Where have the city children gone?

Do you remember the age when you first went out on the street alone? If you’re a parent, chances are that big moment of empowerment happened much earlier than it did for your own children. Single children have virtually disappeared from cities. One figure is enough to give the measure of the phenomenon: in France, in urban areas of more than 100,000 inhabitants, 97% of elementary students are accompanied to get 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 street”, available online, the Ministry of the Interior even recommends that parents avoid any unsupervised outings of children, such as a sort of institutionalization of collective fears: “Make sure he is never alone. Have him accompanied by someone you trust. »

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers Schoolchildren on the right path, to move more and pollute less

How and why did our children disappear from the city streets? We put the question to four specialists from different backgrounds.

Thierry Paquot is a philosopher. He has written several books dealing with the place of children in the world and in the city, including his most recent, country of childhood (Urban land, 254 pages, 20 euros).

Clément Rivière is a lecturer in sociology at the University of Lille, author of Their children in the city. Survey of parents in Paris and Milan (Lyon University Press, 2021).

Anne-Marie Rodenas founded the Cafézoïde – Children’s Café in Paris 19e, which celebrates its 20th anniversary on September 18. An associative place where all children from 0 to 16 years old 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 published Denial or the factory of blindness (Albin Michel, 256 pages, 21.90 euros).

Have city children become indoor children?

Thierry Paquot Yes. They have become children of an interior which is not necessarily that of the apartment but that of extracurricular activities: the conservatory, sports, plastic arts… That is to say, they go out to be locked up again. The children are confined. For two years, the word has been a bit overused, but that’s what it is.

This is an evolution that concerns the whole of society. It is absolutely necessary to make the most of the time. Both adults and children have lost the use of no man’s time : time for nothing, like boredom, waiting, siesta. These off-times are very valuable, but they are stigmatized by the society of efficiency.

You have 84.65% of this article left to read. The following is for subscribers only.

Leave a Comment