When you were a kid, how often did you hop on your bike and race down to the nearest playground with a group of your buddies from up and down the street? How much of your play time was spent without the direct supervision of an adult? One writer, Lenore Skenazy, believes that we should allow our kids those same freedoms as a way of building independence and confidence.
You may recognize Skenazy for being the mom who allowed her nine-year-old to ride the subway by himself, resulting in national television appearances and now a book and blog through which she advocating raising “free-range kids.” As part of her efforts, she has proclaimed one Saturday in May to be “Take Your Kids to the Park . . . and Leave Them There Day.” Skenazy points to statistics that demonstrate crime rates, for both kids and adults, are lower than in the 1970s and 1980s and asserts that the common fears of kidnapping and predators are overblown.
Skenazy believes that around age seven is an appropriate age to allow kids to spend time at the playground without adult supervision, assuming they are accompanied by other kids and the members of the group look out for one another.
As an author who has included child abduction in my storylines, someone who studies criminal behavior and has spent a great deal of time talking with police officers about what they face every day, I can see both Ms. Skenazy’s desire for kids to have a childhood that doesn’t require an adult observing every move but I also understand the concerns that many have with her proposal.
Today, though, I want to know your thoughts.
Do you allow your kids to play unsupervised?
At what age is this acceptable?
What trends of childhood play are you seeing in your neighborhoods?
What about this notion of advertising the fact that kids will be unattended at the park on this one certain day?
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