Kids in the US not so long ago were much more free than today. I knew kids that went out in the woods and shot at beer cans (plinking; if I remember the terms right) without a permit or any adult around. We went swimming at places that had no lifeguards or adults at all. Things were a lot looser back then.
Can you imagine a young teen boy today trying to take a 22 rifle out for a little target practice or hunting small animals? Hell, that would get at least 7 squad cars called to the scene and they would call for back-up and a SWAT team. And the kid and parents all would be sent to a “re-education” camp or ordered to have a psychiatric examination at the very least.
Unsupervised swimming? That is everywhere forbidden. Besides parents today are unwilling to let kids do most anything other than in some organized group with adult supervision. We live in over-protected times. When I was young, the whole world seemed to work in a way where we were unsupervised, unwatched, left alone at least part of the time — summers especially. I once walked with a friend 15 miles to another town to swim in a different lake.
Back then teen boys had cars and spent endless nights driving here and there. We often just went together to get a burger or sometimes we drove a girl around and learned to talk to girls one-on-one that way. No one knew where we were at nor really cared much. We did not need supervision at all times. Sometimes you just parked with your girlfriend for a few hours in the woods.
Looking back, it was all much more free and unregulated. We could never have imagined this present era with all its militarized cops, metal detectors, permits for everything, police in the schools, and so on. We certainly could not have imagined kids getting drugged with Ritalin or Prozac for being a bit unruly in class. Kids supervised themselves to a large degree no so long ago when I was a kid. They supervised themselves to a degree anyway — much more that we see today. We learned to get along with each other and to compromise when we played “pick-up” games without adults or coaches telling everyone what to do.
So what has the over-supervision, cops everyplace, Ritalin drugged kids, organized “fun” brought us? Kids who shoot classmates to death. Kids strung out on designer drugs. Teen pregnancies in epidemic numbers. So many pathologies that one could hardly list them all. In my high school many boys had rifles in their pick-up trucks in a rifle rack which was in plain view. No one ever imagined that a boy would murder another kid. It just could not happen; our heads were in the right place.
What has gone wrong? We over-regulate our kids, don’t give them any freedom, and don’t trust them. It is not working out so well, now is it? It is time to trust freedom again: not just in raising kids, but certainly starting there.