My Neighbors’ Kids are TOO Free-Range


An honest letter about  a real problem: Kids given lots of freedom but, it seems, no behavior boundaries. Or boundary boundaries, for that matter:

Hello nafkyrfrei
Lenore. I’m a firm Free-Range mom, though to be honest I don’t give my children the freedom I’d like to, though not for fear of the boogey man, but for fear of the law coming down hard on us.

My five kids, my husband and I recently moved to an apartment complex (admittedly not my favorite living situation). The community here is rather poor and most are immigrants and it’s my belief that their culture lends to a much more Free-Range parenting style, which I was initially really excited to be immersed in!

My praise has turned to grief as I’ve been hurt by the level of un-supervision afforded the children. My car has been vandalized, hundreds of dollars’ worth of packages have been stolen, and the unruly screaming just outside my apartment door makes me feel like we live in a Chuck-E-Cheese’s ball pit.

So here’s my conundrum. This experience has caused me to question just how much freedom I support and it’s also made me realize the difficult position unsupervised children can put neighbors in. I’ve spoken to apartment management and to children and the parents (though there’s a huge language barrier) and I’ve had packages replaced countless times by Amazon and I’ve made numerous reports to USPS in an attempt to assuage my own suffering while not getting the police involved (both because I support the rights of kids to play outside and because I strongly fear retaliation if the police do become involved).

So as a Free-Range parent, what do you say to a citizen who is suffering because of unsupervised children? I must add, the ages of these children range from four to maybe ten. Also, they are outside in the apartment breezeway or parking lot generally is sunrise to sunset. Our apartment doors are very close so when the kids are playing and screaming outside their own apartment door, they are also screaming outside of mine, which sounds like they’re actually in my apartment. Asking them to be quiet doesn’t have any effect. And then worst of all is the theft. I actually feel sorry for the kids and don’t want to report them to police but in tired of time-sensitive materials I need for my home business disappearing! Help!

To which I replied:

That sounds incredibly vexing. As you probably know, there is a difference between Free-Range Kids, which advocates granting freedom along with responsibility, and simply letting kids run wild. I mean, I do want them running wild, but knowing that they can’t bother other people, and that they have to be home by X time, and they certainly aren’t allowed to vandalize or steal. I wonder if there’s any other open space where they could gather rather than right next to the apartments.

The problem is: I also don’t know how to get neighbors on board with making their kids more socially aware and better behaved. So, per usual, I will run your note on my blog and ask for other people’s ideas.

Meantime, good luck. And I very much agree with your decision not to call the police. Tangling kids or parents up with the authorities doesn’t seem to make things better and often makes them worse.

And now readers — I say the same as this frustrated mom: Help! – L.


The kids are so wild they are shouting and stealing.

The local kids are shouting, stealing and running wild.


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67 Responses to My Neighbors’ Kids are TOO Free-Range

  1. Rick August 23, 2015 at 8:32 am #

    My only experience is dealing with my 6 year old whose only response when asked to be quiet or stop throwing the ball against the window is to continue it with more gusto and noise. The best response I’ve discovered is engaging him. Doesn’t sound too free range, but sometimes kids just need to be directed or paid attention to. Invite them in to have some cookies or something to drink. Make them feel like you’re on their side and get them to trust you and they won’t steal your stuff but may end up protecting it from theft. In fact the first step is maybe ask them to keep an eye out for package you’re expecting and have them let you know when it’s arrived. Or, better yet, ask them to hold it for you so it doesn’t get stolen. Can’t hurt to try.

  2. Ben August 23, 2015 at 8:51 am #

    This doesn’t really address the problem directly, but she might think about getting a PO box. They’re not that expensive, she should be able to write it off as a business expense come tax time, and it would at least mitigate the problem of disappearing packages.

    To solve the rest of the problem? I have no solid advice, although I like advice Rick gave.

  3. That_Susan August 23, 2015 at 9:06 am #

    We had a similarly negative experience a few years back at what I’d initially thought was a lovely free-range playground. It was unfortunately also the site where a sort of teen and preteen gang liked to congregate and pick on kids they didn’t like. A couple of the kids did enjoy sharing our snacks on a couple occasions — but it seems like one thing that many parts of our society has lost is the presumption that anything an adult tells a child will be backed up by that child’s parents. Of course, this is good in the sense that kids no longer feel like they need to be compliant with predatory adults (but then again, as we know that most abuse occurs within the home and not by strangers, this certainly isn’t any insurance against kids being abused).

