lead our country down many roads that are wrong. No wonder parents see the “boogy man” around every corner.

  65. 65 CC via email
    May 27, 2008 at 18:41

    I grew up in Chicago, IL and at 11 years old my mother sent me on the train (the Chicago Transit Authority) from the el stop near our home to downtown where I then got off and found my way to the Art Institute where I took my Saturday art class. After that first trip, I had it down and was just fine taking the train to and from downtown on Saturdays.

    While a very young child, my mother drilled it into my head to not talk to strangers or get into anyone’s car. She was overly protective in some ways, yet very smart because she had good judgement on when to allow me certain levels of independance.

    It sounds like your guest who supported her son’s request to ride the train two stops to his home, did like my mother did, which was use her judgment on whether to grant this request. She, more than anyone other than the childs father, would know when to allowed this independance. I applaud her and only wish more parents were so tuned into their children.

    San Francisco, CA

  66. 66 Gloria
    May 27, 2008 at 18:41

    Lenore Skenazy is a good parent. All this chatter and accusations of her of being a neglectful parent is absurd. She is a caring parent by teaching her son to incrementally develop his own independence, physically & mentally. (My son grew up in NYC and some of his most fun memories were the ones where he was allowed to be either on his own, or with a buddy, for a few hours, by taking the subway to a Knicks game or the U. S. Open Tennis tournament.) Besides, if one looks at the photo of Lenore and her son, you will see two open-faced, bright, happy people, glowing with the mutual love of a mom & son.

    Gloria Cabot
    Bend, Oregon

  67. 67 Glenys via email
    May 27, 2008 at 18:41

    I was in Tokyo a few years ago, and was pleasantly surprised to see 5 year olds riding the subway alone. but, this is Japan, where crime is low. Here in the U.S., though we have to be more careful. it’s a fact that in this country, children are faced with danger. the media is not a microcosm. there won’t be stories or numerous children on my milk carton if these things are not really happening. even growing up in the Caribbean, my parents were always overprotective. I used to be very mad at them, only to later hear stories of neighborhood rapes from those whose parents were more liberal and allowed them to wander to other people’s homes, etc. the bottom line is: parent with caution, and make kids aware of dangers out there. we have to warn our kids of the dangers, while allowing them to enjoy life. but make no mistake, we are not in heaven yet!!


  68. 68 Abdi via email
    May 27, 2008 at 18:43

    am abdi from nairobi i dont knw bout the other society but our community “somali’ the parents neglect their children and put first thier life or career. i mean they leave behind thier children for usa or europe, the bad thing is usa and eorope knw bout this and seperate parents and children.

  69. 69 Steff via email
    May 27, 2008 at 18:43

    Everyone should read this book.

    The Culture of Fear
    by Barry Glassner.

    Keeping people scared is good for business. Whether that is media or product based.

    Look at statistics on most issue around “fear” and the stats have not changed. Most of the so called epidemics in “fear” issues, like school shootings, etc. are an anomally. not the norm. the levels of occurrences have not increased over the last few decades. but the media pushes the issues beyond all reality.



  70. 70 Paul via email
    May 27, 2008 at 18:43

    In the past it was religion that kept people in fear of damnation. Today it is the media and governments that try to keep people in a low state of fear as it is so much easier to control them. Afraid people do not go out, do not mix and just shiver behind their tv’s.

  71. 71 AJay via email
    May 27, 2008 at 18:44

    Television programs notwithstanding, New Yorkers are not an uncaring, unfeeling lot of wolves looking for prey. I’ve seen it: Ask a New Yorker how to get anywhere on the subway, and you will spark a debate between half a dozen natives as to the best route. In my days with new NYPD, I’ve seen many heartening acts of good Samaritans. I’ve seen people shot, stabbed, and mugged; nonetheless with a good measure of caution as to the areas to avoid, if my eight-year-old were comfortable and street-wise enough to do it, I’d send him. By the way, as to the cell phone issue, there’s no signal in the subway anyway . . .

