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Should children be allowed to go sledding alone? Why one writer says yes

With snow all around, kids are reaching for their sleds and daydreaming of a downhill adventure. But is it an adventure they should have on their own?
/ Source: TODAY

There's a fresh blanket of snow covering much of the northeast right now, and while all of that powder has grownups grabbing their shovels, kids are reaching for their sleds and daydreaming of a downhill adventure.

But is it an adventure they should have on their own?

These days, kids participate in few daring activities without the presence of protective parents. But according to columnist Tom Purcell, while sledding sans mom and dad may not always be safe and easy, it is important.

Child sledding
A child goes sledding down a hill in Bruce Park in Greenwich, Connecticut on January 24, 2016. Millions of people in the eastern United States started digging out Sunday from a huge blizzard that brought New York and Washington to a standstill, but the travel woes were far from over. The storm -- dubbed \"Snowzilla\" -- killed at least 18 people after it walloped several states over 36 hours on Friday and Saturday, affecting an estimated 85 million residents who were told to stay off the roads and hunker down in doors for their own safety. / AFP / Timothy A. CLARYTIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty ImagesTIMOTHY A. CLARY / AFP - Getty Images

"I drove by a popular sledding spot after it snowed last week," Purcell wrote in an opinion piece for "I only saw a handful of younger kids and every one of them had at least one adult keeping a watchful eye over him."

It wasn't that way when he was growing up in the 1970s.

"We were left free to experiment and invent," he explained. "We made jumps and obstacle courses. Sure, about every 20 minutes, a kid would wipe out causing his mittens, ear muffs and boots to fly in every direction, but, man, it was fun."

kid sledding
Guy Fruge, 7, sleds down a hill at Avent Park after snow fell Friday morning, Jan. 22, 2016, in Oxford, Miss. Early morning snow provided plenty of fun for the children as school officials had earlier called for closure of the public schools. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)Rogelio V. Solis / AP

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Purcell recalled injuries — and not just from the sleds. There was no shortage of bullies back in the day, and they weren't above using their sleds as a weapon. But navigating those situations without a parent to save the day is exactly where Purcell feels the value lies in these solo sledding outings.

"I learned at the age of 10 how to deal with bullies," he wrote. "I grew up a little bit more ... because my parents allowed me the freedom to do so."

RELATED: As lawsuits mount along with injuries to children, some towns ban sledding

But which is really more important — avoiding potential danger or potentially learning life lessons?

"We never had a parent in sight," Al Roker recalled of his childhood days when discussing the sledding dilemma on TODAY Monday morning.

It was much the same for Matt Lauer, but he noted, "Everything today seems more dangerous, so parents take more of a supervisory role."

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