A City Councilman in Los Angeles, Mitch O’Farrell, has proposed a bill to keep playgrounds “free of creepy activity” by not allowing anyone unaccompanied by kids to enter one.
Shamefully, that is already the rule here in my burg, New York City. This has lead to the ztseibnztf
arrest of two women who dared to eat donuts on a playground bench in BrooklynÂ (exposing kids to potential predators AND processed food!), and to the ticketing of seven guys who were playing on chess tables too close to a Mahattan playgroundÂ (tables placed there by the city, but whatevs). The fact that the guys had been playing chess there for years and even taught some kids the game was of zero import to the authorities determined to see only potential evil, not actual good.
Kudos, then, to the Los Angeles Times for objecting to this grandstanding law. As the paper put it in an editorialÂ titled, “L.A.’s proposed ban on single adults near playgrounds is fear-based policy making at its worst“:
Oâ€™Farrell arguesÂ thatÂ we canâ€™t assume every adult who wanders into a childrenâ€™s play area is benign. But why should the city assume that every adult without a child is a pedophile?Â
Because we have been that taught worst-first thinking is prudent and wise: Think up the worst-case scenario first, no matter how unlikely, and proceed as if it’s about to happen. We automatically worst-first in many cases when an adult, especially a male, is in close proximity to a child. (Remember the British Airways ban on men being seated next to unaccompanied minors on planes — a policy Qantas clings to still?) And we simply cannot stop fixating on stranger danger, even though the vast, vast majority of child abuse is at the hands of someone the child knows and the family trusts.
Not someone eating donuts on the playground parkbench.
Separating the ages is a form of segregation and prejudice. If you’re looking for a creepy activity, voila. – L
I think segregating parks is the exact opposite of what we need to do in a world where people often live far from family. We need more chances for children and older folks to interact, not fewer.
Please, Los Angeles City Council; bury this proposal and never allow it to see the light of day again.
Please, citizens of Los Angeles; remove Mitch Oâ€™Farrell from his position of authority. He insults your great city and its people.
No adults at all in the playground would be a better idea.
I agree with Nicole. It’s segregation, and it slowly destroys the neighborhood and community. Interaction with people in your neighborhood is a good thing. Even if you never speak to the other people in the park, you are participating in your community. You are showing face, being present.
It also hurts those you ban from the park. You eliminate their opportunity of simply taking a walk in a safe public place, getting fresh air, maybe meeting other people. Do we really want to isolate our elderly?
I’m fine with not allowing adults without children on public playgrounds, IF at the same time the taxes on those people are reduced so they don’t have to pay for those playgrounds either.
Of course that’s not going to happen. If anything taxes on those without children are going to increase even more in order to pay for ever more luxurious child support and “programs” for single parent households.
This idea–that we can’t assume people aren’t pedophiles–is not just moronic and contrary to the data, it actively undermines the system of justice that the USA has established, and that the entire civilized world has operated under since the Enlightenment. This politician actually said that we are justified in assuming guilt until proof of innocence. The fact that this person is not up on criminal charges is proof of how pathologically risk-averse our nation has become. “Guilty until proven innocent” is how dictatorships run, not free representative republics!
Worse, where does it end? I recall going to several museums before I had children–I’m a scientist, so when I get a chance I like to visit such places. I’ve already experienced cultural push-back at being a male without children in such places, and have left several museums because the glares and mothers pulling children to the other side of the room to avoid me got to be too much. This law creates a precedent for criminalizing that behavior. What adults will you allow in/near parks? Parents? Uncles? Friends of the family? How can you determine the person is actually with the kid(s) in question? Enforcement necessarily would DESTROY liberty–we’ve already established that everyone is guilty until proven innocent, demanding everyone carry two forms of identification for the child they’re with is hardly a substantial request after we’ve eliminated that principle!
