Roaming Charges


Just in case you thought this trend existed only in America: The Daily Mail maps how British children "lost the right to roam in four generations."

[via bOING bOING]

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  1. That eight miles to go fishing was uphill both ways.

  2. It’s sad. I took the dog for a walk in my neighborhood park last Saturday. Beautiful day. The type of day my buddies and I used to ride bikes to the creek to catch crawdads with bacon and string. I didn’t see any kids out and I live in about as safe a suburb as you can find. Don’t know if I blame Xbox, overprotective parents or a combo of both.

  3. Six miles, whatever. It was through 10 foot snow drifts, too.

  4. This is the UK so maybe things are different over there, but in the US there are two reasons for this; the rise of tabloid 24 hour news channels and the ubiquity of nanny state CPS laws. Now, I don’t know that you could let your kid roam without the neighbors calling the cops on you. Combine that with 24 cable news services running full coverage of every local story of a kid being kidnapped and people are just paranoid. Kids are statistically less likly to be abducted today then they were in years past but the news services make it look like every third kid in the country is getting kidnapped and or mollested.

  5. Not to make this a gun thread, but Great Grandpa George was probably armed.

  6. It was safer to walk 6 miles to go fishing in 1919. Everyone at home was dying of influenza.

  7. Let’s be honest here and assume that Great-grandpa George was really walking six miles at age 8 to work all day in a mine or sweatshop.

  8., Danny boy! That would be Jack the great-great-great-grandfather, aging eight in 1860. In 1919, child labor was a thing of the past in England — something you would know if you bothered to read some history.

  9. I was talking with my boss a few months ago about how the sorts of things that we did when we ten years old would get him arrested or sued if his kids did the same. Just silly things like walking to dairy mart for candy, unsupervised tackle football games, or going to the bmx/dirtbike “track” some of the older kids built in the woods(still visible here).

  10. Maybe there were were some lessons learned and passed down from great-grandfather to grandfather to mother. Maybe there was some experience unrelated to scary media that caused each generation to be more restrictive with their kids.

  11. And of course, the rise is obesity stems from big sugar’s plot to destroy the future.

  12. No one laments the child abduction hysteria more than me, but comparisons of this kind are of limited utility unless we know about changes in the population density of the area in question over the time period being looked at.

    100 years ago that 6 mile walk to the fishing hole might have been all through a bucolic English countryside. The same walk today might take you through a built-up commercial district.

    I did a lot of “roaming” even 25-30 years ago, but the “suburb” I lived in was rural by today’s standards. There were two traffic lights within 4 or 5 miles of my house, and one of those was a blinking light in front of the fire station. Today’s “suburban” kids don’t live in the same environment I did.

  13. darn it jtuf!
    I was going to make the link-to-childhood-obesity comment!

  14. 2027: Son Ed’s son not allowed to leave his room without Armed personnel from the U.K. Division of Naggers and Scolds International (NASI)accompanying him.

  15. As others pointed out, parents can be, and often are, fined and jailed by the state for not being sufficiently paranoid regarding the safety of their children, especially when a vindictive neighborhood Mrs. Grundy makes an anonymous call to the Social Services Gestapo.

    Also, the vast majority of parents today are fucking paranoid morons, who are totally in line with the prevailing philosophy: Treat children like babies, and adults like children. Then pretend to be surprised when you get exactly that.

  16. My father had to walk three miles through the snow, uphill, to be born.

    Mrs TWC was a roamer as a kid. It is amazing she didn’t get killed, kidnapped, raped, or come to some other unfortunate end. Well, besides marrying me that is.

    The point is certainly well taken but there is also something to be said for supervision. My kids are allowed to roam to some extent. We’re more worried about them getting snake bit or falling off a Peterbilt-size rock than getting kidnapped. However, where we live, if they did get napped, nobody would know. They also have cell phones, something that was either not available or not affordable until very recently.

  17. Fluffy – I live in a suburb with no real traffic lights within at least four miles, and the kids still don’t play outside. At least where I live, the problem isn’t “stranger-danger”, it’s X-Box and cable TV.

