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Thread: Things Aint What They Used To Be

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    Senior Member Bushfella's Avatar
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    Things Aint What They Used To Be

    Pa-Broon commented elsewhere about the days when we chucked the kit in a van and went camping.

    Made me think about the changes.

    I'm not sure that the way I dealt with my own kids and their play activities was much different from the way my parents dealt with me and mine, or indeed the way my parents were brought up either. We really did go out and play, we got scrapes, bruises, we told our parents whwre we were going, in general, but often ended up somewhere cmpletely different doing something just as different. We really did go out after breakfast and come home when it was tea-time. We climbed trees, clambered up rocks, swam in streams we dammed (often shared with the cattle drinking from the same stream). We made campfires, we guddled for fish 9 though we rarely caught them).

    Now, I have seen kids come and go over the years and I have seen parental attitudes change, from the laissez faire (on play), to the insistance that play must be supervised and controlled. Few kids today have the freedom that we did, and those that do, shall we be kind to them, don't have any concept of boundaries (and little imagination as to what they can do with their freedom).

    It is interesting watching parental expressions when their children get to be adventurous in their presence. Their first reaction is to try and stop them.

    So, how do these kids learn if they are not allowed to fall? ( that is fall not fail - that comes later)

    Is what we do being defined by increasing parental overprotectiveness? Is that overprotectiveness being endorsed by the courts? Is our impression of the situation distorted by our own childhoods ( lost in the mists of time) or are our memories themselves distorted and in reality we were equally protected but we didn't realise it at the time?
    Ewan Scott

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    To be fair there was a lot that happened "back in the day" because we were collectively too stupid to know better - we smoked, we drove around in poorly constructed cars with no seat belts, we licked lead paint, we worked in factories where you couldn't see one end from the other due to asbestos dust (late neighbour's description of his working conditions!). Obviously most of us survived otherwise the human race would be nearing extinction.

    So I wonder whether parental attitudes to safety weren't as dissimilar back then - they just had a much shorter list of known risks to consider? Was the word Paedophile even invented back when I was a kid - clearly there were a few around judging by historic scandals, but other than a few probably ill informed rumours, most people didn't think about the possibility of a kid getting kidnapped etc - the Moors murders were probably (I don't know as I wasn't around) considered to be so extraordinary in their abhorrence that no-one thought to wonder if there were a few more of them lurking around other parts of the country doing similar if not as dramatic things.

    My parents wouldn't have a TV in the house until I was around ten as they felt it was a dangerous time waster - even when we finally got one it was a small portable and our watching habits were restricted. Is that a similar sort of protectionism to what we see parents practising today but on other fronts? On the other hand I wasn't given any form of grilling when I set off with a couple of mates to travel from Bath up via the Settle and Carlisle train line, stay over night in a B&B in Carlisle and come back again (it was when that line was being threatened with closure and for some reason we decided we wanted to do it). I guess a similar comparison today might be parents wary of their kids playing in the known woods a couple of streets away but perfectly happy for them to engage in the entirely unknown world of online gaming.

    ETA

    I think one thing that has changed which may impact the "out all day" thing is that far more households now don't have a stay at home parent. If I'm home all day I'm fine with the kids being out, because I know if they get hurt they can limp/crawl home and have someone there to sort it out. If I'm out at work all day, I don't really want them at home without an adult around so they tend to get booked into some kind of organised activity. By the time weekends involve homework and stuff like swimming classes etc, it can simply be a question of lack of opportunity so they aren't in the habit of doing it so don't think to do it - plus obvious the competition of things like X-box which are much more enticing that the ZX Spectrum that was the height of gaming in my day!
    Last edited by mang21; 08-10-2018 at 11:28 AM.
    Does anyone know what's going on?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushfella View Post
    So, how do these kids learn if they are not allowed to fall? ( that is fall not fail - that comes later)

    Is what we do being defined by increasing parental overprotectiveness? Is that overprotectiveness being endorsed by the courts? Is our impression of the situation distorted by our own childhoods ( lost in the mists of time) or are our memories themselves distorted and in reality we were equally protected but we didn't realise it at the time?
    A bit of all those...

