NPR Report on Free-Range Kids Seems to Assume “Times Have Changed”

Let me know what you think of this hassitytkk
4-minute piece
that just aired on NPR’s Morning Edition about that newfangled idea called “Free-Range Parenting.” (No, I was not interviewed for it.) The story points out that we are hearing more and more about parents arrested for letting their kids play outside or wait a short time in the car — stories you often hear here first — and then goes on to interview a variety of guests, including the head of the Child Welfare League of America. She defends the practice of checking up on all cases of neglect, even ones that seem stunningly benign, saying that:

…while some investigations will inevitably prove a waste in the end, that doesn’t mean agencies should forgo them. “The first responsibility is to that child. So let’s not let all this Free-Range stuff get in the way just because it looks like this mother’s OK. ‘Cause there are lots of people where it’s not OK.”

Later, the piece she mentions that she walked to school as a child, but “today” neighbors no longer look out for each other, for fear of being branded busybodies (which happened to her once), or because they are are all strangers.

Ironically, most of us Free-Range parents would love a “busybody” who looks out for our kids, rather than calling the cops or CPS. The assumption that any neighborly interactions will be met with umbrage (or worse!) is just part of the vicious circle we have to break to get kids back outside.

The other assumption we have to break is the “Times have changed” deal: the belief that somehow people USED to be good and kind, but now they are mean and aloof.

Ironically, the best way to change that perception is by giving people the benefit of the doubt. In other words, by not immediately assuming that just because someone looks like a decent, loving parent, they very well might be a monster and best be thoroughly checked out by the authorities. – L.

Let's not assume that kids playing or walking outside are "neglected."

Let’s not assume that kids walking or playing outside are “neglected.”

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42 Responses to NPR Report on Free-Range Kids Seems to Assume “Times Have Changed”

  1. marie February 18, 2015 at 10:36 am #

    “…all this free range STUFF…” lol

    The NPR piece is based on the assumption that parents need to be told when their kids are old enough to do this or that. That assumption must be challenged.

    I would have loved to have followed the reporter’s mental gyrations that led her to simply not notice who else might have been a good person to interview about free range kids. The story isn’t about free range kids, though; the story is about what to do about all this free range stuff.

  2. dancing on thin ice February 18, 2015 at 10:50 am #

    I’m watching an episode of your show Free Range Kids right now.
    Irronically, the alarmist tone of the announcer undermines the FRK message.
    If possible, have the narration re-recorded. The script may be OK with a sympathetic or at least a neutral voice.

  3. Kay February 18, 2015 at 11:17 am #

    Neighbors absolutely still look out for each other! The lady who lives across the street from us has a boyfriend who creates amazing sidewalk chalk drawings. The other day I went out my front door, and my 9 year old was in this lady’s driveway with about 6 other neighborhood kids, working on one of the boyfriend’s chalk drawings. Our next door neighbor was also there with his 4 year old, so there were about 7 kids and 3 adults out there, coloring with chalk. It was exactly why I let my daughter play outside! Our neighbors on both sides look out for her, plus the lady across the street. Another guy across the street is constantly doing yard work, and there are at least 3 older ladies who are always taking walks around the neighborhood or chatting in their yards. There are also a bunch of kids always out there. Nothing is going to happen to these kids in our neighborhood because there are so many people out there all the time. It’s wrong to assume there are no longer neighborhoods like this!

  4. pentamom February 18, 2015 at 11:24 am #

    I woke up to that story this morning. I knew I’d fine it here. 🙂

  5. Ken Hagler February 18, 2015 at 11:34 am #

    Times have changed in one important way: it used to be that someone who would kidnap a child and hold the child prisoner was considered a monster, and would be hunted down and given a lengthy prison sentence or executed. Now, such people get safe government jobs working for CPS.

  6. Railmeat February 18, 2015 at 11:47 am #

    ” . . . all this free range stuff . . . ” resonated with me too Marie. I was disappointed in the report, save for one little tid-bit that made me think.

    Near the end, a woman was talking about how when she was growing up, the whole neighborhood kept its collective adult eyes on the kids. As an adult she tried to do the same, and when she saw a neighbor’s child playing ‘chicken’ with motor traffic, she alerted the child’s father, and got read the riot act for her trouble.