    Whenever the power goes out, you will see kids of all ages wandering around – walking to the tennis courts, swimming in the lake, riding bikes through the watershed, sledding in the winter. Just good ol’ fashioned unsupervised play.

    But, as soon as the power comes back on, the neighborhood is empty.

    I take my son to the park every day after work, and we’re always playing alone. It makes me sad.

  18. 100 years ago that 6 mile walk to the fishing hole might have been all through a bucolic English countryside.

    It might have been. But I doubt that kids in central London 100 years ago were limiting their explorations to their block.

  19. I call child slothism hysteria on these types of stories. I look out my door (DC suburb) and kids are playing outside everywhere. They are playing ball in the driveway and street to the point where I joke the guy is going to have to buy a new garage door cause it is so banged up from being the backstop, in the woods behind my house I’m a little annoyed some older kids put of a “skankville” sign and made a semi fort on an island in a creek, and more people complain about the unsupervised kids then the lack of children playing. And this is due to fears of them being hit by a car more than over an abduction. Me thinks the same crowd that is throwing acustaions at today’s parents being overprotective are just regurgitating the hype that fuels these stories. I take my kids to playgrounds and they are not empty. I take them to the pool and the pool is not empty. I let them play outside, and they aren’t the only ones. Not buying it.

  20. Pro, Grandpa prolly was armed. One of the supers, I think it’s Scalia, talks about taking the NYC subway cross town to the range with his rifle when he was a kid. Imagine doing that now.

  21. Between the Bibertarians and the media, it’s a wonder kids ever get to leave their hyperbaric chambers.

  22. A lot fewer cars on the road in 1919. We live on a quiet suburban street — we deliberately looked for a house on a quiet suburban street — and my son still almost got killed by a car right outside our house when he was about 6 years old.

    The other part of the picture is that families are a lot smaller now. If you had 8 kids in 1919, you not only didn’t have the time to monitor your kids closer, but you could rationally afford to take more risks per child. If you only have one or two kids, the genetic consequences of one of them dying is a lot higher than than if you have 8.

    But, yeah, statist parents being overprotective is also a factor. I’ve had quite a few sometimes heated discussions with my much less libertarian wife about how carefully the kids need to be watched.

  23. as soon as the power comes back on, the neighborhood is empty.

    LOL. I know a chick who uses Runescape as her after school babysitter. It’s pretty effective.

    From X-Box to 24 hour a day cartoons there is a lot more options for play time.

    There are times when you just have to turn off the computer and kick your kids out the door. We try to manage it so that spud time is during the heat of the afternoon, which at our place can be pretty intense.

  24. I blame the design of newer suburbs. If you look at subdivisions from the 50s and 60s, they put actual sidewalks in them. Its rare to find a subdivision today with sidewalks. They want to make it look “Country” or whatever, but it makes walking a lot more dangerous. Everything now is built around the automobile.

  25. “If you had 8 kids in 1919 … you could rationally afford to take more risks per child.”

    You won’t win any points with that arguement… but I like it.


  26. BTW, I’m young enough to have grown up with video games. I loved my NES, but I also got outside plenty. Its not a zero sum game.

  27. My block is maggoty with kids.

    (ProGLib, can you tell I’ve been listening to the Penn Radio archives?)

  28. What strikes me is that grandfather in 1950 had a mile of roaming room and that mother Vicky in 1979 had half of that. I seriously doubt that a female born in 1950 would have been given a mile unsupervised. So I’m seeing no difference between 1950 and 1979; or to put it another way, grandfather raised his daughter the same way he was raised (adjusted for sex).

    Vicky is an overprotective shrew.

  29. Stop blaming video games. Plenty of people grew up with them and still saw sunshine. Blame the lazy parents — all of whom need kicked in the crotch.

  30. highnumber,

    Penn must return to radio soon!

    I’m getting old episodes of Penn & Teller: Bullshit from the library (I own the first season). My wife and I watched the “PETA” and “War on Drugs” episodes last night.

