Take Our Children to the Park…And Let Them Walk Home by Themselves Day: SAT, MAY 9

For the past five years Free-Range Kids has been sponsoring Take Our Children to the Park…and Leave Them There Day. This year, in honor of the Meitivs of Maryland, we are encouraging kids to walk home on their own — if you feel they are ready — too.

The way the day works is this: At 10 in the morning on Saturday, May 9,  we take our kids to the local park (or they go by themselves). That way, with any luck, kids in the neighborhood who might not even know each other — different schools, different grades, different soccer programs — meet! When the adults say goodbye, it’s the kids’ job to come up with something to do. We used to have a name for this activity.

Playing.

Of course, Free-Range Kids doesn’t want any parents getting arrested or even investigated. So if you would like to participate but worry that your local authorities may harass you, please call your local police department and make sure that this is not an actionable offense. (How sad if it is! Kids playing outside on a Saturday in May!) If you get a straight answer, please post it here, along with your ZIP code, so others can find it.

If, however, you can’t get a straight answer, try to find some other parents who are all for the de-criminalization of childhood, and arrange to have your kids walking home together in a group. If the cops insist that no children are allowed to walk in the community, even in groups, until they’re 35 or 36, then go to the park with your kids and signs demanding: “Why is this town discriminating against children in public?” “Who wants empty parks?” “What kind of community criminalizes kids outside?” And, “Free-Range Kid Communities Have Higher Home Values!” (I’m not sure that’s true…but the London Times says Free-Range neighborhoods are hot.)

Also, please remind your local officials that, according to the Washington Post, “There Has Never Been A Safer Time to Be a Kid in America.” So why act — and arrest — as if kids are in constant danger?

The rest of the globe sends it kids off to school on their own —  walking, riding bikes, taking transit — at age 7. That seems about the right age to let kids play in the park unsupervised. But if you want to wait till they are 8 or 9 or 10, there’s no magic number to Free-Range. And if your kids are too young to play unsupervised, stay with them! That way there are even more people in the park. Community!

If you’d like to find other local folks eager to participate in this day, which I hope is just breaks the ice for a whole summer of fun for kids outside, you can go to freerangefriend.com. Put in your ZIP or Postal Code and can find nearby Free-Rangers. Or if you would like to leave a comment below with the name of your neighborhood and a way to reach you, you can try to find others right here. OR if anyone out there has a better idea of how folks can connect — be it on Facebook, Meetup, or something else — share it!

Meantime, down in Maryland, Russell Max Simon of Empower Kids Maryland, is organizing a “Take Our Kids to the Park…” Day right in the park the Meitiv kids were playing at before they were detained by the police and CPS. Here’s the Facebook page. This should get a lot of press! (The Washington Post has done over 30 stories on the Meitivs and Free-Range Parenting already.)

Spread the word and give us ideas! I will be at Central Park on May 9, at one of the playgrounds. Details to follow — and perhaps a special guest! – L.

No more empty parks! Let's bring kids back outside!

No more empty parks! Let’s bring kids back outside!

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90 Responses to Take Our Children to the Park…And Let Them Walk Home by Themselves Day: SAT, MAY 9

  1. Peter Orvetti April 20, 2015 at 2:18 pm #

    My kids do this several times a day since one park is right on the corner and another is about three blocks away… Maybe they need a bigger challenge. 🙂

  2. Anne April 20, 2015 at 2:55 pm #

    Hmm… I guess this isn’t real and it’s not really a threat or maybe you would have these losers come to your home. Thoughts: http://nypost.com/2015/04/19/loophole-lets-shelter-house-60-sex-offenders-near-schools/

  3. Becks April 20, 2015 at 2:56 pm #

    I’m completely behind the free range kids idea. My OH wasn’t that happy about our eldest son going very far from the bit of street outside our house til he was 8yrs old. Since then I’ve managed to persuade him into the Free Range way of thinking. My criteria for letting him go a bit further were things like: does he know our address and phone number, what do do in an emergency ie phone 999, never go off with a stranger, other basics like that.

    My question to other parents is this: do you feel there are essential things like these that your child should know before you leave them at the park and let them walk home alone?

    The reason I ask is that I have a 7.5 yr old daughter who struggles to remember our address, no chance with the phone number and is just one of those kids who learns more slowly in general and ‘accidentally’ forgets the rules a lot. Whereas my son was more than ready by her age to get more freedom or walk to school. I’m not sure it’s fair to put the responsibility of ‘looking after’ her onto him (he’s still only 8).

    Becks x

  4. Samara Caughey April 20, 2015 at 3:11 pm #

    Never mind a child abductor, my fear is that my 10 year old daughter will be picked up by the police and scared out of her mind just for walking to the library around the corner to return her books.

  5. Warren April 20, 2015 at 3:17 pm #

    Anne,
    What is your point? I fail to see how this has anything to do with child safety or the Free Range Kids movement at all.

    These offenders have served their time. They are usually the type to not commit a similiar crime.
    Whether they live in this shelter, another shelter or in their own home, it is only where they live. Really this changes nothing for anyone, unless you like awake at night worrying about the worst case scenario for your kid. But really, these offenders existed before you even knew where they were living. It is not like they just appeared out of nowhere.

  6. Anne April 20, 2015 at 3:39 pm #

    Warren,

    they are high level offenders who are living by a school where kids play (see they like kids). It has to do with free-range because the prevailing thought here is that a) these ppl pose no threat and b) it’s fine to allow them to be near kids, when it’s not.

  7. Shelly Stow April 20, 2015 at 4:02 pm #

    Anne, thank you for your concern about children and for your interest in the rights of those who have served their sentences and are having difficulties transitioning into a law-abiding society. Halfway homes and shelters are so often the only options that registered citizens have. The Bellvue Men’s Shelter was there serving the needs of this population before the day care and the school opened. It is a shame that people see only the negative in this situation. It is foolish to believe that they are there so they can watch kids. They were there before the kids. This is a very complex issue, but if everyone will become educated of all the factors involved and look at the facts and research, we will have moved a step closer to maximizing rehabilitation for those who need it and therefore will increase public safety for everyone.

  8. Donna April 20, 2015 at 4:27 pm #

    Anne, It is my understanding that these people are not on parole or probation, meaning that they have already completed lengthy sentences and have not, in all that time, reoffended. They have also apparently been living in THIS place for some time without reoffending.

    The fact is that released sex offenders ARE going to live somewhere, and unless you know of an unoccupied island somewhere on which to dump them, it is likely going to be somewhere in the vicinity of children as children can be found everywhere.

  9. Kimberly April 20, 2015 at 4:59 pm #

    My kids’ll be at the park with bells on. The good news is that in my area police don’t seem too keen on harassing kids that are out and about. I live about 50 feet from a very busy street, on a street full of apartments, with a registered sex offender (convicted of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14) living right across the street in a duplex.

    In fact, last year when my son was 9, a police officer caught him outside on the sidewalk practicing on the new pogo stick he got for Christmas and gave him a sticker for bouncing over 50 times in a row.

  10. lisa April 20, 2015 at 5:45 pm #

    Anne, the article you cited is scary but the reality is when you break it down, they identify two of the 60 who are pedophiles. You have to take sex offender registration with a grain of salt because in some states, I.e. California, if you’re arrested and convicted of public urination, you have to register as a sex offender. In many states, if you are an underage teenager (or an of age teenager) having sex with a consenting partner of similar age E.g. Two 17 year olds or an 18 and 16 year old and are convicted of having sex with a minor, you also have to register. The fear mongering in that article (and others) creates a false impression that your kids are safe nowhere and that’s not the reality.

  11. Shelly Stow April 20, 2015 at 5:55 pm #

    Very true, Lisa. It also gives the impression that if we could just monitor all those on the registry adequately, our children would be safe from that sort of harm. This is arguably the greatest harm that a public registry does. The truth is that virtually all sexual abuse of children and teens is committed by those close to them in their everyday lives, those they trust and often even love: their relatives, their peers, and their authority figures. The “stranger” molestations can be around 5 or 6% for teens, but very few of those are already on the registry. We need a totally different type of system, one based on facts and evidence, one focusing on victims, education, awareness, and prevention.

  12. Emily Morris April 20, 2015 at 6:12 pm #

    Anne,

    The situation certainly looks real. No, I don’t think it’s a significant threat, more than any other individual in society. The reasons for the lack of a significant threat have already been outlined. As for these losers coming to my home, that’s an obscure and distant worry based on the fact they most likely are not going to bother to come to my house.

  13. Warren April 20, 2015 at 6:44 pm #

    Anne,

    Sorry but you need to take it down a couple of notches. You act like all the offenders in the place are standing at the windows drooling with their pecker in their hands. LMAO!!!!!!!!!!

    Do I see these people as a threat to the kids in the schools…………….not at all. Then again, I have never once checked the SOR. I won’t even do it to prove a point.

  14. Kenny April 20, 2015 at 6:44 pm #

    I think a FRK Bracelet for our FRKids is in order. Proceeds going to promoting of FREE RANGE KIDS and all of us losing our freedom… FRK Bracelets could be personalized with phone # or address. Or to promote May 9th Freedom day for all.

  15. Michelle April 20, 2015 at 7:00 pm #

    Becks,

    I didn’t make sure my kids memorized our phone number and address before I let them out to play. Maybe I should have, but honestly there are so many things a parent has to remember to do that I didn’t get around to that until my 8yo son lost track of us at the zoo. We found him quickly, but he was upset that he didn’t know how to reach us, so I made sure everyone learned our cell phone numbers.

    Tip for teaching your phone number: sing it to the tune of the Mickey Mouse song! You know, the one that goes: “M-I-C, K-E-Y, M-O-U-S-E!” Sing it like this:

    5-5-5, 1-2-3, 4-5-6-7! Mommy’s phone. Mommy’s phone. Whenever you need help call Mommy’s phone!

    However, more important than knowing the address is knowing how to get to the house. How to navigate the neighborhood. How to ask for help if necessary. MOST important is knowing that you can trust her to follow the rules. That she won’t walk out in front of a car, or go off with a stranger, and that she’ll come home when she’s meant to. If she can’t do that, she can’t go out alone.