    Chester Connecticut USA
    (formerly of Brooklyn)

  72. 72 Bob via email
    May 27, 2008 at 18:45

    I walk our dog, a Brittany, every day and I pass kids on a trail that goes around a golf course and a Community College on their way home from an elementary and a middle school. I say hi to them and most look at me as if I am going to attack them. All I want to do let my dog look for squirrels.
    Lynnwood, WA USA

  73. 73 Luz Maria via email
    May 27, 2008 at 18:45

    I am a parent of two girls. I think today is harder to be a parent than
    25 years ago (when I was a little girl). There are definitely more dangers, challenges and restrictions for children and their parents today than before. For instance, I put sunscreen on my girls every time they play outside during summer (my mother only put sunscreen on me when we went to the beach), I take them to school myself (my mother went to school walking by herself) and I never let my daughters stay at sleepovers at their friends´ houses (I used to go to sleepovers to my friends´ houses all the time when I was growing up).

    Some people think I am an overprotective parent, however, I don?t think so. All of the restrictions and safety measures listed above have a valid reason: if I don?t put sunscreen on my daughters during the summer, they get sunburn (also, there is history of skin cancer in my husband?s family); it is not safe ?at least in my town- for children to walk in the streets (too much traffic); and the statistics of cases of family violence, bullying and child abuse have increased in the last decades. My children know the reasons why my husband and I impose these restrictions and safety measures in our household? We never use the
    phrase: ?Because I am your mother / father.?

    I work as a field researcher on family violence and child abuse. I know these dangers have always been there, however, we have more awareness of them today than before. In addition, criminals ?especially pedophiles and sexual abusers- have benefited from some technologic innovations (e.g. Internet, web cameras, digital cameras, cell phones,
    etc.) to further their criminal purposes and to built networks between them.

    Maybe children today are more sheltered than before; but they also have more information to protect themselves. Unfortunately, this is the world we are living ?full of violence, abuse, dangers, pointless competition, consumerism, etc. – so I am not taking any chances with my children.

    Luz María
    Monterrey, México

  74. 74 Tom via email
    May 27, 2008 at 18:46

    The Conservative owned media like Rupert Murdochs media Empire emphasize fearful news, in the older days it was called “Yellow Journalism”, to keep people fearful and their minds off of things they really ought to afraid of, the politics of the Conservative right taking us all more and more into subjugation and rule by what Mussolini called the Corporative State and also called Fascism.

    The kids are alright.

    Bend, OR

  75. 75 Rik via email
    May 27, 2008 at 18:46

    Dousing a kid’s curiosity can be just as damaging in the long run as allowing them to experience physical damage.

    Schools can be so over-protective that kids may not play in the mud nor look under rocks.

    In the USA, interesting schoolwork has been replaced by waiting for the child who is not left behind.

    Portland, OR

  76. 76 Jill via email
    May 27, 2008 at 18:47

    Perception of risk for children is such an emotionally charged target it is very difficult, if not impossible, to look at it objectively. Parents, by nature will be controlled by their fear. It is very difficult for there to be an true, objective calculation of the risk of any given situation, we are forced to rely on our “instinct” and feeling. Everyone’s perception of risk for their children will be different, and there is no one truth. I personally believe that I would rather live in a world where people choose not to act out of fear. At times I have taken risks that would make my mother feel very nervous, but I’m glad I have! I know when I have children, for as long as I can control them, I will need to make my own decisions about their limits. Everyone would tell me that this outlook will change when I am parenting. We’ll see!

    Jill, Portland, Oregon, 28 years old

  77. 77 Michelle
    May 27, 2008 at 18:49

    At what age is is appropriate to let your kids run around without supervision?

    My son is 5 and has always been extremely independent. I let him run around the neighborhood with other, older kids in the neighborhood. Sometimes I am outside, sometimes I’m not. I am always accessible, and do keep an ear out for him, or any trouble.

    Is that so wrong?

    My mom didn’t let me play outside as a kid hardly at all. She was afraid for us. I spent my childhood inside, and was not healthy for it.