    We finally ended up ditching that playground in favor of another one nearby that wasn’t easily visible from the surrounding houses, meaning that most parents went with their kids to this park because they couldn’t just periodically peer out the window to check that they were okay. Same basic social demographic, but having parents nearby made a world of difference.

    We have a high proportion of immigrants in our neighborhood, too, which is wonderful in terms of being immersed in another culture and language and trying out other foods — but it seems like our neighborhood is also the FIRST point of entry to the city and so families don’t always stay so long. We were thrilled a few weeks ago when our former next-door neighbors actually moved back into the house next door to us, because we’d had a wonderful relationship with them for about a year in the past. But now it turns out that they’re moving out of state again in November. 🙁

    When people are in transition, there just isn’t the same degree of commitment to getting to know the neighbors and working together on any problems. But I’ve recently felt the nudge to get involved in our local neighborhood association, and there probably is more that I could be doing to knit our little block together.

  4. Nicole August 23, 2015 at 9:10 am #

    As much as I am loath to involve the police, this sounds like a situation that is less free range and more true neglect. And since they are doing things involving vandalism and theft, that will only get worse as the children get older, so getting outside forces involved may help.

    The other thing to consider is to see if there are groups that work with immigrants/refugees of the type those people are. They may be able to help communicate to them what is going wrong with the kids.

  5. James Pollock August 23, 2015 at 9:27 am #

    The traditional solution is to move to a better neighborhood (not helpful, I know, but the only thing known to work consistently.)

    I am curious as to why the letter-writer attributes vandalism and theft to 6-to10-year-olds.

    Anyway, one short-term solution to the theft is to have UPS require an adult signature for packages delivered to your address. This keeps them from leaving packages at the door. Cheaper than a P.O. box, although it means they may have to make multiple attempts (delaying your receipt, though not as much as if they leave it and it is stolen) and you may have to go pick up the package at the distribution center. Of course, this assumes there is usually an adult present to sign at UPS delivery time(s).

    As for noisy kids outside? Kids are noisy. Your solution here lies along the “buy earplugs or get used to it” vein.

    Some people let their kids roam freely because it is a choice they have made, and it is a privilege for the child which may be revoked if the child does not act responsibly. Some people let their kids roam freely because they have no meaningful alternatives.

  6. E August 23, 2015 at 9:33 am #

    I don’t think there is any solution that doesn’t include help from an outside source. I’m not sure if that’s the police (though it could be), but there’s got to be some sort of assistance when you are having crimes committed.

    If the 10 and unders are stealing your items, it seems like their parents would know about it (it’s not like they could drive to meet someone to sell the items), so perhaps those items are being taken by older teens that deserve to be confronted by authorities?

    I just googled [my city name] + ESL + outreach and found some hits that might be a place to start if this took place where I live.

    Good luck.

  7. Pjack August 23, 2015 at 11:03 am #

    As a former ‘bad kid’ myself, I can say that being engaged with these troublemakers will help your situation greatly. It’s much easier to be mean anonomysly.
    I know it’s not ideal, but possibly going out and showing a bit of interest in the kids will help them trust you and respect you. No sermons or lectures, just a genuine interest to them. I remember the people in my life that didn’t treat me like scum and in turn, I didn’t treat them like scum. Sometimes those kids are just dying for some love or just something to do.
    It’s worth a shot. We can bring some neighborly charm into the ‘hood. Not everyone has to be a stranger. If that doesn’t work, I might try contacting an outside source!

  8. april August 23, 2015 at 11:04 am #

    I live in a very diverse city as well where many new immigrants live from around the world and I have seen this as well. It’s very much a cultural thing that is impossible to remedy as a single citizen. A few suggestions i can think of. Would it be possible to have packages delivered to the managers office for safekeeping? Would it be possible, if there isnt already, a play space provided for the kids of the complex, perhaps located in a courtyard or other central space? Someplace safe and fun set up for the kids to congregate rather than the cordores? As for the vandalism I think the only thing to do is invest in a good car alarm and remove valuables from your car each day. Its just the realities of living in areas with such diverse and often less affluent populations.