This nonsense isn’t grandstanding, it’s openly advocating for dictatorship and actively eroding the very principles our nation–and civilized society–is founded upon. Politicians will not be slow in finding out how far they can stretch this law.
For those who think the above is paranoid, please look at the concept of regulatory capture. I work in the environmental field; I’m not saying this as a possibility, I’m saying it’s already happening, and this will merely make it easier.
I hope that if this passes the people responsible for cleaning and maintenance of said playgrounds rightly refuse to work on them unless they have a child present on the grounds that they will be breaking the law otherwise
A few years ago I brought my then 5 year old nephew to the local playground on a beautiful spring day. The playground was crowded with kids and adults. I was sitting on a bench reading while he was playing. A park worker asked me if I was with a child. I looked around for my nephew and pointed him out. After he was satisfied, I saw him approach others, presumably with the same question. I soon realized that he was only asking men the question and not women.
I used to eat lunch at a local park on nice days. I had to stop after having the Police called on me several times.
How young does the accompanying child have to be before they too aren’t allowed there?
Enquiring minds etc…
This rule is insane, of course, but it also sounds really hard to enforce. Some young people are tall for their age, and/or hit puberty early, and/or bypass that whole “awkward stage,” so they end up looking like adults when they’re maybe only thirteen or fourteen. So, even if that rule was reasonable (and it’s not, because adults have a right to use public parks too, and parks are meant to build community), I can see a lot of cops cracking down on young people who appear “adult” before their time, especially manly-looking boys.
That is truly a creepy idea. When we should be encouraging people to be together as a community, New York and Los Angeles want to destroy community and vilify people for not having children. What is also their responsibility to consider is that these are major cities and what they do has high visibility. Their poorly thought out ideas could now spread to other areas.
You have no idea how dangerous women eating doughnnuts can be!
Another thing–if we’re going to go to the extremes of worst-first thinking, this new rule would forbid adults from innocently walking/running/picnicking/playing sports/reading on a bench at the park, but it wouldn’t forbid actual child abductors from bringing kids into the park, who they’d previously abducted from the mall/library/public transit/YMCA locker room.
Do they allow married persons-without children-to accompany playgrounds?
I live in Vancouver, Canada. One policeman told me that an adult who goes to a playground alone would MORE likely be looked on with suspicion-than an adult who is NOT accompanied by another adult.
“You have no idea how dangerous women eating doughnnuts can be!”
As dangerous as men playing chess.
Sometimes even the LA Times get something right (this is the sheet that ran a map of Southern California and labeled the water to the west as “Atlantic Ocean”).
This is ridiculous. The act of walking into a playground is not creepy no matter who you are. Furthermore it ignores the fact that you are more likely to be molested by a parent than a complete stranger. Maybe we should just ban all adults. Then arrest them for abandoning their children at the playground.
>>Do they allow married persons-without children-to accompany playgrounds?
I live in Vancouver, Canada. One policeman told me that an adult who goes to a playground alone would MORE likely be looked on with suspicion-than an adult who is NOT accompanied by another adult.<<
If anything, child abduction would be easier with two people than one–one person lures the child back to the car, while the other person warms it up, so they can make a quick getaway. Or, if it's a bigger child (because kids are to be treated like china dolls until their eighteenth birthdays, or maybe university move-in day), then it might take two people to grab and restrain him or her. So, I'm assuming that "no adults without children" means exactly that–no single adults, no paired adults, no adults whatsoever, without children.
Wow. It sounds like these donut eating, chess playing adults would be deterrents to actual pedophiles that might be lurking!
I think you glossed over another unjustified assumption… that people who have children can’t be pedophiles, and pedophiles can’t have children.
@Amy: Exactly! Children aren’t allowed to be unaccompanied, either. This is awful. Can/will the ACLU challenge these laws that restrict our liberties? What kinds of cases do they take nowadays besides religious freedom and free from religion ones?
