We recently had a great discussion about whether we know our neighbors, and whether it’s even important for us to know them.  I found it fascinating the range of demographics and geography represented in the comments.  Overall, it seems like most of us want to establish some sort of community relationship with our neighbors, no matter where we live or what life stage we’re in.

Many of us have small children, so my next question for today involves their well-being.  There has been a huge shift in thinking — even just from my generation — about what constitutes safe playing for kids.

Nearly extinct are the days when kids just free played up and down their street, riding bikes to the pool and goofing around outside until the parents called them in for dinner.  Now, it’s much more about scheduled play dates, organized activities, and supervised backyard play.

Why is this?

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Is it too dangerous to play outside?

Richard Louv, author of last year’s Book Club summer selection Last Child in the Woods

, and Lenore Skenazy, author of Free-Range Kids

, argue that this is more than just interesting.  This is a crisis situation.

Parents are overly worried, argues Skenazy, because the dangers we imagine are mostly in our heads.  Thanks to the Internet and nonstop news, we receive worldwide information instantaneously, making us falsely believe the world is more dangerous than when we were kids.  In fact, crime overall is at an all-time 30 year low.

Here’s today’s discussion question:

Do you let your kids play outside in a “free-range” style?  How safe do you feel letting them out of your sight, even when you know where they are?  Do you think our current world is truly safer than it was when we were kids?  And how does this affect how you interact with your neighbors?

Also share how old your kids are and your living conditions, because I’m sure there’s a correlation.  I highly encourage you to check out Lenore’s site — it has some great information.  And if you haven’t yet, both books mentioned above are very worthwhile.

I’m looking forward to this week’s discussion! See you in the comments.