In my view, the media have a responsibility to allay fears where these are grossly exaggerated. In fact, Home Office statistics show that, on average, one child a year is murdered by a stranger, and I am unaware of any evidence that this average was lower a generation ago, when surveys by the Policy Studies Institute have recorded that children enjoyed far fewer restrictions on their freedom than they do today. As a consequence of parental paranoia about this minute risk - albeit, of course, tragic in the particular circumstance - literally millions of children are having their independence severely and unnecessarily curtailed.
There is increasing professional concern about the significance of the damage to children's physical, social and emotional development resulting from the restrictions on their freedom. Clearly, this issue warrants more informed public debate.
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