A Cop Sees a Girl Alone at the Park, And Then — a Shock

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A reader writes:

Dear Lenore: My ex father in law is in the hospital. Yesterday we went to a park in Hackensack [NJ] and Elizabeth 6 was having fun and I was cold so I was sitting in the car watching sort of. Elizabeth knew she could come to the car anytime. I looked up and a police officer was talking to Elizabeth.

I took a deep breath and got out and let the officer know that I was watching and with her the whole time. Heart racing. I got the happiest most shocking response. The officer said that the force patrols the park frequently. Children who look under 10 he questions to make sure they are well taken care of and such. As long as they don’t seem under distress know their address have a way to get home and know their phone number and are dressed for the season, that’s it.

The officer smiled at me and said that I must be from a more wealthy area where the police are bored and looking for trouble.

Then he said something that I found shocking. He suggested I read your website and that children need freedom. And then he walked away.

Laura Fram

And so, society begins to change.

Is that little girl at the park ok?

Is that little girl at the park alone?

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42 Responses to A Cop Sees a Girl Alone at the Park, And Then — a Shock

  1. BL March 24, 2015 at 10:14 am #

    Next thing you know cops will be pursuing actual criminals. What a concept!

  2. no rest for the weary March 24, 2015 at 10:27 am #

    Goosebumps.

    May all who hold “authority” come to this same wisdom and perspective.

  3. J.T. Wenting March 24, 2015 at 11:58 am #

    @BL looks like a traffic cop taking break from writing speeding tickets…

  4. Reziac March 24, 2015 at 12:35 pm #

    Find this cop. Make sure both he and his superior know he’s appreciated. Recommend him for a commendation for attention to his rightful duty — which also means knowing what’s NOT his duty and is best left alone.

    Another thing is, by handling stuff this way, he’ll know all the kids in his neighborhood, and they’ll know him. That’s a bond of trust, not of fear.

  5. Steve March 24, 2015 at 12:36 pm #

    This is great.

    Now we can point to this story and say, “even some police realize kids need freedom and also know about Free Range Kids.

    I’ve said this many times – if you are in conversation with authorities who lean toward fear-mongering, give them a copy of Lenore’s book. Everyone tends to think of books as carrying authority, and Lenore’s book lays out good arguments for Free Range parenting.

  6. JJ March 24, 2015 at 12:40 pm #

    This is wonderful in so many ways. COMMUNITY policing is more than simply finding people to arrest.

  7. MC501 March 24, 2015 at 12:47 pm #

    Like

  8. Kenny Felder March 24, 2015 at 12:52 pm #

    This is a wonderful reminder of something you have said a number of times: the “cops harassing free range parents” scenario, just like the “kidnapped by a stranger” scenario, seems far more common if you read about it every day than it is in real life.

  9. Dean Whinery March 24, 2015 at 12:57 pm #

    One small step…

  10. John March 24, 2015 at 1:17 pm #

    Alleluia!!!! There actually are reasonable people in this country with common sense!!!

  11. caiti March 24, 2015 at 1:18 pm #

    This makes my day! Thank you! I can’t believe it even happened in my state!

    My 6 year old is no longer worried about being kidnapped but instead worries about cops. My ex is an over-worrier/ helicopter and instills it in him, so I’m always happy to be able to point to a cop who did the right thing. To a 6 year old, these stories are more powerful than statistics. I can’t wait to share it with him.Thank you for posting this; in doing so you’ve helped me empower my son!

  12. John March 24, 2015 at 1:20 pm #

    Good point Kenny, perhaps there are more reasonable people with common sense in this country than I perceive there are!

  13. Emily Morris March 24, 2015 at 1:34 pm #

    Hooray for happy cop freerange stories! The icing on the cake is “you should read that Freerange Kids blog”.

  14. Warren March 24, 2015 at 2:10 pm #

    Lenore,
    You need to find this Police Dept and interview them about their under ten policy. That would add so much credibility to what you are attempting to do.

  15. LisaS March 24, 2015 at 2:18 pm #

    “The officer smiled at me and said that I must be from a more wealthy area where the police are bored and looking for trouble” — this is so true! I have never had a problem in the inner city where I live, but in the exurbs and wealthy small towns where friends & family live, the children & I have been questioned several times.

  16. Kate Berger March 24, 2015 at 2:18 pm #

    Great news, but i’m not holding my breath

  17. Rose March 24, 2015 at 2:47 pm #

    Go, Lenore!!! I agree with those who say you should try to interview this cop.

  18. Shane Cameron March 24, 2015 at 3:07 pm #

    This is wonderful news…. Sort of.

  19. lollipoplover March 24, 2015 at 3:08 pm #

    “And so, society begins to change.”

    OR

    Some people knew what was right all along. Children playing in parks is a GOOD thing.
    It is not a crime to let your children play outside.

    Love this story and the officer. It’s how it should be, and is, in good communities across the country.

  20. Michelle March 24, 2015 at 3:14 pm #

    OMG. A cop referred a parent to Free Range Kids? This is awesome! Please don’t let him be just “one good apple!”

  21. Warren March 24, 2015 at 3:32 pm #

    Lenore,
    You need to get some stickers or cards these cops can hand out.

    “Certified FreeRange by ———- Police Dept.”

  22. Yocheved March 24, 2015 at 4:32 pm #

    Yay! We need more “good news” stories. Lenore, you are a one woman crusader for sanity, and I love you for it.