    In the face of our disconnect from our neighbors, I think we find the source of both the reluctance of many folks to ‘free-range’ their kids (did’ja see that!? I verbed ‘free range’! You heard it here first!) and why they call the cops instead of the child’s parents.

    If I’m gonna get chewed out by alerting a parent to their kid’s misdeeds, then I might just choose to call a 3rd party – the police or Children’s services instead.

  7. Alex February 18, 2015 at 12:04 pm #

    Unless that guest was in her 80’s, then crime rates when she was a kid were higher than they are today. Maybe we should also look at the things that changed in good ways.

  8. Reziac February 18, 2015 at 12:16 pm #

    “Ironically, most of us Free-Range parents would love a “busybody” who looks out for our kids, rather than calling the cops or CPS.”

    I wouldn’t put it that way. Last thing we need is more busybodies hovering over our kids.

    Rather, what we’d love are more Free-Range Parents who understand that kids need to be kids, and keeps the same eye out we would: Look out for ’em when they need it, and otherwise leave the kids alone to do kid things in kid ways, so they can learn to supervise themselves!

  9. Katie February 18, 2015 at 12:17 pm #

    Isn’t that because neighbors are afraid of the cops/CPS being called on them if they try to interact with someone else’s kid? I mean, it’s really all self-fulfilling, isn’t it?

  10. Alex February 18, 2015 at 12:20 pm #

    “Near the end, a woman was talking about how when she was growing up, the whole neighborhood kept its collective adult eyes on the kids. As an adult she tried to do the same, and when she saw a neighbor’s child playing ‘chicken’ with motor traffic, she alerted the child’s father, and got read the riot act for her trouble. ”

    It feels like there’s something more to the story, but I wasn’t there so what do I know.

    Then again, it’s not like the police and cps have a reputation for cool, measured reactions.

  11. Ann McCarthy February 18, 2015 at 12:20 pm #

    Glad to see the matter addressed, but shame on NPR for not calling you!

  12. Ann McCarthy February 18, 2015 at 12:29 pm #

    On the plus side, most comments to the NPR post are Pro Free Range! 🙂

  13. Douglas John Bowen February 18, 2015 at 12:30 pm #

    Lenore (and all): I heard this on NPR this morning, and like Odysseus I almost had to strap myself down to keep from going berserk.

    Lenore has hit most of the sore points that stuck in my craw even through NPR’s thin veil of objectivity (I’m not saying NPR didn’t try to seek a balance, only that the effort, if it was that, had holes).

    My only independent thought was the reference to being rebuffed as a “busybody,” while certainly an affront, is more in keeping with overall civility and not, as the Child Welfare League insisted, with safety. In such instances where folks expressed unwarranted concern about my child, I opt to say “Thank you” as politely as I can — certainly a helicopter parent can mean well — and it’s too bad rude people gave the CWL lady ammunition to clothe all kids in bubblewrap.

    Oddly, perhaps counterintuitively, I took it as a partial positivethat Lenore was not interviewed, especially when the label “Free-Range Kids” was applied liberally (if sometimes negatively). That’s a sign that the “World’s Worst Mom” has made a serious and significant impact that transcends a one-person crusade. For which I am grateful.

  14. Peter VE February 18, 2015 at 12:34 pm #

    I listened to the same broadcast, and I was also struck by the tone that things are worse now. Objectively, crime is way down in the last 25 years. Subjectively, we have far more sources of information, so we hear of some thug shooting up a free speech event in Denmark, and translate that to fear of our neighbor’s neighbor. We have Facebook friends who span the globe, but spend far less time with our neighbors. One side benefit of the massive snowfall here in the Northeast is that we’re all out shoveling at more or less at the same time, so we commiserate about the low quality of snowplowing by the city, and incidentally learn more about them.
    Since we know less about our local tribe, they are more likely to be the other in our minds. I assume my neighbors want the same as I do: that our children grow up happy and healthy and able to take care of themselves. I assume if my child misbehaves, someone will correct her if I’m not around. However, I’m not sure that all my neighbors make the same assumptions.