    Kansas City, Kansas, United States

  78. 78 steve
    May 27, 2008 at 18:50

    Is it harder for kids in the UK now than say during the Blitz during ww2? Something tells me a lot more British kids got killed by German bombs than by kidnappers waiting in cars for kids coming back from playing out side. Let’s get realistic here people. Yet now is the most dangerous time for kids? Please…

  79. 79 Dennis Jr
    May 27, 2008 at 18:52

    It is very hard to be a child now then it was in the 1980 and 1990’s when i was younger….

    for example, you could let your kids outside to play in your front-yard–with limited supervision….now you have to be RIGHT ON TOP OF THEM!

  80. 80 Tommy via email
    May 27, 2008 at 18:53

    Hello again from Austin, Texas…always good to be with you.

    My mom and dad are quite protective of all my siblings…and I myself am 38 years old. But, I see how much they try their best to balance reality and wanting my brothers and sister to be safe and protected.

    In all honesty, I love my mom and dad ever more because I see them wrestle with the balance, and I see so much love from them both because they cannot bare to think about any of us being hurt in any manner.


  81. 81 Anthony
    May 27, 2008 at 18:54

    If America is as safe as the 1970’s and 1980’s, yet today we are scared and being over protective, shouldn’t those statistics go down? Since they aren’t maybe thats telling us something about America.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  82. 82 Danna via email
    May 27, 2008 at 18:57

    This discussion today is an emotional one for me and so needed! I am a mother of a 7 year old and 4 year old. When I was 9, ( in the 1970s) a neighbor girl of ours was abducted by a stranger and killed during a March of Dimes walk-a-thon in Corvallis, Oregon. Although this experience impacted me greatly, I REFUSE to allow this random, bizarre act to paralyze my mothering in FEAR. I want my children to grow up with parents who balance real dangers against the need for children to grow up responsibly and learning real life skills. I had so much more freedom as a child than my children do, and that makes me so sad, but I am committed to doing what I can to help them stretch their wings as much as possible in this fear-driven society we now live in. Thank you to the mothers on your show who are leading the way back to a saner way of life for parents and children. Thank you for this discussion today!

  83. 83 Krysten via email
    May 27, 2008 at 18:57

    At this time, most Americans have the morbid idea that most adults out in the public are vile child abusers. The reality is, most adults are incredibly compassionate to children and usually tend to a child they see in trouble. A child alone in a public area has a much greater chance of being approached and helped by a stranger, rather than abused.
    Americans are simply terrified by the media coverage of child abusers. As media coverage becomes more attainable as time moves forward, we hear more of the horrible things that have happened than we used to when times were “safer”.

    Portland, Oregon, US

  84. 84 Leslie via email
    May 27, 2008 at 18:58

    My husband and I moved from the US to Germany about a year ago. We live in Nürnberg where kids get themselves to school everyday on public transportation, by walking or bike. Most of the time they are without parents. At first we couldn’t believe it but we now find it refreshing that the children seem independent and well adjusted and play and do things that we did as children. They are able to navigate the public transportation system and it seems just figure things out for themselves where in the US there is this fear. We grew up playing outside walking by ourselves to school and we turned out ok. I understand Nürnberg is a safe city and not all cities are as safe but I think children need to learn things on their own. You can’t help but think this additional responsibility has something to do with the good behavior you see also see in the children in this country.

    I think it’s great that she let her child take the trip on the subway and more people need to try something like that.

  85. 85 Ronald via email
    May 27, 2008 at 18:59

    Perhaps you are missing the major danger to children, and people generally worldwide, i.e. that coming from the side effects industry, the pharmaceutical
    sinister profit designers.
    The number of vaccinations, and other profit designer drug plans already enforced in certain countries and creepingly planned, are danger to our history itself, creating mental illnesses, so more innocently dangerous adults as part of their destruction.

  86. 86 Keith via email
    May 27, 2008 at 18:59

    I am indeed listening!

    It is daunting because our culture is growing increasingly materialistic and there are different predatory entities vying for children’s attention relentlessly. If you can carry a phone that allows you to access any image and any content imaginable, what will be accessible and pursuing their eyes and ears in 10 years? Average boys no longer go outside and play and use their imaginations, they sit and play violent video games that essentially teach nihilism. I am not afraid of progress or technology, but I fear that convenience and personal choice is trumping personal responsibility and wisdom at an accelerating rate. I fear these things much more than I do violence or physical predation (while obviously I must take care and watch out for such things as well.)