  16. Beth April 20, 2015 at 7:40 pm #

    Anne, are you OK with murderers and other violent crime offenders who have done their time and now live near you?

  17. sigh April 20, 2015 at 7:41 pm #

    Ha ha! I love adding “and have them walk home by themselves.”

    Still want to hear about the “leave your kids in the car while you run a quick errand” day.

    In the shade, with the windows down, people. And I guess AZ, TX, NM and all those states where it’s too dangerous need not apply.

  18. Donald April 20, 2015 at 8:32 pm #

    OMG you’re creating a smorgasbord for pedophiles! Don’t you know how much trouble they go through in order to track down children?

    Currently they:

    research facebook like a menu in a restaurant

    Hack into your kids smartphone and monitor their gps whereabouts and the floor plan of your house.

    Take note of bumper stickers. Do you have an honor student or a dog with your stick family on the window? They also take note of the size of the dog. Don’t ever admit to having only a small dog if you love your children.

    Read the newspaper to see if the local school is recognizing one of their students for exceptional work. My school put me in the paper 40 years ago. It’s a miracle that I’m still alive!

    Because of you, they no longer have to go through all of this in order to find children to abduct. You’re saving them so much work!

  19. Donald April 20, 2015 at 9:07 pm #

    Lenore

    Like it or not, you’re leading a small revolution. I’m sure that there are times when you think, “I’d love to trade some of this popularity for a bit more financial security.”

    Kenny made a great comment. …..I think a FRK Bracelet for our FRKids is in order. Proceeds going to promoting of FREE RANGE KIDS and all of us losing our freedom… FRK Bracelets could be personalized with phone # or address. Or to promote May 9th Freedom day for all.

    There are other ideas as well. Why not partner up with an owner of a camp site or private school?

    I wish you’d put a ‘donate’ button on your blog. There was/is a demand to donate on the Meitvis website. Many of us know that if it wasn’t for you, the Meitvis would never have been on TV and not much in the paper either. If they would be on TV, it would have been a story about how neglectful they are.

    You are a big reason for this change in pubic opinion.

  20. Abigail April 20, 2015 at 9:27 pm #

    I’d be in for a few bracelets! My kids are too young to walk home just yet, but we are going thru the building blocks of safely travely across roads, etc… I do need something to aid me in appropriate supervision of my toddler at the park, I can’t even see her for the crowd of helicopter moms standing over their children! Let’s all take a step back, who knows, they might have fun 🙂

  21. Kimberly April 20, 2015 at 9:33 pm #

    @ Kenny — LOL! Just today I was thinking that FR shirts might be in order. A red t-shirt with white lettering in the front that says “I’m Not Lost…” and on the back says “I’m Free Range”.

    @ Michelle — When my children were younger and had a hard time with phone numbers (especially a few years ago when changing phones or plans usually meant getting a new number) and we’d go someplace super public (like an amusement park), I would use a pen and write my cell number on their forearms. That way if they got lost coming back from a bathroom or turned the wrong way coming back from a ride, they could go into any store and have them call me.

  22. JP Merzetti April 21, 2015 at 6:01 am #

    This happens in my BigTown community all the time, as a matter of course. Business as usual.

    My Life as a Bogeyman:

    But if I heard of something like this going on in an organized fashion, I’d probably show up just out of curiosity and support. On all my travels out and about, I’m always on the lookout for free roaming kids. You never know when actual trouble might really show up. And a helping hand might actually be needed. I believe in that.
    But the difference in application should be obvious. A natural normal free-thinking adult does not automatically see “kids at risk” or assume parental neglect. That’s the difference.
    So when kids spot me spotting them…..they’re not accosted by a concerned frown. It’s more likely to be a kindly smile. Imagine that.
    Reassuring them that what they’re doing is not some kind of desperate provocation of anxiety. Acknowledging the normalcy of the situation. Valued young citizens. Enjoying the use of the public realm, like any other.

    You know, when I was a kid, neighborhood dogs used to do this. They’d roam down to the park or the playground, or the beach, to hang out with us kids. They’d just show up to check out what was going on, socialize a bit, and then head on home when they got hungry or bored. They acted normal and friendly because they weren’t frustrated and cooped up.

    And is my neighborhood free from peds and weirdos? Probably not – but there are a lot of people out on the street, as a matter of course. It’s a busy place. We don’t roll up our streets like a privatized enterprise. We can’t know and be known by everyone around – but over time all that street action adds up. The constant familiar. Which is what binds a community together into something safer for everyone. This is no utopia. Just normal life.
    We’re not all hiding inside behind plate glass windows…….fortress Humanity.
    A warm sunny day in spring, and the explosion of activity outside in the real world – doing things, going places, or just hanging out. Wonderful stuff.

    But then, I’m urban. (Living in the big bad scary downtown, don’t you know.)
    Every time I drive through suburbia, all I see is empty streets, empty parks, empty playgrounds. Wasted space.
    The only thing ever in motion is people in cars. Fattening up for the slaughter.

  23. Warren April 21, 2015 at 8:26 am #

    Lenore,

    Canada and it’s provinces have had a long standing program about getting active. They have a new program called “Make Room For Play” it is about how screen time is taking away play time. They have videos on youtube, that are their TV ads. They show kids outside playing, no adults around, and the screen gradually shrinks. Then their Pariticipaction name comes up with “Don’t visit our website.”

    Thought this fits in nice.

  24. Chris April 21, 2015 at 8:30 am #

    I wish my kids could do this. However, we currently live in San Antonio, and the nearest public park is a 40 minute drive away. All the subdivisions have a playground, though – one so “safe” that it’s only appropriate and fun for toddlers.

  25. Warren April 21, 2015 at 8:42 am #

    Chris and parents in similiar geographical situations,

    If I may suggest. Drive em to any park of your choosing. Drop em off, and enjoy an afternoon of adult time with the better half.

    In Kingston, I suggest parents take their kids downtown to the waterfront and let them explore the boardwalk that connects parks, kiosks, restaurants and lots of friendly people.

    My kids are all beyond playing in the park. One is a teacher, the other two are 16. On this day, the two 16 yr olds are not going to the park. Instead, they are being given the list, the money and they are doing the house’s grocery shopping. Me, I’ll cook when they bring it home.

  26. Emily April 21, 2015 at 8:48 am #

    @Peter Orvetti–Knowing Lenore, this day isn’t limited to the park. Are there any other places that are further than the park, that your kids want to go to by themselves, that you haven’t allowed yet? Maybe the movie theatre, the library, the swimming pool, et cetera? If the park isn’t a stretch, that’s a good thing, because it means you’ve already taken the first step as a Free-Range parent. So, maybe for your family, Take Your Kids To The Park And Leave Them There Day (or, Send Your Kids To The Park By Themselves Day) could be Send Your Kids On A Longer Trip By Themselves Day.

  27. Emily April 21, 2015 at 9:00 am #

    @Warren–I’ve seen the Participaction and Body Break ads on TV, because I’m Canadian too. I haven’t seen the “Don’t visit our website” one, but I think that’s pretty funny, and appropriate. Anyway, I like what those ads are trying to promote, but I’ve been thinking for a while, it’d be cool if TV had physical activity breaks instead of commercials. So, during a break in the show, someone would come on screen and lead a simple Zumba routine, or a yoga Sun Salutation on each side, or challenge viewers to count how many jumping jacks they can do in a certain amount of time, and text in their answer. The physical activity breaks could be sponsored by certain companies, but not companies that manufacture junk food or alcohol. Participaction and Body Break have the right idea, because yes, people are supposed to get 30-60 minutes of physical activity every day, but that’s simply not feasible for a lot of families. Maybe they can’t afford gym memberships, and the nearest YMCA (they charge on a sliding scale in cases of financial hardship) is out of reach for them, because they don’t have reliable transportation. Maybe they don’t live in a safe neighbourhood. Maybe the parents work late, and don’t want their kids going out alone while they’re not home. Maybe, on top of all of this, they live in a climate where it’s WINTER six months of the year……you know, like Canada. So, all of a sudden, the “Make sure you get 30-60 minutes of physical activity per day!!!” edict from the annoyingly perky man and woman standing in a park on a beautiful spring day, in their brightly-coloured shell suits, circa 1993, isn’t so easy. But, I think that, if the media tried to become part of the solution, instead of just being part of the problem, it could work for some people. Not everyone would do every exercise, but it’d be worth it for those who did follow along.

  28. SteveS April 21, 2015 at 10:52 am #

    Warren, as we live pretty far from a park, I think that you have a great idea. I am going to try and figure out something. Our kids are 12 and 4, so they aren’t really interested in the same thing. We’ll probably end up dropping off the oldest somewhere and finding something different for the 4 year old to do.

  29. SteveS April 21, 2015 at 10:54 am #

    I don’t know how many Michigan residents are here, but I would suggest that they not bother to call their local police. Michigan’s abuse/neglect statutes are exceedingly vague and I doubt you will get a useful answer if you call and ask.

  30. Jenny Islander April 21, 2015 at 11:50 am #

    My older two already have a wide range. Effectively the limit is “As long as you take your cell phone, honey.” The younger one isn’t ready for that yet. I think this year May 9 will be Teach Your Tweens to Handle Kitchen Knives Day.

  31. anonymous mom April 21, 2015 at 11:55 am #

    @Anne, only a small minority of registered sex offenders have committed *either* an offense of any type against a child 13 or under OR a forcible offense against a person of any age OR more than one offense of any type. The vast majority have committed either a single victimless offense or a single non-forcible statutory offense with a post-pubescent teen (usually within a year of the age of consent in that state).

    In many states, a 19 year old who has intercourse with a willing 15 year old girlfriend will be classed as a Level 3 sex offender. A 20 year old who responded to a Craigslist ad to meet with a 19 year old for sex, who then, in a follow-up e-mail, claims that “she” is really 15 but still wants to meet, will be classed as a Level 2 sex offender. These are realistically a better chance of what the “most dangerous” offenders they are talking about have done than that they’ve molested or raped small children.

