By keeping our kids safe, are we really protecting them? When I was a kid, I used to travel, alone, about a half a kilometre or so to the local playground, which was right at the end of the Halifax Harbour, in what is known as the Bedford Basin. It was no problem to throw a rock from the play structures to the water, it was that close. In fact, at the time, way back in the day, we used to go swimming in the Basin, when the pollution levels were low enough, which actually happened from time to time back then.
Today, kids of the same age almost never get the chance to go to the playground by themselves, or anywhere else, for that matter. I would even occasionally take off into the forested areas around my home, which covered a fair bit of area back then, just to see where it went. I would even go explore the subdivisions and pathways around the neighbourhood, to learn the lay of the land. I would even get lost from time to time, and have to find my way home again, learning lots of new stuff about my surroundings in the process.
To quote Billy Joel, in the song “Second Wind”, “You’ll learned more from your accidents than anything that you could ever learn in school.” By keeping our kids safe and secure, and not letting them get lost or make any number of mistakes on their own, are we doing them a huge disservice? Is it a child’s right to learn from their own mistakes? Is it a child’s right to make a wrong turn, and get lost in the process, and perhaps learn more about the world around them in the process? Should we be sucking it up, and letting our kids do things more independently, despite the risks, in order to better prepare them for a time when they will need to be on their own, which will occur sooner rather than later?
I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but that doesn’t stop me from asking the tough questions.
See this Dallas Morning News Story for more perspective on this issue.