For John, BLUF: It was always better in the old days. Nothing to see here; just move along.
Here is the paragraph Blogger Ann Althouse lifted from the article in The Week, by Mr Michael Brendan Dougherty, 21 July 2014, "Why are so many parents being arrested? The communities that used to assist them are gone. So we call the cops instead."
My own childhood seems to have become illegal. I was the son of a single mother. During summers I would explore my neighborhood, visit friends' houses, walk to a pond to fish, ride my bike from our home in Bloomfield, N.J., to the abandoned lots of Newark, and jump it over curbs. I could be unsupervised from 10 in the morning until 8:30 at night, when the streetlights started coming on. If I was home with my grandmother, sometimes she would leave me alone to do grocery shopping.Mr Dougherty is apparently younger than I am (we didn't have DARE in my day) and lived in the other end of the Garden State. I used to ride my bike, alone, to the lake to go swimming. The Borough had a life guard, but still, I was on my own, and that is where swimming lessons were. I have, with my buddies, walked on a railroad trestle—the amazing thing is I dislike high places. That doesn't count the time five of us walked three miles down the train tracks to get home after seeing a movie in another town.
Yes, childhood is much more constrained now than it was. And less adventurous. Mr Dougherty is on to something.
On the other hand, maybe it is more adventurous today. I used to ride my bike up to the drug store (across the main drag and over the double railroad tracks at the crossing) to buy Carbon Tetrachloride, for cleaning model railroad tracks. While I might get whiffs of it, I never sat around inhaling it, drinking it or injecting it. Hat tip to the Althouse blog.
Regards — Cliff