When I was a child in Lumberton, NC (ages 5-11), I often left home after breakfast, and did not return until lunch … sometimes until supper. I played all over our neighborhood, and occasionally beyond. I swam in the swift-flowing Lumber River, and in water moccasin-infested White Lake and Lake Waccamaw. I went fishing on Scarborough’s pond without a life vest. I rode my bike without a helmet, attached pieces of line to the handlebars to simulate horse’s reins, and often rode behind the DDT truck in its cloud of oily insecticide spray. I smoked “rabbit tobacco” and played with my green army men (occasionally setting brush fires to better simulate a combat environment) .
We moved to Greensboro, NC in 1959. Our house sat in the middle of Mr. Benjamin’s cow pasture. I played with the estate caretaker’s son Bill in the field, and wandered through the woods — sometimes all day — accompanied by my faithful dachshund. I smoked real tobacco, and drank liquor when I could get it, with a definite preference for “corn”. I hunted and fished on my own, or with a friend, often trading my services shooting crows out of a cornfield in exchange for hunting privileges. Old Mr. Case’s wife would feed me country ham from the smokehouse and scratch biscuits off her wood stove.
If I were to do today at 8 or 12 what I did back then at those ages, I would be hauled in by Child Protective Services and my parents would be indicted. My parents were strict, God-fearing Southern Democrats of the highest moral standing, and they saw to it that we knew right from wrong, and acted accordingly. Yes, I transgressed, but never without guilt and at least an attempt to do better. It is not as though they did not care; they just knew that children need to be taught how to behave, and then be given the opportunity to learn from and act on that teaching.
Our modern era has produced in our society the belief that risk is not a part of life, rather something to be controlled by government, acting to protect us from every possible bad outcome. Government, so far removed from us by comparison, cannot function as a parent. It does not take a village — much less a nation — to raise a child.
Reference [caution: Faux News alert!] : Student Punished for Saying “Bless you”
Reference: Punishing Independence