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To think children are no longer allowed to live their own lives?

(262 Posts)
gussy123 Sun 25-Oct-20 19:42:56

The ‘what was wrong with the 70s’ thread made me think of this:

I grew up on a council estate in the early 2000s, and I see a lot of what posters were saying about their 70s childhoods in mine. It was basically get out the house, don’t come back until tea— not that anyone would’ve dreamt of doing anything different. On Saturday morning we had to walk into town to do a big shop with our mums, on Sunday some of our grandmas took us to church. Sometimes we were sent out to town to buy things that were needed then and there. Meals, holidays (if we got one), clothes, etc. were dictated by parents and we just got on with it.

I have a significantly younger sister, and the change in lifestyle is astounding. Everything is based around what she’s doing (clubs and things), her friends are only allowed to play in each other’s houses and gardens, just about everything she and her friends do closely supervised— not one of her or her friends is allowed to walk to school (~10 minute walk) alone.

I think children seem to be treated like a separate species! Something that needs to be coddled and made happy at every moment. I know that from about 6/7 onwards I could not wait to get out and do whatever I liked with my friends. Also, crime has consistently gone down if anything, so why are we more and more scared of letting children out alone? It makes so little sense.

I’m not suggesting we start locking kids out from 8 til 8 every weekend, or to make their lives miserable, but I feel as if they don’t get a minute to be completely free and just live!

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TheMandalorian Sun 25-Oct-20 19:52:54

Because of April Jones, because of Jamie Bulger, because of Miller Dowler, etc, etc.
Because we as parents look back on our unfettered childhoods and are horrified at some of the close calls we had and at how very young we were.
Kids in the 70s generally had various housewives at home watching from the kitchen window or on hand. Kids in the 2000s generally much less supervision. These days, it would be rare to even know who your neighbours are to run to for help.

gussy123 Sun 25-Oct-20 19:57:26


I can completely see how those contribute so much— but it’s happening less and less, so isn’t it unusual there is so much more concern now?

Also, now there’s phones, so that’s the ideal way to contact parents in any situation. That combined with tracking that some people put on their kids phones is 100x safer, surely?

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BangBux Sun 25-Oct-20 19:57:33

There are many reasons for this:
- People are more aware of crime. You've said yourself that crime levels have fallen - did you consider it may have fallen BECAUSE of people treating their children with more caution.
- Education and the job market is outrageously competitive now. Teens who just go to school and try hard won't be successful in life unless they've played sports and learnt instruments and studied languages and volunteered.
- Because of the rise of technology, children have access to a much wider range of people than they did before. So, where it used to be that a ten year old would go out with "friends" until dinner time, the parents could reasonably assume those friends were local and a similar age - how else would the child have met them? Now, the children themselves may not even know the true identity of who they're meeting and that person may have travelled across the country.
This kind of thread comes up all the time!

carbhunter Sun 25-Oct-20 19:59:11

Everything TheMandalorian said.
Added to that - the number of people I know from those wonderful free range days childhood days who were sexually abused by neighbours etc is astounding. Not to mention flashers, older kids taking advantage in the park/youth club. I would say more than 50% of the people I know of that age have a story or three to tell about shit that happened to them (which they now brush off and shrug about even when they recognise how fucked up it was).
Plenty of benefits to kids having more independence but not sure the risks are worth it.

AldiAisleofCrap Sun 25-Oct-20 19:59:29

@TheMandalorian there aren’t more abductions though just more publicity.

VerticalHorizon Sun 25-Oct-20 19:59:45

The roads are more dangerous.
Fights now involve weapons.
I'm a bit reluctant to suggest predators are more prevalent (as I'm not sure they are), but there does seem to be an alarming number of idiots around these days.

Adults have probably exacerbated the problem by equipping kids with hundreds of pounds worth of phones to 'stay safe' with - whilst somewhat paradoxically making them more prone to targeted theft.

People are (arguably) less community driven than in the past, because the are now more mobile and change community more often. Less people know each other, lookout for each other etc.

ThornAmongstRoses Sun 25-Oct-20 20:01:13

So what age do you think we should be letting our children out unsupervised?

Genuinely curious, not goody.

ANoTail Sun 25-Oct-20 20:01:45

I was born in 1975 so grew up primarily in the 80s. I was quite a "homebird", I suppose. I played out quite a bit with neighbours when I was little but by the time I was in secondary my friends lived quite a way away and I didn't bother as much. I've always enjoyed my own company.
However, I didn't have my mother constantly hovering over my shoulder. She was a good mother but she didn't spend hours entertaining me. When my sister's and I were little, we went in a playpen. When we were older, we'd play in the garden or our room or out with other kids. I'd go hours without seeing my parents and I honestly think our relationship is better for it.

LG101 Sun 25-Oct-20 20:03:21

Everything above but just to add most people are two working families now days.

We feel guilty about having to work so much so some of it is spoiling our children to make ourselves feel better. If I have to work to afford the mortgage why shouldn’t I take my kid out for dinner or to soft play and make memories with them.

carbhunter Sun 25-Oct-20 20:03:41

I can completely see how those contribute so much— but it’s happening less and less, so isn’t it unusual there is so much more concern now?

