C&NN Connect

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A recent post by Kristen Beck, a Master Naturalist from Florida, asked this core question: "I did a program on nature deficit last night for a group of lady anglers- it was amazing to hear their comments about how unsafe it is to let their grand children and children outside to play-
how do we counter this?

I did my best to answer Kristen's question, but this is such an important issue for the movement to connect children with nature that we need everyone to think about this and offer their ideas and suggestions.  We have a society full of fear, and the media bombards us every day with more danger.  How do we address the fear issue, especially at the parent and grandparent level?  I suspect that, as the old saying goes, it will take a village.  Please post your thoughts and ideas, and if you have been successful in addressing parental fear with specific actions, please share those on this site.

Tags: fear, outdoors

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In Finland fear for crime towards our children nor trafficaccidents are not issues hindering our youth to experience nature by nonsupervised play. Parents do allow children to play and even incourages them to do so after schooldays, BUT children often themselves choose to play videogames or spending time with a computer in the Internet...
What I have studied about the actual crimerates towards children and youth, they are extremely marginal and rare. Yet the fear for crime hinders so many possibilities to form close relationship to nature.. Everyone schould try to put the fear behind if possible.
Hi Taina. Welcome to the forum. It's interesting to read your insights and perspective. It sounds like fear is not as pervasive in Finland as in other countries. And yet children are not in nature by their own choice? (In the U.S., we have both factors at work - parental fear as well as the lure of electronic media.)

This is such a potent discussion. I dealt with it a lot in my own life when my daughter was 10 and under. By Middle School, it seemed many parents eased up and started allowing their children to walk, bike, and play in parks unsupervised in our small town. As a Scout leader, I had to convince the parents not to drive the troop to a destination when they could have a fun, 10-minute walk together instead. (Very sad - also another factor at work there was that the parents thought driving would be more efficient.) We have a lot of notions to overcome, I think, in order to give more children some experiences in nature (nearby and otherwise.)

Taina Laaksoharju said:
In Finland fear for crime towards our children nor trafficaccidents are not issues hindering our youth to experience nature by nonsupervised play. Parents do allow children to play and even incourages them to do so after schooldays, BUT children often themselves choose to play videogames or spending time with a computer in the Internet...
What I have studied about the actual crimerates towards children and youth, they are extremely marginal and rare. Yet the fear for crime hinders so many possibilities to form close relationship to nature.. Everyone schould try to put the fear behind if possible.
Suz and Taina, I agree that in the U.S. we have some complex issues going on surrounding the fear of danger to our children if we let them play outside. Driving our children everywhere is one such issue, which is probably associated with a sense that we don't have enough time, and the challenge that our kids are so scheduled so they really don't have much, if any, free time.

To counter the fear issue, I have been trying to encourage people to organize groups to go outside because there is safety in numbers. Perhaps neighborhoods can create a "neighborhood watch" program so that at least one adult is "on call" to watch over kids at play outside. Community organizations can also offer the possibility of a "chaperone or mentor," groups such as 4H leaders and of course the scouts, and boys and girls clubs. Some schools are forming "eco-clubs" that can also be helpful. I think it will take a village to solve this one, one family at a time. Keep thinking and offering suggestions.


Suz Lipman said:
Hi Taina. Welcome to the forum. It's interesting to read your insights and perspective. It sounds like fear is not as pervasive in Finland as in other countries. And yet children are not in nature by their own choice? (In the U.S., we have both factors at work - parental fear as well as the lure of electronic media.)

This is such a potent discussion. I dealt with it a lot in my own life when my daughter was 10 and under. By Middle School, it seemed many parents eased up and started allowing their children to walk, bike, and play in parks unsupervised in our small town. As a Scout leader, I had to convince the parents not to drive the troop to a destination when they could have a fun, 10-minute walk together instead. (Very sad - also another factor at work there was that the parents thought driving would be more efficient.) We have a lot of notions to overcome, I think, in order to give more children some experiences in nature (nearby and otherwise.)

Taina Laaksoharju said:
In Finland fear for crime towards our children nor trafficaccidents are not issues hindering our youth to experience nature by nonsupervised play. Parents do allow children to play and even incourages them to do so after schooldays, BUT children often themselves choose to play videogames or spending time with a computer in the Internet...
What I have studied about the actual crimerates towards children and youth, they are extremely marginal and rare. Yet the fear for crime hinders so many possibilities to form close relationship to nature.. Everyone schould try to put the fear behind if possible.
You all might be interested in Richard Louv's latest blog entry, which addresses the issue of fear as it relates to getting children out into nature: Hummingbird Parents: 7 Actions Parents Can Take to Increase Outdoor Safety. Lots of ideas! NING's Bethe Almeras and Juliet Robertson are quoted. http://bit.ly/dh1Irb
Hi Suz!

Thank you for sharing the "Hummingbird parent" article. Such a felicitous conceit! I must tell you that I made a mistake with my own children when we moved to a house with a garden: I honestly imagined that my children would initiatively contact with nature firts in teh home garden and later in near forests. But NO! I should have arrange walks and expeditions with them more in order to connect them more with nature. Now I truly battle with them to get them outdoors infront of the computer or TV. So I should have been that hummingbird parent!
Honestly, I feel that people of my age (40's) are lucky NOT to have had such allurements as our kids have today. I mean, all the electronic devises are truly interesting and attractive...

Suz Lipman said:
You all might be interested in Richard Louv's latest blog entry, which addresses the issue of fear as it relates to getting children out into nature: Hummingbird Parents: 7 Actions Parents Can Take to Increase Outdoor Safety. Lots of ideas! NING's Bethe Almeras and Juliet Robertson are quoted. http://bit.ly/dh1Irb

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