    Thanks for asking.

  87. May 27, 2008 at 19:00

    Most kids were sent away from London during the Blitz. Totally different. It IS more dangerous but it still is relevant. Kids here in the US go from home to school and home again by bus. They rarely play outside. Kids in UK are all outside after school and especially in the provinces. They are quite safe really.

  88. 88 Vijay
    May 27, 2008 at 19:01

    In China the single child policy has created “little gods”.Male children in North India are spoilt nobody tells them no, they cry and shout until they get what they want(at the expense of girls), and this carries over into adulthood and coarsens society.
    Childhood is easier in just about every country however moderation, rights and responsibity must be stressed.

  89. 89 Jessica-NY
    May 27, 2008 at 19:03

    Is it harder to be a kid now?

    Without a doubt. However, this does not mean you try shield your kids from every day realities. I was allowed to ride public transportation by 9-10 years old. As a consequence I learned to be resourceful adult. As a kid I once got lost in a crowded parade, because I was eating an ice cream did not notice when my family started walking they was a girl holding on to their shirt which they assumed was me. I did not panic, because I had been taught how to ride public transportation, so I took a bus and got home safely. My sister, was never allowed to ride public transportation alone. She is less savvy and easily confused with public transportation. I on the other hand, when I visited Mexico City, London, Paris and moved to NYC was easily able to learn the subway system.

    I strongly feel that my early acquired independence and has made me a more responsible and stronger woman. Thank you to all my family.

  90. May 27, 2008 at 19:07

    Hello WHYS .
    Am back on air too, from the word go ,America has dictated the worlds’ pace of life style , am surprised even here in Africa it’s the same story.One may fear to have a child due to abuses we our selves subject to them>i think it’s all because of the Media eruption and so called “global Village” where a small fact is likely to influence the whole world.

  91. 91 Cathy via email
    May 27, 2008 at 19:11

    I am a full-time working parent of two children, and admit that I am protective of their personal safety. We live in a city in the US where youth gangs exist and fights between youth are occurring on a regular basis. Guns, drugs, teenage pregnancy, and activities that draw them away from school are real problems. This is not my imagination, I have been a witness to these events and problems on a regular basis. I cannot let my children wander the streets alone without guidance. I would never have let my 9 year old go out in the city alone. They are not old enough to use good judgment to protect themselves. As they get older, I am letting them do more, but still work with them to be sure they are making good choices. My mother was always around when I was growing up, she may not have been looking over me directly, but I knew she was watching my behavior and choices and I think I learned from her guidance.

  92. 92 Erika
    May 27, 2008 at 19:11

    I agree with Keith, I worry more about teaching my kids how to be good persons, making good choices more than strangers coming to kidnap them. I think the key to keeping them out of trouble with strangers is creating a relationship where your kids trust you. I.e. you can trust them to tell you about people they meet and things they do when you are not there, so that you can guide them to making the right choices if you suspect that they are about to end up “with the wrong crowd”.

    I was a very “good” girl, but ofcourse, now that I think back, there were a couple of times I did things where I could easily have ended up in really bad trouble. And ofcourse I never told my parents about any of that. They never talked to me about sex and drugs, so I never talked to them about it. I hope to have an open enough relationship that I never have to have “THE TALK”.

  93. 93 Louisa Arndt
    May 27, 2008 at 19:11

    Three cheers for Lenore! How can our children possibly cope in the real world if they aren’t ever introduced to it?
    I keep chickens on my suburban lot, and one day a girl of 7 and a boy of 6 came in the gate, announcing that they had come to see the chickens. They lived about two blocks away and had come on their bikes. Notwithstanding that our community is safe by any reasonable standard, one rarely sees kids outside, and I was delighted that there were still parents who gave their kids some freedom.
    Behind my property there’s a community trail, and they asked if they could see it, so we went out back, and we walked up to the knoll, and then down the other side, with much conversation and many stops to study rocks and bugs and things. I asked several times when they needed to go home, and they both assured me “not until dark.”
    After our very pleasant walk, they wanted to take a few turns on the rope swing – and that’s when an obviously distraught, wild-eyed mother arrived at my gate. “We were about to call the police!” The kids had been here for perhaps an hour.
    I apologized, and I’ve talked with the mother since then – but the children have never been allowed to return. That’s sad.
    Haven’t we seen what a climate of fear does to a nation and to a people? Lenore Skenazy understands that we can’t raise our children on the basis of possible but unlikely “mights.”

