Although the tragic, and fortunately rare, incidence of murder by a stranger is the stuff of parental nightmares, there are many other dangers, some of them life- threatening, from which we seek to protect our children.
The vast increase in traffic and the consequent dangers to pedestrians and cyclists is a source of anxiety to almost all parents. Other concerns may be specific to particular localities, families or children.
I would list among my particular concerns the grown men (not teenage boys) who 'chat up' my pretty and mature-looking 11-year- old daughter; the bullies who rampage around the local streets and park in the summer and who have been responsible for threats, damage and numerous bike thefts; the frequent occurrence of 'gropers' on Tube trains; the increased incidence of drug-dealing in the inner city; pickpockets and thieves in main shopping streets; abusive and threatening drunks or otherwise disturbed people; and the man who feels obliged to expose himself to local dog walkers from time to time.
I allow my daughter the freedom I believe she can handle and have discussed these and many other concerns with her. I have advised her on fall-back procedures if she ever feels frightened or threatened, and I know she is a sensible child. Nevertheless, she is still a child, and some of these concerns are matters that frighten me.
Even dangers that are not life- threatening may have implications for a child's social, psychological and emotional development that are just as serious as those of 'curtailed freedom'. Parents are not paranoid - we live in the real world and regard our children as much more than mere statistical chances.
LINDA A. DOESER
London, W6Reuse content