Cop Collars Kids Selling Lemonade

Seven of the little rascals. Together, in Haverford, Pennsylvania. Going door to door, trying to gin up some cash with the cold stuff. Read all about it here. One brilliant neighbor realized how incredibly dangerous this was. After all, it was teaching children all sorts of terrible lessons like: Get to know the folks on your block.  Be independent. Have adventures.  So, naturally — like everyone who sees any child doing anything without an adult these days — he called the cops.

In the cop’s defense — just barely –  I will say that  when he wrote up the kids for the crime of peddling without a permit,  he didn’t know the law actually only applied to folks old enough to spell “mooron” correctly. That is, peddlers over age 16.

And the Haverford chief of police immediately realized this whole thing was a “public relations nightmare,” and got the department to apologize for its overzealousness.

But so far the neighbor does not seem to have apologized for his. Seven kids working  together on a classic childhood endeavor  is just too great a risk, I guess, for anyone to stand by and watch. — Lenore

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23 Responses to Cop Collars Kids Selling Lemonade

  1. justanotherjen July 21, 2009 at 7:09 am #

    Doesn’t surprise me. On a mom site I just read all about moms still walking their children to their classroom every single day and wanting to know at what age they should stop. As if a 5yo needs someone to hold their hand all the way into the school, let alone a 6, 7 or 8 year old (they were talking about doing it all the way to 2nd grade). Not sure what can happen from the school door until the classroom that they are worried about. All it is teaching is for the kids to cling to their parents even more. This year I’m thinking of not even walking the kids all the way to the building (I already don’t do that in the winter when they go right inside because of the cold instead of lining up outside).

  2. Uly July 21, 2009 at 7:43 am #

    In a little more defense, it looks like he didn’t write them up – he just talked to them and explained that (to his knowledge) they weren’t obeying the law.

    The comments to that article are a whole brand of stupid, on both sides.

  3. MFA Grad Student July 21, 2009 at 7:56 am #

    Wow… Words escape me on this one.

    I’m with Uly regarding the police officer – sounds like he wasn’t being intimidating or an undue jerk, just responding to a complaint and doing what he believed was his job.

    It’s not the cop’s fault that the neighbor who called it in was being an albeit well-meaning but nevertheless busybody killjoy.

  4. socialwrkr24/7 July 21, 2009 at 8:24 am #

    I heard about this on the radio this morning and my first thought was,”Wonder how long it will take Lenore to hear it?”!

    Luckily, the radio hosts (both are parents) thought it was ridiculous!

  5. Tana July 21, 2009 at 8:29 am #

    I guess because the pedophiles are now running in packs like wild dogs, these kids were unsafe? There were seven of them! Yes, they were unsupervised, but I doubt they were being disruptive since they wanted to make money. The complaining neighbor says he wasn’t being a scrooge, but I have to disagree. This is just ridiculous.

  6. S.D. July 21, 2009 at 8:47 am #






  7. S.D. July 21, 2009 at 8:49 am #

    At what point will the authorities start contacting the PARENTS before they take any type of legal action. I mean. HELLO! Isn’t that right up the line with selling cookies for school fundraisers?

    I almost wish I didn’t bring up children in this world to deal with all the idiotic people on this planet. Yeah. Poor my children.

  8. Daniel July 21, 2009 at 9:06 am #

    I’m seriously sending Mr. Major Dickerson – erm, Nickerson – a copy of this book:

    “Stopping at Every Lemonade Stand”, by James Vollbracht.

    Indispensable reading if you’re interested in building up community around our children.

  9. Angeline Piotrowski July 21, 2009 at 9:10 am #

    Just this week I took my 5 yr old out to sell lemonade. It was his idea so I treated it as a teachable moment in how to run your own business. I made him wear a clean shirt and taught him to give a sales pitch that included “sir”, “maam”, “please” and “thank you”. He’s only 5 so of course I went with him door to door, but I see nothing wrong with a group of older children doing what we all did at that age, come up with entrepreneurial ideas (lemonade stands, car washes, talent shows) and soliciting nice neighbors to support and encourage our enterprising spirit. What happened to “It takes a village?”