Some women who don’t have children have a lot to offer the next generation. I work with two women who are childless one my choice and one by a hard life one is helping my daughter with career guidance, the other has given her cooking lessons (I don’t cook if I can help it) and has let my daughter interview her for a school immigration project. Most of my family doesn’t qualify because we were born in the United States. I also helped my daughter in 2nd grade find appropriate cat toys as a thank you gift.
who pays taxes on these playgrounds? Adults duh!
This is a truly sensible rule, but unfortunately, it doesn’t go far enough.
There are real dangers and just because the odds are very low that they’ll happen doesn’t mean we shouldn’t arm ourselves against them.
There have been pedophiles and horrible people that use children to lure other children away from parks and playgrounds so they don’t get caught doing it themselves.
Therefore, the ordinance should also prevent people with children from using the parks. You just can’t be too careful.
Once we’ve gotten the single people and the people with kids out of the way, we should also ban children, because unaccompanied minors are just people in need of supervision. And really, what kind of parents let kids play alone where they can get hurt with no children around.
Hey. I live close to Mitch O’Farrell’s district (Silver Lake). The city maintains several recreation areas, one of which is in his district (Silver Lake Recreation Center). For the last several years, there have been signs posted that say “Children’s Play Area Only. Adults Not Accompanying Children Prohibited. Sec. 653g, CA Penal Code.”
This is posted in the playground area, but that is right next to a basketball court, a large lawn, and an area that offers adult classes. I’ve always wondered about the legality of such a law? If we all pay taxes, how can certain areas of a park be limited to only SOME of the people?
I’ve looked up the law in question, and 653 does deal with loitering in school areas (this is not a school area). There WAS a section g, but it seems that it has been removed from the code. The text of 653g is:
“653g. Every person who loiters about any school or public place at or near which children attend or normally congregate and who remains at any school or public place at or near which children attend or normally congregate, or who reenters or comes upon a school or place within 72 hours, after being asked to leave by the chief administrative official of that school or, in the absence of the chief administrative official, the person acting as the chief administrative official, or by a member of the security patrol of the school district who has been given authorization, in writing, by the chief administrative official of that school to act as his or her agent in performing this duty, or a city police officer, or sheriff or deputy sheriff, or Department of the California Highway Patrol peace officer is a vagrant, and is punishable by a fine of not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000) or by imprisonment in the county jail for not exceeding six months, or by both the fine and the imprisonment.
As used in this section, “loiter” means to delay, to linger, or to idle about a school or public place without lawful business for being present.”
I get what they’re trying to do, but I’m not sure this is legally defendable?
I have kids and take them to this park all the time, FYI. I don’t particularly micromanage every other adult when I’m there. 🙂
Wouldn’t that just stop all the nonsense?!
No taxation without representation–on the playground!
Rebate my taxes because my child is grown and I have no grandchildren!
Do it now!
Or let me and my lunch ladies share the playground with the kiddies and the millennial moms and the older dudes playing chess or bocci ball.
Justice for all in the land of the free and the home of the brave!
The paranoid leading by example. Such a shame to see so many people live in fear so much so that neighborhood parks which were originally built in NYC to bring communities together (Robert Moses) are being seen as places where creeps hang out.
I grew up in Brooklyn (circa 1950s-1960s) where I enjoyed playing in our neighborhood parks and watching some of the adults play chess or checkers IN THE PARK!
Please, let’s remember a time when it was ok to trust one another first!
I think it’s fascinating that people are moaning that Donald Trump is “ushering in” a new order of fascism. Well, of course he is, but it’s built on a foundation of turn-key fascism handed to him by the current administration.
How many people know how to challenge this law? It’s easy, if you know how. It’s called “strict scrutiny” and it’s the standard the government must meet, when it singles out a group or particular demographic for application of a law like this. Is there a “compelling government interest?” No. Is the law “narrowly tailored” to achieve that compelling government interest? Of course not, as it applies to most of the U.S. population without any justification.
