Park Wars #LostChildhood

I didn’t grow up in this area, but I grew up in an era when we ran out of our houses as soon as we were allowed, played until we were hungry, and came back home.

Our parents didn’t have to fret about what we were doing. They knew we were in the park, or riding bikes with our friends.

When we started secondary school, there was no fear about us walking to school alone, or with our mates.

Fast forward thirty years and it is a different ball game everywhere we look.

As a parent to a near teenager and a child who will start secondary within the next couple of years, I have an honest fear of what could happen.

My child walks to school, and back, sometimes with friends, sometimes alone. He wants to pop into the park for a kick about with his mates, as kids that age naturally want to do. It took us a while to gain the courage to actually let him do that.

The thing is, though I trust my child, and have every faith in him, that he wouldn’t do anything wrong, it’s the rest of the world that I can’t be sure of.

The recent incidents in the local park have caused a great deal of unrest amongst many parents. Articles and posts have been circulating around Facebook, and other Social Media networks, getting everyone rather worried.

I want him to grow up independent, and able to make decisions for himself, but equally, I don’t want to be sending him out like a lamb to slaughter.

( You want to know what happened? A couple of weeks ago a gang of teens beat an innocent lad with a baton, and there have been allegations of organised bare knuckle fights happening there. These are just some recent incidents, but they are becoming more regular, and in turn, are scaring families away from a beautiful park and play area.)

I dropped him off there, to that very park (it’s our local park), last Saturday, tentatively, to meet some friends. I was reassured to see some Community Police Officers circulating at least twice whilst we were parked up waiting for the others. This week though, with all the press and publicity the incidents have received, it was decided that the boys wouldn’t meet. They were sensible about it, reasoning that it was too unsafe to go.

Yes the police can be around, but if someone was to flash a knife and the officers were at the other side of the park, if there at all, they wouldn’t be able to stop something happening. The boy’s words. They also want to know there will be CCTV cameras installed for safety.

Maybe social media has a lot to answer for.

Is it scaremongering of sorts? Who can we blame?

One thing’s for sure though. Our kids are losing out on a lot of chances to learn independence skills because we have this fear of letting them out into that dangerous environment.

I feel saddened that our children don’t feel the freedom of childhood that we did. Instead they end up kept at home, where they are glued to screens. Then we worry about childhood obesity.

Or we run them, and ourselves, ragged, sending them to extra-curricular activities, to get them out of the house, leaving us a pretty penny poorer too. At least meeting at, or riding their bikes to the park is free.

What do the kids want? The chance to meet up with their friends, with no worry about who could turn up, cause trouble or steal bikes.

How can that happen? Park wardens, like the good old days, and proper CCTV cameras installed as a deterrent, and evidence if needed.

Maybe the council could see to use some of that exorbitant council tax we pay to do this, so the youngsters of this region can actually be kids for longer, instead of wannabe gangstas in training…

125 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. phoenixfamilyadventures
    Aug 19, 2018 @ 05:04:52

    The world can be scary but we all do our best to find balance. We cant live in fear but we also dont want to play with fire. I think you’re doing great.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. Adele Marie
    Jun 27, 2018 @ 06:40:16

    Totally agree with you about park wardens. Our local park is beautiful but is becoming a place not to be after a certain time. It’s full of rubbish and hazards like broken bottles. The councils need to shape up and start caring about our parks and the kids’ safety or else they’ll become wastelands.

    Liked by 1 person

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  3. dgkaye
    Jun 26, 2018 @ 23:52:51

    This is so sad Ritu. The world could surely use a makeover with what’s happening in so many parts. I’m sorry I have no right answers for you. When I look at the state of the world and so many struggling just to survive, here kids not moving away from home because housing is unaffordable, it makes me grateful sometimes that I don’t have kids to worry about. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. Billy Ray Chitwood
    Jun 26, 2018 @ 17:10:53

    Hammer – Nailed – It! ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  5. Trackback: Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Tuesday 26th June 2018 – Ritu Bhathal, Janice Spina and Jennie Fitzkee | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life
  6. Smorgasbord - Variety is the Spice of Life.
    Jun 26, 2018 @ 11:08:32

    An excellent post Ritu and I have to admit that after a lifetime of travel and living in foreign countries, my desire to fly off to exotic locations or spend long weekends in major cities such as London has been extinguished. I have often said that the veneer of civilization is paper thin and it is become more and more apparent by the day. The tragedy of it is too, that those who are responsible and great potential parents might well decide not to bring children into the world because of all the reasons you state. Not sure where that will leave us! hugs xx

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Ritu
      Jun 26, 2018 @ 14:19:00

      I know.. I often wonder if I did the right thing, having kids, with the world as it is… but I always wanted children… maybe I’ve been selfish. I’ve brought them in to the world, I need to equip them to deal with everything too… ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

