Let’s Not Assume Children Outside are Never Safe…from CPS

Yes, keep sending your kids outside!

Yes, keep sending your kids outside!

A dad’s comment about over-emphasizing the chances of the cops questioning Free-Range Parents strikes me as worth printing here:

Something we should all keep in mind is that kids who walk to the park without adults and are *NOT* stopped don’t make the news.  Just like the millions of kids who are not abducted by strangers don’t make the news.

My just-turned-14-year-old has been walking (alone) to our local downtown (with bookstores and a library, amount other things) since he was about 10.  We’ve never had an incident.  But this isn’t news.

So, what the Meitiv’s are going through isn’t right.  But we also shouldn’t assume that it is typical.  Just like we shouldn’t assume that child kidnappings are typical just because one happened 1,000 miles away and is now on the news 24/7.

I don’t let my fear of child abduction drive my parenting decisions and I don’t let my fear of CPS drive those decisions either.

As the gal who hears almost all the instances of gov’t overreach when it comes to parenting (I’m the Nancy Grace of CPS), I can assure you I am appalled by each and every one. But I can also assure you this man is right — the incidents are not legion. YES we must fight the laws and officials that intrude on safe, sane parenting choices. NO we should not keep our kids inside, for fear of CPS.

The more kids we have flooding the parks, playgrounds, stores and streets, the safer and happier everyone is. And no busybody will call to report something strange and disturbing — “a child outside!” — because there will be just too dang many. – L


, , , , , , , ,

41 Responses to Let’s Not Assume Children Outside are Never Safe…from CPS

  1. John January 30, 2015 at 9:32 am #

    I’ve had my kid “Brought home” by the cops because he was playing in our front yard. But I’ve yet to have CPS intervene, so there’s that.

  2. Coccinelle January 30, 2015 at 9:42 am #

    It’s sound advice. If we don’t let our fears of accident stop us why let our fear of CPS involvement stop us. Both are a distant possibility but by overcoming our fears, we let our children grow and learn new things. It’s important, it’s why Free Range Kids was created.

  3. Phoenix January 30, 2015 at 9:43 am #

    Yes! Thank you. I feel like I hear the fear of CPS a lot more often than I hear the sort of predator or “bad things” fears from parents now. But it’s all just fears. Your blog does for CPS wrongly taking children away fears the same thing that most of the media does for stranger danger type kidnapping fears. It can make them seem more common than they are. That’s why it’s important to keep remembering that the value of sending kids outside and letting them have independence trumps either of those sorts of fears.

  4. ChicagoDad January 30, 2015 at 9:51 am #

    Darn. Way to wreck my business plan. I was planning to use “CPS anxiety” to sell stuff. Like CPS protection insurance. Or a line of “supervisor dolls”: adult-size mannequins you put in your front yard that look like a parent engrossed by his smartphone! Bummer.


  5. BL January 30, 2015 at 10:05 am #

    ‘I’ve had my kid “Brought home” by the cops because he was playing in our front yard.’

    That’s just nuts. I used to play in the front yard at a very young age (pre-school, I think), and there was a cop who used to spend hours sitting nearby on a motorcycle, manning a “speed-trap” for the semi-main street that intersected ours. Never did he do anything like that.

  6. Trey January 30, 2015 at 10:17 am #

    Yup and this is why I’m thinking next year my daughter can ride her bike to the bus stop and use the bus to get to school.
    On the irritatingly non-free range part, our bus routes would overlap and we’d be on the same bus for a while.

  7. John January 30, 2015 at 11:08 am #

    @BL, this was when he was in pre-school. I believe he was 4. A very capable 4 year old. He was brought to the door by a cop one other time after that too (I’m not going to allow a cop tell me how to raise my kid). Thankfully the other children in the neighborhood, who, oddly enough, are about the same age started playing outside too.

    Now there are kids every where in the summertime, running from house to house, and crossing the street by themselves (it’s a very quiet street). We started letting him run around the block for exercise when he was 5-going-on-6. It’s about a half of a mile. Every once in a while a friend will go on the run with him too. He’s 7 now, and perhaps this summer when he turns 8, we’ll let him walk to the playground behind the school. It’s about 900 feet as the crow flies, but you have to cross two neighborhood streets to get there.

    In the end, the only lesson the cops taught me and my wife was that we can’t trust them.

