By Gabriella Fleischman
I read To Kill A Mockingbird last year and noticed how much freedom Scout and Jem had for their age. They walked into and all around town on their own, they walked home at night alone, and nobody worried. My brother, about the same age, is not allowed to ride his bike farther than a few houses in either direction by himself.
Although I obviously understand the restrictions the modern world places upon children for safety, I can’t help but feel upset for them.
What kid does not crave adventure? What kid wants to worry about cars and strangers?
The one summer in which I did not have to worry about such things was by far the best summer of my childhood: the summer in which I vacationed to Sweden. In Sweden, children do get not kidnapped.
That vacation to my grandma’s summer beach house shaped what now defines summertime for me: enjoying a game of mini golf whenever there was simply nothing better to do; playing badminton, soccer or volleyball for hours on end in the pouring summer rain; seeing the ocean from my grandma’s veranda over a breakfast of wafer-like crackers and cheap caviar; walking to the general store with my sister and cousin every Saturday morning to buy our weekly supply of Swedish candy (the Swedish fish sold here do not even compare to real Swedish fish).
I have so many memories from that vacation. My grandma grew rhubarb and black currants in her front yard, unparalleled when baked in a pie with hand-whipped cream.
A short graveled street led to the general store, mini golf course, the beach, and an extensive trailer park. There was a playground with a unique structure that was almost a massive teeter-totter for six people. I had so much fun on that teeter-totter.
Having the privilege at age eight to walk around the small beach town on my own was the most liberating gift I ever experienced as a child.
According to klaaskids.org, from 1982 to 2000, reported missing persons in America increased by 468%.
It is no wonder that children are not allowed half of the liberties their parents enjoyed growing up. Correspondingly, hellolife.net states that since 1970 unstructured playtime for young children has dropped by 50%, shown to teach children social skills and creativity, as well as relieve stress and make them smarter.
It is not fair to children that they have to constantly be kept on a leash.
It is not fair to children that they cannot explore or seek adventure.
It is not fair to children that they have to be confined and limited.
At home, walking to my friends’ houses or to Yogurt World without an adult was unheard and dreamed of. I yearned for freedom and hated constraint.
And yet, these restrictions cannot really be helped. There are cars and kidnappers to worry about.