Photo source: Flickr

I consider myself to be quite lucky to grow up in the 90s, the years where no one seemed to care about how much time you spent at home alone or anywhere for that matter..

Growing up in the countryside, I spent most of my time playing outside with my neighbours and would only come in once my mother had shouted “it’s dinner time!”. We all know that times have changed since then. But the question is, why?

One of the most important jobs that parents have is to prepare their children to be independent and productive adults.” says globalpost.

Here’s your MetroCard, kid. Go.

In 2008, Leonore Skenazy left her 9-year old at Bloomingdale’s. He was begging her to do so, so he could see if he would manage to find his way back home, by himself. She left him with a subway map, $20 bill, a few quarters he could use for a phone call and nothing else. Long story short, he got home safely, but for his mother, the controversy had just begun.

Skenazy’s article sparked 663 opinions and reached media’s attention. Opinions varied from overly concerned parents who considered this a neglect, to people applauding her for giving her child a taste of independence. She also introduced the term ‘Free-Range kids’.

According to Skenazy, who is also the founder of freerangekids.com, “Free-Range Kids is a commonsense approach to parenting in these overprotective times.” Skenazy also kicked off the term ‘helicopter parent’ – a parent who constantly ‘hovers’ over their child, fearing for their safety.

A reason to worry?

Child abductions are a very commonly talked about subject in today’s media. Most people have heard of Madeleine McCann, Natascha Kampusch or the more recent case of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight. Statistics show that every 40 seconds in the United States, a child goes missing or is abducted. There are three types of kidnappings: “family kidnapping” (49%), “acquaintance kidnapping” (27%) and “stranger kidnapping” (24%).

Stranger kidnapping victimises more females than males and it occurs primarily in outdoor locations. Both teenagers and school-age children are most frequently targeted, and it is often associated with sexual assaults in the case of female victims and robberies in the case of male victims (although not exclusively so). Stranger kidnapping is most frequently linked with a use of a firearm and is the type of kidnapping most likely to involve the use of a firearm.


Still missing – Madeleine McCann

How does it differ across the world?

The following are the minimum ages that children may be left unsupervised at home in different continents.

  • Europe: 11 -12 years old

For up to 6 hours in a 24-hour period (but not overnight) with ready access to adult supervision.

The statistics are taken from “Army in Europe child supervision guidelines”.

  • USA: Between ages 6 – 12

Depending on the state’s policy. Find more state guidelines here

  • Australia: No legal age confirmed yet.

It takes a village to raise a child

As much as you can try to keep your child safe inside the walls of your home, you never know what happens outside those walls. As a parent, you can only do so much – there will always be circumstances outside of your control. As a parent you should ensure that your child is sufficiently prepared to handle certain situations without supervision.In some cases over-protectiveness can result in a decrease in children’s confidence and even depression. Over-protectiveness can also have a domino effect on your child’s maturity levels and suppress their happiness.

Should we really take away our children’s independence?