paranoia

I just went for a wander, to blow the morning cobwebs off. There's a house near to my apartment and there's always a clatter of children swinging from the chimney, playing poker on the front doorstep, throwing carbombs at passerbys, to name but a few characteristic japanese prekindergarden activities.
Seriously, these children are out and about, without fail, when I go by and usually scream "herro" at me and this makes me smile.
Today one of the little ladies was sitting in a neighbouring rice field poking the budding plants with a big stick, as one does, most definately, with the welfare of the plant in mind, suttlely coaxing a bloody great yield.
One of the boys was tearing down the road on his yellow car-thing.
No parent in site which I applaud. Yes, there was an element of danger, but, it made me wonder if it were a Western city environment, these children would doubtlessly be surrounded by a thrity feet barbed fense and probably chained to the dog, for fear, they'd , God forbid ! , fall over and scratch themselves, or that a big pervert (such as this ALT who apparently likes to invite young boys back to her apartment-oopse ! ) would swipe them.
It made me wonder when did we all start to get so paranoid. Weren't there weirdos, and criminals and paedophiles, and drunkards in bygone days too ?
Are we just locking our selves up from one another?