Why not? Well, would you believe there is a compelling government interest to prohibit adults on playgrounds, because most adults are pedophiles? Would the way to prevent pedophiles from accessing children be to prevent all adults from being on the playground? This ridiculous law wouldn’t make it past the first federal judge that found it.
If you want to survive the fanatics and the hysterics who will make you into their next witch hunt, you need to join me and learn how to defend yourselves. Why wait, until they come for you after they’ve come for nearly everyone else?
But for now we go right along, just like we did with neo-fascist Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy, until one brave witness in front of his committee–along with a fellow senator whose anger overcame his fear of being labeled a communist–got in McCarthy’s face and called him what he was. Then, “everyone” always knew McCarthy was a fake and a schoolyard bully.
Everything bad that every fascist ideologue ever wanted to do in the last hundred years–whether they were on the left or on the right–was founded on oh-so-much concern, FOR THE BABIES!!!!!!! They know we’ll never say, “well to hell with the babies!!!”
Why don’t we stand up, and send these people and their precious babies (which although they really are ours those people somehow “own” wherever they go) where they belong–to get an honest job for a change?
While the proposed LA law might be fear-based and ideally should not pass, there could be a benign side to this. Here in NYC, age discrimination in public places is technically illegal, but some versions of “reverse discrimination” (i.e. in favor of children and/or seniors) are allowed. So while it would be illegal to have an area in a public park where kids would be banned, it is not illegal to have an area which favors kids. In a busy place like NYC, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to have child-oriented public places that aren’t overrun by adults (who’re eating, drinking, exercising, or whatever).
And fortunately, nowhere in public playgrounds does it say that “children must be accompanied by an adult”.
I saw a movie last night. It was set in the deep south around 1925. I saw a few colored toilets. It’s ironic that I see â€œJim Crow’ laws being proposed for parklands. Some of the park will be for parents with children.
Why do politicians grandstand? Because it works. There are a lot of scared $hitless voters out there. They feel safer if the have a scared $hitless politician to represent them. However I think we should name and shame these jerks that propose Jim Crow laws.
When my daughter was a new born I used to go to a special movie showing for new Moms. There was typically 25-30 Moms or Dads with their babies at the show. And one old couple. I heard someone ask them why they always came to that show. They said they didn’t have grandkids of their own and they liked to see all the babies. I’m sure in good weather they’d have like to walk by a playground too.
I have a three word response to this law: Massive civil disobedience.
A pervert can touch a girl on the butt in front of her parents. That IS a possibility. THAT CAN HAPPEN!
However by tying to prevent this possibility, we do some serious damage. Just like the Jim Crow laws strengthened the idea of white supremacy, this law strengthens the idea that children are frail helpless pets. SOME NEVER OUTGROW THIS IDEA AND STILL HAVE IT WHEN THEY REACH ADULT AGE!
Learned helplessness is about the biggest cause of anxiety. Domestic Violence is an example of a problem that grows from anxiety. These are real life problems. This isn’t the boogyman.
I am glad that we have anti smoking areas. I don’t like to be in a restaurant with people smoking. This is saving me from coughing. However it’s also saving me from learning how to tolerate others.
This learning isn’t the same learning that’s used for ABC’s and 3+7. This type of learning is more like exercise. In order to be tolerant of others, you have to ‘exercise’, your patients and learn how to cope with not having your own way. In other words, you have to learn how to be uncomfortable.
To say that the world is becoming less tolerant for others isn’t accurate. It’s becoming more tolerant in some areas. It’s also becoming so intolerant in other areas that it’s scary. Although there is a limit as to how much a creep can grope, it can still happen. However this law creates MANY more problems than it solves.
This fear (adults unaccompanied by minors) and the ‘Freedom FROM Speech’ as well as political correctness going crazy, stems from the same stuff.
Why didn’t you have a trigger warning for this page? It had some material that made me uncomfortable. I’m traumatised because I’m not use to that.
We live in an age of recreational hysteria.