  8. K January 30, 2015 at 11:15 am #

    My 8 year old daughter wanted to stay in the car at the grocery store when her father was going in for a few items. She is small for her age and the windows aren’t tinted. He made her go in and I agreed with him. Not because anything would happen to her, but because we don’t want some nosy person to call the police! This is maryland, after all!

    They both play outside without me, walk places, my son even knocks on strangers doors and offers to shovel their snow.

    It’s just this state seems to have an issue with kids in cars.

  9. John January 30, 2015 at 11:22 am #

    Also, while I agree with the Lenore, that we can’t allow the fear of our government, or the news, effect the methods we use to raise our children (within reason), I disagree that police and CPS intervention is as rare as kidnappings, murders, and other horrible things that happen to kids. I’ve seen, firsthand, how the CPS can cause an innocent family to lose thousands of dollars and countless hours defending themselves. And, as noted above, I have been subject to run-ins with the law for daring to allow my children play in front of our house. In that same time, I’ve not known any children that have been kidnapped, harassed, or otherwise. That being said, I’m a sample size of 1, so maybe the horrible things are happening just as often as the unnecessary harassment by law enforcement and CPS….

  10. donald January 30, 2015 at 11:48 am #

    SO_P. Fill in the blank. If you are nearby a kitchen, you would probably say SOUP. If you nearby a laundry then you would probably say SOAP. This is called Brain Priming.

    When we see something, we don’t know everything about it. We have to fill in the blanks ourselves.
    If you have a daily ritual of watching infotainment every night and the next day you see a child unsupervised, chances are that you will think of kidnapping

  11. Vicky January 30, 2015 at 12:07 pm #

    This dad gets it.

  12. bob m January 30, 2015 at 12:08 pm #

    part of the problem I have is wrestling with my own adult family members over this.

    Latest example – picking up 7 yr old grandchild from religion school and leaving her 2 yr old sister in the car while I ran inside.

    I was warned by my wife and oldest daughter (but not daughter whose children I was driving) that I could get reported/arrested/”in trouble”.

    To review – I was in the CHURCH parking lot – surrounded by parents who were picking up their children.

    To me that is how pernicious this entire “stranger danger” movement has become. People who know better – my wife and I raised 3 of our own and had 2 nephews live with us for a while when they were both under 5 – are allowing the “Worst First/Stranger Danger Complex” to rule our lives

  13. Reziac January 30, 2015 at 12:10 pm #

    It occurs to me that the best response to CPS overreach is not fear.

    It is anger.

    How DARE they presume that your child is neglected or in danger??

    Perhaps if we had moms marching on CPS headquarters, the message would get across.

  14. Donna January 30, 2015 at 12:41 pm #

    This is what I’ve been saying all along. I don’t doubt that there are incidents of this happening, just like there are a certain number of stranger abductions every year, but it is the exception, not the rule. And the more we worry about this overblown fear, the more kids will stay inside, the less common it will be to see children outside alone and the more the police and CPS will start think it is questionable.

    Frankly, I have yet to completely understand the outrage at CPS in this case. I understand outrage at the busybody who called the police and outrage over the police who brought the kids home and called CPS, but I guess I’m just not sure what you all expect CPS to do when they have a police report of neglect. The heavy-handed tactics of threatening the father to sign the safety plan was definitely not cool, but I get the impression that ANY action on the part of CPS here is viewed as wrong, as if CPS should have just magically known that neglect was unsubstantiated without leaving their office and thrown the report in the trash.

  15. Tmh January 30, 2015 at 12:47 pm #

    I have to admit that as free range as I am, I’m a little afraid of CPS involvement. I live in a pretty helicopter-y community. Just this morning, I forgot to call in my 1st graders lateness to school due to his dentist appt. By 10 am, the school had called my home, my cell and my husband’s office. Plus we both got emails stating that our son wasn’t in school. He’s 6. What are the odds that he’s cutting class? The district requires me to be on the bus stop morning and afternoon with him. So his sweet grandmotherly bus driver, who is a known member of our community, is the adult in charge between me and his first grade teacher. The bus driver is employed by the district. What purpose do these excessive calls serve?? There is no point in time where he is even allowed to be unsupervised on the way to school. Wouldn’t I know that he’s not in school?! Yes. I don’t need them to contact me FIVE different ways to tell me my kid isn’t where he should be. The dental hygienist witnessed my irritation. She said that it wasn’t this way when her kids were little, but these days it’s so dangerous out there. Psssh.
    I leave my three kids in the car when I go in the post office. I let my six year old walk to his friends houses. He even stays home alone when I go hang out with my friend across the street sometimes. I trust my kids. I’m
    Also not worried they will be kidnapped. I do worry that some nosy “do gooder” is going to call the cops on me. Ugh.

