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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Fearful parents are saying no to sleep-overs, banning children as old as 15 from using public transport on their own and watching over their kids like hawks at the local park, according to a new British study.
The survey of 6,099 people commissioned by LV= Streetwise, a charity that educates children about safety, revealed that nearly a quarter of children aged 15 or under were not allowed to sleep at a friend's house, 60 percent were forbidden to travel on public transport alone and 43 percent can't go to the park without a parent or guardian.
It said more than 60 percent of mums and dads think the world is more dangerous than when they were kids.
"It's difficult for parents to know when is the right time to step back and allow children to experience things on their own, and this report shows just how much things have changed over the last generation," said LV= group chief executive Mike Rogers in a statement.
In contrast, just four percent of today's adults say they were banned from sleeping-over when they were 15 or younger, only two percent were forbidden to use public transport, and the same number couldn't go out on their own in familiar surroundings, such as their local town or park.
"Stranger danger" is the number one worry for over half of all parents (54 percent), followed by bullying (47), mugging (47) and road danger (34).
On average, children today can look forward to walking to school on their own by the age of 11, use public transport on their own at 12, and babysit their brother or sister by the time they're 14.
In contrast, parents say they were allowed to walk to school unaccompanied at the age of nine, use public transport alone by the time they were 11, and babysit a sibling by the time of their 12th birthday.
Parents know they are being tougher on their children and over a third said they felt uneasy that their kids do not get the same opportunities as they did to experience freedom as a youngster.
LV= Streetwise released the survey to launch its safety roadshow, which helps to educate children about safety in the home and outdoors.
Editing by Steve Addison