Children's Walking Harnesses / Reins -- Chronology (1990s- )

Figure 1.--I am not sure when this photograph was taken, but we know it was taken in Reading, England. We would guess it was taken in the late 1990s or early 2000s.

Suddenly, people came to see some kids on harness after 1990. Many factors can explain this phenomenon. First, many parents, tired to be jammed in traffic, returned to overcrowded cities which offered more and more opportunities for young parents. And where to find a lot of entertainements for kids and also for parents ? In the city. Some courageous or overwhelmed parents were unable to see a solution to their anxiety when on outings with kids. Because of the danger that represenrted mega shopping centers, mega attraction parks, mega adventure parks, mega fireworks which attracted in one day hundreds and hundred of people, it became evident that parents were required to be cautious with their kids. Younger where reined like at the beginning of the century and the older children until 6 years old wore a wrist link (figure ?n picture #15) or a harness designed for children 4 months to 4 years old (picture #16) With a growing demand, some child harness manufacturers like Mothercare, Boots in England and Safety First and Dandee produced a lot of models which were really less cost than leather one with an unsurpassed efficiency. Polypropylene webbing, used at first with climbers, became generalized to walking harness and reins for security reasons.

Today, harness and reins are part of a way of life in United Kingdom. As a mother said to me: "They wear their harnesses like their shoes" Two determining factors played in favor of reining kids. The first one is the murdering of James Bulger, a little two years toddler who was kidnapped by two 10 years old boys. It brought about a change of attitude in Great Britain. The use of harness and reins which was declining was then invigorating after February 12th, 1993. Such an example, which is an isolated case on statistical grounds , can become generalized for psychological reasons. No parents want his child to be the next victim. So, the presumed victim need to be protected and a way to do so is pulling kids on reins. United States lived something like that with the World Trade Center bombing on September 11th, 2001. Columbine, gunning, snipers are also examples of a growing feeling of anxiety. People feel insecure.


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Created: July 18, 2003
Last updated: 10:18 PM 5/3/2005