Today I took a phone call from a television news channel asking me to comment on this Youtube video.
The clip is not for the faint-hearted. It shows 22-year-old James Kingston climbing up a tower crane in Southampton, then hanging by one hand off one of the crane’s bars, with a 250 foot drop beneath him. The reporter wanted me to condemn Kingston’s actions as likely to encourage copycat behaviour and put children at risk. The call made me think: what is going on when children or young people carry out acts of extreme danger, and how should we respond?
After my last blog post about German children having more everyday freedom than their English peers, Andrea – a German-born woman who now lives in the USA – got in touch to leave a comment. She had some revealing things to say about the differences between her home and adopted countries, and has agreed to let me share them more prominently. She paints a depressing picture of car-dependence and isolation: a stark comparison with her experiences in Germany. Here is her story.
New research from the Policy Studies Institute (PSI) shows that only a quarter of English primary school children are allowed to walk to school alone – yet in Germany, three quarters are. It is easy to think that the decline in children’s freedom to play out of doors and get around on their own is an inevitable side effect of modern life. That is why international comparisons are so valuable: they can show us how things might be different.