  94. 94 Vijay
    May 27, 2008 at 19:12

    @ Munchkin Zak
    Think of it as aversion therapy or social conditioning.

  95. 95 James
    May 27, 2008 at 19:13

    I think that there is an important balance involved between protecting your child and teaching them how to protect themselves. Our job as parents is to do the best we can to guide our children through their development and keep them alive while gradually increasing their responsibility for themselves throughout the course of childhood. It is a dis-service to our children to put them in situations where the risk of significant physical or psychological harm is fairly high. It is also a dis-service to deny them the freedom to make mistakes and learn to cope. The best thing to do is give children the opportunity to make lots of mistakes and “blow it” when they are little and the consequences are cheap. And hopefully, those mistakes and consequences will give them better judgments as they grow older. I don’t think we can either judge the mother for letting her nine-year old ride the subway any more than we can judge the mother for not letting her child go to the bathroom with the store owner. If she got a bad vibe off the store owner, she should go with her intuition. My advice is to use your best rational judgment, and when in doubt, go with your gut. We can’t completely ignore statistics either. Men are more likely to sexually abuse children than women. Girls are more likely to be victimized than boys. That doesn’t mean that the inverse won’t be true, but you have to play the odds to a certain extent when judging a situation. Statistics say 1 in 20 men will abuse children and 1 in 4 children will be abused at some point in their life. You can’t ignore those statistics. Maybe they were just as high in the past and just went under the radar, but regardless, they are unacceptable and as parents we have to mitigate for them as best we can…

  96. 96 Kevin-Minneapolis
    May 27, 2008 at 19:15

    I agree with Jessica-NY. I and my family lived in London from 1999-2004. From the ages of 10 and 12 respectively, I allowed my two children to travel around the London West End on their own and with their friends using buses, trains and the Underground. Using some common sense, such as permitting travel mostly during daylight hours, never traveling alone, reporting their whereabouts using their mobile phones, and staying to the more familiar and public areas of the city, I found London to be very safe. My children learned the public transportation system and also learned how to be resourceful, safe and responsible on their own, lessons that continue to serve them well at 17 and 19.

    I also found trust grew in our relationships as natural consequences and personal responsibility became their teachers rather than ‘dad said so’.

  97. 97 Jennifer via email
    May 27, 2008 at 19:21

    Parents have many duties when it comes to raising our children, the most important of which is raising your child to become a self-sufficient, independant adult. So many people are so concerned with “protecting” children, the are actually doing them a disservice. These children remain children when they should be transitioning into adults.

    I agree that there are “bad apples” in every bunch, yet to deny the inherent goodness of mankind to our children is an abuse in itself. Children who have not learned to trust others, will never learn to trust themselves, and trust in themselves and their instincts could be what prevents a tradgedy in the long run.

    Independance at an age appropriatelevel is fostered at home- parents should explore their neighborhoods with their children, noting what is normal activity, familiarizing themselves with the faces and vehicles and directions to local businesses, and yes, even teaching them how to talk to strangers.

    When the front porch gave way to the attached garage, and we began corraling children in a fenced backyard instead of allowing them to play in the neighborhoods, we actually took from them the necessary skills of observation which are so necessary to becoming aware of our surroundings, which can also send up the necessary red flags when things are amiss.

    Thank you for your time.

    Jennifer, mother of two healthy, happy, well adjusted and aware girls.
    Portland, Oregon USA

  98. 98 Jennifer via email
    May 27, 2008 at 19:22

    My life as a child in the 1950s/1960s was much more free than children I see now. Their lives are so confined by their parents’ fears. For a sense of safety, they turn to the untouchable world of the internet, which confines them further. I do believe they face more serious threats,to their well-being than I faced. But I also believe humans are equipped to meet and rise above such challenges. What’s needed is parents who take the time to know their children and to parent them.

