Hanna Rosin’s excellent and in depth article looks at why a preoccupation with safety has stripped childhood of independence, risk taking, and discovery, without actually making it any safer. Rosin notes, most parents today remember their own childhoods as quite different from the way their children are growing up. Aware that she is not adverse to being a constant presence in her own children’s lives, Rosin takes her 5 year old son Gideon to ‘The Land’ – an adventure playground with a difference in North Wales – where children make the rules, parents are nowhere to be seen and fire making is an every day occurrence.

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This fascinating dissertation from well known researcher Roger Hart is almost 40 years old but is as relevant now as ever. It is a beautiful depiction of life not that long ago which seems worlds away from the indoor, screen dominated, car-oriented lives of children today.

Hart spent two years in a small New England town, following and mapping children’s movement and perception of their landscape as they built cubbies, fished at the river, explored, biked and roamed. He became part of the neighbourhood as these children shared their most treasured and tucked away play areas, far from watchful parents. Footage taken of the children at play during this time can still be found on the internet. Thirty years later, Hart returned to the town where some of the children still lived, now grown up with children of their own. He found that despite their rather free-range upbringing, these parents would not dream of letting their children play unsupervised that far from home.

Hart makes some beautiful observations.

– “Small patches of dirt throughout the town are the most intensively used of all children’s places.”

– Children like to find small places, as “places of retreat, to look out upon the world from a place of one’s own, as places for experimenting with how to put things together… In each of these activities a child is probably exploring his or her relationship with the environment, both social and physical.”

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Entertaining and in depth conversation with author Hanna Rosin about modern Western society’s obsession with child safety, which asks whether we have stripped childhood of independence and the joys of discovery.  Discusses why many parents are full of nostalgic memories of their own free range childhoods yet so fixed on the idea that the world is a more dangerous place than it used to be.

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Length: 52m : 18s

Subject Area: Risk, safety

Host Robert Siegel interviews author Hanna Rosin about the downside to parents micro-managing their children’s physical and emotional risks. She discusses the drastic change in parental supervision over a single generation and the effect it is having on children’s ability to grow up into healthy, capable adults. Contains discussion around ‘The Land’ – an adventure playground in Wales where children are allowed to light their own fires and are in full control of the typography without a parent in sight.

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Length: 8m : 09s

Subject Area: Risk, supervision

This new collaborative venture from Free Range Kids author and blogger Lenore Skenazy, research professor Peter Gary and others, supports the idea that children are smart, strong and capable yet they are in danger of not being able to practice problem solving with adults always hovering around solving problems first.  They believe in giving children the freedom and opportunity to take risks, deal with disappointment, figure things out and make their way in the world as all generations before them have done, up until now. Witty, informed, some would say controversial, but always thought provoking content.

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Very active blog from radio/TV personality and parent Lenore Skenazy who crusades on behalf of children to be allowed a bit of unsupervised time to play, learn and grow.  Lenore refutes the fear driven belief that children are in constant danger from kidnappers, germs, grades, frustration, failure, bugs, sleepovers and/or the perils of non-organic vegetables.

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