    One thing we need to realize is how severely we punish sexual abuse of children at this point, and that many states of civil commitment. People who actually molest children–especially if the assault is perpetrated on a stranger and if intercourse or sodomy is involved–are locked up for a VERY long time, and often civilly committed indefinitely after that. These are increasingly people who will never, ever be free again. The people the registry was designed to protect the public from–people who have sexually assaulted pre-pubescent children or forcibly sexually assaulted minors of any age–are increasingly being subjected to criminal and civil penalties that mean they will never see the light of day again. So the registry increasingly is a list of men who, often in their late teens or twenties, made a really big mistake about sex with a willing post-pubescent teen (either in real life or online), as well as teens and children who get on the registry for offenses against other teen or children.

    Whatever we think the criminal penalties for that should be, the vast majority post no threat to children playing in a park. A 21 year old guy who would have sex–or consider having sex–with a 15 year old teen girl who says she is willing and eager to do so is no more likely to molest and/or abduct a 9 year old at the park than anybody in the general public. He just is not. That’s like saying that because a 40 year old man might be willing to have sex with an 18 year old who was into it, he would also kidnap and rape a 16 year old. That’s not how it works.

  32. bsolar April 21, 2015 at 12:04 pm #

    @Anne: “they are high level offenders who are living by a school where kids play (see they like kids). It has to do with free-range because the prevailing thought here is that a) these ppl pose no threat and b) it’s fine to allow them to be near kids, when it’s not.”

    It’s not free-rangers who decided that these people pose no threat. Same with these people being able to be near kids: it was not the “prevailing thought here” which did not impose a restraint order.

    *The law* and the *judges* who interpret and apply it decided these people pose no risk anymore and are allowed to be near kids. They might be wrong… or you might be. I side with their educated opinion over yours.

  33. Raissa Landor April 21, 2015 at 12:24 pm #

    Way to go, Lenore!!!

  34. Tsu Dho Nimh April 21, 2015 at 1:06 pm #

    It’s a sorry state of affairs when playing in the park is an act of civil disobedience.

  35. Havva April 21, 2015 at 4:47 pm #

    @Anne,
    You are mistaken if you think that free-range parents don’t care, or don’t think sexual crimes are a threat. I know it sounds otherwise to you, because everyone is reverting to the facts they know that help them keep the sex offender registry in perspective. But from my experience with this community, not only do the regulars here care, I’m not the only free-range parent who was molested as a kid.

    We certainly believe in protecting our children, as it is obvious you do. But we go about it differently. We protect them by teaching them not to be afraid of talking to people, even strangers. So they have every source of help if they are in need. But at the same time we teaching them not to go off with strangers. And we protect them by teaching them “the 3 R’s.” To recognize, resist, and report abuse. I too would rather avoid the need for the 3R’s and hope they never come up in my daughter’s life.

    But here is the rub. If we are completely afraid of letting our kids roam, we might be able to protect them from less than 10% of the sex offenders. The ones who prey on strangers (and most of those are just flashers)… but in the process we increase their exposure to, and risk putting them under the control of, the other 90%+ of the sex offenders: the ones who pray on the children they know, and those predators are more likely to be rapists. Look again at the article you posted. The two worst offenders, the ones scary enough to profile, got their victims by offering child care! A babysitter, and someone claiming to run a camp. They are part of the 90%+. So are other horrific cases that fade faster from the mind and the media than a kidnapping, people like like Ashley Dack.

    Would you trade some of your best childhood memories, riding bikes, playing in creeks, or whatever it is you did, to be ‘safe’ in the ‘care’ of such people? I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t even trade it in to be safe from my uncle.

    The standard thing, supported by the police, the school system, and everyone else, when I was kid was stranger danger. They all drilled in the ‘stranger danger’ rules. They promised, or seemed to promise, that the adults I knew, and my family would always protect me. But sadly it doesn’t work like that, and worse most of them knew. The school’s sexual abuse psychologist gave us just half a hint of the truth with a single emphasis on the word “anyone.” That was all the warning I had to make sense of what happened to me. And it made me feel like the whole lot of them, wouldn’t believe me, and were powerless to help. I could have stopped him… but I felt alone and powerless.

    So I can’t play the modern variants of ‘stranger danger’ and ‘I’ll protect you’ at an even louder volume, and pretend it will protect my daughter. I’m doing what no one had the honesty to do for me, and telling the complicated, painful, but also hopeful truth. “Bad guys don’t run around looking like the Joker. Most bad guys are more like Prince Hans. They look and act like good guys, until they hurt someone.” My daughter calls them “secret bad guys” and we talk about their tricks, lies, and secrets. And we tell her that such a “secret bad guy” could even trick mom and dad, and be friends with mom and dad. But that it is important to tell if she discovers a “secret bad guy.” Because, good people want to fight bad people, and there are so many good people, that the truth is the most powerful weapon against a secret bad guy, the one they all fear.

  36. Jenny Islander April 21, 2015 at 5:31 pm #

    I’m another free-range survivor of childhood sexual abuse by relatives. As a young teen, I was also propositioned by some creep “because” I admired his car as I walked to an after-school activity and got a weenie wagged at me “because” some drunk jerk was peeing in the woods next to a shortcut everybody took to get downtown from school. Freaking out about stranger danger wouldn’t have saved me from any of that. I teach my children situational awareness, bodily autonomy, and other skills necessary to keep them safe in a world where some people may want to use them. I especially teach my son that women and girls are not his chew toys.

  37. JKP April 22, 2015 at 12:30 am #

    Havva – What you wrote was beautiful and inspiring. Have you ever considered writing a book? There are so many depressing ones out there that paint sexual abuse as leaving the “victim” permanently damaged. What you wrote is very empowering to others who may have experienced what you did or for those who care about them and want to help. And your insights into how to truly empower kids to to be safe should be taught to all kids. I love your story of “secret bad guys” and enlisting the kids’ help in unmasking those “secret bad guys” in case they’ve fooled their parents. You could even turn that into a children’s book all on its own.

  38. sexhysteria April 22, 2015 at 2:40 am #

    Brilliant startegy! We should do this every week. Lenore for President!

  39. Becks April 22, 2015 at 4:37 am #

    Havva, so well put! I’ve wondered how I can let my children know that it’s not necessarily strangers we need to be wary of without putting them in position where they don’t feel they can trust our relatives and friends or people in authority but the ‘secret bad guy’ is exactly right. I’ve told them that if someone does something they feel is wrong then they shouldn’t keep it a secret and even if they feel they can’t tell me then they must tell an adult they trust.

    Michelle, thank you for your advice. That mickey mouse song certainly is catchy. And you’re right to have the emphasis on following the rules. I think I’ll use the summer to practice smaller freedoms like walking round the block with her brother and see if we can build up that trust on following rules and once she’s 8 in winter we’ll be closer to being ready. It’s much darker through winter anyway so there won’t be as much chance for getting out and about.

  40. Emily April 22, 2015 at 11:22 am #

    Well, so far, we have “Take Your Kids To The Park And Leave Them There Day,” and “Leave The Kids In The Car While You Run Into A Store For a Quick Errand Day,” and “Walk To School Day” is already a thing, so what else should we do? I have some ideas, that really shouldn’t need a special day, but I think we’re headed that way:

    1. Let Your Kids Play In The Yard Unsupervised Day

    2. Send Your Child To A Public Bathroom Alone Day

    3. Go To The Library With Your Child And Browse Separately Day

    4. Allow Your Child To Sign Him-or-Herself In And Out At Extra-Curricular Activities Day (for this one, the child could also walk or bike or bus it there, if it’s feasible).

    5. Have Your Children Cook Dinner With Knives That Can Cut And Heat Sources That Can Burn Day

    6. Zero Tolerance For Zero Tolerance That Really Means Zero Common Sense Day (pretty self-explanatory, but on this day, kids could do art projects with glue guns and craft knives and melted crayons, and proper shop and home ec with power tools, sewing machines, ovens, irons, et cetera, kids could carry their own medications, camp counsellors could apply sunscreen to kids, teenage girls wouldn’t get read the riot act for slipping a friend a Midol, and if the fire alarm rang in the middle of swimming lessons, of COURSE any wet kids would be herded into the nearest adult’s car).

    7. Old-School Recess Games Day (kids could play dodgeball, Red Rover, tag, and do cartwheels during recess, with no consequences, and if someone gets hurt, that’s why the office is stocked with Band-Aids and ice packs).

    8. Or better yet, do all of these things on the same day, and call it Regular Life Twenty Years Ago Day, or if that’s too long, Sanity Day. If it takes off, we could call it Every Day.

  41. Emily April 22, 2015 at 11:26 am #

    Oh, I forgot one. I think that teenagers and adults should get a Sign Up To Volunteer For The Organization Of Your Choice With No Background Checks And Accompanying Hostility Day.

  42. Beth April 22, 2015 at 1:01 pm #

    Emily, I loved your ideas! Except for #3, which is just crazy talk…….according this and many other library conversations in this site……..http://www.freerangekids.com/who-would-leave-a-10-year-old-in-the-library-in-these-times/

  43. Buffy April 23, 2015 at 8:03 am #

    I see that the FRK facebook page contains the usual “thanks for advertising pedophile day” comments. Sigh.

  44. Emily April 23, 2015 at 8:07 am #

    @Beth–I think that school-age kids should be allowed to go to the library by themselves (or be dropped off at the library by themselves, if getting there independently isn’t feasible due to distance and/or lack of public transit), as soon as they’re mature enough to use the library responsibly, not disturb other library users, and return library materials on time and in the condition they found them in, or pay for any mistakes in this area with allowance or chore money. I was being sarcastic with that list–I also don’t really think that allowing kids to play in the yard alone, or go to a public bathroom alone, should be a “special event”; I’m just afraid that society is heading that way.

  45. Annie April 23, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

    God willing these free range kids will be ok. With the odd chance one of them doesn’t make it home who do the parents call? The free range parents association? Let’s watch how they would spin that.