    Jennifer, Michigan USA

  99. 99 Renee via email
    May 27, 2008 at 19:22

    My name is Renee and I live in Portland, Oregon. My husband and I have two sons, ages six and eight. I listen to the program regularly, but this is the first time the topic has been so timely for me. I can relate to the callers and guests, and to the confusion as to what is considered safe in this day and age. I am in my late 30’s, having been young during the eighties, seeing the horror stories on television, such as Adam Walsh’s kidnapping and his father’s subsequent quest to prevent child abductions. I remember the first time milk cartons were used for such a purpose as well. Since becoming a parent, I have read often that the only way to ensure your child’s safety 100% is to always have them in your sight. This is the opposite of how I was raised, having the ability to wander, run, ride and play all day, with only cars to watch out for.

    This past weekend we enjoyed a long weekend in Victoria, BC. While shopping at a wonderful store in downtown Victoria, my younger son, Ian, declared that he had to use the bathroom…and of course, he said he could not hold it. There was not a public restroom nearby, we were informed, so I decided to walk him back toward our hotel, which was our next stop once my husband finished his purchase. The store was a small, local shop with handmade items from Scotland and Ireland, and the two individuals working there were apparently the owners – very,very, kind and friendly. As I confirmed with my husband that Ian and I would meet him and our older son back at the hotel in 20 minutes, the shopkeeper offered to take my six year old to the washroom on the lower level of the shop. I replied, “We can use your bathroom?” and he re-stated that HE would take Ian for me. I thanked him for his generous offer but declined, stating that we had to return to the hotel anyway and that Ian would be okay holding it for a bit longer.

    I have replayed the scenario over and over in my mind since then, wondering whether I refused a random act of kindness, or averted something horrible. I have second guessed myself, thinking perhaps I was being too “American” and insulted the kind gentleman. Of course I will never know, but I DO know that 30 years ago, my mother would not have hesitated in letting me go, nor would she have thought twice about it afterwards.

  100. 100 Lovemore
    May 27, 2008 at 19:23

    Better safe than sorry. People are doing crazier things now than before. Do all you can to protect the kids, teach them all the safety tips. When I was growing up, my mum taught never to accept gifts from strangers.

    Lovemore Nanjaya
    Lusaka, Zambia.

  101. 101 Jackie via email
    May 27, 2008 at 19:24

    Terrific program: the missing piece of the discussion is that we have to prepare our kids–not scare your kids! That is the only way to teach them how to be responsible adults!

    Oakland, CA

  102. 102 Desmond
    May 27, 2008 at 19:25

    Hi Ros,thanks for your humble invitation,i will be willing to be on air then but before then i would like to know, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL, representatives here in nigeria,i doubt if they have because the rate at which human right is abused in this country especially by the so-called security agents(police) in particular is second to none in the world, here in nigeris the slogan is simply………(THE LAWS ARE MADE BY THE SUPER RICH FOR THE POOR) in other countries police and other security agencies are friendly but here in nigeria if u are poor u are enemy to the police,infact u are always a suspect before the police,
    see u then,

  103. 103 Neil via email
    May 27, 2008 at 19:25

    I live in a not so well off area of Glasgow, UK. The biggest problem we have round here for vandalism (mainly property damage and spray paint) are from groups of 7,8, 9 year old children. They walk around at all times of night, no supervision and I assume carry out the vandalism due to boredom and not being looked after.

    These children do not appear in any danger, quite the opposite.

    I believe there are not any more dangers for children today that there was before, there is just more paranoia. Including the woman from the countryside in England that is speaking now. Traffic I agree with but child molesters sitting waiting on street corners I do not.


