Things socially acceptable in other countries, but not in the United States of America- In the UK children under the age of 11 know how to navigate public transport around our city. It’s normal for kids as young as 8 or 9 to take the public bus, or ride bikes to school without parents.I have read comments from the States where people are concerned about letting their preteen use the toilet without them. Are children gaining valuable independence and life skills in the UK, or is the cautious approach in the US warranted? Let’s talk about it…

Lauren Berrizbeitia: “This is a relatively new US phenomenon. I grew up in the 50’s and roamed all over the woods, by the river, rode my bike miles to the store or the Dairy Delight for ice cream, etc. The rule was we had to be home by dinner unless otherwise arranged.”

Katrina Johnston: “Even for kids in the 80’s everything was great too. Now it’s like a Bizaro world. I’m less worried about stranger danger and more worried about CPS because my pre-teen walked unsupervised.”

Anup Dhariwal: “The irony is that in the past once you were out, the parents had no idea where you were. These days, even though almost everyone has a mobile phone with them at all times, people are so much more fearful and concerned about their children.”

Chris Wood: “As a child of the 50’s/60’s we were allowed to go wherever we wanted to go within common sense. We biked where we saw fit and where we wanted to go. Why could we do this? Because our (my) parents taught us realistic social skills, realistic danger management and trusted us to not screw it up. Some parents might object to this but it worked for us. Worked for my kids also. I suspect it will work for my grandchildren also. (Their kids).”

Larry Willis: “Pretty similar for me in the 60s. Sorry kids today missed out.”

John Fenn: “That fear is developed and managed purposefully to sell newspapers, insurance, a quasi-military police force, right wing politicians, the legal profession and the gun guys. It is a divide and conquer technique and it has gone mad in a country where personal freedoms outweigh public responsibility.”

Katrina Johnston: “This is so spot on, hysteria and fear sells. Many people do not read past the headlines and envision a terrible scenario based on little facts. Most kids are abducted by someone close to them, and most children that are murdered die by a close friend or family member. A child abduction by a stranger is rare, kids are more safe in the hands of a stranger then family. You won’t convince people who are consumed by the 24 hour news cycle that the world is more safe now.”

Terry Humphries: “Good to hear some common sense. As a Brit, I am always wondering how people live in America, and who is benefiting from all this scare-mongering.”

Andrew Chapman: “It is the fear of actually taking Blame for anything…… People in America are quick to sue someone, which makes them paranoid.”

Vladislav Andreev: “Oh yeah, that’s a nationwide conspiracy. Every month they convene in the Rothschild Center and discuss how else they can instill fear in the Americans, if they fail, they lose their quarterly bonus.”

Lauri Lokk: “Yea, sure it’s only a right wing, gun nut thing. How could any reasonable person that lives half a day’s drive from the nearest police station want to own a gun and how dare anyone have different views!?”

Jimmy Fondren: “No. It is not the rightwing politicians who instill fear, but the leftwing judges who allow perverts and criminals to roam our streets. At any given time, you can find perverts living in any neighborhood near schools. Do you allow your child to walk home from school while you are at work, risking them being abducted on the 1–1/2 mile walk?”

Alexander Lovatt: “Not right wing politicians but left wing. It is the left that is obsessed with regulating every aspect of human behavior.”

Cooper Wardell: “I’m American and I was very lucky to have a childhood where we were allowed to be kids. I lived in a relatively small town. We had a decent amount of property and building forts out in the woods out of branches and stuff was regular summer activity. We shot BB guns and played sports and went from one person’s house to another if it was within walking distance. I’m in my early 30’s now and my wife and I still don’t have kids. I’m sure we will some day, but my BIGGEST hesitation is this crazy culture we live in now where kids can’t do anything by themselves. In the summertime my parents took me to the beach, or let me go outside, and I basically wouldn’t come in until it was dark. What am I supposed to do with my kid? Make him/her stay inside all day? What’s the point of working hard, making some money, and living in a nice area, if you’re kids still can’t run around and play? If I did it my way and my kid got hurt or kidnapped, I would be crushed I’m sure. But how would I live with myself if I doomed my kid to a life of boredom, anxiety, obesity? Never learning to settle disputes between friends without a parent hovering around? Never learning to be self sufficient? Not having any fun in the one part of life where everything should be fun? I wouldn’t be able to.I imagine that when I have a kid, I’m going to be an unpopular parent. I am going to do my best to give my child freedom, responsibility, and fun. If my kid wants to have a lemonade stand or walk to school or whatever, and a parent gets in my face for not “taking care” of him/her, I am going to belligerently make my views about this known. You don’t get productive, enthusiastic, self-sufficient, creative, resilient young adults by hovering over them as children every second until they turn 18.”

Sunil Shanker: “Hi, I’m from India, And am really sad to see these comments. In growing up as a teen, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry were absolute heroes to me. America was a dreamland where anything was possible. Even the villains of movies were kind compared to now! Yes there is a culture change but hope this culture of anxiety and phobias dies with this generation. In India, we do have genuine concerns of child abuse, rape,all of which is rotten occurrence, it was hushed up earlier due to societal norms, but is out in the open now because of social media. As cultures mesh, learning experiences, honesty, transperancy and thereby trust will help the global village come together in facing challenges.”