  16. Warren January 30, 2015 at 12:54 pm #

    Parents face it two ways.
    First being shamed and tormented by overprotective helicopter parents for not doing things their way.
    Second, they are then hounded into submission by CPS, regulations, and the police.

    People are always saying to pick your battles. Do you want to battle an agency that can ultimately take away your kids? I say fighting for your right to parent your child, is ultimately fighting for your child.

  17. k January 30, 2015 at 12:55 pm #

    @TMH…I don’t know how much of the story made national news, but towards the end of last year, a teenager in my state (MD, which is apparently filled with neurotic helicopter parents) didn’t make it to school. She ended up in the carolinas with a man she met online and her parents didn’t know she didn’t make it to school until the evening phone call from the school. The school system has changed the timing of the calls to be in the morning now.

    And when I was in high school, one of my classmates didn’t make it to school and again, her mom didn’t know until the evening phone call. In this case, it was tragedy, she was the victim of a serial killer. It’s been 22 years this month.

    I know these cases are the outliers, but I feel like that’s why schools go a little overboard with the absence phone calls.

  18. BL January 30, 2015 at 12:59 pm #

    “The heavy-handed tactics of threatening the father to sign the safety plan was definitely not cool, but I get the impression that ANY action on the part of CPS here is viewed as wrong, as if CPS should have just magically known that neglect was unsubstantiated without leaving their office and thrown the report in the trash.”

    If all they have is “children walking along the sidewalk”, that is not a report of neglect, even if someone calls it that.

    But since they did “investigate”, how about just saying “no neglect found” and end things there? Or even charge the caller with false reporting? Do they ever do that?

  19. Buffy January 30, 2015 at 1:01 pm #

    @bob m, my question is…why do you even have to run inside to pick up the 7-year-old? Is she not competent to walk out of the church and to your car?

    Yes, I’m being sarcastic. But these rules that require perfectly competent children to be picked up personally at a place full of parents picking up their children need to be fought against as well.

  20. Earth.W January 30, 2015 at 1:39 pm #

    When people have reached the point of fearing losing their children for simply not abiding by the system, isn’t that the sign that we live in the era of despotic regimes and we are no longer free people?

  21. bob m January 30, 2015 at 1:41 pm #


    School won’t release child from classroom unless they know adult is there to get them.

    Agree that she is old enough to come outside on own – but 1st time I came to get her she never came outside. When I went inside to get her was when I learned of the policy.

    Of course the irony was that I left the 2 yr old in the car while I went inside…

  22. JKP January 30, 2015 at 1:47 pm #

    I can think of many people hassled by CPS for no reason. I don’t know anyone kidnapped or murdered. So while CPS overreach is rare, it seems to me to be more common than kidnap or murder. I know I’m only a sample of 1, but I wonder what the actual statistics are.

    My brother has had multiple intrusions from CPS. The neighbor keeps calling to report that their toddler is wandering out in the middle of the busy street alone. Problem is that she is making it up. Their toddler is in daycare 20 miles away at all the times this is supposedly happening.

    The neighbor is a nasty old lady who stands at her window all day watching what all the neighbors are doing. She hates kids and constantly calls CPS on all the neighborhood parents (not just my brother), making stuff up, hoping to harass the families into moving or CPS into removing the kids.

    Even though their investigations have found nothing, CPS has told my brother that if they keep getting reports, they will have to “do something.” What is he supposed to do to prevent made-up calls from the neighbor? CPS already forced him to put bolt locks at the tops of all the exit doors so the kid can’t get out (even though he wasn’t in the first place), which frankly I think is dangerous and could prevent people from escaping during a fire.

    She also called the cops on his teenage daughter sitting in her own car in her own driveway talking with a friend who came home with her after school to have dinner with the family. They were locked out and waiting for her dad to get home from work, which he did a few minutes after the patrol car pulled up. The neighbor had reported a drug deal going down.

