Is the bubble wrap too thick on our grandchildren? 6



View Profile

For many people here, their youth was spent climbing trees, walking or riding bikes to and from school, and feeling safe to loiter at the local shops or milkbar for fun. Strangers weren’t dangerous, and you could walk down the street and wave at passers by. Children could spend hours out and about without parents being concerned. But the Day for Daniel reminds us that these beautiful memories of freedom as just that, memories. And the emergence of a bubble-wrapped generation is very very real. At what cost will this come in society? Is the Day for Daniel an appropriate day to talk about it?

The world was a different place 40 years ago to what it is today, where we worry if our children or grandchildren are out of site for any significant time. Kids don’t ride to school much in the cities anymore, they only walk past a certain age, and they certainly don’t climb trees. Stranger danger and the fear of harm coming to those we love has made us want to protect our children from … well, almost everything.

Some say our fears are causing us to wrap our younger generation in “bubble wrap”, creating a generation that is glued to devices, indoors, and restricting the growth of independence that comes from getting out and taking risks, trying and succeeding.

A major VicHealth study this year has revealed more than a third of Victorian parents with children aged 9-15 avoid situations where they are without an adult in case a stranger approaches them.

On the Day for Daniel, we all cast our minds back 11 years ago to the day that young 13 year old went missing in a coastal town of Queensland, doing the seemingly safe task of catching a bus to the shops and we quiver.

His family have fought hard to bring the issues of “Stranger Danger” to the forefront of our education system in a way we must all be grateful. In my house we talk about Daniel openly and how he was lured to a car, taken and killed by a nasty person, so our young children are aware that these things actually happen. We don’t wrap this part of it in bubble wrap. We don’t sugar-coat the fact that it happened, in fact we’re blunt with them… don’t go near cars that pull up near you in the street, ever.

Victoria’s peak health promotion agency is pushing for ways to counter parent’s fears and the “bubble-wrapping” of children predicting that one in three children will be overweight or obese in a decade unless lifestyles improve.  But what can we do about it when our fears are so well-founded?

We’re all scared, all the time of something going wrong for our loved ones, those beautiful innocent children. Every parent and grandparent’s nightmare flashed across TV screens earlier this week, when 11-year-old Michelle Levy “ran away” from home and was searched for, for two days before being found in the home of a stranger.

It used to be that we could run away from home for hours and our parents would shrug it off.

Daniel Morcombe’s parents probably wish they had wrapped him in bubble wrap to keep him from harm.

But, the well-known and widely recognised fact is that independence is important to build in a child over their life, so we have resilient, responsible and capable kids entering our workforce and community in the future.


We sure can’t go back to the good old days… as much as many of us would like to. So how do we as families, walk the fine line between placing your kids in the path of danger and protecting them from harm, whilst building independence and resilience? Is the Day for Daniel a day when we really have to ask this scary question?

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. Strange I should read this today. I have just read a request from an alarmed parent at my Grandson’s primary school asking if anyone noticed a white van. His 11yr old daughter was told to “go to the back of the van and get some free lollies”. Fortunately, she didn’t go. As it so happened yesterday, I got a close park and watched my Grandson walk from the school front right to my car. My husband always goes early to “get a good park”. I’m usually later leaving and end up further down the road from the school. Bring on the Bubble Wrap. I’ll be going early from now on.

    1 REPLY
    • I agree, it frightens me to think what is happening in our society, when I think of the great childhood I had, “Just be home before Dark” we were told, that is all gone.. Cannot push stranger danger enough, If I could wrap my grandson in bubble wrap I would.

  2. The waiting and wondering is the hardest. If only there were a way to instantly know their whereabouts and if they were ok.

  3. It’s really hard, but we do need to take risks sometimes. If they are bubble wrapped too much they will not grow up to be responsible and resilient, and sooner or later they will have to out and about and they need to know how to deal with situations. I made sure my daughter was as streetwise as I could possibly make her because she was a very wilful teenager and I knew she was doing things she wasn’t supposed to. I kept as close an eye on her as I could, but I couldn’t chain her to the bedpost. Thankfully she came through it all unscathed. It is the children who are too naive who are likely to get into trouble.

  4. So much different here to UK was horrified that our grandkids could play out here with only small amount of supervision.just like us in the 60’s even our kids didn’t have so much freedom. Good !! Bad !! I’m still not sure and still worry about them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *