In the U.S., U.K., and Australia, years of cumulative public decision making have resulted in the absence of kids from urban public space. Fewer kids walk or cycle to school, play in parks unaccompanied by adults, run errands for their families, and so forth.
The absence of kids from public urban life has become so common, that we are often shocked, concerned, or suspicious if we see them out and about by themselves. This situation impoverishes the lives of more than 20 percent of our population — children between 5 and 19 years of age.
It is a detriment to our society as a whole.
A quick perusal of commercial media underscores the issue. Children’s and young people’s rights are de-politicized by moral imperatives to protect them from danger, or society from kids. In the U.S. and Australia, parents who seek to invest their children with independence, and trust them to negotiate their urban environments may be investigated and penalized for “child neglect.” In the U.K., children have been DNA tested for climbing trees they were not supposed to, based on the assumption that disobeying rules leads to criminal behavior in future.
Returning Free-Range Kids to Our Public Spaces