  9. Melanie August 23, 2015 at 11:06 am #

    I’m so happy you haven’t called the police. We recently helped an immigrant family, and when they first moved here their children had no concept of social norms here. The little boy would run up to pit bulls screaming with joy with his arms outstretched – the concept of pet was so novel. He ran out of my house while my back was turned for a second and jumped in my neighbors unlocked car and pretended he was driving with the door wide open. So embarrassed and scared when i found him, yet not at all surprised. I am not saying this is acceptable at all, just that the expectations we have for a six year old or ten year old may not be reasonable when the child is totally unfamiliar with the culture, and certainly things may be non malicious. And if you intervene and say “you can’t get in my car if I’m not here! Someone might call the police and say you are stealing it! Your parents could get in trouble. I need you to ask me before you use or take anything that is mine.”. It might make you feel slightly jerkish or something, but I think it would rarely be taken that way. In most cultures people expect adults to intervene when kids are acting up, or simply unaware how their actions are impacting others. I know you didn’t sign up to be a cultural ambassador, but I would just encourage you to voice your concerns to children as they come up, and also try and find some time or ways to chat up your little friends and encourage them. The reality is their parents may have very high expectations of the kids, but if both are working full time and a teen is responsible for most child care, there are just things that do get neglected. Not out of lack of care, but lack of resources. Unfortunately, hate to be Debbie downer, but I’m not sure that involving police/cps =more resources/better care for kids in this position. You might also look for the “good kids” that aren’t causing you grief. If you talk to them about your concerns they may have some sway with your rebels. Kids have a great way of communicating with each other to enforce compliance.

  10. caiti August 23, 2015 at 12:08 pm #

    I have to agree with @Rick and @Pjack’s solutions. When parents must spend all their time at work to keep a roof over their heads and food in their children’s bellies, they simply can’t be available for their kids.

    I used to be in this situation (briefly, thankfully). I worked at night until 2 or 3 am delivering pizzas when I was first divorced and my son was a toddler. When he woke up at 6am I would get him breakfast, put on a movie, and try like hell to stay awake but I would always fall into a deep sleep and awake a few hours later to whatever damage he had done because he had basically no supervision. If he had been a few years older he would be like your neighbor kids- walking out the front door and doing as he pleased. And there were no services available to help me- what most people don’t realize is things like food stamps, welfare, social programs, etc have very stringent rules and if you don’t meet the criteria- even if you get the social worker to agree the rule is illogical!- you are out of luck. (The rule that made me ineligible was that my ex husband had been ordered to pay child support in excess of $50 a month and that was considered “unearned” income- therefore I must be lazy and playing the system).

    I imagine that what these kids desperately need is a mentor or even just an adult who doesn’t treat them like they are inherently worthless. Asking one of them to bring in a package for you would make them feel worthwhile. To get beneath their rough exterior you may need to offer them a couple bucks- if you can’t afford it, offer home baked cookies or something, or a chance to play on your computer or video game system if you own something they might not have.

    If you can build a relationship with one or a few, especially an older one, you can solve many problems. Instead of asking them not to yell outside your door, just wait until you are talking to one of the kids about bringing in your packages or something and then when you hear another one scream, mention conspiratorially to him that you wish these kids would knock it off. If your young friend holds any sway with the other kids, he’ll police them for you without you having to even ask.

    I hope this helps, and I apologize for writing an entire essay. I sincerely believe that if you approach it in a way that is a win-win for everyone, you won’t have any more problems.

  11. everydayrose August 23, 2015 at 12:15 pm #

    “it seems like one thing that many parts of our society has lost is the presumption that anything an adult tells a child will be backed up by that child’s parents.”

    I’m a free range parent to two girls, ages 14 and 11, and I’ve told them many times that they absolutely do NOT have to listen to other parents when they’re out and about. My kids know my rules and they’re aware of my expectations for them and those are the only things that they have to worry about. I’ve had problems over the years with people treating them like babies and expecting them to fall into line. I’ve had complete strangers decide to bring them home to me when they’re playing outside because they (the stranger) believes that they shouldn’t be outside. I have several neighbors who have yelled at my girls for doing things like climbing to the top of the jungle gym because it’s “not safe” and sitting quietly on a curb close to a parking lot because they might get run over if someone needs to park. It’s ridiculous and I finally just started teaching my kids that while they always have to be polite, they’re free to ignore other people telling them what to do.

    I agree that raising kids is a community effort and I’m the first one to get onto the kids outside when they’re doing something they shouldn’t be doing but as the helicopter madness takes over more and more people think that they have the right to go outside and chastise kids for doing absolutely normal kid things. I for one am fed up with it.

