This Daily Mail piece by David Derbyshire is so profound it has been cited over and over: How Children Lost the Right to Roam in Four Generations: an interview with four generations of the same family about how far they were allowed to wander as kids. It comes from Britain but will sound familiar to anyone in the Western world — alas!
When George Thomas was eight he walked everywhere.
It was 1926 and his parents were unable to afford the fare for a tram, let alone the cost of a bike and he regularly walked six miles to his favourite fishing haunt without adult supervision.
Fast forward to 2007 and Mr Thomas’s eight-year-old great-grandson Edward enjoys none of that freedom.
He is driven the few minutes to school, is taken by car to a safe place to ride his bike and can roam no more than 300 yards from home.
Imagine if this had happened to any other group: If we kept restricting the rights of women, or minorities — it would be seen as a terrifying, intolerable assault on their freedom.
But because it is done in the name of “safety,” and because we get so used to the restrictions that they begin to seem like common sense — and maybe not quite strict enough — the right of children to any kind of unsupervised, unstructured, independent life keeps washing away. How much freedom has this family lost?
The oldest member, George, was allowed to roam for six miles from home unaccompanied when he was eight…. [He] has never lost some of the habits picked up as a child and, aged 88, is still a keen walker.
His son-in-law, Jack Hattersley, 63, was also given freedom to roam.
He was aged eight in 1950, and was allowed to walk for about one mile on his own to the local woods.
As for mom Vicki Grant, 36, she biked around the neighborhood. And her son doesn’t go much beyond the yard on his own. His mom drives him to school.
We can bring back a wider, wilder childhood if we want to. Find other families who want their kids to play outside and let them. Don’t schedule every hour of the day. Push the schools to give less homework. And for God’s sake, don’t arrest parents who let their kids roam.
If not, I’m trying to imagine the next update of this article. All I can picture is prison (with WiFi). – L