Emily – interesting point. I’d add that it’s not exactly random which young people get seen as appearing older than they are.
Glenn – I’m not so sure about Robert Moses working to bring people together in public areas. Didn’t he build underpasses near his beach parks so that buses couldn’t get there?
wow, shocking & asinine
I would be more specific and say that no unaccompanied person should be allowed in a playground if the person is five or more years older than any child in the playground.
(from Lenore’s Twitter)
“ALL ADULTS ARE PREDATORS unless proven otherwise. Or so suggests Los Angeles City Councilman:”
Maybe this councilman should stop assuming all adults are just like him.
Wait, didn’t I read this exact article before? Just switch NY with LA and there you go, instant new article.
There should be a comment in here about those not learning from history…
>>I would be more specific and say that no unaccompanied person should be allowed in a playground if the person is five or more years older than any child in the playground.<<
But then that would mean you couldn't send a child of, say, ten years old, to the park if there happened to be kids there who were kindergarten aged or younger. Or, if an older child is already there, and some younger kids show up, would the older child then have to leave?
That final sentence. Now we’ve got the soundbite needed for our cause.
If the elimination of evil, potential or the true was the true intent we would be forced to burn government to the ground.
Idiotic. In both our nearest parks, the walking path goes right through the playground area. I walk the dog through the playground multiple times in an hour as I walk her around the walking path loop.
(The Pokestops are also at the playground.)
25% of those on the sex offender registry committed their “crimes” while under the age of 18. There are children as young as 8 years old on the registry for doing childish things like “playing doctor”, “show and tell”, sexting, and yes, teenage sex which has been going on since the dawn of time. Banning all adults will not create some perfectly safe Utopia but will increase the disconnection between generations, remove additional eyes from watching over children, increase stress in childless adults no longer able to have lunch or a stroll in the park, again bring us to “taxation without representation” and the over-powering urge to dump some tea in the park fountain, and many other “unintended consequences”. Adults pay for parks. Adults need parks. Children need to be exposed to older adults to learn respect, compassion, and the life time of things seniors have learned. Stranger danger is extremely rare and this kind of law does not prevent it. Never has.
Did you know that parks were NOT originally designed as places for children to play? They were meant to be open areas in cities to graze household stock like milk cows and horses while adults gathered to discuss the news of the day and politics. Play equipment was added to keep the children busy and stop them from interrupting conversations.
First it was fear of children being in a park without an adult (Parent) present, now it’s the fear of an adult (Parent) being in a park without a child present! Segregation in a “Free country”.Unreal!
So crazy what next band women from school because some have sex with teen boy
Or band men from stores, office building because my rapes of women happen by men
This is so crazy, they better not tax single or people with out kids for parks
Why do we need to be around other people at all? We can all text each other now, while hiding in individual fortified bunkers.
It’s the only way to be safe.
Sounds like the USA is a scary country for unsuspecting tourists. You know, one of those countries where you get arrested for swimming in places that turn out to be holy, or because the terrible noisy music you pulled the plug on turned out to be part of a religious ceremony, or where you get in a horrible car accident, loose your best friend and barely survive yourself, only to get arrested for reckless driving because you were behind the wheel.
“It sounds like these donut eating, chess playing adults would be deterrents to actual pedophiles that might be lurking!”
Yes, this! I don’t know how it actually works in practice, but I assume that chess players would generally be with more than 1 person, and be concentrated on a game of chess (either their own or someone else’s), but still in a way that they could provide help to kids. They sound like excellent ‘eyes on the street’.
“I would be more specific and say that no unaccompanied person should be allowed in a playground if the person is five or more years older than any child in the playground.”
I remember my sister taking Little Brother and me to a park. So if the age difference between her and me would have been 3 months more, that should have been illegal, according to you?
School is the foremost enforcer of age segregation in this country and the world. It’s not a bad thing only after school is out; it’s a bad thing at any time of the day.