  12. Richard August 23, 2015 at 12:34 pm #

    Everydayrose, I think the problem is that other adults tend to only get involved when they think they will be backed up by the parents–when the child is doing something they perceive as unsafe. They don’t think they will be backed up by the parents when they try to intervene in the child doing something wrong–damaging, harrassing, or being cruel. Certainly, my kids know my rules as well. And they know that I will appreciate another adult (or child) stepping in if their conduct violates them.

  13. Michael Fandal August 23, 2015 at 12:35 pm #

    Contact the PAL seeking assistance on organizing a baseball and basketball team filled with kids from your building and those adjacent to it. It is a pathway to positive outcomes from wayward energy. Once kids taste the benefits and others will join the bandwagon.

    One of the great crime fighters of all time was fred Lebow founder of nyc marathon. When creating route for first city wide race he encountered resistance by some gang types in Brooklyn. After he said you’re a marshal and get a jacket and tee shirt they shouted DEAL!
    Note the correlation between the drop in crime and growth of the marathon. The water stops are filled with youngsters and up from every hood and they love it. The enthusiasm is recognized throughout the world and lessons are learned from communal sweat not books or gangsta rap.

  14. Ann August 23, 2015 at 12:40 pm #

    What the person is describing is not Free Range parenting! That is just I really don’t care parenting. Kids who are raised Free Range have manners and respect.

  15. Reziac August 23, 2015 at 1:03 pm #

    Feral is not the same as free-range.

    Try what Rick speaks of — make the kids “your own”. Invite them into your life. Put them in charge of your packages so they have responsibility to live up to.

    If that doesn’t work…

    Catch them in the act. Then frog-march them home and tell their parents what they’ve been up to.

    I’d guess few of the parents know, and most will come down on their kids’ behavior when embarrassed into knowing about it. (Back in the old country, a bachelor uncle or maiden aunt would have ridden herd on the kids. That’s missing now, and the kids go looking for that boundary.)

    Barring that, catch the kids in the act and spank them yourself.

    Which you might need to do anyway to get their attention before giving them responsibility, but that’s just kids.

  16. Sarah August 23, 2015 at 1:12 pm #

    Okay, so here’s an idea for the stealing…I mean, ultimately you want the children (or adults, lets be fair) to stop stealing, so I think there’s something to be said for creativity. Put “packages” outside your door filled with things that no one would want: a box of spiders, really smelly cheese, etc. Don’t do anything harmful, just deterring. Try to make it so the kids don’t WANT to steal your packages. You’d have to keep it up every now and again, which I think could be lots of fun. But I’m weird like that.

    The screaming, I’m afraid, is just a horrible problem that comes with the territory. I lived in an apartment complex once that had more car alarms than cars, and I could not figure out either what was setting them all off or why no one ever responded to them when they did. We ultimately moved away, but I did have fun one evening just walking up and down the row of cars setting off every alarm over and over and over again in hopes that someone would get sick of it and do something about it. (The cops weren’t interested in my calls amymore.) Once I followed one of the owners back to her apartment and sincerely asked her if she knew that her car alarm went off all night underneath my bedroom window and she did change the “sensitivity” on the device once she knew the effect it was having. That was probably the best that could’ve happened there.

    Okay, so boxes with “things no one would want” and ear plugs. Those are my ideas!

  17. Dave Colter August 23, 2015 at 1:53 pm #

    There’s a distinct difference between freedom and license, which is clearly what your neighbor’s kids are engaging in. Their parents haven’t taught them the basics of good behavior, and I’m betting if you look closely, you’ll find the parents behaving in similarly unethical (and illegal!) ways. Either that, or they’re just completely overwhelmed and have given up.

    Back in the sixties, a British author named A.S. Neill wrote a book called Summerhill. It was assigned reading in my high school psychology class. Neill advocated something akin to free range parenting, but took it a step further. He ran a therapeutic boarding school for kids who had come unhinged by the war with Germany, The kids were given full freedom – they could choose to attend classes – or not, or to do art, or to build things in the shop, or just tear around on bikes. The theory was that kids would gravitate to what interested them and where their strengths lay. By and large, it worked for these kids.

    What most people reading Neill’s book didn’t pay attention to was that he and his school community did draw a line in the sand. Your pursuits cannot infringe on the freedoms of others. So, if you broke a window, or another child’s toy, you were responsible for fixing or replacing it.

    One American mom visited Neill with her six year old daughter, and pointed proudly to her “free” child dancing happily on top of Neill’s prized grand piano. So few American readers picked up on that detail that Neill felt compelled to write a follow-on book to drive home the point. It was called “Freedom – Not License.”

