Yesterday, I dropped a 28 ounce (796 ml) tin of pea soup. It landed about 60 centimetres (about two feet) from where my cat was, contentedly, chowing down on kibble.
A couple of feet over, and it would probably have killed him.
What did he do? He leapt away. Maybe a metre.
I rushed over to him, ready to offer up every ounce of empathy I had, but he wasn't scared at all. He'd been startled, but he held no post-startle fear. He accepted my caress for a moment, then made a beeline for the food-bowl.
Chet lives in a world he believes is benign. If ever (as seems increasingly likely) we move to a place in which he might get outside, he will fall victim to the first con-artistic or psychopathic cat who stumbles upon him.
He has no sense of danger.
Folks, let your kids fall down. Let them get bruised and cut and socked in the mouth. Let them walk to school and take the subway when all their friends are still being chauffeured like so many junior Russian oligarchs. Let them ride their bikes on un-kept paths and explore dangerous ruins.
Yes, they'll be at a somewhat higher risk of running into a paedophile or a collapsing building. But - if they don't (as is probable) - they will have learned a great deal about their own limitations, about the difference between a good risk and a bad.
You can't protect them forever. So it is your job to teach them to protect themselves, as soon as possible.
All of that un-asked for advice is predicated on the assumption that you also pay one hell of a lot of attention to them at individuals. I was seven the first time I took a commuter train from the suburbs of Montreal, into town and then spent an afternoon riding the subway; not every seven-year-old is ready for that.
"Don't over-protect" doesn't by any stretch mean "let them do anything they want".