  15. Shawn D. February 18, 2015 at 12:36 pm #

    Interesting that the “busybody” in the incident from this piece was pointing out that the kid was playing chicken with cars. Seems to me that’s appropriate intervention.

  16. Michelle February 18, 2015 at 12:42 pm #

    My neighborhood is a mixed bag (like most probably are). On the one hand, we have the huge horde of parents who descend on the neighborhood school twice a day and clog everything up so they can ferry their precious snowflakes around, a couple of cops with bad attitudes, and whatever busybody neighbor keeps calling them. On the other hand, we have a bunch of kids who run around unsupervised and NOT causing any trouble, and a lot of adults who interact with them in a friendly way and keep an eye out. In fact, the first time my daughter was stopped by the police for being out “alone,” one of my neighbors intervened to point out all of the adults around who were watching out for her. I’m pretty shy, so I don’t know many of our neighbors, but my kids know them ALL, and they have a ton of friends from babies to the elderly!

    Oh, and BTW. I have had a run-in with a terrible neighbor when I tried to talk to her about the fact that her daughter was bullying mine. Turns out she learned that behavior from her parents. I also had a crazy old lady neighbor who would scream at my kids for just being NEAR her house (as in, visiting people across the street from her!), a neighbor with a brain tumor that caused her to lash out at us, and a neighbor who felt that our dog and kids should not be allowed to make ANY noise even in the middle of the day. Not all of the people in your neighborhood are going to be Mr. Rogers. But you can’t let a couple of bad apples turn you into a recluse.

  17. Nadine February 18, 2015 at 12:49 pm #

    “The first responsibility is to that child,” she says. “So let’s not let all this free-range stuff get in the way just because it looks like this mother’s OK. ‘Cause there are lots of people where it’s not OK.”

    So as a otherwise sane and competent mother you have to mind all the opinions of ” lots of people” to decide what is best for your kid. How does Christine James-Brown thinks how that is going to work out? Can I comment on her hovering behaviour? Should I report a helicopter parent for psychological abuse if I think that parents doesn’t comply with their childs need of privacy or independence?

  18. davery February 18, 2015 at 12:54 pm #

    “. . . So let’s not let all this Free-Range stuff get in the way just because it looks like this mother’s OK. ‘Cause there are lots of people where it’s not OK.”

    Ugh. Let’s apply this logic to other aspects of our world:

    1) Let’s not let all this 4th amendment stuff get in the way just because somebody’s house looks fine. There are lots of houses where illegal stuff is going on and we need to search every house.”

    2) Let’s not let all this need to drive stuff get in the way just because most people follow the rules of the road. Accidents happen every day so we need to ban cars.

    3) Let’s not let all this drinking responsibly stuff get in the way just because most people don’t have a problem with alcohol. Some people drink to excess so we need to ban all alcohol.

    It just boggles the mind.

  19. Nadine February 18, 2015 at 12:59 pm #

    And for someone who is advocating for the Child rights to be ratified I would think she would point out article 12. The right of a child to have a opinion and to be heard by adults. These are kids that asked for the situation to be the way it was. Last summer the girl wanted to play in the park. These kids wanted to walk home from the park.

  20. Eric S February 18, 2015 at 1:01 pm #

    How ironic and hypocritical that they would mention “…while some investigations will inevitably prove a waste in the end, that doesn’t mean agencies should forgo them. “The first responsibility is to that child.” We all know what happens with children that are taken from their parents (for whatever reason the CPS deems appropriate), and put into the system. There are many that don’t turn out well. And CPS or the government rarely does anything to fix it. All bureaucracy.

    Ya, “The first responsibility is to that child”, is a load of crap. The first responsibility is to the adults and what is best for them (ie. no lawsuits), THEN the children. If they TRULY cared and stand by “children first”, they wouldn’t be harping on families who treat their children the way children have always been treated prior to this generation. Which has always been of the “Free-Range” mentality. We just didn’t have a word for the normal, day to day parenting back in the 90’s and generations earlier. We just called it “parenting”. But it’s VERY, VERY much like what “Free-Range” is. In fact, it’s exactly what “Free-Range” is. 😉

  21. Eric S February 18, 2015 at 1:11 pm #

    The reason why many think that the world is so much worse now, than in the past, despite statistics showing the complete opposite. Is because of technology and the internet. Every little bit of news, all over the world, is spread instantly to everyone that has access to a smartphone, computer and the internet. Of course things are going to look pretty bad, despite statistics from around the world.