  46. Emily April 24, 2015 at 8:02 am #

    @Annie–Are you being sarcastic? I mean, we’ve established that crime is at an all-time low, and a lot of parents who are afraid to let their kids out, aren’t afraid of pedophiles and other predators; they’re afraid of “concerned citizens” calling the police or CPS over a school-aged child playing outside or walking/biking/busing to a destination a short distance from home, and getting into legal trouble for letting the poor kids spread their wings a bit. It’s far more probable (though it’s still a slim chance) that the kids will get into a car accident on the way to school, Brownies, soccer, gymnastics, dance class, swimming, karate, piano, Kumon, and so on, and so forth…….or get hit by a car driven by a parent driving their own kids around. But no, what’s really likely to happen is for those kids to develop obesity, and low self-confidence (because their parents and other adults in their lives don’t seem to trust them), and possibly even rickets, from being inside so much, and being taken by the hand from one structured activity to the next, from birth until the first day of university.

    Meanwhile, the parents aren’t happy either, because they can’t look to one another for help, because they’ll only get judged (and possibly have the police called on them) for “doing it wrong,” if they aren’t able to create a perfect, constantly-supervised, pain-free, Pinterest-perfect childhood for their kids. So, we could flip your statement around and say, “God/Moses/Buddha/Kitchimanitou/Santa Claus/the Easter Bunny/Lenore willing, these helicoptered kids will be okay. With the very probable chance that one or all of them become unhappy and/or unhealthy from being bubble-wrapped for their formative years, who do their parents call?”

  47. Beth April 24, 2015 at 8:35 am #

    @Emily, I was being sarcastic too, sort of. If you read any of the library threads on this site though, you’ll see how many people, even free-range, have issues with kids in the library not being watched like a hawk.

  48. Emily April 24, 2015 at 11:40 am #

    @Beth–I would have hated being watched like a hawk at the library when I was a kid. Even then, I was an introvert, and for me, reading time (and, by extension, book selection time) was ALONE time. If I’d been told that I couldn’t use the library without an adult rightontopofme, then I probably wouldn’t have wanted to go to the library at all. Or, more accurately, it would have resulted in one or two or maybe three disastrous library visits, with me feeling claustrophobic from being micromanaged and mistrusted, and THEN the library visits would have come to an end, either by my request, because I didn’t enjoy it, or by my parents’ edict, because of my “bad behaviour.” I remember being allowed to browse alone by the time I was eight, I remember being dropped off at the library for brief periods of time shortly thereafter, and by late elementary or early high school, I was taking MYSELF to the library. I think that’s how it should be. I mean, what are we telling young people when we say we want them to learn to love reading, and we say we want them to take responsibility for their own homework, research projects, et cetera, and then we tell them that they can’t be unsupervised at the library?

  49. Diana April 27, 2015 at 7:51 am #

    While I do think that kids need some freedom, range depending on the age, our kids are safer these days because so much awareness has been brought to the subject over the last couple of decades. What you are doing with this day is setting back everything we have learned.

    Teach your kids to be responsible. Adjust the amount of freedom they have according to age. Let them play outside in their neighborhood if its a safe place for them to be and they are enough to be responsible with their own safety.

    DO NOT set up a day where you are giving everyone permission to take their kids and throw them out in a local park with no supervision. Why? First because there are soooooooooooo many irresponsible people out there that will do this without thinking about whether or not their kids are capable of, or old enough, to be on their own. “Hey, I saw that on FB so it must be ok.” Second, as much as some of you downplay the role of a sexual predator on this thread, they are still a threat and now you have given them a day to be out trolling, looking fore these kids. No, they aren’t all serious offenders, but NO the serious offenders are not all given long sentences, and some have not been caught yet. Think about that.. they aren’t a registered sex offender if they have not been caught yet. Third, how many police stations will have to be put on some kind of alert because of these organized toss your kids out day? And finally, because some people will not check with those local police stations and will be setting themselves up to be arrested and possibly have their kids taken away.

    If you want to educate, educate. Setting up a day like this is irresponsible at the very least, dangerous at worst. If even one kids gets hurt, or worse, will it be worth it?

  50. Emily April 27, 2015 at 9:09 am #

    @Diana–I actually think it’s a good idea to have a special day for kids to play in the park independently, and at the same time, sad that it’s required, because kids used to play in parks independently all the time. However, it’s necessary to set aside a day for that now, because one of the most common obstacles to free-ranging is, even if parents send their kids out on their own on an ordinary day now, there’ll be no other kids outside to play with, because they’re all being kept inside in front of a screen, or shuttled from one organized activity to the next. The other problem is “concerned citizens” calling the police or CPS to report kids playing outside alone, or the police/CPS just swooping in, like they did with the Meitivs. So, this day is designed to make it safer for kids to play outside alone. There’s strength in numbers, so a sex offender is less likely to strike in a busy park with tons of other kids around, plus the parents of the kids who are legitimately too young to play at the park alone. It’s also designed, ironically, to protect against the police and CPS, which are two institutions that are purportedly in place to protect people, but have gotten wildly out of hand, since they’ve now decided that allowing kids o play outside alone is a “crime,” or “child abuse.” So, if there are multiple families all allowing their school-aged kids to play independently in the same park (any given park), then there’s no way that the police could arrest ALL of their parents. During my youth, playing in the park without an adult was normal, and Lenore has reported that, after this “special” day, it becomes normal for a lot of parents and kids today–I mean, after all, if the kids played in the park alone on May 9th, there’s no reason why they can’t go back to the park and play there on May 10th, and 11th, and 12th, and so on, and so forth…….and then, when the park becomes old hat, why not send them on their bikes to the library, or the movies, or the swimming pool? It’s not a full solution, but it’s one day that’s intended as a catalyst to get kids out on their own, and the more this becomes normal, the safer it is. Even if a sex offender tried to lure a child away at the park, and even if the child forgets the “don’t go off with strangers” lesson, it’s much safer if others have jumped on the “sure, you can play independently” bandwagon, and there are other kids around to call for help (especially now, since more kids have cell phones than ever before), or find an adult, or whatever is needed.

  51. Michelle April 27, 2015 at 9:16 am #

    While I understand your group’s wish for your kids to safely do what kids should do, I have concerns. We all want our kids to have normal, safe childhoods where they can play and just be kids. How is registering with your group to find other “free range” kids in the same area NOT a potential lure for those seeking out kids who are unsupervised? I can’t help but feel this effort is misguided. In these times you just can’t afford to let 7-10 year olds roam without supervision, and you certainly don’t give others a veritable map to find those that are allowed to. One may be confident in the capabilities of their child, and realize they were overconfident, too late. You only have one chance…protect your kids.

  52. Warren April 27, 2015 at 1:08 pm #

    Diane,

    Please explain how predators are such a threat, that we need to hamper our kids childhood? Next, noone has said anything about breaking local laws, or dumping kids not ready for this event in the park. You are correct that their are some parents that do not have the intelligence to parent properly, but that is no reason for the rest of us to avoid doing or promoting things. If we had to limit our lives to that which the lowest levels of stupidity can handle, none of us kids or adults would ever do anything.

    Michelle,
    You are just spouting more of the same old tired worst first paranoid thinking that we combat all the time. You really need to join the reality that the world is not the horrible place you think it is.

  53. Emily April 27, 2015 at 1:52 pm #

    @Warren–I agree with what you said. Obviously, there’s a minimum level of age and maturity required for a child to play independently in the park, and for kids who aren’t there yet, this day could be “take your kids to the park, stay with them, but sit on a park bench and let them play on their own, under loose supervision” day.

  54. Diana April 27, 2015 at 2:59 pm #

    @Emily.. you forget the part where the kids are meant to also walk home, unsupervised. No group there.. Anyway, that was my 2 cents.

    @Warren, that type of question leads me to believe nothing I said would satisfy you as to a good answer. All I know is that I have worked with various missing children’s groups, searchers, LE and families, for years.. One kid placed in harms way is too many, and all predators are a threat that our children must be protected from. Better than free range kids, how about common sense parenting. Not every child is in danger, and not every parent is neglectful in wanting to allow their kids some freedom. Do it, test it, just be sure your kid is prepared.. We cannot protect them from everything their entire lives. I suppose there is a time when we must have faith that we have prepared them the best we can. But this kind of event flies in the face of common sense. I’m sorry, but organizing an event where kids will be dropped off, left on their own and expected to make their way home… and then advertising it across the internet, in this day and age, makes no sense at all. In my humble opinion, it borders on endangerment. Again, just my opinion.

  55. Warren April 27, 2015 at 3:49 pm #

    Diane,

    You really should proof read what you write. You accuse me of not being open to your side, and you come back with “One kid placed in harms way is too many, and all predators are a threat that our children must be protected from.”. That is such an absolute statement, with no room for any discussion.

    So going by your logic, that promoting this event is dangerous to the welfare of the kids that participate, because they are just lining up to be fed to the predators, then we must never promote or advertise anything for children. People should not post birthday parties at any location, schools should not advertise open houses, fairs or special events. Towns should not promote or advertise children’s summer camps, and so on.

    Diane please start getting your information and data from credible sources and not Law and Order SVU, Criminal Minds and CSI marathons.

  56. The Other Mandy April 27, 2015 at 4:36 pm #

    @Warren– don’t you know that putting a picture of a kid/birthday party announcement/any reference to the child’s existence on the internet means a perv will immediately go hunting for him/her? Just like back in the 70s we were warned not to put a kid’s name on his shirt. Instant perv bait.

  57. Havva April 27, 2015 at 4:50 pm #

    @ Diana

    “…the kids are meant to also walk home, unsupervised. No group there.” Friend, neighbor, sibling? Just because they aren’t supervised by an adult doesn’t mean they are alone.

    “All I know is that I have worked with various missing children’s groups, searchers, LE and families, for years..”
    Then you ought to know that roughly 96% of missing persons are runaways. Per pollyklass.org “between 1.6-2.8 million youth runaway each year in the United States. Children can begin running as young as ages 10-14.”

    Have you ever talked to a run away? Do you understand what makes them so desperate? Lots of them come from absolutely awful circumstances that we can’t fix. But they also come from well meaning, but neurotic parents, that won’t let them grow up.

