Children are active - both indirectly and directly - in forging neighbourly relationships and connections for their parents. You know that, I know that, and now there's some ESRC research to back it up.
The findings are from a three-year study involving some 600 children and 80 parents in five contrasting areas - two inner London boroughs, an outer London suburb, a new town in the South East of England, and a city in the Midlands. During the study, the researchers examined children's experiences of travelling to school and to a wide range of activities outside the home - from formal clubs to hanging out in the park.
They found that the more parents were involved in the lives of their neighbours, the more freedom they gave their children. At the same time, the more social networks children have in a neighbourhood, the greater parents' confidence in the safety of that area.
The research also suggests that when parents allow their children to roam, their classmate's parents draw from that confidence. This in turn impacts upon their classmates' freedom of action.