In 1990s, Russia was effectively a “failed state”, with the society being in economic collapse. Life was hard for many; yet it had a bright side as well: the fall of ideological system that kept the Soviet mentality together brought a delightful cultural chaos of proportions comparable to 1960s and 1970s in the West. A sense of liberation was there, despite all hardships and disasters, and it was not limited to adults. Kids were usually granted a remarkable degree of freedom, both by their families and by general society. They could do what they wanted. They accessed any information they wanted. They watched any films and TV programs, and read any books and magazines they wished to. Due to the effective absence of age restrictions, their choice was almost unlimited, so their learning was unimpeded by adult interference.

Erotica was interesting for kids to watch, yet it was also exciting to enact playfully. Explicitly sexual games among prepubescent children, with kids following examples of adult's erotic activities, were a common occurrence – and were tolerated by adults, who saw them as natural part of kid’s exploration of the world and oneself.

Second in popularity among Russian kids of the 1990s were games concerning magic and mysticism, which were booming in Russia in the very same time. Attempts to perform simple magical rituals and ceremonies were normal among children.

Kids’ freedom was not limited to informational and sexual spheres: it included freedom of movement as well. Many of children played and walked in the streets after dark, since there were still no age-based curfews at all. Schools were free-to-enter zones, which any adult could simply walk in and out of, without surveillance or restriction. Most of the non-parent, non-educator adults who entered school grounds were visiting their former teachers, with whom they had friendly relationships – no, not sexual ones, just social ones. Paying friendly visits to former teachers was a kind of tradition, left from Soviet times.

Older kids and adolescents were often drinking, smoking and using other psychoactive substances. Such practices were usually met in an unfriendly manner by parents and other adults, but not with the horror which would be expectable from modern Western grown-ups. Oftentimes, adults looked the other way, and occasionally initiated kids into drinking and smoking themselves.

Oh, the 1990s in Russia were an epoch of innocence-free growing for so many kids – including me!

But nowadays, things have changed for the worse. Child protection” has reached Russia. Recent years in Russia were characterized by the hysterical “paedophile panic” which led to severe restrictions of children’s freedoms in nearly all areas. Now Russia has all the child-suppressive practices of Western states: schools turned into fortresses, with security checkpoints which no adult may pass without scrutiny; strict curfews for anyone “underage”; age-based limitations to information access; and so on.

Child “innocence” is now heavily defended, and kids do not seem to be happy about it!

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