    People are now conditioned to fear the worse. And I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that authorities are capitalizing on this. It’s all about control. Think about it. With more people living in fear these days, who stands to gain the most from those fears? Doesn’t take a genius to figure that out. We see it every day.

    As I mentioned in the past. If we had the same technology and access to information of today, 20+ years ago, it would make this day and age seem like an all expense paid trip to Disneyland. With some spending cash thrown in.

  22. Eric S February 18, 2015 at 1:17 pm #

    @davery: Lol! Ya know. For all the reasonable people that makes complete sense. The problem is, more and more people are becoming unreasonable. The make up reasons, for being unreasonable. They make the “not so complicated” more complicated. Then they believe their own crap they are spouting out. Then find themselves back tracking when challenged. And all they have to fall back on is getting the police involved, and threatening to take your child away from you. It’s all fear and control based. Has little to do with the children.

  23. lollipoplover February 18, 2015 at 2:26 pm #

    “The first responsibility is to that child.”

    We have a responsibility to our children to allow them a proper childhood.
    Children need play like fish need water.
    It is a basic human right to play outside as a child, one we should fiercely protect. To enforce leash laws on children SHOULD be child cruelty but we have stronger animal cruelty laws in this country than we do childhood rights. It is not a crime to play outside. Given the childhood obesity epidemic and the amount of time children spend inactive and indoors, we are raising a generation of GMO children and stifling their development. It’s sick.
    Is that what they mean by “times are different now”? Fat kids stuck indoors?

    As for the busybody-labeling because you addressed a neighbor- so what?
    Could you live with yourself if you didn’t approach this parent about a dangerous behavior and something bad did happen? If nobody looks out for each other in your neighborhood, you don’t live in a very nice place. Places that call the police on children playing outside are not good places to live. There should be a zillow rating on this.

    Personally, I am 6 and 1 with addressing my neighborhood parents on issues I felt serious enough to make a call:
    a kid biking in black at night,
    the new boy biking into oncoming school traffic at full speed,
    having hot coffee thrown at a young biker by a local teenager,
    helping and giving clean clothes to a kid who got a bloody nose on the way to school (he was riding “no hands”- more like no brains),
    not shoveling a large sidewalk during winter that was on the main route to school (found out he had cancer so the boys shoveled it for him),
    a bully who was pummeling younger kids into a rocky embankment routinely).

    Most parents want to know if there’s trouble. Good neighborhoods can police their own children. Many parents work at home in my neighborhood so this assumption that no one is around is completely false. I have a mix of retired neighbors, SAHMs, working neighbors who sometimes work at home, etc. We all help each other out and look out for each other. I’ve never called the police on any of my neighbors. I’ve had small things but nothing we couldn’t resolve over beers at a block party barbeque. I consider these people my friends and don’t feel like a busybody at all, just a good neighbor.

    The problem is nobody wants to actually deal with confrontation. It’s easier to anonymously dial the police and make it someone else’s problem and stop the *worry* (CRAZY). If we educate these police callers about what their report is setting in motion and what happens to the children they report(CPS investigation, lawyers fees, money taken away from the children) maybe we can change this mindset that there are actual crimes against children and better ways to address concerns in your community. Maybe we can remind each other that those KIDS AT PLAY signs are not synonymous with DANGER signs.

  24. Warren February 18, 2015 at 2:28 pm #

    When you listen to their examples of news stories, you can hear the reporter/anchor person change the tone in their voice to exaggerate certain words like


    All in the name of promoting fear and outrage.
    Quite unethical in my opinion.

  25. Deborah February 18, 2015 at 2:33 pm #

    Sat in the car listening to it, waiting to hear you being interviewed…..strange that you were not contacted for this story. I wish my child could have the freedom that I had growing up.