    There needs to be some way of holding these busybodies accountable.

  23. Reziac January 30, 2015 at 2:01 pm #

    The problem is, exceptions generate outrage far more than do things that are the rule.

    As a rule, parents take good care of their children. No one pays any attention.

    A few exceptions don’t. Enter outrage, and a demand that all parents be held accountable.

    We need to push back against the outrage (which comes to us as overbearing CPS) before it becomes the rule.

  24. David January 30, 2015 at 2:04 pm #

    @JKP Since when is CPS obligated to “do something”because someone keeps calling them?
    P.S. In my opinion, fire safety trump CPS orders.

  25. Isaac S January 30, 2015 at 2:23 pm #

    We have kids as young as 5 or so always running around our suburban neighborhood unaccompanied. I’m not sure if this CPS overzealousness is a regional thing or what. I live in Minnesota and most neighborhoods I’ve lived in resemble ours. It seems that a lot of the reports about this kind of stuff come from the east coast.

  26. Jenna K. January 30, 2015 at 4:23 pm #

    Excellent point. That is the one thing that scares me above all else…having CPS breathing down my neck. So far, I have had no incidents and my kids have walked to and from school, biked around our community and played outside unsupervised often. However, I recently moved to a different state and the people here are a lot more protective of their kids. Ex: My sixth grade son’s friend has a fourth grade sister, and their mom won’t let her walk to and from school, which is about three blocks away from their house, alone, even though there are dozens of other kids walking to and from school. My fourth grader is in charge of his 2nd and 1st grade siblings as they walk to and from school without me there.

    Anyway, I do worry about cops and CPS intervening with how we live our lives. Other than that, I dont’ stress out about letting my kids play outside unsupervised.

  27. David DeLugas January 30, 2015 at 7:17 pm #

    Our representation of the Meitiv parents is designed to push back . . . for them AND for all other parents. State by state, we will put down a line, drawn by the Constitutional right as identified by the U.S. Supreme Court, where the right of parents to decide, so long as not causing harm, what their children do and don’t do. CPS needs to be putting its finite resources on the cases where a child has been hurt or is imminent danger of being hurt. CPS (in every state) won’t do that. Rather, they will ask for more from taxpayers and bother more parents, even when children are NOT hurt or at actual risk of being hurt. Sign the petition and/or donate if you agree: http://tinyurl.com/MeitivUpdate1

  28. Jen January 30, 2015 at 7:33 pm #

    Appears to be a mid-atlantic thing.

  29. Joanne Hendricks January 30, 2015 at 8:28 pm #

    I was a free-range kid growing up in the 50s and 60s in Washington DC. I loved the freedom to walk back-and-forth to school every day and to go sledding in the snow after dark at the playground. No one worried about me and I wasn’t worried. However, during my childhood and adolescence I had two experiences with men on the street exposing themselves. Another man followed me in his car until I ran up the alley to safety. When I was 13 a group of men in a car propositioned me. I never spoke about these things to my family. It seemed shameful to me. No one told me what was appropriate or not. Times have changed, but there are still predators out there. It only takes minutes for your child to be scarred for life, or worse, to disappear. That is quite a risk you’re taking. Maybe their freedom outweighs the risk. I hope it works out for the best for your kids. It’s their lives you were gambling with. They aren’t old enough to question your judgment.

  30. David January 31, 2015 at 9:05 am #

    @Joanne Hendricks: You wren’t free range. Your parents threw you out there without teaching you how to deal with the people you describe. That isn’t free range, that’s neglect.

  31. Donna January 31, 2015 at 10:30 am #

    “If all they have is “children walking along the sidewalk”, that is not a report of neglect, even if someone calls it that.”

    First off, we have absolutely no idea what the police officer stated. No clue whatsoever.

    Second, for the thousandth time, CPS is required to conduct an investigation for EVERY REPORT. No matter how stupid they themselves think it is and no matter how many times they’ve been to the same location for the same stupid report. You want to work to change that, go for it, but stop blaming people who are acting under that mandate until you do change it.

    “But since they did “investigate”, how about just saying “no neglect found” and end things there? Or even charge the caller with false reporting? Do they ever do that?”

    CPS finds about 40% of their reports “unsubstantiated” and closes the file after the initial investigation, which is generally nothing more than a conversation with all members of the household who can communicate.

