Boy this sure did stray a bit away from the OP eh.
I would have to agree with you though, messiah and Zubaz, on the whole discipline(lack thereof)/abuse topic.
As for the free range kids thing I agree it is a great idea but that's another thing where parents can't be lazy. If you're going to allow/ encourage it, which really is a good thing, then make sure you meet that happy medium between giving them their freedom and being to lax and letting them do whatever they want without caring. People need to learn how to drill the right things into their kids heads without being to overbearing/overprotective.
If you don't and you take the combination of them not knowing the proper things and add to that the number of people out there who just don't give a shit about anyone but themselves you can have disastrous consequences to live with.
A quick example of why I say that about people not caring is a local news story I read here recently (which reminded me why I only read a newspaper about once a year anymore), I won't go into all the details of the events leading up to it because it's just to aggravating, but there was a traffic jam on one of the busiest roads around here, 45mph limits and heavy traffic, after sitting there moving slowly behind the line of cars ahead of them for awhile, two different drivers got to where they could see what was causing the problem and both of them ended up getting out of their cars to go after a very young girl (2 or 3 yrs old i think) who was walking in the middle of the road with all of these other cars honking their horns at her and driving around her. Just one more example of how ridiculously self involved people have gotten these days.
Anyways, back on topic, free range is great but make sure you teach your kids the things they need to know, and not just teach it to them but check up on them once in awhile when they don't think you are around to make sure they are still following the things you have taught them.