Fighting the belief that our children are in constant danger from creeps, kidnapping, germs, grades, flashers, frustration, failure, baby snatchers, bugs, bullies, men, sleepovers and/or the perils of a non-organic grape.
Hi Folks! This lovely photo and note come to us from Paul Beard, who describes himself as growing up a Free-Range Kid “before we knew what it was.” He now lives with his wife and two high school kids in Seattle, where he “involuntarily retired from Internet technology to become COO/GM of domestic affairs, now considering options post-graduation (theirs, not mine).” He tweets here, blogs here and here he is again, on Linked In! (Intriguing resume.) – L.
There are two things I think Free-Ranging brings us:
One, the sense of community — the idea that there is a big world outside our door and everyone has a role to play, a purpose. And it’s not to harm children. The big fear that a child will be hurt (or worse) if they’re out of sight of their parents is really the fear that something might happen and no one will be there to help. But if you watch children at play, they care about each other. If someone gets hurt, the game stops and everyone comes to help. I see it every day. But they can’t exercise that kind of compassion if they’re locked up in the house. We’re robbing them of the chance to express the kindness they have in them. If you’re afraid your child will be left hurt on the street, ask yourself: Would you do that if it were someone else’s child? Did you leave your friends behind if they were hurt?
Two, we have to remember that WE own the streets and public places, not the creeps and bad guys, and we need to take those places back. We need more kids (and adults) on the sidewalks and streets of every city and town. We outnumber them. What are we afraid of? – Paul Beard
Lenore here: My own neighborhood, Jackson Heights, Queens, has turned one through-street into a blocked-off “play street” and it is wonderful — a simple, cheap and apparently historic way to give kids a safe place to play. Please let me know if you get one going in your neighborhood.