The Nanny State (again)

In the news this morning is the story of 7 year old Isabelle allowed by her parents to walk 20 metres from her front door to catch the school bus.  Nanny, in the form of Lincolnshire County Council, discovered this case of parental neglect and threatened the parents with a child protection order. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lincolnshire-11295617 and http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/8001444/Girl-cannot-walk-to-bus-stop-alone.html).

BBC Radio 4’s World at One invited my comment. It was a brief item sandwiched between the Pope’s visit and the story of the exploits of a female British spy in France during the Second World War.

I was allowed time to make the following points: (19 minutes into the programme)

  • In 1971 80% of 7 and 8 year old children got to school on their own without adult accompaniment. By 1990 this had dropped to 9%, and now, 20 years further on, it has become a “child protection issue”.
  • In the Netherlands most 7-year-old children cycle to school unaccompanied by adults – without helmets – and enjoy a superior safety record.
  • They (the Dutch) enjoy the benefit of the Safety in Numbers phenomenon. In the Netherlands motorists drive in the expectation of encountering children in the streets. In Britain, as children are withdrawn from the streets, it becomes more dangerous for those who are left.
  • British children are increasingly denied the freedom to do anything without adult supervision, and the requirement for supervising adults to have Criminal Records Bureau checks is reducing the number of adult supervisors. So children will increasingly be left wrapped in cotton wool in front of their computer screens.

If you do listen to the BBC clip about the Nanny State in Lincolnshire do stay tuned for following item, the story of Eileen Nearne and her extraordinarily bravery during the Second World in France. I find it difficult to imagine that any modern cotton-wool-wrapped child could grow up to be capable of such exploits.

1 comment

No ping yet

  1. Paul Lockett says:

    Excellent points as usual. Having listened to the show on the iPlayer, I found it at the following location:


    not the link in the post, which seems to be for the previous day’s show.
    Many thanks. Now fixed.
    Best wishes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>