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Suburbia's fortress mentality
Christian Science Monitor ^ | June 1, 2007 | Melodee Martin Helms

Posted on 06/03/2007 2:38:07 AM PDT by Lorianne

Parents' fears are robbing children of their childhood. ___ My three boys sprawl on the couch, fingering their Game Boys. I wish I could shoo them outside until dusk. I wish they could tromp to the marsh to search for polliwogs. I wish we didn't have to live in a fortress.

But we don't let our children play in the front yard, because a sex offender lives two doors down. Instead, like other families in this neighborhood, we've built private playgrounds in the back.

From my kitchen window, I see two wooden play structures, three trampolines, and four basketball hoops, including our own. The kids on our street don't play unsupervised on common ground. They have play dates now, arranged by protective parents.

Carefree childhood of the '70s

The unsupervised outings of my 1970s childhood are over. When Mom told us, "Be back before dark," we'd check in sooner only if our stomachs insisted.

My family lived in a subdivision full of cul-de-sacs with small ramblers and split-level homes. I wandered freely. My sister and I traipsed past construction sites to undeveloped land beyond. We'd romp in waist-high grasses, trampling down areas we'd pretend were houses. We wandered in the woods.

We explored the creek, trying to keep the mud from sucking our sneakers right off our feet. I used to ride my banana-seat bike (without a helmet) down the busy road to buy candy at the gas station.

That would never happen today. Two-thirds of Americans say it's likely that a convicted child molester lives in their neighborhood, according to a 2005 Gallup Poll. Yet the constant supervising seems to be taking its toll.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: childhood; genx; suburbia
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To: ovrtaxt

Yes and bump.

Thank you.

41 posted on 06/03/2007 5:45:42 AM PDT by Calpernia (
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To: widowithfoursons

Not at all. I grew up in the 70’s. We were out and about from morning ‘til evening.

42 posted on 06/03/2007 5:46:35 AM PDT by Calpernia (
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To: Lorianne

I’d say it’s no accident. Too many criminals loose on the streets for a reason. It keeps people inside, where they are more susceptible to media ideology-hype and materialism. “Life lessons”, as it were, are handed down by social architects, rather than by the forces of nature.

43 posted on 06/03/2007 5:49:51 AM PDT by P.O.E. (Vote Hillary in '08 - let's restore America's silverware to the White House.)
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To: Nailbiter

ping to self

44 posted on 06/03/2007 5:58:09 AM PDT by Nailbiter
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To: kjo
With all their computer toys they will never learn how to play.

My eldest grandson just HAD to have a "Game Boy;" (I guess, in the same way I HAD to have a BB gun) and finally wore his (divorced) mother down. He became a social recluse with that thing. But some years later, as we watched the younger grandchildren playing at a family gathering, he turned to me, and said, "These kids just don't have the imagination we had." I guess these things are relative, just as the author's 70's seem as innocent as our 50's.

45 posted on 06/03/2007 5:58:26 AM PDT by LantzALot (Yes, itís my opinion. No, itís not humble.)
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To: widowithfoursons

I grew up in the 70’s, and ran around the neighborhood with my friends. We rode bikes, played ball, etc. Never had a serious incident. I am stunned how kids today just don’t want to get off the couch and go outside.

46 posted on 06/03/2007 6:02:32 AM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
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To: patton

lots of wonderful reads here!

47 posted on 06/03/2007 6:18:01 AM PDT by leda (19yrs ... only 4,981yrs to go ;))
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To: Chickensoup; AppyPappy
There have always been child molesters.

True, but the question is, are there more now and if so why? (And for the 'why' I'd want to know the real reasons and not ideologically constructed ones). It sure seems like there are more child molesters now, just as there are more serial killers.

I know that I would never allow my kids to have the unsupervised freedom that I had. Of course some of the things we did were also physically dangerous.

Yes but now they feel entitled to molest kids.

And even to kidnap them. The increased communication that allows parents to be more aware of child molesters also tells child molesters about the crimes that others have attempted and gotten away with. But why do some people feel sexually attracted to children? Is this number going up?

48 posted on 06/03/2007 6:33:19 AM PDT by wideminded
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To: Dr. Frank fan

They call them “helicopter” parents, continually hovering over their kids even after college.

49 posted on 06/03/2007 6:35:46 AM PDT by tom paine 2
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To: reg45

Shoot, shovel, and shut up was also used before the police could ever get involved.

50 posted on 06/03/2007 7:26:26 AM PDT by seemoAR (Absolute power corrupts absolutely)
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To: wideminded; Chickensoup; AppyPappy
Child molesters: something I had intended to talk about in my post, but overlooked.

