Remember the age you first went out alone? If you are a parent, chances are that that great moment of emancipation happened much earlier than it did for your own children. Single children have practically disappeared from the cities. A figure is enough to give the measure of the phenomenon: in France, in urban areas with more than 100,000 inhabitants, 97% of elementary school pupils are accompanied to go to school, 77% of those in middle school, according to a Harris Interactive survey. for Unicef carried out in 2020. In a text entitled “The risks of the road”, available online, the Ministry of the Interior even recommends parents to avoid unsupervised exits of children, as a sort of institutionalization of collective fears: “Make sure he’s never alone. Have someone you trust accompany them. “
How and why did our children disappear from the city streets? We asked the question to four specialists from different backgrounds.
Thierry Paquot is a philosopher. He has written several books on the place of children in the world and in the city, including the most recent, country of childhood (Urban land, 254 pages, 20 euros).
Clément Rivière is a professor of sociology at the University of Lille, author of Their children in the city. Survey on parents in Paris and Milan (Press of the University of Lyon, 2021).
Anne-Marie Rodenas founded the Cafézoïde – Café for children in Paris 19And, which celebrates its 20th anniversary on 18 September. An associative place where all children from 0 to 16 are free to come and play, discuss, work as they please.
Serge Tisseron is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, member of the Academy of Technologies. He just posted The denial or the factory of blindness (Albin Michel, 256 pages, € 21.90).
Have urban children become children indoors?
Thierry Paquot Yes. They have become children of an interior that is not necessarily that of the apartment but that of extracurricular activities: the conservatory, sport, the plastic arts … That is to say, they come out locked up again. Children are confined. For two years the word has been a little overused, but that’s the way it is.
This is an evolution that affects the whole of society. It is imperative to make the most of your time. Both adults and children have lost use nobody’s time : time for nothing, like boredom, waiting, siesta. These rest times are very valuable, but they are stigmatized by the efficiency society.
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