Israeli Parents Among World’s Most Protective, Study Shows
Israel — a country no stranger to war and terrorism — is perhaps not surprisingly among the more protective countries in the world when it comes to granting children independence, according to a new study by the Policy Studies Institute (PSI) at the University of Westminster in London.
The report, published by the PSI last month, shows that Israeli parents ranked 9th out of 16 countries surveyed in terms of allowing their children to freely travel and play in their local neighborhoods without adult supervision.
Parents in Israel were slightly more protective of their children than those in the U.K. and France, but more relaxed than parents in Sri Lanka, Brazil, Ireland, Australia, Portugal and Italy (tied), and South Africa.
Finland ranked first in almost every independent mobility indicator in the study. Research showed that by the age of 8 the majority of Finnish children are allowed to cross main roads, travel home from school and go out alone after dark. By age 10, a majority can travel on local buses alone.
The PSI examined independent mobility among children aged 7 to 15 as well as teenagers in 16 countries between 2010 and 2012. The findings were based on a survey that both students and parents were asked to complete asking questions about freedom of travel for children, both to school and around their local areas, childrens’ and parents’ attitudes and fears, mobile phone and car ownership, socio-demographics, and other factors.
The PSI said their recent study shows a sharp decline in independence for children since the first report was published in 1971.
Ben Shaw, who led the research, said that allowing children the freedom to travel alone within their local areas “has been found to be important for their health, and mental and social development,” the U.K.’s Daily Mail reported.
“Children’s freedom of movement has declined in recent decades and danger from traffic is the main reason parents give for not letting children out alone,” he continued. “We are struck by how this significant danger – and major restriction on children – is routinely accepted given the health and developmental benefits independent mobility has been shown to result in.”