Because people are paranoid about (mostly) imaginary threats, we’ve become so afraid of the boogey man that our children never leave home except under armed guard. An article in the Daily Mail indicates that this is not isolated to the United States, but is seen in the UK as well.
When I was in elementary school, I walked to school without parental escort, even in the winter (snowbanks six feet high, so far as I could tell). I even wandered over to my Great Aunt’s house, which ended strangely as I miscounted the number of blocks and ended up at a stranger’s house who got me back to my family.
Later, we moved to an even smaller town, and I could wander anywhere in town when I wanted to. My brother and I would go to the creek with the other kids, and jump in the rock-infested waters off the abandoned and rust-crusted bridge. David ended up with one of his many head wounds this way, but that didn’t stop the mud-sliding fun the next week, no way.
Even when we moved to southern California, when I was 14, we didn’t end up incredibly restricted in our movements. We would ride our bikes to school, all of two miles away on suburban streets in Los Angeles County (the horror). We would ride our bikes down the L.A. River, all the way to Seal Beach (13 miles). We never even ran into the Terminator once. We did see pelicans, though. And terns.
And now our kids are put in cars to take them to parks. No wonder we’re all getting fatter.
Note to self: fix bicycle.