    P&T so rule. We should send them Bibertarian t-shirts 🙂

  31. As a child in the ’60s, the limits expanded as you got older. At age 8, the school (1/2 mile), the park (3/4 mile), the library (2 miles) and the (GASP) shopping mall (3-4 miles) were all in range. If accompanied by an older sibling the ranges increased dramitically. My 14 year old brother could take me to downtown Detroit for a baseball game (15-20 miles on a bus). Trust me, in metro Detroit in the ’60s traffic was considerable and crime, well it WAS Detroit with a well deserved reputation for violence, even then. Fear, not crime or traffic is the issue here.

  32. Cesar, I lived in a 1960’s subdivision. All the streets were chopped up and cul-de-sac’d for the purpose of slowing down traffic. What that meant in practice was that us kids had to either climb block walls and cut through strangers back yards or walk blocks and blocks out of the way to go all the way around to get to a house that was really only 100 yards away but was blocked off by a row of houses that were there strictly to impede traffic (for safety). I guess I said that.

    And all that effort by the safety Nazi’s made no difference to Bob Ogg or El Geronimo de Crow who both still managed to burn rubber and get sideways on those short, safe, residential streets. 🙂

  33. Okay, I give, what is a Bibetarian? I already went to the website. 🙂 Please don’t make me work hard to figure it out.

  34. TWC-

    I guess I was thinking more of the 1950s-style subdivision my mom grew up in. That subdivision was a gridiron style one with a small shopping center just outside of it. Whenever I visited my grandparents there when I was little, I was amazed I could go get an ice cream cone bye myself without having to risk life and limb.

  35. TWC,

    Was the traffic really slowed down? What I see with wide roads, fewer intersections and often no sidewalks or street parking is faster traffic.

  36. Sorry, TWC, I thought we’d been using that around here long enough not to explain. I first used the term on Hit & Run a while back, but here’s the original posting on bibertarianism at Urkobold.

  37. Cesar, TWC,

    It’s not the lack of sidewalks in subdivisions that’s a big deal – most of them have little enough through traffic and the streets are safe for kids.

    The problem is that they didn’t put sidewalks on the arterial streets that the subdivisions empty out to, even as those streets got a lot more dangerous to walk along because of all the extra cars from the new subdivisions.

    What smart towns do is write their subdivision regulations to require sidewalks along both sides of the streets in a subdivision, and then waive that requirement in exchange for the developer installing, or paying for, the same length of sidewalks along what used to be the country roads, and are now the main arterials.

  38. kids today

  39. I have a cunning plan. Make all illegal aliens act as bodyguards for our children during a seven-year indentured servitude period. At the end, they get citizenship and five acres of land. And a free subscription to People.

  40. One of the supers, I think it’s Scalia, talks about taking the NYC subway cross town to the range with his rifle when he was a kid.

    The year I graduated from high school, 1965, almost every NYC high school had a rifle team. Students routinely carried their .22s on the subway and into school, attracting about as much attention as the band kid with a trombone.

    Today they get expelled if the campus cops find a butter knife lost in their car.

    In Britain retired police officers can get arrested for unneccesarily carrying a pocketknife.

  41. kids today

    meh …

    Nofx – What’s The Matter With Kids Today?

    There’s something wrong with the kids in my neighborhood
    They always listen to music
    They disregard civil disobedience
    They’d rather do what they’re told
    They don’t drink, or fuck, or fight
    They sit home, and read, expand their minds

    There’s something wrong with the kinds in my cul de sac
    Their always goin to church
    They dress well and they’re
    Speaking articulate
    They show eachother respect
    They’re never late, don’t joke
    or break rules
    They eat right, study hard
    They like school

    There’s something wrong with the kids in my neighborhood

  42. Roam wasn’t blitzed in a day.

  43. Was the traffic really slowed down?

    Rhywun, sorry, with my comment about getting sideways and burning rubber anyways, I was tryng to say that, no, traffic was not slowed down.


    We had sidewalks in the residential areas and on the main roads as well. I’m not saying ours was more dangerous, just that I don’t think all that engineering worked any better, although it did inconvenience everyone, particularly those of us on foot or on bicycle.

    As an adult I lived in a high traffic old neighborhood with a grid of streets like what Cesar describes. The solution there was lots of stop signs.