    I had a friend have a total break down when I got hurt on her trampoline. She was certain that her parents would take way the only physical outlet that was available to her at a moment’s notice. I covered for her… as she grew there were a lot of us covering for her in different ways. She hung in just to adult hood. When the rest of us went away to college, the restrictions go to be too much. She staged her own disappearance. Early in high school I discovered that a girl, who I had been friends with when we were younger, was despondent and had been slitting her wrists. There were scars upon scars, up and down her wrists. I asked her why, and she told me because “my parents won’t let me do anything.” She lived just a few blocks from me. I biked past her house frequently. I swam just down the street from her house. I didn’t know she was in there, lonely, suffering all that time.

    Sometimes children are kidnapped by their parent’s fears.

  58. Emily April 27, 2015 at 6:28 pm #

    @Diane–Well, obviously, the “walk home by themselves” part requires some common sense as well. If that’s a concern, pick the closest park to your home, and if you have more than one child, so much the better, because they can walk home together. Even if you don’t, sending a child with a friend from the neighbourhood is a good idea, if they have friends in the neighbourhood, because then they could walk most of the way home together. If this option doesn’t exist, you could invite one of your child’s friends from school/soccer/Brownies/whatever over, take (or send) them to the park together, and then have them walk back to your house. It seems a bit convoluted, yes, but if the child can negotiate the “maiden voyage” with a friend, then maybe going it alone isn’t that much of a stretch. Besides, part of the point of this day is for kids to make new friends who live on their street/in their neighbourhood, who they might not see on a regular basis, because they may all attend different schools and extra-curricular activities. If the closest park to your home is still more than a reasonable walk for a child away (or if it’s not far, but there’s no safe route to walk), then yeah, you can drop off and pick up, because there’s no sense giving up on the “park” part of the day, because the “walk independently” part isn’t feasible, but I wouldn’t automatically rule kids walking without an adult as unsafe, any more than I’d say that about kids playing in the park without an adult.

  59. Diana April 28, 2015 at 7:03 am #

    Ok, I give up.. My point was the recklessness of advertising a day where children will be left unsupervised. We’ve gotten off to runaways and criminal minds.

    @Havva, yes I have spoken to a runaway. I have been involved in the search of several runaways. I have worked more extensively with missing children and I have seen first hand how devastating it is. The aftermath of a child killed by a predator is beyond words.

    One final mention, @Warren.. I actually have been working with missing children’s organizations for years. I do know the facts.

  60. Donna April 28, 2015 at 8:39 am #

    Diane –

    What is it that you anticipate happening here that makes this reckless? I am truly interested in what the thought process here is.

    Some completely hapless, albeit internet savvy, wannabe kidnapper has been trolling Lenore’s website for months in the hopes that she will announce another Leave Your Kid at the Park Day. Since this is a “event” with no set time or location, he, because they are always hes in these unrealistic fantasies, will then head to some completely random nearby park in the hopes that a child will arrive at some point during the day unsupervised and at a time when there are very few other people around. And he will go to all this, highly likely to be fruitless effort, despite the fact that children are not some unusual commodity only available one day a year. He apparently can find Lenore’s website, but not the school district website where he will see locations of all the local schools and their start and dismissal time in order to be able to grab a child on the way to or from school or at a bus stop 180 days of the year. He apparently also can’t find announcements for events in town likely to draw children, some of whom will be allowed to roam. This park is only open this one day a year?

    I consider my area a bit helicopter for my taste. Still I pass several kids waiting alone at bus stops alone every day in the mile to school (we lack motivation to get out of bed in the morning so often need to drive to be on time). There are kids who walk to and from school alone. Any nice evening you can go to our local park and find a dozen or so kids from toddler to middle school hanging on the playground alone (the toddlers being watched by older kids) while their mothers walk on the paths. Any big event, like the bike race downtown this passed weekend, will find tons of kids, many of them wandering off to buy treats or playing tag or otherwise entertaining themselves while mom and dad hang out.

    Yes, society is becoming more helicopter and people like the Meitivs are paying the price, but kids are simply not the unattainable commodity so many want to portray them as if it fits their stance. Lenore is trying to stop the creep into helicopter parenting and reverse the trend, not completely envision a totally new world that doesn’t exist today. Thousands of kids do have the freedoms that Lenore is fighting for already, and they are not disappearing from parks and school bus stops the 364 other days of the year so there is no real reason to believe that those same kids will disappear on this 1 day simply because Lenore. And Lenore has had this day for years and nobody has disappeared yet.

  61. Emily April 28, 2015 at 10:09 am #

    One final mention, @Warren.. I actually have been working with missing children’s organizations for years. I do know the facts.

    I’m not Warren, but I have a pretty good idea of what he’d say. Diana, you work with missing children’s organizations. You know the facts about missing children–you know how many children go missing in any given location (not sure where you’re from), in any given time period, and it probably seems like a pretty high number. However, what you don’t see is the many, many MORE children (more in previous generations, but still a few these days), who make it to and from the park, or school, or the library, or the 7-11, or wherever they’re going that day, completely unharmed. You also don’t see the personal growth that this provides for children–you don’t see the value they get in being trusted to just be in the world as their own people, to be home on time, to remember “a loaf of bread, a container of milk, a stick of buttah” for their mothers (old-school Sesame Street reference).

    On the flip side, you don’t see how stunted children become when they’re denied these simple rites of passage. That’s because “Johnny and Susie went to the park on Saturday, and came home perfectly fine” isn’t the kind of thing that makes the news. There has been a lot of talk about the obesity crisis, and about how too much screen time is bad for kids, but the “solution” is a never-ending parade of structured activities, and not everyone has the time, money, or inclination for that, so the lower-income kids, the introverted kids, and the kids with parents whose work schedules preclude driving them to activities, do without, when 20 or 30 years ago, they’d be playing in the park. You see all those missing children in your line of work, and you start to think of how awful it would be if YOUR child were to go missing, so you instinctively become more protective. It’s understandable, but it’s still not healthy. A better thing to do would be to remind yourself that the missing children make up a very small percentage of all children, and then…….send your child to the park, if he or she is ready. Yes, I know that a lot of infrastructure doesn’t support free-ranging (no sidewalks, schools and other kid-oriented places located far from the suburbs, et cetera), but until Lenore declares “Install Sidewalks Everywhere And Make The Suburbs More Walkable Day,” the best thing we can do is to be as free-range as possible, according to what’s feasible right now. Teach kids to keep themselves safe, by not going off with strangers, and everything will probably be fine–not certainly, because nobody can promise that, but if you keep children inside and supervised until they’re eighteen, that doesn’t prevent trouble; it just postpones it.

  62. Warren April 28, 2015 at 10:16 am #

    Diane,

    If, and it is a big if, you have worked with these groups, then you should know the data. You should know that there are not a bunch of predators out there just trolling for kids. You should know that strangers do not pose a credible threat. You should know that because you worked in these groups you views are jaded, just like those of police officers, ER doctors and nurses, and therapists. You are jaded because you only see the situation when it has gone bad, not the millions of others that went off without a hitch.

  63. Emily April 28, 2015 at 10:38 am #

    >>You should know that because you worked in these groups you views are jaded, just like those of police officers, ER doctors and nurses, and therapists. You are jaded because you only see the situation when it has gone bad, not the millions of others that went off without a hitch.<<

    Okay, yeah, that's pretty much what I was trying to say. Thanks, Warren. 🙂

  64. Diana April 28, 2015 at 11:53 am #

    @Donna.. time – 10am, day – Saturday, May 9th, location – probably more than every before since its being so widely talked about. That is the reckless part.

    @Warren, you are probably right. I am jaded by some of the cases I’ve seen. I do know that the %’s are small. I do understand we need to give our kids more freedom and responsibility. I also know that the internet has opened up a bigger than ever before cache of information about what our kids are out there doing and which ones are easy targets.

    Perhaps this has been going on for 5 years with no issue. Great! I am happy about that. But this year there has been soooooooooo much coverage all over the news. And while there may not be a predator around every corner, they are there and I truly believe that they look for opportunities. Its a fact. Thats all..

  65. Warren April 28, 2015 at 12:25 pm #

    Diane,

    I guess we should be flattered that you think this event is going to flood parks around the country with kids.
    On the other hand we should also be concerned for you, that you believe there are predators that are going to use this to snatch up kids. You only hear from the victims. As sad as their tales are, you cannot act on their side of the story. You need the attackers point of view before you can do anything. Only the one that commits the offense can tell you their motive, how they pulled it off, how long it was planned, and so on. The victim cannot tell you any of that.

    You also need to realize that just because you believe something, does not make it fact. There are not predators out there marking the day on the calendar like it is some sort of Boxing Day Sale for deviants. Why would they do that when between now and then they have dozens if not hundreds of victims to choose from? Answer is they wouldn’t. Also, you know almost every victim is at the hands of a family member or those trusted by the family. Therefore the vast majority of predators/attackers do not need a special event day to victimize a child. Everything we know about sexual abuse, abuse and abductions says this event is safe. Those are facts.

  66. Warren April 28, 2015 at 12:29 pm #

    Diane,
    You also talked about this day having soooooooooo much media coverage. What about common knowledge? Common knowledge, that no matter where you live, where the predators live, everyone knows when kids start school, are on school breaks, and where they play. Resulting in millions and millions of kids out and about, when everyone knows it.

    So do we need to have schools do routine changes daily. Start times only to be announced the day before, school on Sat. with Mon. off, change locations and so on, because we all know that routine allows for tracking and planning?

  67. Donna April 28, 2015 at 1:09 pm #

    “location – probably more than every before since its being so widely talked about.”

    Really? Because I spend all day every day at work on the internet and THIS is the only place I’ve seen this talked about. Maybe she’s mentioned it on Reason or one of the other places that Lenore regularly writes and I haven’t seen it, but it isn’t exactly being advertised during the Super Bowl or anything.

    As for locations, there are approximately 25 playgrounds in my town of 100,000 alone and my town is one of millions in the country. The odds of the already extremely rare stranger kidnapper happening to be in the vicinity of a town where kids are participating and guess the right park AND that the chosen park has no other people who just happen to be around on a pretty Saturday morning is so minuscule as to completely meaningless.

    “That is the reckless part.”