  7. Geetha B
    Jun 26, 2018 @ 05:39:00

    So very true and disheartening what you describe and it is the case in most countries now. Very few opportunities in this day and age for children to grow up carefree like some of us did at their age.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Ritu
      Jun 26, 2018 @ 05:53:44

      We really were lucky, growing up at a time where war didn’t affect us, and media hadn’t quite perfected it’s hold upon the world…

      Like

      Reply

  8. ellenbest24
    Jun 25, 2018 @ 00:41:54

    A small reminder: the world isn’t bad it is people that are bad.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  9. ellenbest24
    Jun 25, 2018 @ 00:34:23

    I wouldn’t want to do it again. It is a scary world and the truth is it will probably be worse in another decade. Because we do not learn.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  10. A Girl and Her Passport
    Jun 24, 2018 @ 16:13:08

    This makes me sad. I wish kids could still run around like we did.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  11. Lisa Orchard
    Jun 24, 2018 @ 14:15:35

    Our world is turning into a very scary place. I feel so sad for my boys because they don’t get to have the same freedoms I had when I was their age. I hope they grow up confident, but careful. It’s a balancing act that’s for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

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  12. You Can Always Start Now
    Jun 24, 2018 @ 12:41:05

    Well said and it is a concern everywhere.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  13. gemmaorton
    Jun 24, 2018 @ 10:11:50

    Being a parent or a teenager seems so much more stressful and worrisome that it was or should be. Liked you I remember playing out with friends and family when I was younger, yes bad things still happened, but those bad things seemed so few and unlikely. Now (maybe partly due to media) bad is all we seem to hear about. It can make a scary world.

    Liked by 1 person

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    • Ritu
      Jun 24, 2018 @ 10:32:49

      You’re right Gemma. Media has a whole lot to answer for. For sure bad things happened when we were younger too, but we just didn’t know them so we went off playing like we should have done. Now everyone knows too much so we’re just all too scared. It’s no fun being a kid or a parent these situations…

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

  14. fancypaperblog
    Jun 24, 2018 @ 09:03:55

    It is a whole ball of worry. A truly terrible thing happened at a park in my local town to two very young girls. It will never leave my mind x the world has changed.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  15. Suzanne [globalhousesitterX2]
    Jun 24, 2018 @ 08:47:00

    Unbelievably a few elderly that we visit here still leave their places unlocked, I keep telling them that its great that their communities keep an eye on them though it only takes one teenager with a grudge and the story doesn’t end so well. I go with my gut instinct and trust no one until they prove otherwise. There were also creepy people [for a better word] when we were growing up, we just knew where they lived and to avoid them 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  16. thatblogwherecheriemovestogermany
    Jun 24, 2018 @ 08:18:56

    This makes me so sad. I am happy to be here in western Germany. The kids still are able to play outside and walk alone together. But for how much longer?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  17. Hugh's Views and News
    Jun 23, 2018 @ 09:53:11

    I believe this situation now affects everyone, Ritu, not just children. I can remember the days you described. Back then, there were communities. Everyone knew each other and nobody had any problems about calling into their neighbours and leaving the doors unlocked and windows open.
    Anti-social behaviour is one of the biggest problems we now face. You only have to look at what happened at Royal Ascot last year where groups of adult men and women were filmed fighting to see that almost nowhere is safe. It’s why many people now choose to stay at home rather than go on a family night out. I’ve also been reading about people who end up having an evening out to the cinema ruined by the anti-social behaviour of a few. It’s such a sad fact of today’s world.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  18. robbiecheadle
    Jun 21, 2018 @ 15:49:22

    It sounds like life in the UK has changed a lot for the worse, Ritu. There is no freedom at all for my children as the crime in South Africa is very violent and prolific.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Ritu
      Jun 21, 2018 @ 15:54:53

      The violence is escalating here, which makes it harder to willingly want to send your children out alone. I am so conscious that they need to develop certain independence skills, but how? I do try, but the world is making it so hard… Things aren’t good…

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

  19. Jennie
    Jun 21, 2018 @ 13:41:24

    I feel exactly the same way, Ritu. It seems like a child’s normal way to grow up is being ripped away. How else can they gain those important skills without the place, the park? It is so scary for parents, too. Sigh!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  20. sjhigbee
    Jun 21, 2018 @ 00:29:27

    It’s such a difficult decision to make. So much harder than it used to be…

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  21. Rae Longest
    Jun 21, 2018 @ 00:16:29

    Reblogged this on powerfulwomenreaders.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  22. pranabaxom
    Jun 20, 2018 @ 23:45:23