    I know that the free-range kids concept doesn’t take the idea of freedom as far as Neill did, but there will be those who think more is always better. Take heed!

  18. Rook August 23, 2015 at 2:00 pm #

    If there’s room, how about a playground and/or ball court? If all the families and the landlord come together, they might can get a nice play area put together for the apartment complex. It doesn’t have to be one of those plastic monstrosities. Lowe’s and similar stores have some nice kits that would be fairly cheap when spread out through a community. Preferably with some durable materials. And surely all the grandparents don’t have to work, so a few comfortable chairs could be put out there to keep an eye on the kids while they socialize with each other. Just an idea. I don’t know how feasible it is.

    I’ve no advice for the theft and vandalism. Best wishes to the writer.

  19. Dean Whinery August 23, 2015 at 2:18 pm #

    This advocate of Free-Range learned how to ask, “Do you have a home?” in both English and Spanish after developing a dawn-to-dark yard full of kids, some of whom were bold enough to raid my–indoor–refrigerator.
    I agree that Free-Range Kids doesn’t mean stealing and vandalism.

  20. Emily August 23, 2015 at 2:27 pm #

    I like the ideas of establishing positive relationships with the neighbours and their kids. Anyway, believe it or not, I don’t see much difference between this type of “parenting,” and helicoptering, because both are parenting for the short term. If you let your kids roam free, with no rules or consequences, you don’t have to deal with them RIGHT NOW, but you might possibly have to bail them out of jail in a few years, or deal with an angry neighbour in a few hours. If you put your kids under lockdown, and/or shuttle them to an endless parade of structured activities, and/or ban anything that isn’t “wholesome” enough for your tastes, you’ll be keeping your kids healthy and out of trouble RIGHT NOW, but in the long run, they’ll feel stifled and resentful, might not develop necessary life skills, and could very possibly rebel at their first taste of freedom; for example, bingeing on junk food, alcohol, and even illegal drugs, once they reach the age of majority (notice I didn’t say “grow up”), and move out. In the shorter term, the effects will be similar. A helicoptered kid will think, “Why should I behave and take responsibility? I’ll never have any freedom anyway, because Mom and Dad don’t trust me.” By the same token, a lazily-parented kid will think, “Why should I behave and take responsibility? I can do.whatever I want anyway, because Mom and Dad don’t care.” The overall feeling that both of these kids will have, is “I’m a bad kid.” The helicoptered kid will feel that way because of all the restrictions and apparent lack of trust from the overprotective patents, and the lazily-parented kid will feel that way from being chastised time and again by neighbours, for bumping up against boundaries that he or she was never taught. Free-Range parenting takes into account the progressing development and abilities of the kids, and assigns the appropriate amount of freedom; for example, “I’m ten years old, and I’m allowed to walk or bike around town, because I proved I can follow the rules of the road. If I act inappropriately, I lose that privilege for a week.” This puts the control in the child’s hands, as opposed to a situation where the parents won’t let go, no matter what, or where they can’t seem to be there, for whatever reason. Also, I wouldn’t be too quick to say that all affluent parents helicopter, and all low-income parents have feral kids. Some poorer people keep their kids inside because the neighbourhood isn’t safe (because it’s full of poorly-parented kids who’ve aged into being full-on criminals), and some richer parents either think they’re above the rules, or they live in the denial of “my child would never do that.” The latter is probably the reason why my high school had several straight-A students who were heavy into extra-curriculars, and were legitimately nice people, but often came to school dances drunk, and never seemed to get caught.

  21. Emily August 23, 2015 at 2:31 pm #

    P.S., I know I said “Mom and Dad,” but I know there are other family configurations, and a lot of these poorly-parented kids come from single-parent families, where the one parent has to work long hours, and has neither the time to supervise their kid(s), nor sufficient income to pay for childcare on top of housing, food, utilities, etc.

  22. Angel August 23, 2015 at 2:41 pm #

    I’ve had the same problem at my apartment complex of children (mostly Indian) running wild and screaming outside on the lawn and in the parking lots. The screaming was the worst. I complained to apartment management once but apparently there were so many complaints that management sent out a notice instating policies that unsupervised kids weren’t allowed to play in those areas anymore but recommended a couple of parks they could go to nearby. I didn’t mind them playing out on the lawn behind my apartment, but the screaming was horrible to listen to for hours on end, especially in the spring when we had windows open.