    It's always interesting how accurate our memories of childhood are. I often remember some things quite differently to my brother, with our parents remembering it differently to both of us. I guess the best parenting gives the impression that the children have the freedom to do what they want, but is still good at controlling the risks. As you say, you may have been more protected than you realised at the time (or equally possibly you weren't).

    These sorts of conversations tend make it appear like children have lost a lot of freedom with few benefits. I think it's interesting to think about what what has changed for the better in that period and whether the losses were necessary for the benefits. For a start, I wonder how many children were seriously injured or killed, when better supervision might have saved them. Eg. you might imagine drowning could have been a risk for children mucking about without adults around. I know 'tombstoning' is a relatively recent development, but I imagine the temptation to show off by doing high jumps into water has always been there. I tried to look for accident statistics, but the only thing I could easily find was that road deaths fell by 84% between 1979 and 2013. So for every 6 children killed on the roads in 1979, only 1 was killed in 2013. If you think how much more traffic there is these days, that's even more amazing. Now that has probably got many different causes from traffic calming measures, lower speed limits, driver awareness, better brakes, better education... But it's also possible that a willingness to let children play out with less thought about the risks, or indeed knowledge of where they were going may have contributed to this higher death rate in the past.

    Another point raised by Mang was the problem of child abuse in the past. It seems clear that children reporting abuse in the past were routinely not believed or ignored (particularly those in care or less well off), with horrific consequences in many cases. If one aspect of our current over-protectiveness is that we are more ready to believe and act on reports of abuse, then it's not wholly negative.

    Having said that, I think parents often have a fairly distorted view of what the real risks are. We tend to focus a lot on the fear of abduction by a stranger when this is incredibly rare (although deeply traumatic and widely reported when it does happen). I don't think the risks of this have changed much, but parents seem to curtail their children's movements a lot more based on that fear.

    So overall, it's really difficult to know how much avoidable harm was allowed by parenting practices in the past vs parenting practices now. Specifically on the risks of road accidents (which remain a major killer of children), there are a lot of infrastructure changes that would make cycling and walking a lot safer and more pleasant in our towns and cities. That's the biggest thing that would make me more willing to give my children more freedom.

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    Personally?

    I reckon it's down to information, how it's delivered and what people do with it. That and the perpetual state of hysteria our lovely media like to keep people in so they can hawk their daft rags.

    I don't think we can say parents are more trusting, because kids get dumped at Scouts and we don't even know what the parent's look like - most never even talk to us. I think kids play differently these days as well - so that's not just down to parents being skittish. (A lot of our parents say their sprogs don't go out enough...)

    I wonder, perhaps... Parents are much more focused toward their kids these days. My parents didn't run around me anything like most parents run around their kids these days. It wasn't that they didn't care, its just that they also had their own social lives - they seemed to have a more balanced existence generally. Not sure why that is, keeping up with trends? Schools? The news? Keeping up with the Jones?

    I think School does have has a big part to play in this. I've heard many mums and dads talk about primary school dumbing down - with some headteachers being very 'nursery orientated'. I think that may be as a result of a litigious society and the glut of 'information' (that isn't always really factual...) I also think, generally, people are so easily offended these days - not just by actual offence - but by ideas and practices. (Got to say, putting my grumpy old man hat on - this is the thing that I find most vexing about 'modern life', this grasping enthusiasm to take offence at absolutely anything and everything. I suspect, the entire thread will boil down to this very thing... A bit like all crime being theft? It's as if we as a society do all these things not because it's right, but because (for whatever daft reason) we find the alternative offensive somehow...)

    As for the peadophiles... The most predatory are now on line. I think it's shifted away from real contact via schools and clubs etc in to the virtual universe - kids don't even know they're being taken advantage of.