  26. Gillian February 18, 2015 at 2:39 pm #

    The piece was disappointing, but the comments sure were heartening! The quote implying that all levels of intervention are justified because some people abuse and neglect children is a frightening one. That said, this is more of a cultural problem at the moment. We have to stop people calling CPS for BS claims in the first place, as much as we have to train CPS agents to recognize legitimate parenting choices and leave them up to the family.

    I’ve had cultural pressures to hover parent – when I let my kids and neighbor kids play on the swing-set in our backyard, I leave them to it. Twice now, the other parent (a different family each time) pulled up a folding chair and sat in the mulch area with the kids, so they could supervise closely. The kids are all 4 and over . . . I feel that periodic peeking out my kitchen window and being sure I can see all of the kids every ten minutes or so is sufficient supervision, but the other families disagree. And now their kids aren’t allowed to play with mine anymore – not unless “your mom sits outside with us because our mom is too busy to sit and watch.”

    So the other kids don’t play outside anymore. Mine play alone. Good thing they have each other! I shake my head, but I won’t let their judgment and disapproval limit my children’s freedom.

  27. RepubAnon February 18, 2015 at 2:46 pm #

    The overall population has increased, so there are more wackos per square mile than before. However, the real reason for the constant state of panic can probably be traced to the advent of cable news 24/7/365 coverage. Nothing drives ratings on the news like scary things – it’s the 21st Century’s version of “if it bleeds, it leads”.

  28. Montreal Dad February 18, 2015 at 6:05 pm #

    It’s natural, Lenore, to feel like you should haver around being interviewed for *every* story about Free Range Kids, but just remember, letting go, letting FRK have the space to develop in its own way without you supervising it all the time is such an important part of letting the movement grow up. I know it’s hard, I know you worry, I know it feels like FRK just won’t be safe if you’re not right there, but think of it the other way around…think of all the space for growth and development FRK won’t have if you insist on crowding it out all the time!


  29. Sarah J February 19, 2015 at 3:59 am #

    I’m young, so I don’t know if things used to be different. But today, it’s often considered a huge offense to question/criticize somebody’s parenting or their children, at least to their face, anyway. It’s why a bratty kid can run around a public place and wreck stuff without people saying anything. They don’t want to be chewed out by the parents. I’ve mentioned before that my parent’s neighborhood used to have a bad problem of kids running out into the street in front of moving cars, but it stopped because somebody started calling the police. It would’ve been nice if people could talk to the parents and the parents could do something about it, but lots of parents these days aren’t too friendly about that. Maybe it’s a regional thing, middle to upper class neighborhood. These are probably the same parents who call their child’s school and complain every time the kid makes a bad grade.

  30. sexhysteria February 19, 2015 at 5:29 am #

    The first responsibility is to protect the job security of social workers and other opportunists and profiteers in the child abuse rescue business. Why aren’t “Child Protective Services” concerned about adults who drive while sleep-deprived (just as deadly as drunk driving), or parents who allow kids to ride in vehicles unrestrained – the leading cause of child fatality? Abuse isn’t even among the top ten causes of child fatality. Now I wonder if the political power of the auto industry has anything to do with such mixed-up priorities.

  31. Madam Zorba February 19, 2015 at 9:42 am #

    I live in a nice middle class neighborhood in one of the top cities for crime, Memphis, TN. And in our neighborhood, children play freely in the front yard, ride their bikes and skateboards. Our neighbors do watch out for each other and for each other’s kids. My son grew up here in the 1980’s and crime was much worse then. Violent crime is actually down to the level it was in the 1960’s. People do need to let their kids have a little more freedom. How else are they supposed to grow up?

  32. lollipoplover February 19, 2015 at 9:49 am #

    @Sarah J-
    Maybe it’s more about how you say it. I suggest the sandwich approach: Say something nice (cute kid!), address the problem (I almost hit him with my car because he darted in front of it) add something positive (I love seeing kids playing outside, but can we teach him not to go in the street because I would hate for him to get hit by a car?)