  23. Meredith March 24, 2015 at 4:47 pm #

    Last night when I told my ten-year-old goodnight, she said, ” I’m glad you’re not a helicopter.” “Oh, you mean a helicopter parent? Where did you here about that?”, I asked. We live in Germany, where it is decidedly easier to be a free range parent, and she had seen Lenora interviewed on the kids news program here. I have followed this site for years and told many friends about it, but never mentioned it to my daughter. Nice to know that kids do notice and appreciate when they are given autonomy. She enjoys walking to school, taking the bus downtown with friends and even going to orthodontal appointments on her own. She started with short trips to the corner bakery when she was five. Thanks Lenore for giving me the reasurance I needed to follow my insticts in giving her these freedoms.

  24. Jaye March 24, 2015 at 4:49 pm #

    I agree 100% with Warren. Having a police dept come right out and say it would hold so much credibility. (And it would be interesting to see the crazies’ responses to such common sense, just for a bit of entertainment…)

  25. Donald March 24, 2015 at 5:04 pm #

    A decade ago, the busybodies and self appointed ‘parenting police’ (the civilians) put a lot of pressure on how police should respond when an unsupervised child is spotted. Now there’s a great surge of the Free Range outlook within the general public. Not surprisingly, the police are altering their response accordingly. We’re going to see a LOT more of this.

    Thank you Lenore.

  26. Eric S March 24, 2015 at 5:22 pm #

    AAAAWWESOME! THIS is how people should THINK and ACT. If fact, this is how people used to think and act. Back in the late 70s to early 80s, if cops saw us playing in the park when the street lights came on (between 7-8pm), the only thing they asked…”do your parents know where you are?” As soon as we said, “yes”, they say “be careful when you play”. Then they would go on their merry way. They wouldn’t even get out of their cruiser. They’d just call one of us over. Usually the oldest looking one. The age range of kids at that time was between 8-11.

  27. Ben March 24, 2015 at 6:03 pm #

    That news made my day.

  28. librarian March 24, 2015 at 7:18 pm #

    We need to hear more stories like this!

  29. Graciela March 24, 2015 at 8:19 pm #

    Can someone please send this wonderful policeman over to Maryland to talk to those idiot cops harassing that family in the news? PLEASE???

  30. Peter March 24, 2015 at 8:40 pm #

    An interesting question, though: Suppose Mom had stayed in the car. Would it have been different?

  31. Havva March 24, 2015 at 9:32 pm #

    What a wonderful policy. One that provides a fair answer to “but we can’t just turn a bind eye to neglect.” And at the same supports free play. Could we get that police department and others like it to do some police seminars on community policing, child safety, and encouraging free play.

    I think the cops near me would be on board with that. I asked about the incident in Maryland with the Meitivs and the cop, after much the same muttering from the crowd, said kids belong at the park, and looked at the neighborhood watch coordinator and said “that is why we do this.”

  32. Edward March 25, 2015 at 8:13 am #

    WOW!

  33. SOA March 25, 2015 at 9:05 am #

    This is great news.

  34. SOA March 25, 2015 at 9:11 am #

    Oh I wanted to let you know that free range is taking off and making a come back. Have you seen the new “Annie” movie? That little girl was running all over New York by herself and doing fine. She even asked to go alone to the library right in front of the inspector of the group home and was told she could.

    I also was commenting on a FamilyFun fb post about a parent that wants a way to explain to her child why he can’t run around with the other kids in the nice cul de sac neighborhood and I commented about why can’t he? and that she was lucky they lived in a nice safe neighborhood like that with kids and that the adults and kids would watch out for each other.

    I was expecting a bunch of angry responses disagreeing with me but magically I got a ton of likes and comments in support of what I said and others said similar. So maybe things are taking a turn finally.

  35. Crystal March 25, 2015 at 9:56 am #

    I agree with Warren — find this cop and his boss, interview them about their common sense rules, then sing their praises far and wide!

  36. Troutwaxer March 25, 2015 at 10:36 am #

    Yay! Lenore rules!

  37. Andrew Forste March 25, 2015 at 11:02 am #

    Mark a win for Bergen County NJ. I grew up in the town next to Hakensack and romped and stomed all over the place all the time by myself. My mom and Police never gave it a second thought. I want the exact same thing for my kids. All right Essex County NJ time to step up to the plate.

  38. Suzanne March 25, 2015 at 11:31 am #

    Best story I’ve seen on here. Love it!

    I think a good point is hidden in here. The officer questions kids to make sure they are cared for, I’m guessing he asks things like “did you have breakfast this morning?” or maybe “is it warm in your house/do you have heat?” These are the things officers in impoverished neighborhoods worry about. I wonder if most, if not all of the stories we see, where people are being prosecuted for going against the norm with non-dangerous actions, are coming from middle class to well off (otherwise pretty much safe) areas.

  39. Tsu Dho Nimh March 26, 2015 at 5:26 pm #

    As long as they dont seem under distress know their address have a way to get home and know their phone number and are dressed for the season, thats it.

    How … SANE of him.

  40. Claudia March 26, 2015 at 5:47 pm #

    Now that is a sensible approach… and I think if Police get phoned by ‘concerned citizens’ about unaccompanied children they ought to instruct them to do just that; ask the child if they’re OK, know where their parents are etc, and phone back only if there’s evidence the child is distressed.

  41. Hans March 27, 2015 at 4:37 pm #

    That’s a cool officer! Let’s hope his police department does appreciate that way of working.

  42. bmommyx2 March 29, 2015 at 9:14 pm #

    I love to hear the positive stories. I belong to a lot of mom / parenting Facebook groups where we discuss all sorts of things. The topic of freerange parenting came up & someone even mentioned your blog. I did a little happy dance. Sometimes I feel like the odd man out.