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Saturday, 19 April 2014

Over-protective parents need to get out more

A NEW breed of excessively risk-averse parent has been in the news recently, criticised for raising their children “in captivity”, so scared are they of ever letting their little darlings out of sight.

Louise Allonby
Louise Allonby

Today’s “paranoid parents”, as labelled by former government adviser Professor Tanya Bryer, are now so overly concerned about their children’s health, safety and well-being, that things have reached an “insane” level.

Prof Bryer identified a new phenomenon of children being taken to A&E suffering minor injuries because they “don’t know how to fall any more”. On top of which, it seems to me, parents rush their children to hospital almost literally at the drop of a hat these days. That’s when they’re not suspecting virtually every passing stranger of being a potential child abductor.

As Prof Bryer said: “Most children spend... their childhoods being raised in captivity [but] there are no more predators on the streets, no more paedophiles, than when I was growing up in the 1970s.”

As someone who also grew up in the 1970s, I can completely sympathise with that point of view.

Children in my generation were far luckier than today’s youngsters. Instead of being confined to barracks, crouched over laptops and smart phones on “social” (I don’t think so) networks, your 1970s child was free range, “playing out” until all hours, walking to and from school unaccompanied, collecting bumps and bruises along the way.

Rarely a week went by without me sustaining some sort of play-based injury, whether it be a lump the size of an egg on my head from falling off a swing, or grazed knees from a roller-skate-related mishap.

None of these badges of a happy childhood necessitated a trip to A&E – or the intervention of social services. A dab of TCP was all that was required.

Prof Bryer told a conference last week she had even heard of children today being driven to school “up to the age of 11 and 12”.

More like 15 and 16, if the cars parked outside most senior schools in this area at chucking-out time are anything to go by.

Like most of my peers, I went to and from school largely un-chaperoned from about the age of nine. I walked to Girl Guides on my own (until I was expelled from Bluebell Patrol for insubordination) and took the bus to school in Barrow, unmolested, from the age of 11.

Childhood obesity was rare: Texan bars and Spangles were worked off during the walk home. Today, according to official statistics, some 27 per cent of English girls and 23 per cent of boys are overweight, making our children the third fattest in Europe.

No point blaming the children, of course. The fault lies squarely with today’s paranoid parents who, like their poor kids, really need to get out more.

Have your say

Maybe in Barrow but not in Glasgow.
In 1977, 5 year old Alan McAllister was abducted & murdered on his way home from school in Abronhill Cumbenauld.He had pleaded with his mother to let him come home alone.
My eldest(now 40) ws just starting school then & was escorted to & from school after that happened.It was never any safer in the 70's.

Posted by wbrown on 24 January 2013 at 14:32

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