In the last generation, American parenting norms have shifted strongly in favor of Intensive Parenting, placing particular emphasis on protecting children from risks of harm. Recently, a backlash to this trend has emerged. “Free Range” parenting is based on the concern that coddling children through overprotection inhibits the development of their independence and responsibility. Indeed, a growing body of literature suggests that parental overreaction to remote and even illusory risks of physical harm is exposing children to far more serious risks to their well-being and development. Consequently, individuals who do not buy into Intensive Parenting norms, including those from different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, may be subjecting themselves to criminal prosecution for child neglect and endangerment.
|La Ballona Creek seen from the Baldwin Hills|
On second thought, my best guess is that this is largely a phenomenon of the urban and suburban middle and upper classes, and that, in fact, free range parenting is still largely practiced among the lower socioeconomic classes in the United States. I recall sampling trips into to the Anacostia area of Washington D.C. on school days, and being appalled by the number of kids roaming the streets, clearly beyond supervision of parents and school.Unfortunately, in their environments, these kids are unlikely to learn useful skills and are more apt to learn undesirable things and fall into violence and crime.