Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A five block radius

When I was a kid, there was nothing I liked better than jumping on my bike (of course it had a banana seat!) and riding to my friend's house down the street.  He lived about three blocks away, well within what my parents considered the "safe zone".  The "safe zone" was about a five block radius from our house.

This weekend, I spent time outside with my daughter and one of her best friends.  When they wanted to go to the garage to get supplies to build a fort, I made sure I had eyes on them the entire time. 

What happened to the five block radius? 

My friends and I spent a couple of "front porch with adult beverages" hours (my favorite perk of living in the South) talking about it this past weekend.

I am not sure what the answer is (or answers are), but I do know the following about myself:

First, there may be some latent gender prejudice on my part.  I don't have a son, but I wonder if I wouldn't be a bit more permissive if I were talking about a boy. I hope not.

Second, 24x7 media attention doesn't help.  The media feeds our tendency to over generalize.  Case in point, the razor blades in Halloween candy stories.

Third, I might be one of the dreaded helicopter parents.  I took a quiz and it indicated no, but I am not so sure!

What do you think?  Why has our "safe zone" shrunken? 

Honestly, I want my five blocks back.


  1. Interestingly, the feel in Dubai, because of the dearth of violent crime, is very different. And although the five-block radius rule is pretty close to what I grew up with, the odd thing is, I feel like it might actually apply here as well.

    Which means that there is some fundamental shift that we have not captured. It can't be the 24/7 media alone. They have that and more here (OK maybe not more than 24/7 but you know what I mean….) I think there is something else going on.

    1. Great comment, Crorey. Several friends who live in the Middle East have said the same.

      Is the trade-off of an open society a greater degree of fear BECAUSE we are so open?