  104. May 27, 2008 at 21:38

    My kids were born in 1964 and 1966.In a suburb of Toronto, Canada. I had been born in Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire in 1940; my mother was very strict, I always had to take the lumps for my own misbehaiour, forgetfulness, thoughtlessness and that of my two-years younger sister. Spankings were at least evry week. But never a belt or a stick!! There was no conversation about the important things: just school; get the best marks; keep that up; take your piano lessons whether or not you have a tin ear; no you cannot quit! Any ‘dodgy’ questions about he physical body or sex came with the response “you’ll find out when you’re older”. What it did for me was to detemine that I would not raise my own children the same way.
    So, from he beginning I expected good behaviour. I tried to teach them empathy and kindness to others by giving loads of examples. I taught them about coming straight home from school by explaining the fear tha would take hold of me if they wee unexplainedly late. These kids understood me. I trusted them – and this contiued until they were adults.
    In those days, though, there were no problems about permitting them to walk alone to school; about playing outside after supper wih heir friends; or with excessive warnings about talking to strangers. The number of paedophiles that seem to be among us was not yet realized!! We had not heard or experienced terrible behaviour by teachers, severe bullying and beatings from other students. The entire world was simpler. And yes I do believe that parents today have a difficult time, far more difficult than in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. However, I still believe in “explanations” of practically everything, for one thing it helps the child to realise all the feelings that other people have, and no kid wants to deliberately make his mom sad. Talking with them will soon make you aware of any problems,, mental, emotional, learning, or anything else we know about nowadays. You gotta talk with them. Every day, every day, every day. And go with them to their soccer games, go with them to the Brownies, go to the school plays and all other such activities. Don’t sit at home and believe they think you are interested.
    Kids can suss you out, and draw the conclusions that are obvious to them. If you are suspected, however slightly, of being uninterested in your child or his life, you will lose that child overnight! This is the straight goods. Don’t risk it.

  105. 105 Jens
    May 27, 2008 at 21:42

    how hard can it be sitting in front of computer games in a fructose syrup ladden diet, throwing tandarums when they do not get their way?

    i look at these kids and they have it way easier than i did over 30 years ago. i wanna know how many of these spoild brats are having weekend jobs, have paper rounds………

    god forbid anybody challanges them to do something. these kids are as soft as bar of chocolate in the summer in the new mexico desert. and who causes it? the self-absorbed consumer dependend adults.

    i fall over laughing when i think about the fact that a soccer game is stopped when one team leads by too much. buhoooooooo, my team got trashed and at the end the coach gave us a good trashing. get me a velvet glove i need to go and strocke the head of one of these poor spoild bumbkins.

  106. 106 Thomas Murray
    May 27, 2008 at 22:07

    Yes. Absolutely. It’s much harder to be child these days. Though I’m hard pressed to figure the reason. Whether it’s tied to a doubling of the world’s population since 1960, or a confluence of subtle paranoias, there’s more that a child can get in trouble for.

    My formative years were the sixties, a much braver time than now.

    Though a decade marked by a debilitating war, man was going to the moon, the drive for equal rights was going full tilt, the highway speed was 75 miles per hour (that’s 120 kph), most cars had metal dashboards and no seatbelts. TV shows were much more violent then — a circumstance that started to change after the first Kennedy assassination — yet husbands and wives couldn’t be shown in the same bed.

    When I was in the Boy Scouts (about 1966), I routinely carried a pocket knife to school.

    Once, during yearbook class in high school (in 1969), one of the junior year photograhers — let’s call him Zukov — opened his camera bag to show me a World War II era Lugar. Zukov said it was safe because it had no firing pin. I gave him the benifit of the doubt and went on with my work (I was also a photographer, movie “critic” and sports editor).

    Well, Zukov kept showing the fire arm around, admitting that its firing pin was intact and, in fact, was a real working Lugar. When the presence of the weapon was finally made known to our teacher, Miss Kelly, she told Zukov to take the pistol home, and not bring it back to school again.

    I think this was the same year we were going to use a real shotgun as a prop for the junior class play “The Egg and I.” The idea was abandoned when it was discovered that the prop bearer had loaded the gun. He was sent home for a week.

    I’m not sure if it was a loss of innocence (1968 was a dreadful year), or the downfall of our heroes — first it was Ted Kennedy who got a woman not-his-wife killed in a car accident in Martha’s Vineyard, then the later betrayal and disgrace of the Nixon administration — but the rules were just looser till about the mid-eighties, when everyone from Mothers Against Drunk Driving to Nancy Reagan started turning the screws tighter against the social fabric.

