Leave No Child Inside (the country)

photo by figgewettermark

Ahhh, summer! The birds chirp to herald the early dawn, sandy beaches are being baked by the sun, swimming pools are filling up and the children…are inside playing Playstation 3. And according to a Washington Post article that ran yesterday, parents of the nation are getting concerned and starting a movement.

Coined the “Leave No Child Inside” movement (not to be confused with terrible Bush administration policy of a similar namesake), a group of civic leaders launched a $20 million campaign today to fund initiatives nationwide to get kids off their ass:

The increased activism has been partly inspired by a best-selling book, “Last Child in the Woods,” and its author, Richard Louv.

Coining the term “nature deficit disorder,” Louv has argued that indoor kids are more prone to a range of childhood problems, including obesity, depression and attention disorders. He contends that they miss out on the spiritual, emotional and psychological benefits of exposure to the wonders of nature, including reduced stress and improved cognitive development, creativity and cooperative play. […]

But the irony here is that parental concern – ahem, coddling – is what got this young generation into trouble in the first place:

Experts suggest a major factor in the decline of outdoor time is parental fears about leaving children unattended — aggravated by excessive media coverage of horrific crimes. […]

And so it all comes back to the ‘mean world syndrome,’ this sensationalist-media fueled illusion that the world is a bad and very scary place. As a society, passing these perverse fears down to our children is probably the single most terrible thing we could do – but apparently, it’s not only our society we have to worry about.

The Guardian (UK) reported last month that parental fears are contributing to high school grads not taking their gap year trips. Again, the irony here is how these parents have overlooked how important traveling was to their personal development:

Anna Robinson, 17, from Hertford, admitted she was tempted to take a year off after finishing her A-levels in July. However, she changed her mind and is now planning to go straight to university in September …

She was also concerned about her safety: ‘My mum is constantly telling me not to go out on my own in the evenings at home, so I certainly wouldn’t dare to do anything like that in a foreign country. The whole idea of a gap year just seemed too scary, dangerous and stressful in the end to bother.’

Her father, Michael, admitted he is relieved by Anna’s decision even though he enjoyed his own gap-year adventure …

‘My time abroad taught me about other cultures, as well as personal independence and self-confidence.’ But he admitted he would have been concerned for his daughter’s safety had she decided to follow his example and travel alone across the world. […]

And so here we are, modern civilization growing fat and boring for the sake of being “safe.” It’s a shame, when there’s a whole world out there.


2 Responses to “Leave No Child Inside (the country)”

  1. 1 D.M. Macabe June 20, 2007 at 9:49 pm

    Hi ~ Great post! Lucky you ~ you had parents who let you go even though they wanted to wrap you in bubble wrap and keep you home! You’re right ~ the world is mostly a safe place and the media sensationalizes the scary stuff…AND there is scary stuff…AND we know about it even when it happens far, far away from us ~ because of the media! Vicious cycle, maybe? But parents and travelers do need to exercise some common sense to stay as safe as possible without the bubble wrap. Unfortunately, common sense isn’t as common as it should be.

    Your are quite a writer!!


  1. 1 Vagabondish | The “Leave No Child Inside” Movement Trackback on June 21, 2007 at 7:38 am
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