  23. Andre L. August 23, 2015 at 3:07 pm #

    As many others said, the situation in question is not about free-range child-rearing, but quasi-feral peer-reinforced bad behavior.

    In this cases, it manifests with kids running amok the complex, stealing, screaming and vandalizing. It could also, as it often does, happen in the form of out-of-control helicopter-parented teens who burn down a high school hall or do really, really stupid things the moment they don’t have parents hovering above them.

    I think a line needs to be drawn between behavior that is annoying, but confined mostly to ill-manners territory (screaming or running in corridors) from behavior that is criminal (vandalism, theft). Maybe a talk with the police, not on 911, might help put some sort of sting operation (cameras, likely) that catch the thieves and vandals in a way that will allow some sort of measure to be legally taken against them (eviction of the families involved, for a start).

    Maybe merely installing cameras will terrify parents enough they will do something to stop their children from stealing, or at the very least identify who the thieves are.

  24. Kenny Felder August 23, 2015 at 3:49 pm #

    In principle, I want kids to be “good people” in exactly the same way I want adults to be “good people.” Good people does not mean that you are on a leash; it means that you treat others with respect. So I wouldn’t describe the problem as “too free range” but instead as “just awful people.”

    But none of that philosophy actually helps your situation. The best advice I can give is to get to know those kids and their parents FIRST–have them over for dinner, etc. Once you kind of know them and they kind of know you, on a first name basis, once you have a sense of who each other are, then try to fix the problem SECOND. But that’s easy for me to say, since I’m not experiencing your problem. I’m sorry I don’t have more to offer.

  25. Suzanne August 23, 2015 at 4:42 pm #

    I disagree about contacting the police, theft and vandalism are crimes; I would agree with overlooking them once or twice but not to the degree they are described here. Continuing to allow these children and their parents to believe they can commit acts of theft and vandalism without any consequences is not doing them or society in general any favors. They will be far better rehabilitated now than in 5 or 10 years.

  26. marie August 23, 2015 at 5:33 pm #

    I thought of “wild playgrounds” like the one in Berkeley CA. I don’t have any idea what kind of organization could help you create something like that–a men’s serivce organization (total stereotype but a women’s group would be more likely to go for one of those SAFE playgrounds that are so-so-so safe from fun), a church, a university criminology department, an Eagle Scout project? Maybe a local Lowe’s or Home Depot would be interested in donating the raw materials (tires, lumber, etc.) needed for a wild playground like that. Habitat for Humanity probably wouldn’t help you create it (they are busy building houses) but you might get to know someone in that organization who would be willing to give it a shot. Is there an empty lot that could be put to good use?

    Someone else suggested searching for “ESL outreach” or “ELL outreach” to see if there is a group already interested in helping with problems like this.

    The P.O. box is an excellent suggestion that would certainly save you a lot of headache–and simply remove the temptation to steal from the kids.

  27. Randy August 23, 2015 at 5:35 pm #

    I’m in agreement with the others that mentioned interacting with the kids yourself. Get to know some of them, develop some rapport, especially with the older ones. Maybe bring them some bottled water now that it’s hot outside. FRK and the concept of all adults not being predators isn’t just a one way street, it’s also about involving yourself with the children around you when that’s appropriate.

    And then, once that is done, start having more serious conversations with the older kids. Ask them to try to keep the noise down in the hallways, and let THEM help spread the message to the younger ones.

    As for the packages, those same kids can help there. Give one of them the job of watching for it, and if you’ve developed the right level of rapport they’ll be HAPPY to do that for you. Problem solved.

    Long story short: There isn’t a magic bullet to fix these assorted troubles you’re having, but developing a few relationships with the people involved is the only way you’re going to get serious results. The police aren’t going to help you out here, and really don’t care very much about your missing amazon packages anyway… the only thing “professional” involvement of any sort will bring you is increased animosity with the very people you’re trying to live with in harmony.

  28. Donald August 23, 2015 at 5:55 pm #

    We had a Tv show called The Nanny. She would come into the house and teach parents how to handle their unruly children. Her technique was always the same. Give the children fun activities, responsibility, AND CHORES.

    I stumbled on this when trying to raise my kids into responsible adults. Part of my plan was to give them chores. Such as cleaning the kitchen or mowing the lawn. However their reply would always be, “WHY DO I HAVE TO DO ANY WORK? NONE OF MY FRIENDS HAVE TO ANYTHING!”