What a horrible rule.
Years ago my flatmate lost her 5000 word assignment, the day before it was due. Naturally she was distraught. She was then trying to rewrite an entire assignment while crying and shaking.
So, I called a friend, who met us at the local park.
Midnight, three people in their 20s, a beer each, swinging on the swings and climbing on the climbing frame.
It was good for our souls that night.
Once she was calm, and in a good place again, we went back home. Thankfully she was able to retrieve most of the assignment, once she was able to calm down and think about it.
Now in my 30s, my husband and I will occasionally swing on the park swings when we go walking at night (we live in the tropics, the nicest time to walk is at night).
As David Avery says, those signs have been in LA for a long time. When I moved to LA 24 years ago, I walked to my local park to swing. The fenced playground areas had those signs at that time. In Orange County, however, I don’t see any such prohibitions, even today.
And, speaking of OC, the lululemon store at the mall had pairs of pre-pubescent girls dancing in the window this NYE day, and they weren’t square dancing (my female friend wondered where the pole was). There was a conspicuous absence of pedophile paranoia, and no police safety messages warning moms not to let their daughters cut loose in the windows while they shopped.
An mp by the name of Nicola Blackwood has been fighting for changes in child protection laws, in a campaign called childhood lost.
Childhood Lost, the campaign led by Nicola Blackwood, the Member of Parliament for Oxford West and Abingdon, and supported by charities, parents of victims, police officers, is calling for new restrictions on sex offenders who have not been convicted.
Nicola Blackwood intends to table an amendment to the Anti-social Behaviour Bill which would introduce child sex abuse prevention orders. They would operate in a similar way to anti-social behaviour orders. At present a sexual offences prevention order, though it can curtail a convicted offender’s movements, requires a conviction of the offender. It is understood that under the proposed legislation, police chiefs could seek an order using hearsay evidence and other intelligence about a suspected offender.
It’s the last sentence that makes the whole bill wrong, considering hearsay evidence against a person and calling them a sex offender without a conviction ignores the bases of law that is innocent until proven guilty. This gas the same effect people like me single no kids are now all considered phaedopliles by default. Where else are we going to banned from? MacDonalds, Disney cinemas playing kids movies do people like me can’t go and see the next Pixar movie, I liked finding Dory how wrong of me.
so, what happens to the little old lady that feeds pigeons and watches the children in the park,,,is she a pedaphile now. or for that matter any old person of age that enjoys watching young children play,,,,,,you know what ,,,i think your a bunch of fuckin assholes
I lived in San Francisco, where this law is in effect. Frankly, I think the biggest result is that it keeps homeless folks from setting up camp in playgrounds, which are attractive because there are shelters. To be clear, this is a law for playgrounds only, not the whole park. I never heard of or saw people outside the playground gates being bothered by police to move (including homeless people). In other cities where this law does not exist, I have been very frustrated to arrive at a playground with my 2 small children and have to turn right back around because there was someone sleeping at the top of the slide. Obviously, homeless folks need services and safe shelters, but a playground is not that place. I’ve also seen more broken glass and drug paraphernalia at playgrounds not protected by this law. Playgrounds are public spaces, yes, but they are meant for children and I think this law makes that firm designation. What good is a playground if adults are preventing children from playing there?
When I was a kid, I wasn’t allowed in a lot of places without an adult with me. Now things are reversed. What does that say about a society that expects adults to work, pay taxes and raise children, but worships children, who contribute nothing?
From Rachel: I think the biggest result is that it keeps homeless folks from setting up camp in playgrounds, which are attractive because there are shelters.
I would not object to such a law if that’s the way it’s applied. But if that is the reason for the law, the cops should not be bothering and kicking out adults during the day. Better yet, why not make a rule against being there at night, or between certain hours, or no camping allowed. Our local parks officially close at “dusk”, giving the cops reason to approach people at night, when illegal activity is more likely to take place.