It found that even though abduction, robbery, assault and homicide statistics had not risen substantially over the past 50 years, parents were more anxious not only about what could happen to their children but also about how other parents perceived them.
Changes to family life in Australia, such as both parents working and the need for care outside the home, were also a factor in the changing attitudes, Professor Zubrick said.
"These factors, and changes to daily activity and routine, impart clear restrictions on where children can be left unsupervised, who can supervise them, the rules for transferring duty of care, and general tolerance for children having a 'freer range' of independent mobility," Professor Zubrick said.
The study recommended a number of strategies to combat the problem, including empowering parents to be less fearful and implementing transport systems that promote cycling and walking.
The issue of the freedom given to children has attracted recent controversy after the publicity given to American mother Lenore Skenazy, who has started a movement called Free Range Kids.
Ms Skenazy was branded "America's worst mom" after making a controversial decision in 2008 to drop her nine-year-old son in downtown Manhattan to take the subway home alone.Mostly anecdotal stuff, but I like that attitude. I suspect "fear of what other parents will think" is a more important factor than actual concern for the child - which leads to overemphasis on risks that jump to the attention (stuff you see on TV - kidnappings, car accidents), and less to subtle, less visible things like being able to figure things out on your own and navigate an uncertain environment.