    You still haven’t explained the reckless part of this. What is it that you envision happening here?

    “they are there and I truly believe that they look for opportunities. Its a fact.”

    Do you truly believe or is it a fact? Either way, I guess I’m not sure why you are so convinced that there is some lack of opportunity every day that makes this day somehow special. It is unlikely that we will participate in this event because we have other plans, but if we were, my child plays unsupervised in the exact same park we would go to all the time. So do a bunch of other kids. In fact, it is SWARMING with kids EVERY nice Saturday morning because it is in the same park as the Farmer’s Market – a Farmer’s Market that is advertised in every local newspaper and radio station (unlike Lenore’s day). Were I so inclined, I could have kidnapped 3 kids waiting alone at bus stops this morning and every other school morning since August and I only traveled a mile. I can pass any school in the county at dismissal time on any given school day and find children walking home alone. I could have snatched enough unsupervised children to field a few baseball teams from the bike race I attended on Friday and Saturday. Halloween is my neighborhood’s Christmas – also well known locally – so there are hundreds of kids milling around, some supervised and some not.

    And, let’s face it, these are all the same kids. A parent who is too afraid to allow her child to walk to school is not leaving the child in the park alone on Saturday no matter how many places this is advertised. The same kids who will be unsupervised in the park are wandering around their own neighborhoods, playing in the same parks and walking to school alone every day. Why is this day so special? Why would a predator need to wait until this day to take the same children he could take on a random Tuesday if so inclined? This would actually be the WORST day as there will hopefully be numbers of kids out and about and not just one solitary kid playing in the park.

  68. Beth April 28, 2015 at 1:25 pm #

    @Diana, with this statement “time – 10am, day – Saturday, May 9th, location – probably more than every before since its being so widely talked about. That is the reckless part” you’re still completely missing the point that Donna was making.

    Kids are everywhere. They are standing at the bus stop, they are at school playgrounds (without anything close to 1-to-1 supervision), they are at libraries, they are playing in yards, and yes, horrors, they are playing in parks on days other than Saturday, May 9. If the only time predators can find kids is when it’s announced that kids might be at a random park somewhere in America on a given date and time, and they have to hope and pray it’s a park close by, they are not very good at their jobs, so to speak.

    Is it reckless for communities to post a “school bus stop ahead” sign? Is it reckless to identify school buildings? Is it reckless to put signs in front of libraries and museums because kids might be there, and a predator might not know it otherwise?

    Come on, you know none of this stuff is reckless,and you surely know that children can be found in all communities without Lenore’s assistance.

  69. Diana April 28, 2015 at 6:22 pm #

    Ok, so I am completely wrong.. I don’t know anything.. I have no facts and I didn’t see this (and find this site as a result) any place but here, oh and a national news broadcast where the day in question was being discussed with a former police officer-prosecutor- now currently a judge, who is totally on the same page I am. But hey, I’m sure he doesn’t know the facts either. He only puts non-existent pedophiles and predators behind bars. I wanted to know more so I looked.. I had an opinion so I replied..

    Sorry for leaving a reply (in the box that says to leave a reply but does not say “only if you agree”) in the first place. Obviously no one wants hear differing opinions.

  70. Donna April 28, 2015 at 6:44 pm #

    I always enjoy the people who come here and get upset because we don’t instantly agree with them and say “oh thank you kind stranger who is smarter than us. We have now all changed our opinions and will helicopter from here out.”

    I also note that Diane has still been unable to give us a single reasonable – or even unreasonable – scenario for why we should worry about Leave Your Kid at the Park Day.

  71. Wow... April 28, 2015 at 6:51 pm #

    @Diane: The fact that people don’t agree with you means that they don’t agree with you. That’s it.

  72. Diana April 28, 2015 at 9:41 pm #

    I don’t have a problem with anyone disagreeing with me.. I guess I have a problem with the lack of understanding about my “reasonable or unreasonable” opinion that organizing a date and time, and then advertising this kind of thing across the airwaves, and as a result on national news broadcasts, is maybe not the best idea. But then rather than having a discussion about that, I am attacked as if I am taking the boogy man out of the closet and trying to scare people. I do have an issue with with nonchalant attitudes towards predators, as if they don’t really exist.

    If you don’t agree, fine. I should have stopped arguing my point from the get go.. After all, that is not what this site is about. But I was treated like just because I have a different opinion, I am uninformed, unintelligent and just a scared helicopter mom. None of that is actually true.

    Thank God I live in an area of relative safety. And you know what, the last case of a predator in my area was by a person most people knew and liked in my little community. YES, someone we knew, not someone lurking in the darkness.. Cases like Somer Thompson don’t happen much around here.. or Lindsey Baum, or Patrick Alford, or Amber Dubois, or Adji Desir, or Hassani Campbell (I could go on.. ) but they do happen. Very small percentage, yes. But real.. thats all. I just think its hard to believe that, with as much coverage as I’ve seen, there isn’t someone out there with wheels turning. Again, maybe I am wrong. I hope so.

  73. Warren April 28, 2015 at 9:43 pm #

    Diana,

    You are welcome. So glad you have finally seen the light. Good for you………………..and all that other crap.

    Again, you are watching a judge comment on TV. And of course the station didn’t pick the judge because of his point of view. And since when does being a judge make one a parenting expert? How many judges do you know get to see people on the best day or even just a normal day of their life, in the judges official capacity? They don’t, they see them on the worst days of their lives. People with those careers in which they only see the worst, get jaded. Brainwashed into thinking life is like that all the time.

    Diana when you can actually come up with facts, reason and proof that this is a bad idea we will listen. Up until now it has only been irrational fear, and fantasy.

  74. Wow... April 28, 2015 at 10:02 pm #

    @Diane: No-one thinks the police are locking up completely-imaginary predators. Well…you can argue about lines and various intersectionality stuff.

    Here’s the thing though: No-one calls the police to report that everything’s hunky-dory. And 99.9% of the time, it will be, after possibly some minor intervention. No, people call the police over that .1% And the news reports on that .1%. So it’s natural for police to think the world is more dangerous than it is. Because it’s the nature of the job on top of living in the fear-obsessed culture that the news creates.

    And most parents don’t abuse their kids. Although there’s a sizeable minority that do – the cps workers are going to see the kids that do get abused for obvious reasons. And it’s understandable if they overreact to something that isn’t abuse. That doesn’t make them correct.

  75. Emily April 28, 2015 at 10:29 pm #

    Another thing–even if the parks were, theoretically, swarming with predators (which they aren’t), most predators just look like perfectly ordinary adults, who would conceivably call the police if they saw another adult trying to harm a child, or lure them away. So, let’s suppose that Herbert The Pervert went to the park with the intention of kidnapping some random child off the monkey bars. If every other pervert in town had the same idea, because it’s Leave Your Kid At The Park Day, they’d all arrive at the park, see each other, and abort mission.

  76. Donna April 29, 2015 at 8:23 am #

    “I guess I have a problem with the lack of understanding about my “reasonable or unreasonable” opinion that organizing a date and time, and then advertising this kind of thing across the airwaves, and as a result on national news broadcasts, is maybe not the best idea.”

    Which basically means that you expect us to agree that this is maybe not the best idea. We don’t, especially since you are doing nothing other than stating your opinion without anything to back it up or even telling us the thought process behind it.

    “But then rather than having a discussion about that, I am attacked as if I am taking the boogy man out of the closet and trying to scare people.”

    We have tried to have a discussion with you. We have repeatedly asked you for FACTS or any rationale whatsoever to back up your opinion that having a set date and time, but not location, is somehow more dangerous than a set date, time and location of kids walking to school or attending the weekly farmer’s market. You have yet to put forth any facts or even a slight explanation of your thought process whatsoever. You just ignore our questions and keep repeating the same comment, which is essentially that it is more dangerous just because you believe it to be so with no real rationale whatsoever as to why. Based on your last comments I get the impression that you believe it is dangerous because someone on TV said it was dangerous and even you don’t really know why and that is why you can’t articulate anything.

    “I do have an issue with with nonchalant attitudes towards predators, as if they don’t really exist.”

    Nobody hear believes that predators don’t exist. We accept that they are exceedingly rare, but all understand that they do exist and there is always some very small risk in sending our children out. We believe that the value of independence is worth the minuscule risk of them encountering a predator.

    What we dispute is that they are more likely to go out on this particular day over any other day of the year. What we dispute is that this activity is more dangerous than walking to school 180 days a year or playing unsupervised at a park on any other Saturday. What we dispute is the idea that predators are too stupid to figure out where the local kids are and when and are just sitting around waiting for the national news to inform them. What we dispute is that somehow something being on the “national news” makes it more of a predator threat than a predator easily being able to ascertain the local calendar of activities or common patterns of behavior.

    Yes, there is a risk that a predator will snatch a kid on May 9th. There is the exact same risk that a predator will snatch a kid on the way to school this morning. The risk is no more or less simply because one was on the national news and one is a pattern of behavior that is just known locally. We believe that the small risk is worth the benefits. Life is full of risks. I could get into a car accident on the way to work today. The benefit of going to work exceeds the risk so I will get in my car and go despite the small risk.

  77. BL April 29, 2015 at 8:41 am #

    “most predators just look like perfectly ordinary adults”

    No! No! No! They’re shifty-eyed and they wear trenchcoats!

  78. Wow... April 29, 2015 at 8:49 am #

    @Diane: Why is it necessary for people to agree with your opinion in order to understand it?

  79. Wow... April 29, 2015 at 8:59 am #

    @Diana: Oops, spelt your name wrong.

  80. Diana April 29, 2015 at 10:26 am #

    I totally know, once again, none of this will support my opinion to anyone’s satisifaction. Again, its my opinion and I don’t care if you agree or disagree.. I AM trying, or was, to explain.. I won’t anymore.. comment away, but I’m done with this last post.

    Once again, I understand the stats are down.. kids appear to be safer. I wonder though, how much of that is because we as parents, in the last few decades, have become more aware of the dangers that were always there, just not as widely known before the age of the internet. And since the first picture of a missing child appeared on a milk carton, education has been a key in making our kids safer. Parents are taking more precautions, kids are more knowledgeable. We teach then safety.. we practice safety. The nature (or number) of deviants has not changed, we are just more prepared, act more quickly, prepare better, and make better choices.