    I look back at how we did our Scouting in 1992 (when I was first a leader). In terms of the organisation of camps etc - it was no less safe than it is now. We do all of the same things we used to do (albeit, we do a lot less of it for various reasons...) In terms of danger from adults? With everything that has changed, it's certainly made it more difficult (impossible?) for convicted offenders to get access to kids - but I also think, kids are lot more savvy now - so far less likely to accept abuse in their lives.

    Abuse is now far more likely to happen in the home than it is to happen out of it. In that regard the entire climate has changed.

    Regarding my comment in the other thread. I do think we've tipped too far over into a state of barely restrained hysteria in how we organise our camps etc. I think TSA is more interested in being seen to be doing 'something' (anything, everything?) but knowing on a collective subconscious level, that because we're a voluntary organisation - we have very little hope (or interest) in meeting standards as set out in POR.

    I get it though, they have to cover their backs.

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    Senior Member Bushfella's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    I get it though, they have to cover their backs.

    That, is a fair comment, but... I have often thought that sometimes in order to cover one's back, one first has to have a backbone...

    Taking this away from Scouts, we can see it in all walks of life where people do not wish to take responsibility. There is a propensity to pass the buck. People are indecisive because they don't want to be the ones to make the decision.

    My kids play with fire. Now, I blame my boys for this. They came home from University and degrees aside their main achievement was the ability to breathe fire and play with fire poi... My first encounter with firetoys came throgh my boys. I looked at how we could use this in scouts, and fell upon firestaff spinning - it is a tad safer than fire-poi, and there was no way I was letting kids breathe fire - that would really be pushing the risk envelope. If my boys singed themselves, that was their look-out. I was not being party to other peoples' kids subjecting themselves to life threatening burns!

    So, we make firestaff, the kids learn a basic contact move. I have a policy that they must have contact and control at all times - this limits what they can do, but if they want to get into the spectacular stuff, they can do it at University. Spinnng a firestaff is pretty safe. The balls of fire are in fixed positions, and you keep them at bay by maintaining control of the staff as you spin it. It looks impressive, the kids ovecome their fears, they realise that they can do something and it is something that they want to do, and no-one else does it. It is cool.

    We get a lot of, wow! I wouldn't do that, from parents. I have even had an "I'm glad you have the trust to let them do that, I wouldn't let them try it at home." I've had observers ask about the RA, How can your RA allow that? What if it goes wrong? etc.. There are an awful lot of people who will not put themselves out because they first have to cover their backs. Even though their backs are well covered. (We have an RA and a Method of Operation - but there is always a risk - thankfully, it takes more than a momentary contact to generate a burn from a firestaff.)

    The other week I had Juniors handling a knife, just passing from one to the other. The following week some parents withdrew their kids... yet they were the ones who wanted a more active programme... sometimes you can't win.
    Last edited by Bushfella; 08-10-2018 at 04:04 PM.
    Ewan Scott

    It seems that there are a lot of Nawyecka Comanch around....





    Nawyecka Comanch'": "Means roundabout--man says he's going one way, means to go t'other" Ethan Edwards - The Searchers



    www.upperdearnevalleynavigators.org.uk

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    ESL and DESC ianw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushfella View Post
    The other week I had Juniors handling a knife, just passing from one to the other. The following week some parents withdrew their kids... yet they were the ones who wanted a more active programme... sometimes you can't win.
    Perhaps "Shank making" was the wrong thing to call it.
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    The best days of my childhood were the summers I spent staying with my grandmother in a small village (1970s). At the time I felt free to roam and do whatever I wanted with nobody watching over me. Looking back, I had the whole village and every neighbouring farmer watching over me because they all knew who I was. Perhaps what has been lost is the presence of extended family and other known, tustworthy adults and this means parents have to be more protective.

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    I suspect it's not so much a lack of trustworthy adults - rather a lack of trust generally.

