Stranger Danger

It is not every day that I agree with Anne Atkins but I agreed with her absolutely on the Today programme this morning in discussion with Esther Ransom. It was following The Children’s Society findings that although many of today’s adults were allowed out for unsupervised play as children they are not giving their own children the same freedoms.

Anne’s argument was that this approach is illogical because children are at no higher risk of stranger danger than we were ourselves, the risk that our children won’t learn independence and grow up is far higher than anything untoward; that parks are in fact safe places. Esther Ransom’s argument in return was that letting children out wasn’t worth it because you would feel very bad if it turned out to be your child (one of the approximately 12 a year) that was killed by stranger.

This, I find an entirely parent rather than ‘child centric’ view from Esther Ransom, it is incredibly selfish, not to mention illogical.

Firstly, it should not be how the parent feels about something that is important; it is about what is best for the child. So a parent worries; well, big deal, that’s part of being a parent and it is not right to try and deal your own fear by attempting to remove any risk to your children. There is risk in life and there is a balance.

And that is why it is illogical to be so fearful of stranger danger when in fact more children are killed by their carers, by being in a car or by accidents at home than by strangers. And yet, we ignore all that and harm their development by keeping them tied to our apron strings until they are 14. There is no balance in that.

It seems to me that we have got too used to being able to control so much that we are unable to cope with the ambiguity and lack of control in providing our children with the freedom they need to develop,

When I was 9 or 10 I had a friend that I used to go out to play with and we would maybe come back for lunch or maybe at the end of the day. I was probably always pretty independent but it gave me a belief in my ability to negotiate my way through life that has been the most valuable thing in my life. From an early age I have travelled all over the UK and all over the world, taking sensible precautions but never in fear. I really do feel for the teenagers, that I know, whom are not even allowed to go on an hours journey by themselves because of their parents’ rather than their own fears.


James said...
5 Jun 2007, 19:05:00

My sister lets my niece go off and play, despite her concerns. I doubt she heard that programme, but I'm sure if she had she could have done without Esther Rantzen laying on such a guilt trip.

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