free-range-children

Where are the Children?

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I know I’ve mentioned this before–but where are the children?

After several days of rain, the weekend weather here was gorgeous. As I went around the neighborhood on various errands, I didn’t see a single kid playing outside–not one. I know the absence of children is a daily feature of the local scene, these days, but I’ll never get used to it. It’s too much like a scene from a creepy science fiction movie.

Actually, I haven’t yet run into anyone who says this is a good thing–keeping kids indoors, never letting them out except to go to school or play a “sport” whose whole structure has been laid out by adults, who supervise every minute of it.

Is this childhood, or a variety of prison camp?

Why do teens seem to be drawn to dystopian visions like Divergent or The Hunger Games? “Overprotective parents,” theorizes one of my friends, a professor of psychology: their overprotectiveness makes children think the world is more dangerous than it really is.

When my wife was just a little girl, her parents, every summer, used to put her on the train–just Patty and her suitcase–to vacation with a nice woman who had a house at the shore. Can you imagine any parents doing that today? What do you suppose the odds would be of the child’s actually getting there?

I think we must agree that certain things have changed: but rather than actually doing anything to reduce the threats to children’s safety, we keep the kiddies under lock and key and don’t allow them to do things on their own.

My editor wonders if maybe today’s helicopter parents were yesterday’s latch-key kids, now overcompensating for the lack of contact they had with their own parents twenty years ago. She may have something there.

Whatever the case, it does seem to me that children who grow up under constant supervision, spoon-fed, with every hour of the day mapped out for them by adults, never really grow up at all, but remain in a state of perpetual dependence.

Which is just where Big Government wants them.

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