    And one final thought, the incidence of child murder is down.. ok. Say 100 kids are kidnapped, but only 50 are murdered.. wait.. that doesn’t sound ok to me. The other 50 returned home, alive. Its unreasonable to believe that just because they are home, that their lives ever return to normal. They are injured in so many different ways, physically, emotionally.

    I am not trying to change anyone’s mind.. Honest to God, I am not.. I totally and completely understand that as much as I have my heels dug in here, so do all of you. Again, the nature of this entire site… But you asked for reasons behind my though processes.. I did try to explain that a lot of it comes from my involvement with various missing children’s organizations. That either was ignored as a reason, or just simply overlooked. I admitted that it probably has jaded me.. How could it not?

    Anyway, you asked for facts.. This came directly off of The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s site. They do wonderful work in getting information out there and bringing kids home.

    Key Facts

    The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® gathers key facts regarding the issues of missing and sexually exploited children and Internet safety and updates these facts and statistics frequently.
    Missing children

    In 2014, there were 466,949 entries for missing children under the age of 18 into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center, also called NCIC.

    To find the number of children missing from a specific state or territory contact the state’s Missing Child Clearinghouses.

    The first three hours are the most critical when trying to locate a missing child. The murder of an abducted child is rare, and an estimated 100 cases in which an abducted child is murdered occur in the U.S. each year. A 2006 study indicated that 76.2 percent of abducted children who are killed are dead within three hours of the abduction.

    The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has assisted law enforcement in the recovery of more than 205,550 missing children since it was founded in 1984. Our recovery rate for missing children has grown from 62 percent in 1990 to 97 percent today.

    The AMBER Alert program was created in 1996 and is operated by the U.S. Department of Justice. As of March 2015, 758 children have been successfully recovered as a result of the program.

    As of January 2015, NCMEC’s toll free, 24 hour call center has received more than 4,096,795 calls since it was created in 1984. Information about missing or exploited children can be reported to the call center by calling 1-800-THE-LOST FREE (1-800-843-5678 FREE).

    Child sexual exploitation

    U.S. law enforcement agencies have seen a dramatic increase in cases of sexual exploitation of children since the 1990s. According to a report to Congress in 2010.

    In 2006 U.S. attorneys handled 82.8 percent more child pornography cases than they had in 1994.
    State and local law enforcement agencies involved in Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces reported a 230 percent increase in the number of documented complaints of online enticement of children from 2004 to 2008.

    ICAC Task Forces noted a more than 1,000 percent increase in complaints of child sex trafficking from 2004 to 2008.
    As of January 2015, the CyberTipline has received more than 3.3 million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation since it was launched in 1998. Suspected child sexual exploitation can be reported to the CyberTipline at http://www.cybertipline.com or 1-800-843-5678 FREE.

    As of January 2015, NCMEC’s Child Victim Identification Program has reviewed and analyzed more than 132 million child pornography images since it was created in 2002.

    1 in 6 endangered runaways reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in 2014 were likely sex trafficking victims.

    68 percent of these likely sex trafficking victims were in the care of social services or foster care when they ran.

    Internet safety

    93 percent of teens ages 12 to 17 go online.

    Of children five years old and younger who use the Internet, 80 percent use it at least once a week.

    One in 25 children ages 10 to 17 received an online sexual solicitation where the solicitor tried to make offline contact.

    Four percent of cell phone owning teens ages 12 to 17 say they have sent sexually suggestive nude/semi-nude messages to others via text message.

    15 percent of cell phone owning teens ages 12 to 17 say they have received sexually suggestive nude/semi-nude images of someone they know via text.

    For more Internet Safety facts visit http://www.netsmartz.org/InternetSafety.

  81. Beth April 29, 2015 at 11:46 am #

    @Diana, all that big wall of text told us is that some predators find some children regardless of them being at a park somewhere in the world on May 9.

    You’re really not able to explain the recklessness of all the other markers of where children might be, are you? (Schools, libraries, museums, McDonalds, swingsets, bike racks……..)

  82. Warren April 29, 2015 at 1:05 pm #

    Diana,
    First, if you are this jaded by your work it is time to get out. Yes we all use our backgrounds when making parenting choices, but you have to put things in perspective. You have to be objective. To let your fears and anxieties to interfere with your kids lives, you are being very unfair to them. Your fears and anxieties are yours to deal with, not their’s.

    You also need to view all those stats objectively. For example, the huge increase in authorities dealing with child porn. Yes the porn is probably increasing, but the ability of the authorities to deal with it has also made leaps and bounds, making it faster and easier. So naturally the number of cases they deal with will increase.

    It is all about perspective and objectivity.

  83. Donna April 29, 2015 at 1:09 pm #

    Diana –

    Let me try this one more time —

    You came here specifically stating that Lenore is reckless for creating Take Our Children to the Park Day. You do not appear to oppose free range children in general. In fact your first comment started with “While I do think that kids need some freedom, range depending on the age ….” Apparently being in the park unsupervised any of the other 364 days of the year is perfectly fine with you. You oppose creating a specific day for it.

    However, you still – many posts and lots of random facts that have nothing to do with the issue at hand later – have yet to articulate a single reason for the notion that children playing in the park THIS day is reckless while playing in the exact same park at the exact same time the other 364 days a year is acceptable. You have yet to articulate a single reason why knowledge gained from the national news is somehow superior than knowledge gained from living in a neighborhood and paying attention to what goes on. You have yet to articulate a single reason why knowing that some children may be in completely unidentified parks somewhere in the US unsupervised at 10am on May 9 is somehow more valuable than knowing that kids definitely are walking unsupervised at 7:15am along a specific route between a specific neighborhood and a specific school pretty much every weekday between August and June.

    Once you are able to answer those questions, we can begin a dialog. Otherwise you are just throwing out meaningless facts that have nothing to do with the questions that you have raised which makes us believe that you have absolutely no basis whatsoever for your opinion and it is simply an irrational fear.

  84. anonymous mom April 29, 2015 at 2:14 pm #

    @Diana,

    1. Cases of internet child pornography and internet child exploitation have risen dramatically since the early 90s? Well, that is truly shocking and I can’t think of any reason why that might be the case…

    2. It sounds, given the stats you presented, that kids are much, much safer at the park than at home online.

  85. Havva April 29, 2015 at 2:46 pm #

    @Diana,
    I do hope you will give consideration to this response. Looking back, on your prior remarks, and closely at your most recent. I do think you mostly get the point. Despite your reaction to this one event.

    That the crime rate against children is falling at about the same speed as the crime rate as adults suggests that the cause is not because the children are being locked up at an alarming rate. But that the cause is the very things that are alarming you… that the criminals (of all kinds) are getting caught at a higher rate. Which is to me exciting and good news.
    We have discussion that phenomena on this sight most recently here:
    http://www.freerangekids.com/theres-never-been-a-safer-time-to-be-a-kid-in-america-washington-post/
    and here:
    http://www.freerangekids.com/this-isnt-news-d-c-suburb-posts-lowest-crime-rate-in-its-statistical-history/

    You say “We teach then safety.. we practice safety. The nature (or number) of deviants has not changed, we are just more prepared, act more quickly, prepare better, and make better choices.” I think that is exactly right. I want awareness, I want to prepare my kid. I don’t want to go back to the days of sweeping crimes against children under the rug. And as someone who was molested in the usual way (by family) I don’t want this focus on stranger danger to continue telling kids, like it told me, that they were a freak and wouldn’t be believed because my attacker was one of the people all the adults told me would never hurt me and would protect me from those ‘dangerous strangers’.

    I agree that a kid who survives a kidnapping is injured physically, emotionally, and more. And I think they have a steep road to recovery. But I do believe in their ability to heal. I also don’t think that risk is high enough to structure my child’s entire life around a 50 or 150 out of 74.2 MILLION risk. In fact I think doing that could put them in the hands of people who might do similar damage, just without kidnapping them. It also would involve a lot more time in the car, where intense trauma and death by car accidents are a multiple times a day deadly occurrence. It doesn’t pay to fixate on one risk and loose sight of how that fixation increases the other risks.

    ” The first three hours are the most critical when trying to locate a missing child. The murder of an abducted child is rare, and an estimated 100 cases in which an abducted child is murdered occur in the U.S. each year. A 2006 study indicated that 76.2 percent of abducted children who are killed are dead within three hours of the abduction.”
    And when I was little the police wouldn’t accept a missing persons report until I had been missing for longer than that. (I was reported missing, due to communication errors twice). So clearly data has been used to improve practices, and I’m glad of that.

    “The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has assisted law enforcement in the recovery of more than 205,550 missing children since it was founded in 1984. Our recovery rate for missing children has grown from 62 percent in 1990 to 97 percent today.”
    That is wonderful news, congratulations to the NCMEC, to our police forced, to you, and to others like you who do the hard work of making sure missing children are rescued.

    “The AMBER Alert program was created in 1996 and is operated by the U.S. Department of Justice. As of March 2015, 758 children have been successfully recovered as a result of the program.”
    I’ve seen it at work in my area since I got my smart phone. All but one case, so far, have been familial abductions, and all but one has come home safe. Thank goodness, and good work. The one that didn’t… well that was a national news horror story because the mom handed the kid over to the abductor, and covered for the abductor until the school demanded a welfare check, and demanded the AMBER Alert over the mother’s objections. I’m not sure anything could have saved that girl from her mom’s complicity.

    ” U.S. law enforcement agencies have seen a dramatic increase in cases of sexual exploitation of children since the 1990s. According to a report to Congress in 2010.”
    That’s funny, I’ve seen a dramatic increase in child supervision in exactly that time. You seem to be arguing that supervision makes kids safer. But most of the worst offenders violated kids in their care. So once again I’m looking back at my argument of the law of unintended consequences. Could it be that our effort to protect kids from the rare stranger is putting them at the mercy of the run of the mill pedophile who preys on children they know? And further that far more of these situations are cause by forcing supervision on capable children, than are prevented?