  44. Today they get expelled if the campus cops find a butter knife lost in their car.

    Larry A, the whole thing stinks like a kettle of chum that’s been sitting in the desert for a couple of days.

    It is ridiculous that I have to lecture my son at least twice a week about taking his pocket knife to school (and other items as well). He’s just the kid who’ll forget, too. You can’t believe what we find in his jeans pockets on wash day.

  45. Did Rand have any children?

    It was a responsibility that she was not interested in assuming. When she was writing Atlas [Shrugged], she would sometimes say that she was “with book.” The only children she wanted were her books.


    Keyword: responsibility.

    Are there any libertarian women on this board who have children that care to comment?

    Agreed: this responsibility belongs to the parents, not the government.

    That said, what parent is willing to chance that their child will end up that statistic of one in a billion (make that whatever number you wish) who loses his life because mama let him wander alone?

    Are those who object to supervised walks opposed to the term parent or legal guardian until age 18 years old?

    Be thankful you’re here, and in some cases, in spite of parental supervision.

  46. I blame Nancy Grace.

  47. The Fairfax County, Virginia, Department of Family Services has published a sheet of “Information about Child Abuse and Neglect from Fairfax County” which states that children 7 years and under “Should not be left alone for any period of time. This may include leaving children unattended in cars, playgrounds, and backyards. The determining consideration would be the dangers in the environment and the ability of the caretaker to intervene.”

    I wrote to them pointing out that When I was six and seven years old (between 1960 and 1962), I regularly walked, by myself, the .6 miles to my elementary school in Arlington County, and that most children my age did the same. (I didn’t even mention how my parents pushed me out to play in the back yard for hours at a time.) I asked them if it was now the judgment of the Fairfax County Department of Family Services that what my parents did with me constituted child abuse or neglect, or whether there were any circumstances in which it might be permissible. You will be shocked to learn that I never got any reply.

    (I just realized that yesterday, my five-year-old son asked if he could go play outside, and I told him he could, but that if he went to one of the neighbors’ houses he’d have to come back and tell us where he’d be. I guess I should go turn myself in right now.)

  48. It’s not the lack of sidewalks in subdivisions that’s a big deal – most of them have little enough through traffic and the streets are safe for kids.

    Except when those roads are designed to highway standards–which is usually the case today–and consequently, what little traffic there is is roaring by at 40 or 50 MPH.

  49. Some of the ‘problem’ (if this is one) must also relate to the growth of after-school activities. When I a kid in the late 50s/early 60s I would ride my bike for miles along country roads and spend hours wandering in the woods. Only a small fraction of kids played organized sports. Nowadays many kids (maybe the majority) participate in formalized soccer/cheerleader/karate/basketball practice and they simply don’t have as much time to themselves as kids did ‘back then’.
    (So, where’s my trophy for ‘Participation’?)

  50. Rhywun,

    I like those places that require you to drive several miles on 22′ of pavement, up and down hills and around turns, to get to the 45′-wide subdivision road, and its 100′ cul-de-sac.

    Even better is when there are sidewalks around the cul-de-sac, extending all the way to the country road, then ending.

  51. Even better is when there are sidewalks around the cul-de-sac, extending all the way to the country road, then ending.

    Well, at least people can walk to their neighbor’s house and live to tell the tale.

    My niece and nephew live in a similar situation, except the “country road” is a major county highway and I’m not sure if the cul-de-sac in question has sidewalks. Not surprisingly, their parents spend many hours ferrying them around to planned activities.

    the ‘problem’ (if this is one)

    Perhaps it’s not a “problem” per se, yet everyone seems to know instinctively that the “old way” was better. I don’t see anyone arguing that it’s better for kids to sit around inside all day or spend all their time in planned activities–even though we tell ourselves just that when making the decision to move to a neighborhood where those are the only options.

  52. It’s also tough when you know you’ve got seven level 2 sexual offenders living in the neighborhood. True back in the day, you probably had the same or more, and didn’t know. I’m not sure what the answer is.

  53. I’m not sure what the answer is.

    Roaming charges. Buh-dum-bahm.

  54. Thanks Pro, I had the context of bibertarians pretty close, just couldn’t wrap my brain around the entire concept without the visual. 🙂

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