    Blame the press for that, I don't think there are any more predators out there than before.

    Saying that... Perhaps it's down to people no longer knowing their neighbours quite so much... I blame cynical governance for that... (Just my own pet theory...)

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    I think there is an element of a lack of willingness to be accountable too.
    There was an event where a parent had taken his beaver child; as a group the beavers hadnít gone so there were no beaver leaders there.
    The parent lost the child, this was somehow the leaders fault, who was on holiday in Cornwall at the time! Mum refused to accept it was her husbands fault. It caused problems for us in that she loudly proclaimed that we had lost her little,cherub on a cub camp and had done nothing about it.
    I explain to mums and dads that whilst they have free time and believe they are running through the woods with complete abandon, the leaders are in fact keeping an eye on them, just not stood over there shoulder.
    It does become more apparent when you mix groups, mine had more freedom and look confused because a different leader decides they are unsupervised and therefore at risk of hurting themselves and takes them off for a game of rounders before telling everyone that we left our kids alone!





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    Quote Originally Posted by Shaun View Post
    I think there is an element of a lack of willingness to be accountable too.
    There was an event where a parent had taken his beaver child; as a group the beavers hadn’t gone so there were no beaver leaders there.
    The parent lost the child, this was somehow the leaders fault, who was on holiday in Cornwall at the time! Mum refused to accept it was her husbands fault. It caused problems for us in that she loudly proclaimed that we had lost her little,cherub on a cub camp and had done nothing about it.
    I explain to mums and dads that whilst they have free time and believe they are running through the woods with complete abandon, the leaders are in fact keeping an eye on them, just not stood over there shoulder.
    It does become more apparent when you mix groups, mine had more freedom and look confused because a different leader decides they are unsupervised and therefore at risk of hurting themselves and takes them off for a game of rounders before telling everyone that we left our kids alone!

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    Ooh that would have peeved me right off. If my kids are causing harm, crossing your site boundaries, stealing, upsetting other kids, being excessively noisy at night, etc - then by all means tell them off. But dont go and organise an activity for them when they've been given free time.

    I wonder why today's fresh graduates have no imagination, no initiative, and take offence at the slightest thing?! (if you dont want to be called an idiot when you do something idiotic, don't come and work for me!)

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    When I was a Scout we went camping in Skips removal van, kit and kids were chucked in the back and off we went. As I recall no one died and we loved the adventure of it, and the parents didnt blink an eye as we clambered over the top of the tailgate. How things have changed.

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    I think the main difference between now and way back when is, there is more of a buffer these days. We never lost a kid or pranged any vehicle while kids were in it. We used to pile into an old transit van, pile bags on top of the kids and off we'd go.

    It's not that it's less safe per se, there's just less risk these days.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bernwood View Post
    When I was a Scout we went camping in Skips removal van, kit and kids were chucked in the back and off we went. As I recall no one died and we loved the adventure of it, and the parents didnt blink an eye as we clambered over the top of the tailgate. How things have changed.
    When I was a Wolf Cub in the early sixties I would see Scouts going to camp in open lorries. I couldn't wait to do that but by the time I was going to Scout Camp it didn't seem to be happening.

    I remember going to a County camp in the Lakes however in an old coach with all our kit piled in the aisle. There weren't enough seats so quite a few Scouts sat on the rucsacs etc.

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    Up until last year, while out jumble collecting, kids would ride in the trailers we had.

    The site of an Explorer sitting at a piano, in trailer filled with crap... I can't remember what he was playing...I think it might have been the theme from the Pink Panther...

    Folk in the village thought it was hilarious, they couldn't see the trailer for their hedges as the Explorer and piano seemed to float down the road.

    Alas, this no longer happens.

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    GSL & AESL shiftypete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    Up until last year, while out jumble collecting, kids would ride in the trailers we had.
    Which was massively illegal and dangerous even at low speeds, you are lucky no parent complained and you weren't prosecuted

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