    I don’t know about Europe, but America has become a country of self-entitled indignants who want their own grievances enforced to the hilt, the reason why we have 25 percent of the world’s prison population.

    So, yes. It is harder to be a child these days. There are far more social perils to entrap him. And it’s much too terribly harder for him to avoid the high cost of hitherto innocent mistakes.

    –Yours… Louisville, Kentucky, US.

  107. 107 Charlene Farber
    May 28, 2008 at 03:23

    How can you compare the lifestyles our children in the US and UK to those of Haiti and other 3rd world countries?!?

  108. 108 floris
    May 28, 2008 at 10:14

    I think a lot more children and teenagers die because of suicide than any other cause. So the danger to their lives comes from within, from their not being happy. More likely, it’s the everyday structures the child finds itself in that cause its demise than one-time violators, the protection against whom seems to be the main thing in protecting the child. Parents, educators and the like should take a look at themselves first, as they’re much more likely to cause a child harm than any of the dangers out there. But of course they won’t, it’s impossible to fight themselves, and as long as they can focus their attention on external dangers, they won’t have to confront themselves or confront reality, which is that they’re the main danger to the child.

  109. May 28, 2008 at 15:44

    What a ridiculous suggestion to state that NY is safer than London??

    “Blood streaming down her face, 15-year-old Dejanay Dawson ran screaming down a Harlem street, fleeing the gunshots that exploded during a Memorial Day barbecue.

    One bullet tore the skin on her forehead, opening a gash that required seven staples to close.

    “There were shots and I started running,” Dejanay told the Daily News Tuesday. “And there was blood running all down my face.”

    Dejanay was one of 10 people wounded by gunfire in Harlem on Monday night into yesterday, six of them teens who had been enjoying a barbecue and basketball tournament at Marcus Garvey Park.

    Desperately sprinting for safety, Dejanay said, she saw two boys collapse, felled by bullets sprayed across the streets surrounding the park.

    “My friends were screaming,” said Dejanay, a sophomore at Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx. “There was blood all over me. … The bullet was right up my scalp. I could’ve died.”

    All the teenage victims were expected to survive, but only Dejanay was released from the hospital Tuesday, officials said.

    The mother of Nelson Simmons, 18, said she called him Monday night when he was late coming home, and he answered his cell phone screaming that he had been shot.

    “He said, ‘Mommy, mommy, help me, I’ve been shot!'” the mom, who declined to give her name, said yesterday at St. Luke’s Hospital.

    Investigators believe the shooters may have begun by firing celebratory gunfire at 9:30 p.m. Monday.

    Forty minutes later, three teenage gunmen opened fire at the crowd, witnesses told police. Two dropped to one knee to take better aim as they unleashed their bullets, the witnesses said.

    One teen — identified by sources as 15-year-old Devanta McGill — was in custody late yesterday after cops spotted him ditching a .380 semiautomatic handgun after the shooting. He was charged as an adult with criminal possession of a weapon, a police source said.

    Cops were investigating whether one gunman was a 16-year-old boy busted three weeks ago in the shooting of another teen in a turf war. The alleged shooter, who was charged with attempted murder, had been released from jail.

    Four other people were shot and wounded in Harlem overnight in unrelated bursts of violence, police said.

    Marquis Stinson, 26, was shot three times in the chest after he accidentally bumped a man outside a supermarket on W. 131st St., his mother said at a rally decrying the rising tide of gun violence in the neighborhood.

    “I’m devastated that people can get guns that easily,” Eugenia Stinson said.”

  110. 110 sher
    May 28, 2008 at 16:30

    The world is no more dangerous now than it was 60 years ago. As has been said before, we just happen to be more of the bad things in our environs and abroad thanks to technology.
    Bad things happen sometimes even with when the necessary precautions have been taken.
    Laws are made in favour of children, their living conditions have improved yet there are problems; new ones (associated with the change in lifestyle over the years) and old ones. A case of nature balancing the levels of good and evil? For each action there is an equal an opposite reaction.
    Parents don’t have to always keep their kids on a leash.
    Am turning 20 this year and my mum still keeps tabs on me. I don’t go out much but if I have to, I must be accompanied by a ‘bodyguard’. :):)

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