    You are not criticizing someone’s parenting by addressing a specific public safety issue (kids almost getting hit by cars). Most parents are open to communication (good and bad) about their children and realize they are not angels all the time. It’s often how you approach the conversation- not labeling them or calling them bad parents is a start. Yes, there will be some who think their child can do no wrong (and I’ve met them). But at least you said your part, nicely hopefully, and can stop it at that.
    Calling the police about children playing should never be the solution.

  33. Carmin February 19, 2015 at 9:55 am #

    It is also just wrong about Illinois. The law isn’t 14 in Illinois. It is almost the opposite, implying you can leave a 14 or older alone for a long time. It is vague for younger ages. See here for more accurate info:

    I am disappointed by NPR’s lack of research on this and copying a table from a website without verifying it.

  34. Melinda Tripp February 19, 2015 at 10:43 am #

    Things are only worse if a parent by defensively keeping their child locked up, feels that they are doing right by their children keeping them safe, rather than raising safe, reliant, youngsters, who know how to handle themselves to remain safe. If a parent can manage, to teach a child the basics of staying safe, they can finally begin to allow their children out, dropping them off at college at 18, after keeping them safe for their entire childhood will prove negligent. A child must be taught how to be aware of the behaviors of others, use their intuition to determine the intentions of others, and know what to do, in case they encounter a situation that needs them to take action.
    A child who understands how to say no to bad behavior and or situations, and knows how to go, and tell, a safe adult about the problem, will grow into responsible, aware, and self reliant people, and isn’t that what every child would want? Melinda Reynolds Tripp
    Author of
    What Should You Do? Helping Children Protect Themselves in the Twenty-First Century

  35. Eric February 19, 2015 at 12:17 pm #

    It comes down to the mindset that your kids aren’t yours.

  36. Joe Bob February 19, 2015 at 1:52 pm #

    The comment from the Child Welfare League is entirely wrongheaded. Calling CPS even when everything looks okay actually harms child welfare on the whole. There is currently a statewide scandal in Minnesota about child welfare authorities shelving hundreds of complaints without investigation. They don’t have the resources to investigate most cases anyway, so they resolve the complaints by conducting a cursory review and dismissing them as unsubstantiated. Case closed and it makes the agency’s numbers look better. Meanwhile, several children who were subjects of these dismissed complaints were killed by their parents.

    Siccing child welfare authorities on parents who care perfectly well for their children, but defy societal norms of supervision, diverts resources from helping children who are truly suffering. When case workers have to address non-issues or marginal complaints because of a ‘better safe than sorry’ approach, abused and neglected children who are already known to the system are being ignored.

  37. JP Merzetti February 19, 2015 at 2:10 pm #

    An interesting definition of child abuse:
    Attack the child’s family…..which happens to be the stable foundation upon which that child places their trust.

    Professional child protection is what it is. In that – times truly have changed.
    They were around when I was a kid…..and nobody I knew ever had any dealings with them at all.
    There were extremely vague and rumored stories that circulated – the ones that gave us all the impression that about 2% of the entire population ever had any dealings with them.
    The rest of us, the other 98% went about our business as usual.

    This probably reflected a fairly accurate picture of where their standing was in my world.
    The line of reasoning regarding how vital and necessary they are today – proves the point that they’re in business to stay in business. Just as a politician’s main job is to get re-elected.

    Back when I was a kid, a cop’s job was to investigate crime. Keeping the peace, law and order, and all of that.
    Since child abuse has always been a crime…..this was part of the job.
    Now here’s the interesting part: when a perceived crime was reported – someone competent at proper investigation would show up.
    The cop had no vested interest in “creating” more crime. His job was to prevent it. A crime-free world was his greatest dream.
    But if crime there was…..a competent professional was on the job.

    I’m hardly surprised that free-range has begun to rock the boat. The boat is pretty leaky……and a good rock might bail out the swamp water.
    How many young people out there now – think twice, thrice about the idea of ever having kids at all?
    They’ve seen enough: that raising kids has become a war against a system.
    That any child has become a walking time-bomb of potential liability and litigation.
    That any parent with their heart in the right place knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that the “best interests” of their child is something that no other living human will have so central to their intentions……but they can’t prove it.