There was an old man who lived in a shack in the next block. His was a gathering place for the town tramps, guys we now call, "homeless." One of this group had a larger-than-life persona. He was called "Bum Smullen," and was rumored to grab little kids and carry them off in his burlap bag. No one I know of ever actually saw Bum Smullen, and nothing was told about what he did with the kids he "captured," but the legend was all it took for us to be wary of strangers.

51 posted on 06/03/2007 8:24:15 AM PDT by LantzALot (Yes, itís my opinion. No, itís not humble.)
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To: kjo

I remembered when my Dad was transferred to Hawaii when I was nine years old, we were staying in a Waikiki hotel for a month, while we waited to get our base housing.

I spent many of those days alone walking around downtown Honolulu by myself without even thinking about it.

I look back now and think, “was I insane?” But it was a different time.

52 posted on 06/03/2007 8:31:54 AM PDT by dfwgator (The University of Florida - Still Championship U)
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To: widowithfoursons

Sorry, I grew up in the 70s and this is exactly the life I lived. We weren’t even allowed in the house for the better part of the day! We were outside CONSTANTLY and no cell phone to keep in touch!

53 posted on 06/03/2007 8:33:59 AM PDT by GatorGirl (Calling illegals "undocumented workers" is like calling drug dealers "unlicensed pharmacists".)
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To: Dr. Frank fan
They are. I was born in 71 and ran wild whether I was living in the suburbs or in the country. I see too much fear in parents today, including myself. Much has to do, I think, with the Internet and even places like FR. I take breaks from FR just so I wont think the world is a complete mess.
54 posted on 06/03/2007 8:47:38 AM PDT by nativist (Weigh into them!)
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To: wideminded

I don’t think they are attracted to kids as much as they are just plain perverts. Anything will do but kids are the easiest targets.

55 posted on 06/03/2007 10:37:52 AM PDT by AppyPappy (If you aren't part of the solution, there is good money to be made prolonging the problem.)
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To: qam1; ItsOurTimeNow; PresbyRev; Fraulein; StoneColdGOP; Clemenza; m18436572; InShanghai; xrp; ...

Xer Ping

Ping list for the discussion of the politics and social (and sometimes nostalgic) aspects that directly effects Generation Reagan / Generation-X (Those born from 1965-1981) including all the spending previous generations are doing that Gen-X and Y will end up paying for.

Freep mail me to be added or dropped. See my home page for details and previous articles.  

56 posted on 06/03/2007 10:47:56 AM PDT by qam1 (There's been a huge party. All plates and the bottles are empty, all that's left is the bill to pay)
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To: Lorianne

We used to play night hide and go seek in a less than perfect neighborhood. Some of the funnest times I have ever had. Back in the alley or under cars were good places, everyone knew each other so we also used to hide in other people’s yards too.

57 posted on 06/03/2007 10:56:35 AM PDT by Xenophon450 ("If a man obeys the gods, they are quick to hear his prayers." - Homer)
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To: AppyPappy
I don’t think they are attracted to kids as much as they are just plain perverts.

I don't believe that. I think that pedophiles are attracted to kids specifically.

When I was a kid my parents had several friends who I later realized were totally gay. I never had any problem with them.

On the other hand there was a barber shop within biking distance of my house where I was sometimes sent for a haircut. One of the barbers there would sometimes "accidentally" feel up kids as he placed the cloth over them in the barber chair. I learned to avoid him, but for some reason it never occurred to me to tell my parents about this. I can't remember if I stopped going there or if the guy disappeared after a while.

I attended a boarding school during high school. One of the most popular teachers there (who was married) gave me the creeps for some reason, although he never did anything to me other than suddenly showing up in my room one time. Many years later he was arrested in a sensational case involving solicitation of young kids for sex.

58 posted on 06/03/2007 11:37:02 AM PDT by wideminded
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To: Chickensoup

In 1950 we were advised by our teachers to avoid approaching strangers in cars as there were reported attempts by such an individual to lure kids up to the car, then grab them. One difference today seems to be the apparent increase in the numbers of people turned on by kids, the lack of standards governing sexual conduct, the easy access to pornographic pictures, corrupt office holders, and of course the rather large “forgiveness” crowd.

59 posted on 06/03/2007 11:48:47 AM PDT by AEMILIUS PAULUS (It is a shame that when these people give a riot)
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To: mrs. a
the Lyons sisters disappeared.

I remember that. We lived on the DC side of the Takoma Park line and went to Wheaton Plaza for our shopping. I had moved on to college, but still had small sisters at home. Though my parents would never have let them go to Wheaton alone, it was still a sobering experience for them. These things just didn't happen back then.

60 posted on 06/03/2007 11:49:25 AM PDT by radiohead (They call me DOCTOR radiohead.)
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