A year ago, Lenore Skenazy let her 9-year-old son ride the subway home alone in New York City, then wrote about it in the New York Sun. Hysteria ensued, as did a book contract for Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts With Worry (Jossey-Bass), a manifesto for a fledgling movement of parents struggling against both laws and social censure to give their children at least as much freedom as the chickens they buy at Whole Foods.
Your child is statistically no more likely to be abducted than you were, Skenazy informs hovering helicopter moms. And "most companies really do not try to sell us deadly or defective products." Kids are 40 times more likely to be killed in a car crash than by a kidnapper, so let your kids walk home from school alone. Risk-taking kids who are sometimes allowed to fail at things, Skenazy writes, become less fearful, more responsible adults.