    He was right. Kids doing chores are a dying breed. Assigning chores to children went out of style (like free range) but it’s making a comeback. As with Free range, it’s comeback is slower than what we wish it was. In the meantime we will see many unruly children.

    Free range is part of the solution and not the problem.

  29. MichelleB August 23, 2015 at 6:19 pm #

    “it seems like one thing that many parts of our society has lost is the presumption that anything an adult tells a child will be backed up by that child’s parents.”

    “I’m a free range parent to two girls, ages 14 and 11, and I’ve told them many times that they absolutely do NOT have to listen to other parents when they’re out and about.”

    There’s got to be some sane middle ground between those two views.

  30. Donald August 23, 2015 at 7:00 pm #

    The PO box as a great suggestion. On top of this I would follow Ricks suggestion. The objective is to build rapport. Even though you have a PO box, I would sometime have packages (ones that don’t matter if they get stolen) delivered to the home address and to hire one of the kids to watch out for it. Give them some money when they bring it to you. This would also be a great icebreaker to offer cookies and build a friendship.

  31. Emily August 23, 2015 at 8:00 pm #

    Another thing–establishing rules, and teaching manners and life skills will give kids more freedom in the long run. If you enforce, say, “Sit still, eat your snacks nicely, and talk only in whispers at the movie theatre” during the preschool years, then Kiddo will know how to behave properly, internalize that lesson, and be less likely to act up and get kicked out of the movie theatre when old enough to go without a parent. Teaching kids to cook (for real, from scratch), will give them “freedom” from the typical young-adult diet of take-out and instant junk, and teaching them basic mending, and simple home repairs (like how to unclog a sink with baking soda and vinegar), will save them money, and thereby give them the freedom to spend that money on something else, whether that “something else” is, say, concert tickets, or a basic necessity, like soap and shampoo. Saying, “I don’t want to force/stifle little Bratley” is all well and good for right now, but it’ll actually significantly reduce his options later on.

  32. James Pollock August 23, 2015 at 8:40 pm #

    “’it seems like one thing that many parts of our society has lost is the presumption that anything an adult tells a child will be backed up by that child’s parents.’
    ‘I’m a free range parent to two girls, ages 14 and 11, and I’ve told them many times that they absolutely do NOT have to listen to other parents when they’re out and about.’
    There’s got to be some sane middle ground between those two views.”

    There is. It’s “you have to listen respectfully to what other adults are telling you. But you don’t actually have to do it unless it’s what I would have told you to do.”

  33. renee miller August 23, 2015 at 8:55 pm #

    That is a parenting issue, not a free range issue. I am a free range parent and have raised my kids that way. But I am also a very strict disciplinarian. The better behaved my kids act the more free range they become.

  34. Marta August 23, 2015 at 9:06 pm #

    I wonder if you and some other parents could organize events in your neighborhood that would engage these children in some ways. You could organize various events in which the neighbors and their children would could come together. A barbecue, a garage sale etc.; you could ask these kids to help out with gardening or shopping. I’m not a parent. I’m just a student. But I remember my childhood well. I often played with children from troubling backgrounds; poor, parents who were alcoholics etc. We would go outside and help animals, and do lots of positive things together. What I found out is that children like to help. They like to be engaged and appreciated by adults. You can use this energy & transform it to something positive. I think it would be good to engage other parents and together come up with ideas. The activities like a barbecue or a garage sale could also give you an opportunity to befriend and talk to the other parents & see if you can all together figure out ways to manage the situation. I’m sure many of the parents would appreciate that, as this is also troubling to them.

  35. MattB August 23, 2015 at 10:01 pm #

    The packages with garbage has potential. Or with laxative laced candy.

    Having lived in a complex with out of control people and kids, they tend to be entitled jerks, and I haven’t found reasonable approaches to work. I went battery powered cameras to catch any retaliation, and went medieval. Park in a handicap spot no tag? Cops and management. Unsupervised kids harassing people? Cops and management. Loud noises outside reasonable hours? Cops and beating on the door and “explaining” it to them in the gravelly batman voice.

    I can come across as a bit unstable when I need to, so it worked for me. Going down that road means one has to be willing to see it through to the end though.

  36. pentamom August 23, 2015 at 10:41 pm #

    everydayrose, I mostly agree with your balanced approach, but I think that people absolutely should expect to be backed up by parents, and have kids listen to them, when they are dealing with things that affect the other adult or that other adults’ property.

    For example, people telling your kids not to climb to top of public jungle gym — not their business, kids don’t have to listen.