    I think there is a real lack of knowledge of how CPS works. CPS gets a report. They give it to an investigator whose job it is to determine if the report is “substantiated,” meaning that evidence of abuse or neglect is found, or “unsubstantiated,” meaning no evidence of abuse or neglect is found. That investigator is required, at minimum, to talk to every member of the household capable of communicating and lay eyes on every child.

    Once that investigation is done, the report is either determined to be “unsubstantiated” and there is no further involvement, or it is determined to be “substantiated” and further action is taken. The vast majority of time substantiated cases are referred to a family preservation case worker who provides services to the family with the children still in the home to attempt to rectify the situation. In rare cases, immediate emergency removal is requested from the court. A judge has to sign off on every removal BEFORE it happens. This is likely through an ex-parte hearing, often via telephone, but a judge has to be involved.

    In the Meitivs’ case, the investigator just completed his initial interviews a couple days ago. No determination has been announced as to whether the report is going to be considered substantiated or unsubstantiated. If the case is determined to be substantiated, then CPS is overreaching and outrage is warranted, but all this hub bub seems premature to me in a case that is still just at the initial “we must respond to every report we get” phase.

    I am not sure if there is even a law that covers a false report to CPS. It is not false report of a crime as CPS is not a criminal body. It may fall under abuse of emergency services which covers things like false calls to fire departments.

    But if it does, it will never be enforced, nor should it be unless the false report is deemed to be malicious or in the case or repeated false reports like someone described. The vast majority of reports come from mandated reporters. I have a real problem with the idea of mandating someone to report something on the threat of losing their job and/or professional license for any failure and then arresting them if they are wrong.

  32. David January 31, 2015 at 12:58 pm #

    @Donna: I have no problem with exempting people who mistakenly report abuse or neglect from arrest, but I do have a problem with applying that exemption to people who do it maliciously or repeatedly.

  33. Papilio January 31, 2015 at 3:16 pm #

    ““supervisor dolls”: adult-size mannequins you put in your front yard that look like a parent engrossed by his smartphone!”
    Well if the school bus driver can’t drop off your 11yo unless there’s an adult waiting for her, this does sound like a solution 😉

    “My 8 year old daughter wanted to stay in the car (…) and the windows aren’t tinted. (…) we don’t want some nosy person to call the police!”
    Just this week I saw a documentary of some sort from/about a news correspondent in Saudi-Arabia. Yes, that Land of the Free… Over there, it’s legal to tint the windows up to 35%, which, as people there spend a lot of time in their cars, is highly popular, because it allows them to create their own mobile kinda-private space in which they can have some of the freedom they have in their own private homes (for example, women can take off their headscarfs) without the police (or some busybody) looking in and making trouble. It’s pretty ironic that parents in the USA should use the same tactics for the same reasons…

    @Donna: “I am not sure if there is even a law that covers a false report to CPS. It is not false report of a crime as CPS is not a criminal body. It may fall under abuse of emergency services which covers things like false calls to fire departments.”
    Could it be slander?

    “while I agree with the Lenore”

    LOL. She’s one of a kind after all 😛

  34. Gina January 31, 2015 at 3:43 pm #

    About the school calls. . . it’s not all about child safety. At least where I live, absences are taken very seriously because of ranking and, I believe, funding issues. Kids with unexcused absences = a black mark for the school. Also we have terrible graduation rates so maybe there is a little bit of trying to help get families on the right path with attendance so the kids can eventually graduate.

  35. Alex February 1, 2015 at 9:37 am #

    Excellent post. I hadn’t really thought about this like that before.

  36. Resident Iconoclast February 1, 2015 at 5:41 pm #

    Well, perhaps it’s rare, but it’s rare in the way that melanoma is rare–when it happens it’ll likely kill you. From actual experience, here’s how it works.

    You get a phone call, or a cop arrives at the door. Your kid(s) have been placed in “protective custody.” It will either be (1) the man’s, (2) the woman’s, or (3) both parents’ fault. If it’s one or two, you’ll need to get one lawyer. At first. Until they (usually) accuse you both. Then you’ll need two lawyers.

    You do have $150,000 in your checking account or credit card limit, right? Don’t think I’m kidding, in most cases it is going to cost you at least $50,000 by the time you are done.