  10. MaeMae July 21, 2009 at 11:05 am #

    I actually had a neighbor confront me on this before. Thank God they did not call the cops but discussed it with me. My kids have always schemed to raise money. They have sold their artwork, lemonade, and bracelets. A neighbor was convinced that they would be abducted from my front yard. We agreed to disagree and that was the end of it. This post reminds me of the time I was approached by a police officer as a child. I was with a group of friends walking around my neighborhood (Solvay,NY) and we were told that if we did not disperse we would be arrested for gang activity. There is a law in Solvay that kids cannot travel in groups of more than 4 or they are considered a gang. My parents laughed their butts off at the thought of me and my sister in a gang.

  11. Rich Demanowski July 21, 2009 at 11:06 am #

    Hmmm … you left out of the list of things they were learning: How to handle money. How to own and run a business. Salesmanship. Customer service. Interpersonal communication skills. Practical arithmetic.

    Yeah. Those things lead to *gasp* independent thinking. The “authorities” won’t like them learning those things.

  12. Uly July 21, 2009 at 4:43 pm #

    MaeMae, isn’t that a violation of their First Amendment rights? No, seriously – that sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen.

  13. Kate July 21, 2009 at 9:58 pm #

    Over and over again when reading these stories I’m left thinking – since when did adults become too afraid of direct confrontation to speaks with a kid’s parents first?!! I think it might perhaps be another manifestation of that media influence you talk about, Lenore, where adults gain the impression that any parent could turn out to be an abusive, dangerous, gun-toting, explosive wacko, and so they call in the professionals – the police, or child services – first.

    I understand that people want to play it safe, but really, most parents are not crazies…most parents are trying to do the right thing under all sorts of stresses and other influences and succeeding or failing accordingly!

  14. AirborneVet July 21, 2009 at 11:38 pm #


    If these kids can’t sell lemonade, can we please get someone to stop the never ending harrassment by the Girl Scouts forcing me to eat all those cookies every year? Sigh. I have noticed they no longer go door to door like I did when I was a Girl Scout.

  15. Melissa July 21, 2009 at 11:43 pm #

    So sad, I just stopped by a lemonade/peanut butter cookie/and kid drawing stand and bought one of all three. I was so glad to see all of them working so hard and working together (without a parent in sight!)

  16. Tanya July 22, 2009 at 12:53 am #

    I can relate to this a bit. My son at the age of 11 was escorted home by the sheriff from a neighbor 3 doors up the street. The crime: he had a leatherman(that he got from boyscouts) out in their yard and was cleaning the dirt out of the plyers. He and a friend had been exploring the woods near our neigborhood, one with a leatherman and one with a slingshot. They stopped by a friend’s yard to play tag with the kids. Rather than the neighbor escort him home and ask that he not bring it to their yard, of course they called the police. I try to “free range” but I live in a community of helicopter parents who lack the ability to be neighborly.

  17. MaeMae July 22, 2009 at 5:50 am #

    @Uly My parents weren’t upset about it so we didn’t think twice about it other that that the cops were stupid. My parents thought it was hilarious and started making up names for our gang. I can’t remember them now but I remember they were laughing so hard they could barely speak. Hmm…maybe they had been drinking that

  18. bequirox July 22, 2009 at 12:39 pm #

    I heard about this on the radio today and I was just getting ready to email it to you. How ridiculous.

  19. Dave July 22, 2009 at 3:41 pm #

    When my grandchildren sold lemonade on our stoop. My five year old grandson too the brave chance of running down the block to do the hard sell to people walking down the street. He even lived on the edge and called out to strangers in cars stopped at the light to press for a sale.

    People afraid to live in their communities should move and leave the rest of us alone.

  20. Kendi Kim August 20, 2011 at 10:39 am #

    It’s like a kind of terrorism; a new world order based on fear. Kids can’t ride their bikes, take a walk around the neighborhood, walk home from school, or go to the store and buy a candy-bar, unless they’re accompanied by a parent, otherwise some lunatic calls the cops. Why? Because then, parents are asked, “What if a rapist or child molester picks them up?” And then there is the fear, and nobody can go outside any more, since if you feel like you can risk that (which you obviously do if you believe that kids have to learn to live their own lives little by little and that it takes a village…), then you’re a bad parent, obviously.

    Well, I won’t have it.


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