I listened to the free range mom on Glenn Beck this morning. Although I was a helicopter parent before the term was invented, my own generation as children was certainly "free range." I did things like riding my bike to the next town on the highway, or galloping on a blind horse. When I was 11 I was babysitting for infants--didn't even know how to change a diaper. When I was 13 I was a corn detasseler (removing tassel to cross or hybridize corn plant) either walking the rows or riding equipment with a teen driver for supervision.
Pinky, the blind horse who was also a family babysitter.
Children under 5 are in danger, but it's their parents, not strangers or neighbors. Particularly their mothers and their boyfriends, and it's not guns either. Homicide has drastically gone down in all age groups the last 25 years, but has gone up in that one, and black children are way out of proportion to their population. When was the last time you heard of a black parent being arrested for allowing a child to play unsupervised in the park or street? http://www.unh.edu/ccrc/pdf/homicidechildrenyouth.pdf
I don't know why homicide in young children is going up, but my suspicion is it has to do with abortion and the devaluing of young lives.