My favourite child freedom blogger, Lenore Skenazy, continues to point to incidents around the USA regarding authorities frowning, placing barriers or even making laws that prevent the free movement of children in society. Globally, human society is neither society nor even human, if it is not child centric. Childcentric has often, perversely, been taken as disengaging from children, coddling them, ignoring their wild behaviour and often their tempered behaviour. Rather, a childcentric society is a society that is continually creating pathways and spaces for children to become ever more involved in the work-of-society. When I say, work-of-society, I mean the work of making a society, a cohesive and unified family, community, nation and planet, and not to be confused with labour. It includes labour, play, learning, service, artistic expression, making, engagement with any other human beings, participation in governance.
Childcentricness should be a filter for law. It should be illegal to impede the free movement of the child through society. This, again, does not mean that the child can go and do on any whim. It does mean this movement is supported and planned and trained with adults, parents, relatives, family friends, teachers. It does mean that the child is not specifically impeded when their behaviour is safe for others around them. It means that all adults are free to engage with children about their aspirations, even it is the aspiration to get to the museum by train. In such engagement, the child is opened to a great space of engagement with society. The adult who engages with a child ensures the safety of that child in public spaces. The adult who avoids children in public spaces is an adult leaving that child exposed to that rare individual with malicious intent. If we adults are frightened to engage children in public spaces, is this cowardice the modelling we want to train the children. What a particularly constrained and horrible society we are inadvertently building as we train our children in such fear.
A childcentric society is one in which everywhere there are children, moving alone and moving in groups. Like this clip shows of the Netherlands. It is a society where children are confidently in contact with adults, along their journey. It is a society where children understand the signs of danger: “Watch the step”, red lights, odd adult engagement, and are able to respond appropriately.