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Today's kids have less freedom than previous generations

Press release: 28/04/2010

  • A quarter (24%) of children aged 15 and under are not allowed to sleep over at a friend’s house.

  • Six in ten (60%) are forbidden to use public transport without a parent present.

  • Over six in ten mums (65%) and a similar number of dads (63%) think the world is a more dangerous place now compared to when they were growing up.

  • Children can expect to wait almost two years longer before experiencing the same levels of freedom that their parents had.

Stuck in the home or watched over by over-protective parents, children now lack the freedom their parents had just a few decades years ago, as fears for their safety reach new heights.

According to new research from LV= Streetwise, a charity that educates children about safety, today’s parents don't allow their kids the same liberties as they enjoyed when they were growing up. A quarter (24%) of children aged 15 and under say they aren’t allowed to sleep over at a friend’s house, 60% are forbidden to use public transport on their own, and 43% can’t visit their closest park without a parent by their side.

In contrast, just 4% of today’s adults say they were banned from sleeping-over when they were 15 or younger, only 2% were forbidden to use public transport, and the same number couldn’t go out on their own in familiar surroundings, such as their local town or park.

The restrictions on children’s outside activities today appear to be a direct result of parents’ growing fears and anxieties. Two-thirds of mums (65%) and a similar number of dads (63%) believe the world is more dangerous now than it was when they were growing up. ‘Stranger danger’ is the number one worry for over half of all parents (54%), followed by bullying (47%), mugging (47%) and road danger (34%).

These fears are forcing a generation of children to stay indoors for longer or only go out with a parent, delaying their independence. According to the LV= Streetwise findings, children can expect to wait almost two years longer to experience the kind of freedom that their parents had before them.

On average, children today can look forward to walking to school on their own by the age of 11, use public transport on their own at 12, and babysit their brother or sister by the time they’re 14.

In contrast, parents say they were allowed to walk to school unaccompanied at the age of 9, use public transport alone by the time they were 11, and babysit a sibling by the time of their 12th birthday.

Parents know they’re being tougher on their children and over a third (36%) say they feel uneasy that their kids don’t get the same opportunities as they did to experience freedom as a youngster.

The new research findings published today mark the launch of the LV= Streetwise safety roadshow, which helps to educate children about safety in the home and outdoors. The roadshow is the first of its kind, using a converted ‘bendy bus’ featuring a life-size kitchen, a lounge area, and road and rail hazard simulators, to teach children about safety issues. The roadshow will be travelling round county fairs and other outdoor events across the UK this summer.

Statistics show that although parents worry most about ‘outside’ dangers, nearly a million children are taken to hospital every year after accidents in the home that could have been prevented. The roadshow, aimed at children between 5 and 11 years old, has been designed and developed by safety experts to help educate children about the risk of accidents, in a safe and controlled environment. Children will learn about potential hazards and everyday dangers in the world around them, thus building their confidence to stay safe and their ability to cope in an emergency.

Mike Rogers, LV= group chief executive, said: “It’s difficult for parents to know when is the right time to step back and allow children to experience things on their own, and this report shows just how much things have changed over the last generation. Parents have a key role in helping their children to become more risk-aware and better at spotting everyday dangers in the world around them.

“As an insurer that protects people’s lives and possessions, it’s natural for us to be involved with educating families about everyday risks and promoting safety. LV= has a long-term commitment to child safety as a founding sponsor of the LV= Streetwise charity in Bournemouth. By creating the LV= Streetwise safety roadshow we are now taking the safety message nationwide to a wider audience.”

Alison Shelton, LV= Streetwise safety expert, said: “LV= Streetwise aims to reduce accidents among children by highlighting to them the dangers in the home and on the road, and educating them to make responsible choices. With thousands of children killed or injured in preventable accidents every year, we aim to give young people a head start in their safety education, supporting parents and schools in providing them with essential skills for life.”

The LV= Streetwise safety centre in Bournemouth is a fully interactive safety ‘village’ which offers free safety education to over 13,000 children a year. Parents and young people can find out more about LV= Streetwise by visiting

Notes to editors

Research was undertaken by ICM Research between 19th and 28th March 2010 via an online survey involving 6,099 adults, 1,464 of whom were parents of children under the age of 18. Research amongst children was undertaken between 23rd March and 7th April 2010 amongst 1,000 children aged 5-15 via online method.

ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at

For more information about LV= Streetwise please visit


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