    ” In 2006 U.S. attorneys handled 82.8 percent more child pornography cases than they had in 1994.” The internet does make these guys easier to see, and easier to track. Just like on line bullying leaves evidence that in person bullying doesn’t. I’m glad the creeps are getting caught.

    ” State and local law enforcement agencies involved in Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces reported a 230 percent increase in the number of documented complaints of online enticement of children from 2004 to 2008.” Wow… when my friends were solicited on-line, none of us thought to tell an adult. Of course none of us felt threatened by it either… just knew it was time to get out of that forum…which was always an adult forum the kid shouldn’t have really been in anyhow.

    ” ICAC Task Forces noted a more than 1,000 percent increase in complaints of child sex trafficking from 2004 to 2008.”
    And what has happened to the rate of actual substantiated cases? We have worked up a huge moral crusade, and put a lot of money on this topic. And of course the crime is real and horrific. But for all the effort, I haven’t seen much in the way of results. Has trafficking increased, or just the reporting? How much of this is the result of retitling child prostitution as child sex trafficking (now with or without the crossing state lines)? What is behind this number?

    ” As of January 2015, the CyberTipline has received more than 3.3 million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation since it was launched in 1998. As of January 2015, NCMEC’s Child Victim Identification Program has reviewed and analyzed more than 132 million child pornography images since it was created in 2002.”
    That is tragic, horrible, and deserving of resources. But is does taking our children’s freedom do any good?

    ” 1 in 6 endangered runaways reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in 2014 were likely sex trafficking victims.
    68 percent of these likely sex trafficking victims were in the care of social services or foster care when they ran.”

    Society has long known that runaways were at high risk of falling into a life of crime, including prostitution. It’s not like they can get a legit job, and most of them have limited skills. This fact is tragic, but how do you help a child who is running from help? What is it about runaways from social services that makes the child more likely to end up victims? And how does keeping a child away from walking alone to and from the park prevent them from running away? Or if they run away from winding up used by criminals?

    ” One in 25 children ages 10 to 17 received an online sexual solicitation where the solicitor tried to make offline contact.”
    Look closely at the stats related to this…http://soldnomore.org/internet-safety/
    They add that “Four percent of all youth Internet users received aggressive sexual solicitations, which threatened to spill over into “real life”. These solicitors asked to meet the youth in person, called them on the telephone or sent offline mail, money or gifts.” and “80% of online offenders against youth were eventually explicit with youth about their intentions, and only 5% concealed the fact that they were adults from their victims.”
    So I ask: Does keeping our children from going to the park and making friends make the creep who promises them freedom from their parents in exchange for sex, more or less appealing? They aren’t being attacked through the WiFi. If they haven’t given out personal info, all it is, is an offer. Who is more likely to take that offer? I’ll tell my kid not to give out personal info on line. But I’m not going to let her life be dominated by the fear of someone making an online pass at her.

    ” Four percent of cell phone owning teens ages 12 to 17 say they have sent sexually suggestive nude/semi-nude messages to others via text message.”
    For all the hullabaloo I would have thought it was more. I would have expected more just from teens telling their boyfriend/girlfriend they were home alone. Of course I will warn my daughter you can’t take those photos back. But with numbers that low. I’m guessing the message has made it through to most teens. …. And the relationship of this to sending a kid to the park is what again?

    ” 15 percent of cell phone owning teens ages 12 to 17 say they have received sexually suggestive nude/semi-nude images of someone they know via text.”
    And a girl in my band class stripped between the buses in the middle of the parking lot. Exposing about 80 people to her semi nude body. Also there was that streaker at the football game when I was a kid. Heck in pre-school there was a boy who liked pulling down his pants at the top of the play structure. And there was the 17 year old boy in college who got naked and rolled on the grass in front of one of the girl’s dorms. Some people are exhibitionist. Is it any surprise they act like exhibitionists online? I’m generally, and justly, considered a prude. But get a grip. The only difference is the electronic record, and the fact that we are locking up kids as child pornographers for sending nude pics of themselves, or worse for receiving one. And for what, something almost all of us experienced in the physical world without any harm? This just calls into question the FBI and their collection and analysis of 132 million child pornography images. As I recall there was a teen boy who was nearly forcibly injected because the police wanted to photograph his erection to prove the image he sent was of his own body, so they could send him to jail for it. When they flip out over this stuff, and become the molesters, I really question what portion of those 132 million images and 3.3 million calls were any of their business to begin with. In fact, I take back what I said earlier about worthy of funding. If sexting teens is what they are in a froth about, and spending our tax dollars analyzing, they are frankly over funded. Those resources were for exploited children, not to harass dumb teen exhibitionists.

  86. Warren April 29, 2015 at 3:00 pm #

    Donna,
    What it comes down to is Diana has this vision of all the perverts in the world, sitting in dark rooms on the computer. They have gotten wind of this event, and are now mapping out prime locations, exact spots in the park, escape routes and probably done some advanced scouting of the area. And on that day they will be at the ready to pounce on all the little victims.

  87. anonymous mom April 29, 2015 at 4:48 pm #

    @Havva, and how many of those “youths” being propositioned online were 16 and 17 and in adult places? I remember, when I got AOL in the mid-1990s and was 17, I was propositioned all the time. I have no doubt that the vast majority of those propositioning me were not predators. I put them on ignore. Problem solved.

    We will never be able to protect teens from themselves. If a teen decides to go to a place online where adults go to engage in sexual chat and arrange sexual meetings, they are very likely going to get propositioned. Just like, if a teen decides to go into a club notorious for hook-ups, they will likely get propositioned. The question is how often children and teens are being approached in places intended for young people rather than adults, and how often they are being coerced, manipulated, or pressured into sexual situations or conversations they did not intentionally seek out.

    When I was 16, I went out and bought a bag of weed from a classmate’s twenty-something cousin. That’s very different than a twenty-something hanging out at the local middle school or high school offering weed to kids who are innocently passing by. It’s been shown, IIRC, that most teens who are “exploited” online not only intended to engage in virtual sexual behaviors in adult internet spaces but also engaged in such behaviors with numerous adults. We need to be better at distinguishing between predatory behavior (seeking out minors to exploit) and stupid behavior (not saying no when approached by a teen who is him- or herself seeking out sex/drugs/alcohol, etc.).

  88. Warren April 30, 2015 at 10:26 am #

    Had our first slo-pitch practise last night. It is amazing how sore the muscles can get, even though you think playing hockey and and active life would keep you ready.

    Anyway, my buddies on the police force were there, and I asked them what they thought about this event. And if they would do anything about it.

    Both of them are dads and think this is a great idea. We are talking about a couple of cops that a lot of kids know, and will say hi to when they are on duty. The only thing they said they would even consider doing, is if it were known that there was going to be a large turn out at any one park, they might make an extra drive by of the area, to make sure the motorists are behaving.

    You notice, not the kids, but the motorists. As it should be.

  89. Wow... April 30, 2015 at 2:33 pm #

    @Anne: So this halfway house…it’s got staff and that, right? Staff who like, the rest of us, have been bathed in the fear-obsessed culture. Do you really think the staff aren’t going to watch the erm…. ‘residents’ like a hawk? Especially those 2/60.

  90. Bella Kelley May 1, 2015 at 3:34 pm #

    There are no parks within walking or biking distance to our neighborhood. Our city built almost every park in the very poor areas of our city. Our neighborhood is middle class. There are a few playgrounds at Craighead Forest Park (the only park in the southern portion of our town), but it is too far and our children would have to cross some far too dangerous traffic streets if they were allowed to attempt to go. Also, Craighead Forest Park has some far too isolated areas the kids would have to navigate to get to the playgrounds. We take our children to these playgrounds and stay with them. There are also no community pools in our area of town and our middle class children are not well received by the children that go to those pools. What we do have is a very safe neighborhood where parents will check on all the children that are playing close to their home or in their backyard. The kids that are old enough or younger children being watched by older children walk, ride their bikes, scooters and skate all over our neighborhood streets. There are no thru streets that lead to anywhere but homes once you enter the neighborhood and all traffic drives accordingly to having children playing in the streets. Backyards are like swinging doors. Our own backyard is quite large with a trampoline that has safety nets and cushioning over all of the springs and bars. We also have a large 3 story playgym. It is mostly made of wood. It has the first story landing with a baby slide. The middle contains a plastic crawl through tube, and climbing to the top level leads to a large twisting tube slide. Attached to one side is a swing set that has 2 regular swings and 4 others of different varieties. When the kids are out playing, at any time our backyard can suddenly be full of kids. I then keep watch so none of them play dangerously and could hurt themselves or another. The backyard is privacy fenced that can only be opened from the inside of the backyard. That way no kids can play back there when we’re not home. This is especially good because we are about to install a pool. Our driveway, and most others, has a basketball goal. A lot of the other homes have similar play zones. There is one dead end street that ends at the woods. It is a favorite meeting spot for the kids. It’s front and center tree is a large, strong, big branched, perfect climbing tree. On all nice days and not too freezing or icy snow days the kids in our neighborhood are outside doing what kids should be doing. When I let my daughter start riding her bike around the neighborhood by herself at age 7; I bought her an iPhone to be able to track her movements, which works very well, and for her to be able to call me and ask me if she can go to a different friend’s house or just ride her bike around. It also allows me to call and check on her or tell her that it’s time to come home. Using tracking and staying in touch is what made me feel more comfortable allowing her to be our type of Free Range Child. They are hardly ever fully supervised unless a parent happens to be outside. For someone to call this illegal or negligence is absurd! I grew up in a much larger city with the freedom to pretty much go and do what I wanted without an iPhone. Just show up back home before dark. My mother would have had a very hard time (nearly impossible) finding me during the day! Our kids still watch TV and play video games on bad weather days, after dark, or when one or most are sick. Obviously, they usually all get sick at the same time. They are usually playing with one another via the Internet. Still playing together despite not being in the same place. I can’t imagine someone in authority telling us our kids can’t play this way! These kids are getting the most normal childhood we could possibly give them! If there was a park they could walk or ride their bikes to safely, I know I would let my now 10 year old daughter go unsupervised and believe the rest of our neighborhood parents would too!