    World has lost its innocence. Forget about kids, even adults are not safe.
    Just two weeks back, two youth in their late twenties in my home state in India went to visit a waterfalls in a remote hilly area. When they were coming back after the visit, some villagers stopped their vehicle and lynched them to death. Suspicion is on fake social media news that was circulating in the area that child lifters were roaming in the area ( no proof that any one was abducted). Why the two youths were stopped? One was a musician with long hair and dreadlocks and looked like “child lifters” (sic). He came to visit his family on vacation from his work place in western India.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  23. willowdot21
    Jun 20, 2018 @ 18:56:43

    Sadly the time when children could run free has gone we will never see it’s like again. The world has become a sad dark place . The police have no got the manpower to be on view . I am sad for my grandchildren. 💜💜

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  24. pensitivity101
    Jun 20, 2018 @ 18:14:03

    I remember walking to and from school, to and from the youth club, even to and from work, usually on my own and in the dark. These days, there ar eplaces I will not go after a certain time alone, and even if I’m with Hubby, I’m nervous should I see a group of youths or kids on bikes.
    We’ve been saying for years to bring back the Bobbies on the Beat, but to be honest, I don’t think even that would make me feel our streets are any safer.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  25. OIKOS™-Redaktion
    Jun 20, 2018 @ 15:51:33

    So true Ritu! Time has changed not always to the best.Today new challenges awaiting the children. Have a good week. Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  26. scr4pl80
    Jun 20, 2018 @ 15:43:37

    Yep, played outside all the time, all day long. Rode my bike to the library and to my sister’s house 10 blocks away. No cellphones to tell anyone when I got there and didn’t think about it at all. Now I wouldn’t even let my kids walk to their friend’s house around the corner without going to the corner myself and watching them cross the street. Their parent’s mom would walk them back to the corner. We have our daughter (who is an adult!) send us a message when she gets where she is going. Sad and scary.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  27. Erika Kind
    Jun 20, 2018 @ 15:36:54

    I am glad and feel blessed that my kids still could play wherever outside the house they wanted. They went to see their friends by bike or per pedes or met at a playground. Although bad things can happen everywhere we are still lucky to live in a country where kids can still feel free to live and explore.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  28. Jacqui Murray
    Jun 20, 2018 @ 14:49:56

    Horrid worries that simply are a sign of the times. It’s not the same world. Me, I put both of my kids in karate and bought myself a gun. I’ve never used the gun except on practice ranges but my thirteen-year-old daughter used her karate training when a larger boy attacked her. She got in trouble for beating on him (hard to believe) and I applauded her.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  29. syl65
    Jun 20, 2018 @ 14:42:12

    It is truly a different era Sister. When I was growing up, you knew mostly everyone in the neighborhood and you could hang out in the park with friends and not have that dark cloud of impending trouble hanging over. You want your kids to be safe and at the same time enjoy the youth.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  30. Osyth
    Jun 20, 2018 @ 14:33:33

    It’s a really knotty problem and one for which I don’t think anyone has a finite answer. The root of it is the few spoiling things for the masses. Strength to you and your husband as you embark on this most difficult of parenting challenges over the coming years.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  31. Annette Rochelle Aben
    Jun 20, 2018 @ 14:04:31

    Life is always about learning how to live life on terms that are agreeable. I wish you all the best, as I know this is most confusing. May Love prevail.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  32. Meg
    Jun 20, 2018 @ 13:15:07

    Ritu, I remember those days, too. What a world it has become. A problem like this must certainly be responsible for the secondary issues you talked about: childhood obesity, addiction to devices/screens, social isolation and loneliness. Only time will tell what sort of long term effects it will have on society en large as this generation reaches adulthood. I hope your community is able to work out a way for the park to be safe!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  33. writershilpa
    Jun 20, 2018 @ 12:46:05

    My childhood was also carefree…such lovely days those were! Now, even when sending my nephew to play downstairs with his friends, we have to do so with a few dos and don’ts. You are so right. We can trust our child, but how can we trust the world? Scary and sad, indeed!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  34. kazgirl22
    Jun 20, 2018 @ 12:17:25

    So sad! I know the feeling. I hope to be able to let my son do things without having that sort of worry, but the world we live in now is so different than when I was young!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  35. Darnell Cureton
    Jun 20, 2018 @ 10:57:14

    Yes, a time lost. I remember during the summer I would eat breakfast and head out for ball play or bike riding. I wouldn’t come back home until sunset. Nobody thought I was in danger. Best of all I didn’t think I was in danger.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  36. Cloud Walker
    Jun 20, 2018 @ 10:19:03

    I know how you feel, when I was young we had no phone, no tv, we all went out to play in the street and evtyo e wached out for us, the doors were open and when it was time to cone home you heard a call and it was passed on from window to window and you it was time to return home. Today it is very dangerous to even have your child go to the store to buy milk lime I used to at 8-10 years old. Great post.🌻