It's happening less and less because there is less opportunity to access unsupervised kids I'd say. Look at the stats on people accessing images of CSA. Plenty of fucking weirdos still out there but they've just found other ways to get their kicks angry

RedHelenB Sun 25-Oct-20 20:04:36

Yanbu. Kids need their own space to make mistakes in. Luckily my kids have been able to go our and about by themselves and had enough friends who were allowed to.

Yennefer19 Sun 25-Oct-20 20:05:30

Just because children used to do things like that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right thing to continue. For me I will be closely supervising my children because I know what I used to get up to with no supervision. My parents did not know where I was, who I was with, sometimes I wasn’t even in the same town. If something would of happened to me, my parents wouldn’t of known where to start looking.

Being supervised doesn’t mean that they aren’t living, they’re still playing and socialising with friends but in a much safer manner.

InTheFamilyTree Sun 25-Oct-20 20:05:52

I've often thought about this OP. Modern parenting seems to leave little opportunity for kids to develop their own relationships and to experiment and take risks, thereby building resilience. I'm fascinatinated that in Germany they let little kids age 4 or 5 walk to school by themselves. I guess we just live in a completly different society now.

Shaniac Sun 25-Oct-20 20:06:06

My neices and nephews dont have a childhood that anyway resembles my own early 90s upbringing. And thats not necessarily a bad thing. Everyones looking through rose tinted specs as if everything was great and safe in the past. Not the case. There is just as many paedos and abductors around. Theres grooming gangs and more awareness of child trafficking nowadays. Roads are more dangerous with more traffic. Many areas have a bad drum problem nowadays meaning antisocial behaviour is terrifying for adults let alone children who encounter it. Theres more gangs with weapons roaming nowadays. Both my brothers have been threatened with a knife and had their bikes stolen in a one year period a year ago anf the police said there was nothing they could do. Less police around no patrols especially not near residential areas. When i was a kid playing out all the time i look back at all the dangerous encounters i actually had and shudder at thr thought of my siblings children experiencing any of it.

sofiessofa Sun 25-Oct-20 20:06:08

I think it depends a bit where you live too. Mine was walking to and from school alone from 7 which is totally normal here (small town Scotland) and was out and about with mates at weekends/holidays from about 10 (and much younger to play out unsupervised in our estate)- by 12 they’re off to the beach etc on their own, go to the swimming pool (3 mile walk) and back themselves. Yes they do get lifts to activities etc but so did I when I was their age. I honestly don’t see a massive difference between then and now, apart from the time spent online.

Shaniac Sun 25-Oct-20 20:07:36

Drug problem. Although keep kids away from drums at all costs grin

gussy123 Sun 25-Oct-20 20:08:03


I agree to some extent that that might be the reason it’s happening less, but I always hear that almost all CSA happens within the family or family friends. I think most children are taught stranger danger enough that you wouldn’t see them go off with random adults, and if they don’t know their neighbours, then they’re unlikely to go with them either.

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Shaniac Sun 25-Oct-20 20:09:41

Also kids in the past used to have parks and youth centres. Nowadays many have been closed down by councils and you dont want your kid picking up syringes in the local woods.

ineedaholidaynow Sun 25-Oct-20 20:11:13

I went to Primary School in the 70s, 3 children in my year group were knocked down by cars whilst playing out (separate occasions), one was killed sad

There was a reason they had those awful Public Information films in the 70s showing the dangers of children playing in different places eg farms, railway lines, the road. I do think some people look back with rose coloured glasses.

Nottherealslimshady Sun 25-Oct-20 20:11:49

We were recently having a similar conversation with PILs about how different raising children was in the 70s but with a different sentiment. My DH and his brother are lucky to have survived tbh. Crime hasn't gone down by its self, it's gone down because we changed our behaviour.
DH would jump on his bike with his friends and go as far as their legs would carry them. His mum had no idea where they were, if something had happened she'd be saying to the police "he left on his bike 12 hours ago, dont know where he was heading or who he was with".

Sweettea1 Sun 25-Oct-20 20:11:55

My kids don't go out because of the wanna be gangsta teenagers all running round with guns and knifes all I have seen on Facebook this week is reports of kids firing fireworks at people passing by. lost count of the amount of times kids have been mugged held at knife point for there bikes or phones. They simply are not safe out these days. My childhood was fantastic 90s out all day playing home for tea plenty of kids on the estate to hangout yes we were a pain to the neighbours playing manhunt hiding in gardens but nothing like nowadays makes me sad this generation can't be kids the way we was.

FredtheFerret Sun 25-Oct-20 20:12:45

I think people are more mobile now.

When I was a kid in the 70s we knew everyone around by sight at least. Strangers would have stood out more. People didn't all have cars/transport. Obviously terrible things happened still, but I do agree we wrap children in cotton wool, nowadays.

(I do it to mine, too. I'd be fairly horrified if they got up to some of the stuff I did).

Emeeno1 Sun 25-Oct-20 20:13:06

We are led to believe today that most of the problems we have as adults stem from our childhood. Often, that it is directly our parent's fault.

This ideology is bound to change how parents approach their children. The power has shifted.

In the 1970s your parents weren't worried you were going to grow up and blame them for not getting it exactly right.

gussy123 Sun 25-Oct-20 20:13:26


Cars isn’t something I considered because many people in my area couldn’t afford one so there wasn’t many, although I remember also being shown some road safety ads that gave me nightmares confused and they weren’t likely to have been anywhere near as bad as the 70s ones!

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