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    Parents are worried about the safety of their youngsters in public space, although they do not define all public space as dangerous for their children. This article discusses empirical research of the views of parents of fourteen and fifteen year olds on the safety in different environments. Parents in cities, suburbia and the countryside in the Dutch province of Groningen all worry about the safety of their children. Nevertheless, differences exist in the ways in which they reproduce images of 'the city as a jungle' and the 'rural idyll.' These dominant images influence the parental concerns and the way parents protect their youngsters. At the same time, parents hold alternative and sometimes contradictory views about the appropriateness of their residential environment. Furthermore, parents' opinions on safety are not exclusively based on the places their children visit. Besides local experiences, national and international news frame the parents' views. This is of considerable importance for local safety policies.


Renske Emmelkamp
Dr. Renske Emmelkamp promoveerde recentelijk op het proefschrift Een veilig avontuur. Alledaagse plaatsen en vrijetijdsbesteding in de verhalen van jongeren en ouders (Amsterdam: in eigen beheer). Zij publiceerde voorts in 2002 'Gevaarlijke plaatsen voor de jeugd' in Rooilijn, 9: 425-33 en in 2001 'Über Stadt und Land hinaus. Die Besorgnis von Eltern und Jugendliche in der öffentlichen Domäne' in: L. Deben en J. van de Ven (red.), Berlin und Amsterdam. Globalisierung und Segregation, Amsterdam: Het Spinhuis, 44-66. Adres: Sumatrakade 1205, 1019 RJ Amsterdam, tel.: 020-4715082/06-29027886, e-mail: r.emmelkamp@xs4all.nl

    Blokland and Soenen use ethnographic research of tramcars in Antwerp to discuss how incidental contacts in public transport relate to safety and trust in the public space. They argue that anonymity, although often blamed, is not the culprit. Blaming certain categorically labeled groups as 'problematic' is not a fruitful approach either. Through an analysis of social realms (public, private and parochial, as in Lofland) that customers create in interaction with each other, the authors show that public transport incorporates potentials both for 'thin community' and for conflict and anxiety. Whether people experience one or the other depends on the social trust. The key to understand how such trust can grow and decrease cannot be found in crime statistics, individual attitudes or categories of 'problematic groups', but in the constructions of the social realms through which people opt out of the public realm or, in groups, appropriate the public space at the expense of others. Describing the various services of 'Lijnspotters', drivers and controllers, the authors discuss what types of social control in public transport is most likely to enhance social trust.


Talja Blokland
Talja Blokland is buitengewoon hoogleraar 'wetenschappelijke grondslagen van het opbouwwerk' aan de Erasmus Universiteit en universitair docent aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam.
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