Chris Jones: “I think it’s part of a big conspiracy to dumb future generations down and make the population too stupid to question the actions of their leaders(masters).”

Beth Goldowitz: “This has changed a great deal over the past 40 years. When I was growing up, I was riding the subway by myself at age 12, in New York City. My mom would make sure I knew where I was going, and that I had a chance to make a phone call in an emergency, then send me out the door to art classes, music lessons, and special trips to museums with my friends. The next few generations of parents became progressively more protective, because they are constantly bombarded with scary messages from the media.”

Hannah Watson: “I was able to ride my bike around my neighborhood when I was seven or eight. I remember some grumpy old lady yelling at me for making skid marks on the road but no one asked where my parents were.Our playgrounds here are so boring. There’s almost no way to get hurt on them, which makes them no fun at all. However, if we happen to find an older playground that was built 40 or 50 years ago, I still find it fun to join my little sister.(I’m 16 and from the US).”

Craig Hoyle: “I heard something on the news the other week about a little black girl in the USA selling lemonade or something from the end of her garden to save money for a trip to disney, she was reported to the authorities for selling food or drink without a permit.
Seriously, how bad the USA has got that someone can’t sell lemonade to help get a holiday to Disney! Social media went crazy and a go fund me page was set up by someone who raised more than enough to send this girl to Disney. In the UK if a child is out selling something so they can save up to buy whatever it’s praised. I bought three rocks for £1 each off a couple of boys the other week so they could get a stunt scooter to ride at the skatepark.”

Lisa Hall: “The things you love about the UK – you’re describing the US of my childhood. The way we live today would have been considered “mentally disturbed” just half a century ago. I ran around on my own, got into adventures, talked to strangers and *gasp* even drank from the hose to no ill effect. Had someone pulled my mother aside because I was walking to school it’s likely I would have been warned against whoever said something – avoid them, they’re clearly a hysteric and troublemaker.
Oddly enough, though, my mother sees things differently. She told me just the other day that she’s grateful she isn’t raising kids today, with all the danger lurking everywhere! I had to gently explain that nothing has changed except perception. Kids today are just as safe as they ever were, but now hysteria is the default. I’m not sure she believed me, and it broke my heart.”

Simon Pearce: “I was in Switzerland the other day, just outside Zürich. Looking out of the window, I saw two kids holding hands, heading to school. No, wait, they weren’t heading to school, they were heading to kindergarten. One of them might have been subsequently heading to school after dropping her brother, but she couldn’t have been much older. In the USA they would have been swooped upon and the parents charged, I suspect. Here in Australia, in Sydney I walked my kids to primary school up until they were about ten, I think. In high school they got given bus passes and told to get on with it. It’s gone fine so far. One of my kids spent five months in Italy on exchange, (her idea), she was 15, turning 16. Whilst there, she went on trips, including to see friends in Switzerland. Kids are capable and can be trusted. You should give them freedom and teach responsibility, they’ll be fine. Whatever happened to the American ideals of freedom? The world is not more dangerous than it was, probably safer, perhaps excepting the excessive car traffic we have subjected ourselves to.”

Antoinette Bell: “Here in the UK we all know that there are no more child abductions than when we were children in the 70s, and that it is media sensationalism that is the problem. If anything, children today are more aware of pedophile behavior.”

Vytautas Juršėnas: “What is even stranger, that now there are actually more remote safety measures, such as smartphones, where parents technically can call a child anytime, as well as (together with police or without them) track them if such a need arises. The same is with criminals: due to technological development, it’s harder to hide after committing a crime.”

Gee Fishel: “This is something I struggle with as a parent. When I was growing up in the 70s I was riding my bike around town with my friends when I was 6 years old. I was climbing trees in the woods by my house, by myself, earlier than that. We would have looked and felt ridiculous wearing a helmet on our bicycle. Today I feel bad for my 6 year old who has to spend 15 minutes putting on his helmet and elbow and knee pads before I go out with him to ride his bike in a restricted area.The other side of that coin is that I spent a lot of time in the hospital. I had 5 concussions that I can remember, and stitches easily a dozen times. When I was 7 I was riding my bike on some railroad tracks and I fell down knocking myself unconscious on the railroad tracks. One of the neighbors found me and got me off the tracks about 30 seconds before I would have been run over by a train. That same year I was swinging on some vines on a tree while my parents were canoeing. The vines broke and I fell in the canoe, smashing my face on one of the crossbars and my nose was almost ripped off my face. When I was a teenager I had 2 friends on 2 separate occasions die from head injuries from falling while urban surfing. When I was in third grade I was walking to/from my house to school. Some guy befriended me and I would go to his house after school, he would tell me stories and give me a massage, which I thought was cool at the time. Then suddenly I never saw him again. Years later I found out he was arrested for raping a third grader. Could have easily been me.I was walking to the pool with my son a few months ago, and some guy drove his car right into a dumpster a few feet from us, because he was looking at his phone instead of the road. I have nightmares of my son being run down by somebody texting and driving.I feel bad not letting my son take some of the risks that I did. I also know I will feel much worse if something really bad happens to him that I could have prevented. It’s hard to trust statistics when it’s your child at stake.”