Children's safety, then verses now at
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Children’s Safety When Out and About: Then vs Now

Children’s safety has become a greater concern as the years have gone by. A few decades ago, parent’s rules were lax when it came to their children’s safety in public.

Maybe that’s because there were less dangers? Or maybe it’s because parents simply weren’t aware of the multitude of dangers that were actually out there?

Children's safety, then verses now at

Whatever the reason, one thing that is very clear now is that parents have upped their game when it comes to protecting their children from public harm.

When I was a child, I used to play outside every night after school. My parents didn’t even know where I was most of the time. I know this because I never knew where I’d be heading either. Maybe I’d go and play by myself or maybe I’d walk for a mile and a half to visit a friend. Then maybe we would go and find more friends and then go and sit in the field and chat until the street lamps came on.

The street lights coming on meant it was time to head home for the evening. We didn’t have mobile phones, so I couldn’t text or call to let someone know if I might be late or if something bad had happened. Our parents barely knew each other and never really bothered communicating with one another. It’s like as soon as we shut the front door behind us, no one new exactly where we were until we were home again. There’s absolutely no way I’d ever parent my own children this way, the risks are just way too high!

I’m not the only one who’s childhood was like that.

Leyla from Motherhood Diaries says,“Back then, I had to walk through two busy residential streets to get to school by myself and not once did it occur to me that I would be greeted with any danger. Now, we live footsteps away from the boys’ school and so technically, I wouldn’t need to leave the house because I could watch the kids enter the school gates from the window. But, I’m up, out and walking them to the gate because I think there are too many people who could easily swipe them on the way to school. Even in the park, back then, we would ride around the whole ground, far enough away so our parents couldn’t see us. And we’d be fine. This time, if I can’t see the boys in the park, I hyperventilate a little bit.”

Sophie from Soph Obsessed says, “As a kid I was allowed to play outside on the street with my friends, walk to the shop etc the whole neighborhood just looked out for everyone so my mum always knew I was safe. With my kids I worry about him playing in the back garden without me watching him out of the window!

Tracey from Pack The PJs says, “When I started secondary school, I had a 2.5 mile cycle ride each way, in all weather, with no helmet and a heavy bag (often additional PE kit) strapped to the rack on the back. Main roads, serious junctions, narrow pathway ‘shortcuts’ … and I even often popped home for lunch!! Nowadays, I drop them at the gates in the morning, wait at the gates in the afternoon – and they’ve both got phones in case they are late leaving!”

Can you imagine parenting like that now?

The thought of allowing my children to roam around like that gives me the mum sweats. I could end up with social services on my doorstep, or worse…the police.

The thing is, we live in a world full of danger and we’re a lot more clued up on it now too. We have the internet which serves as both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, we are more informed about the potential dangers and are able to find reliable websites that could serve to help us if something were to happen to our children, like the DPP homepage, which deals with all sorts of legal issues from public accidents to animal attacks. But the internet also enables the evilness in the world to spread more easily and reach those who are seeking that sort of information.

Our children have so much more freedom to access information than we did as children. Their phones in their pockets connect them to the media instantly and the internet is at their fingertips 24/7. We have to make sure we are clued up on their safety.

Yet I can’t help feeling that, ultimately, we were the ones who had the most freedom.

We weren’t tied down by rules, our lives weren’t fraught with possible dangers, cars were few and far between, we worried less about strangers and walking to school with our friends.

It saddens me that our kids, despite having access to more information than ever before, are also more at risk than ever before. I’m grateful for the services that focus their time and energy on visiting schools and educating children on potential dangers, both in real life and online. I’m also grateful for the legal companies that are around to help families recover from events when they occur.

What was your childhood like and how does it differ to the way you have raised your children? Have you ever had a scary brush with your children that have made you rethink the rules they follow? I’d love to hear your take on this, so let me know in the comments!

*This is a collaborative post


Rachael is a 31 year old mum to 10 year old Luke and 5 year old Oscar. She lives in England and writes about family life, crafts, recipes, parenting wins(and fails), as well as travel, days out, fashion and living the frugal lifestyle.


  • MissPond

    My walk to school was 2 miles each way. I walked with friends and we all looked out for each other. I’m not sure how play parents coped as I didn’t have a mobile phone until year 11! Both worked FT so had to trust I would get home.

    • Lukeosaurus And Me

      We had a lot more trust put in us as kids and that must have sculpted our lives and had something to do with our maturity. Maybe we don’t give our own kids enough trust, but then…it’s so hard when there are so many people out there who want to do bad things.

  • Emma T

    In primary we used to get the school bus to school in the village, and secondary we used to walk 1.5 miles from one end of the village to the other. N gets driven to school because we live outside the village – it’s very rural, no paths, pot holes and narrow roads. Plus I work so I don’t have time to walk him. When he’s in year 5 I might let him cycle to school, but would rather he was able to do it with a friend (maybe the girl opposite will be allowed to as well). But the road isn’t the safest with farm traffic, school buses and fast cars not watching out for cyclist at that time in the morning/afternoon.

    We were like you as children. We lived on a new housing estate on the edge of the village. At first we could only play out on the green in front of the house, then gradually on the rest of the estate, then in the village. As long as we were back before dark that was fine. Although I did once go on a 10 mile bike ride to different villages which wasn’t allowed, but told my mum it was ‘around the village’. She never found out and we were fine (age about 12). My mum was quite strict but it never occurred to us that we couldn’t just play out on our own with all our friends. We used to go off under the railway bridge and to the nature reserve. N does go out to play outside on his own, but we’re on a farm, so he has the space there. He’s not allowed down the yard for safety reasons because of the vehicles driving around and obviously danger of any cows getting out. But he can’t really go anywhere alone because there’s nowhere easily to go without a car. Next year I’ll probably let him cycle the 3/4 mile up the road to his cousin’s house. Not sure if the OH will agree, but N’s sensible, and I’d ask my SIL to text me when he’s there. He is only 7 at the moment though, but I’d hope that in time he’ll be fine to bike up to the village and to his friend’s house up the road.

    • Lukeosaurus And Me

      Living in rural areas seems generally quieter, but I know what the traffic is like along roads like that! My grandpa lives in a rural area and the cars hurtle past his house, if one of them was to hit a child then they’d all be goners! It’s a scary thought, especially as my grandpa doesn’t have a gate that prevents Luke from being able to go onto the road. Although he’s a very sensible boy, he’s only 5, and so he has to be supervised when playing in the garden, just in case! I think it’s fully dependent on your child, you know them better than anyone else and you’re the person who will be having all the safety talks with them about what to do if certain things happen.

  • Kate

    I definitely had more freedom than I allow my kids. I wonder if maybe it’s to do with us having a steady stream of news bombardment, rather than the world being a darker place though? I’m on my phone, flashes coming up with the word’s evils reduced to sensationalist headlines. I’d like to think that generally humans are good, but yet I mistrust them and keep my kids close. It’s a lot to think about.

    • Lukeosaurus And Me

      I think it is a mixture of both…although it has to be said that a lot of famous faces from our childhood’s have turned out to be a bit dodgy!

  • l dove

    I think things were very different when I was a child. We lived, and still live, in a small village and I used to walk to school at quite a young age and play out all day without returning home. My youngest three at 4, 5 and 6 have never played out and definitely won’t be walking to school alone for a long time!

  • Kara

    My mum used to wave me off to play at 9am and expect to see me again at 5pm. I used to get told off if I was late though, but she wasn’t bothered by where I went etc

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