    Don’t have that much money? Well then you’re screwed. Remember, you have no rights. And if you’re smart, you won’t sign any “safety plans” or agree to go get a restraining order against your spouse. These acts will be used as evidence against you, to prove in court you are a lousy parent. You admitted that, by even signing the paper or asking for the restraining order.

    While it’s true that we shouldn’t be afraid to stand up for our rights, remember this is America. People with money have rights. The rest of us do not.

    It’s good that people are campaigning about free range kids, because it counters propaganda. It might help make judges and juries look askance of some of the ridiculous accusations that pass as “child protection” these days.

  37. Anonymous Mandated Reporter February 2, 2015 at 2:31 am #

    I usually post with my name and such, but I am a mandated reporter and flat out refuse to call in things that I don’t think should be illegal (kids at the park – we were told that we had to call in any children playing alone in the park, even if they were close to their home. I have been tempted to call a particular set of children in because they are rude and obnoxious – a neighbor that I knew was leaving his 9 year old son home alone – also were told we HAD to call that sort of thing in if the child was under 10). But I do not think these things are neglect, and I don’t think they are wrong and I will have no part of these people being investigated. Should it cost me my job so be it, better than my butting my nose in where it doesn’t belong and getting people arrested or totally upending their families.

  38. Rachel February 2, 2015 at 2:45 am #

    I am a foster parent, and its so hard for me because while I really, truly believe that CPS serves a VERY good purpose, I hear stories like the ones on here and wonder what kind of twisted, self righteous entity it is. I have only been a foster parent for 18 months, and at least 7 of my 10 kids should definitely been removed (don’t know the story on two that we only had for a weekend, and one didn’t really seem like she needed to be BACK in care, but since her mom went to jail for a super minor probation violation she had to go somewhere, and then the judge was threatening her with REALLY long jail time to make an example of her so they didn’t want move her back with her mom, and then take her away again if she had to serve her full sentence). Like preschoolers abandoned in hotel rooms with drugs, or toddlers that test positive for drugs. There are some pretty messed up parents out there that put their own fun before their kids lives, and many of them don’t bother to get their crap together to get them back either. Of my 10 foster kids, so far only 2 of them have gone back to their moms. One has went to her dad (she didn’t have hardly any contact with him before), 5 have went to live with other family members (some after a weekend, one after 18 months – which killed me a little inside), and 2 of them are still with us. From what I have seen its a necessary evil to protect children, and while it might sometimes overstep its bounds, and totally needs an overhaul, abolishing it completely would be tragic to so many children. Also, most people that have not TOTALLY messed up are given a chance to work with workers while keeping their kids in the home.

  39. Sarah J February 2, 2015 at 10:36 pm #

    I agree with Donna. The issue isn’t so much CPS as it is the people who call CPS over silly things. CPS is required to look into any reports. I also want to point out, it’s possible that some of the people who call CPS for stupid crap exaggerate what they see, (in the case of a kid being outside alone, they might make things sound more dangerous than they really are, like saying the kid is running in front of moving cars) hence why CPS might investigate a bit more aggressively.

  40. Tracy February 3, 2015 at 2:33 am #

    flood the parks with kids…I LOVE IT!!!

  41. Sigh February 5, 2015 at 5:09 am #

    I wonder how much of it is due to people seeing things as more dangerous than they are actually are because…

    Well…say, a neighbour sees a child running around in the snow at 6 in the morning, before school. They think the child is underdressed because … well..they’d be cold if they were standing there. The neighbour has not accounted for the fact that a)the child is running around or b)the child isn’t them.

    The neighbour goes off to work before the schoolbus comes. While the neighbour is at work, the child has gone inside and had a hot chocolate and watched some televison or played some computer games or whatever. The neighbour is at work while these inside activities are occurring.

    The child goes out again an hour or so before the neighbour is scheduled to arrive back from work. The child runs around for an hour or so and the neighbour comes back from work.

    You’d be surprised how often people think that “Hmm…person was at place X before I left, they were at place X when I came back – they must have been at place X all day!”

    The reality is this:

    1)Child was out before neighbour left
    2)Child went to school
    3)After coming back from school, child played in snow again.
    4)Neighbour comes back from work and finds what they percieve as the child *still* playing in the snow

    The report the CPS recieve could be something like

    “Child playing in snow, under-dressed, at 6am. Still there at whenever neighbour comes back.” Possible complaint of truancy too.