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When you stop and think about it, my generation were so lucky growing up. I can remember going outside with my sister to play in the road or on the green with friends from a fairly young age. I can remember being allowed to walk to the shop on my own or with a friend to spend 20p on 20 sweets when penny sweets really were just that. We rode our bikes, we stayed out until it was almost dark, and we felt safe and happy. Sadly, even living in a quiet cul-de-sac, surrounded by families, I can’t imagine ever feeling happy enough with the state of the world, to let my daughter do the same. The question is, am I overreacting? Is our world safe enough for our children?
I suppose it actually comes down to a matter of opinion. As a mother of a young child it doesn’t feel very safe. Sadly, when walking past large groups of young people, I hold her hand a little tighter and avoid making eye contact with them. Even when out in our safe and secure garden, I always have one eye and one ear on her because you simply never know what might happen.
If you take a look at crime statistics these days, the number of children taken or even more alarmingly the number of children committing crimes is forever on the rise. I do have to stop and wonder though if it is in fact the media that has turned some of us into scared insiders and others to lives of crime? They may not be the sole cause, but I think they’re a massive contributing factor.
I am someone who makes my living from the use of Social Media and often the contents of stories in the media, so I don’t hate them by any means and in some cases think they’re an incredibly powerful tool to utilise in the right moment. However, I also think they hype up and sensationalise things that don’t need to be which can insight fear and a mob mentality within the general public.
Years ago, at the age of 24, I was walking home from work alone at 4am in the morning. I had just graduated, I couldn’t afford a taxi on a barmaid’s wage (pre-teaching job) and had walked home alone many times. That night, I was spotted by a group of girls, who I later found out were aged 13-16, stood at the end of my road. To avoid them, I walked down the road behind my house which would still give me access to my home. However, I am not sure anything I could have done would have been the right move.
My mere presence had annoyed them and they began following me, shouting and jeering at me, throwing cups of what smelt like cider at me and over me, pushing me, throwing cigarettes at me until I turned to go onto my property and they pushed me down a couple of steps and I fell to the floor. After a few more jeers and spitting on me, they ran off.
Want to know what the worst part of the whole experience was? I simply went inside, had a shower and got into bed. The next day I got on with my life and even spotted some of them in the daylight on my way to work. I changed the way I walked home for a little while but that was it. I did nothing. Why?
I’m not sure in all honesty. I regret it now because I think that if you do nothing then nothing will change but I think I was scared of the repercussions, especially as they knew where I lived. Perhaps, I didn’t really have any faith that something would actually be done, considering they were minors, or maybe I felt it was my own fault for walking home in the early hours, in the dark, by myself. Who knows.
I did tell my mum, who was furious to discover that I was walking home alone at night but understanding. She mentioned the incident recently and it was funny because I hadn’t thought about it in so long.
Alyssa is growing up so fast that it is both overwhelming and a little sad. I have no doubt that in the not so distant future, I will have requests about going out to play with friends. Sadly, with the state of the world and many of the people in it, I’m not sure I will ever be in a position to say yes, without following her and sitting and watching to make sure she’s okay. I think I’d rather have her friends trampling through my house making a mess and noise – at least then I’d know that they were safe. Hopefully I won’t be “hated” too much for being “uncool.”
Do you worry about the safety of the world we’ve brought our children into?