You don't see kids careening along on bicycles. You see kids carefully riding behind the parents, all in a row. You don't see kids wrapped up in elaborate all-day pretend games. You see organized fun.
Kids don't develop their imaginations and sense of self under constant supervision, they develop it when they're out and about, when they're free. Adult-supervised activities stifle kids, for the activities are invariably what adults think kids would enjoy, and very rarely what kids themselves would be doing if adults weren't around.
People keep kids inside in front of the television and computer to keep them safe from 'the world out there, and all the weirdos in it'. If a child gets grabbed, suddenly every child is kept under lock and key to keep them 'safe'. Schools are fenced in, walled in, keeping kids 'safe' from life. Kids are taught to be afraid, very afraid.
People tell me, 'It has to be this way, why, it is a dangerous world out there!' I say, what is happening is more dangerous. People are doing a wrong thing to kids (sedentary lifestyle, junk food, too much supervision) in order to protect them from the shadows, from an enemy looming mainly in the parent's paranoid imagination.
People say, no, it is more dangerous now than it ever was in the old days. I don't believe that for a minute. I can recall so many hairy experiences when I was a kid.
At ten or so, my friend and I were hanging around our favourite woods behind Park Royal mall (yes there were actually woods there back then). A nasty looking guy came along, and we were chased, really chased hard, by him, he was quite intent on catching us. We got out just fine (young legs being what they are), told my mum, who said, well, that was something, be careful in there. It never occurred to her, and she was a very smart woman, to tell us to stay out of the woods.
If that happened today, the woods would be closed permanently to kids, maybe bulldozed just in case, there'd be a city-wide manhunt, the kids would receive 'counselling', the schools would issue warnings, the city would, essentially, shut down, and everybody would be scared out of their minds.
So the question is, are we, as a society, harming our children in our goal of keeping them safe? Is it worth condemning Little Johnny to a childhood spent in the security of his home to avert the one in a million chance that something could happen to him unsupvervised outside? Why are we so afraid, and why are we so willing to harm our own children in an over-reaction to our fears?