    I do believe that free range does hold those best interests at heart.
    Because it is at the heart of freedom.
    Rather than raised and trained livestock.
    Or crowd control.
    Or supression of liberties, vested ideologies, and quackspeak.

    Perhaps what impresses me the most is the common sense central to its function.
    At one time this was hardly debated.
    Even during those virulent and volatile times when rock&roll first showed up and parents of teens became convinced that the youth of the nation were being seduced by the devil’s music.
    We can all look in the rear view mirror and consider how that one went down.
    Meanwhile the younger siblings (I was one) had a whole lot of fun growing up in interesting times.
    Rather free, as I recall.

    Kids were kids, and at times,rather adverse to the world of adult sensibilities.
    Yet adults didn’t go into terminal meltdown over it.
    They learned to create and adjust. (As did most kids, sooner or later.)
    And we all learned nicely how to consider the ways of the world.
    And get on with the business of life.

    Child survival doesn’t need micro-managing.
    “Managers” should be applied when needed.
    Smart ones know the difference.
    We’re all answerable to some boss, somewhere.
    While we’re busy on the job, at work, at play, at home, at school.

    It never was broke.
    It never needed fixing.

  38. Andre L. February 19, 2015 at 5:39 pm #

    While, as I wrote before, I agree with 90% of the propositions and arguments of this blog, there are two recurring reasoning lines that I disagree with.

    First, there are some instances where greater supervision or care is necessary, for present dangers are better understood, objectively, by science. For instance: concussions and contact sports. There are other real dangers as well, such as lack of seat belts on cars. I don’t like the way this Free Range community sometimes descend into a form of group thinking where every past parental attitude and child rearing principles is glorified and every change that somehow restricts freedom deemed bad one, especially when the survival rates argument comes into play (since humankind survived from the Stone Age, one could dismiss any evolution ever since as “not essential for species survival”, in an exaggerated version).

    Second, there are some structural changes that would have an impact on past attitudes. For instance, I (male and heterosexual, for what it is worth) consider an extremely positive development the fact that women working full-time on any legitimate career is no longer seen as an exception or frowned upon, at least on mainstream society. It took a painstakingly long time to achieve this basic situation (problems still remain with equal pay and harassment, but let’s leave at that). One of effect of million of dual-income households is that there are no longer millions of discriminated women-mothers confined to their homes with the sole job of housekeeping and child rearing. As a result, there are far less “adult eyes” on residential neighborhoods, at least during daytime. Maybe in the 1960s it was a fair expectation that a middle-class residential subdivision would have a lot of stay-at-home women on any street available to watch kids of the community anytime and assist on emergencies. Now, I think that – fortunately – the number of stay-at-home parents has vastly decreased.

  39. Donald February 19, 2015 at 8:24 pm #

    …she mentions that she walked to school as a child, but “today” neighbors no longer look out for each other….

    She’s right. We need to change that. However by encouraging to ‘Be suspicious of everyone’ is the absolute best way to destroy the community trust.

  40. Warren February 19, 2015 at 10:22 pm #

    I get a kick out of all those people saying that in the past there was plenty of people watching out for the kids in the neighborhood.
    Funny I do not remember hoards of parents standing in doors, windows and porches watching us. You never say adults, unless you went looking for them.

    This whole there were more eyes back then is nothing more than another excuse and cop out.

  41. Karen C. Watson February 20, 2015 at 2:21 pm #

    As a loyal supporter of NPR I was definitely disappointed in the tone of the Free-Range Kids piece. I contacted them and requested the Lenore be interviewed on one of their programs. I hope other listeners will do the same.

  42. Chuck99 February 21, 2015 at 6:12 pm #

    This actually relates to one of my favorite rants: humanity has not kept pace with technology. I’m 50 years old, and when I was young, moving was a hassle. When I was a kid, my playmates at my grandmother’s house were the children of my mother’s playmates, visiting their grandparents.

    How many of us really know our neighbors these days? It’s not easier to move across country than it was to move across state 40 years ago. I honestly believe that’s the cause of a lot of trouble in our society, including the disconnect between and distrust of neighbors.