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  37. colinandray
    Jun 20, 2018 @ 10:15:22

    I too had a carefree childhood – biked to school – wandered around our general area exploring on my own – got the bus into town alone, and in early teens, started bike riding in ever increasing distances … on my own, which expanded to overnight stops in the oddest of places (like railway stations!).
    Has the world really changed that much? The immediate answer is “Yes … of course.” … but is it really that simple? Based on the “Law of Averages”, my hometown had isolated incidents of vandalism, crime etc from a population of around 60,000. As the population increases, so will those incidents. When I left my hometown in 1975, incidents were much higher but, being a designated London over-spill city, the population had then exceeded 100,000. Coming here in 1975 (Canada – Toronto area), the news consistently reported problems, but I am now sharing the shore of Lake Ontario with a few million people.
    I have no doubt that post-war child raising philosophies of many people; proliferation of self-help books (some of which are now questioned); advent of television and later computer/internet technology; more international movement and resulting cultural adjustments … and many other aspects of our society, are all contributing factors.
    It is really sad that many of us live in areas were trust is a very risky attitude to have but, as the population keeps growing, and applying the “Law of Averages”, I wonder just how reasonable it is to expect much different?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Ritu
      Jun 20, 2018 @ 17:45:32

      It is such a hard thing. You are right that things change with the law of averages… And I need to use my mother’s instinct a lot too so I’m not wrapping my children in cotton wool unnecessarily.

      Like

      Reply

  38. Dan Antion
    Jun 20, 2018 @ 09:07:12

    I hope you can work this out. It’d not only fun, but it’s the first chance to learn the confidence of being on your own.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Ritu
      Jun 20, 2018 @ 17:42:52

      I’m trying Dan. We are attempting to give him some ‘freedom’ for his birthday. He’s going out with his mates to a local shopping centre for a bite to eat and some ‘chill’ time as he puts it. I’ll be around but not with him…

      Like

      Reply

      • Dan Antion
        Jun 20, 2018 @ 17:51:48

        It’s hard. It seems to get harder with each generation. From everything I’ve read (that you’ve written) you seem to be a pretty good mom – I’m sure you’ll come up with a solution.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ritu
        Jun 20, 2018 @ 17:57:25

        Thank you so much Dan… There are days (being the mum of a 10 and near 13 year old who are both prone to strops) I feel I must be the first mum ever… Then I see them say or do something and think… Must have done something right 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  39. susieshy45
    Jun 20, 2018 @ 08:14:23

    Ritu,
    I agree with TanGental above. If you can and your mother’s mind allows it, let him go them go to the park. Let them continue with their childhood games.
    Susie

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  40. rachaelstray
    Jun 20, 2018 @ 08:11:38

    Ritu this resonates with me so much – my post about play a couple of months ago is along the same lines about the issues with screentime. It’s difficult isn’t it? Councils are massively stretched with budgets that have been slashed thanks to this wonderful Government we have – so things like park wardens are scrapped as mounting costs to cover things like social care grow. The Police are stretched too with the same budget constraints. I think you have to try to let your kids have independence but assess the situation and try to make as informed a choice as possible. I would write to your local MP highlighting the issues with the park and perhaps the local newspaper too.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  41. TanGental
    Jun 20, 2018 @ 07:38:13

    There was an article yesterday about the psychological damage helicopter parenting can do so you never can win. I could say I remember the freedom of the woods and the joys of time away from adult eyes but in fairness I’d mention the bare knuckle fighting that broke out the intimidation and bullying that we had to learn to deal with. That was life as a 10 year old in leafy Surrey circa 1965. No knives that I remember, though my dad talked about having a knife pulled in Elephant and Castle in 1944when he was 17 so how different is our world? I’ve always believed as parents the greatest danger is feeling you have to do x or y because it’s become the new norrmal. Go with your instincts. I learnt to avoid the places where mean kids hung out. You only do that through trial and error. Yours will too.

    Liked by 2 people

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  42. barbtaub
    Jun 20, 2018 @ 07:19:26

    I hesitate to “like” this post because of course I don’t like what you report. At all. But I do like that you’re drawing attention to a serious, immediate problem. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    • Ritu
      Jun 20, 2018 @ 17:36:45

      Thanks Barb. I know what you mean about the like(not like) thing!
      It’s a situation echoed in so many places… How to handle it, I don’t know…

      Like

      Reply

  43. foodzesty
    Jun 20, 2018 @ 06:50:15

    I grew up in the same era..my parents knew where we were and we had fun being and playing outside. 🙂 I do understand your concerns…these are such difficult times Ritu…

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

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