I grew up in the east end of London, not very, but close enough, to the docks to know a docker or two. My Dad spent most of his working life working for a ships stores, providing supplies of all sorts to the ships that berthed in the royal docks, cruise liners and even the British Antarctic survey team. We were surrounded by a thriving community
What I remember most about those days, was the freedom I had to play in the streets and to disappear on Sundays over the park (Both being a good 2 miles away) with the kids who lived in the street and not coming back until dinner time. We had no mobile phones or much of anything really. If we played in the street, it was a rare car that interrupted our play. There were the Pikes, the Mansfields, Smiths, Bucklands. we all played together, silly games like tin can tommy and hide and seek. Most of their Mums were referred to as Auntie.
I look at my Grandson, Kai, who is 8 now and realise he has just started to be allowed to go to the shop on his own or to the local community centre, all within sight of his Mum's 5th floor balcony and worry. Will he be street savvy enough to resist the lure of gangs or to remain under the radar of bullies? As much as his Mum and Dad try and instill confidence in him, it's not until he is presented with these things will he know about them, because lets face it, someone can tell you, but it's not the same as the actual experience. At 8 I was travelling on buses and trains by myself, walking up to Forest Gate to buy books. Getting on the bus to meet my Mum at the factory ( in Leyton) she worked in as a surprise.
We met a lady on holiday who worked for an organisation in Manchester who tried to encourage the kids to play together outside without their parents intervention, because, she said, the fear of crime was actually far worse than the crimes that were really being committed.
Kids in the 60's were still (occasionally) abducted or went missing, there were still paedophiles in our communities and still gangs, but for some reason it was never a problem letting us out to play.
I wonder, what kind of adults will our grandchildren grow up to be ? And worse, how will their children learn to rely on their own intiative?