    People telling my kids not to do something you’d permit them to do *on their own property* — I don’t care how stupid it is, the kids have to listen, and I will back the other person up.

    So as applied to the actual situation we’re dealing with here, I think the expectation that parents should back up the objecting letter writer *should* be there, because the letter writer is objecting to what’s being done that affects her, not just things she generally doesn’t think kids should do. Apart from the obvious theft and property damage issues, I don’t care how little you care if your kids scream, if they’re doing it in a place that affects me when I’m in my own home, if I don’t want to listen to it, you should be teaching your kids to respect that, not majoring on their right to do it.

  37. pentamom August 23, 2015 at 10:44 pm #

    And BTW, I’m looking at this from the perspective of how I dealt with my own kids. No, they didn’t have to listen to the adults who though they were too little to be doing this or that on their own that was actually none of the other person’s business, but they absolutely did have to respect other people’s privacy, desire for peace, and property, down to the stupidest rules people would make about what went on, on their own property. If someone made my kids’ life a burden by being too restrictive about what they could do around them or on their property, then they were taught to keep out of those people’s way.

  38. Jennifer August 23, 2015 at 10:59 pm #

    First. Free range is akin to laziness.
    Second. Move.

  39. CrazyCatLady August 24, 2015 at 12:17 am #

    Is there a community room where kids and families can gather? You might want to see if you can get some Americorp/Vista volunteers to come and do things with the kids. They are usually just out of college kids, working for slave wages, who help to do community building and such. Sounds like your community could use some help…someone to play games with the kids and or parents, build bonds with schools, etc. Here is there page: If you have drug free community grants in your neighborhood, you may be able to get some help from them too….the idea is to build bonds and ties with the neighborhoods so that kids don’t resort to illegal activities.

    I would invest in cheap cookies and Otter Pops. And other things that don’t cost a lot. Go out and tell the kids it is snack time…here are some snacks. Tell them they can only have them if they dispose of the trash appropriately….the manager will not let you keep giving them out if the wrappers are all over! Give out cookies and such when you DO get your packages…let them know you are happy you got your package and that because it isn’t missing you have time to give cookies! (Which will help them realize they need to watch for your packages.)

    Some kids just DO need some adult interaction…and they are looking for it any way they can. See if you can get scrap paper from someplace and teach them how to make paper airplanes. (Again with the rule, if they are left out, the manager will be mad and you won’t be able to do it again.) Take a little time to teach them how to play some games that are not as loud. Encourage them to draw you some pictures and put them under your door or in your mail slot. (Yes, messy…but will get them to like you.) Teach them games like Cat’s Cradle that they can do with some string. Learn some card tricks and see if they can figure out how you do it and then try to recreate it.

    I hope that you find at least a partial solution. Apartment complex living, for this country girl, has always seemed like a special kind of hell. But, I really think building a sense of community and getting them to “like” you without you being a door mat, is pretty much the key.

  40. Alanna August 24, 2015 at 1:17 am #

    It is possible that some of the parents could be teaching their children to steal. That does happen. My advice would be to get out of there as soon as possible.

  41. SKL August 24, 2015 at 2:54 am #

    About the noise, I don’t think there’s anything to be done. Kids make noise, and if that is where they play, it’s going to be noisy. You might try bonding a little with the kids so they will develop a little empathy for your need for relative quiet, at least during certain hours.

    About the stealing, I would tell the kids you know what they are up to, and also take steps to secure my valuables. I like the idea of a PO box, don’t leave stuff in your car, etc.

    I am not sure I agree with not involving the police if theft continues despite talking to the kids and parents. I would give them fair warning first.

  42. rj August 24, 2015 at 3:18 am #

    When I was a teenager there was a bunch of kids playing at out apt . complex and when I would walk to my car
    on several occasions they would run after me harassing me. This went on for awhile and finally one day I reacted and turned and smacked the leader with a bag I was carrying.
    That was the end of all the harassment.

  43. sexhysteria August 24, 2015 at 3:30 am #

    Free Range doesn’t mean no responsibility. Some kids are really neglected, not merely free to play outside.

  44. hineata August 24, 2015 at 3:30 am #

    Hard. I was going to ask why most of the kids aren’t in school, but guessing it might still be holidays. I think it’s a great idea to try making the children feel responsible for your packages. …if your budget stretches to it maybe you could share out a packet of biscuits on the successful arrival of a package?

    You don’t say what immigrant group or groups you’re living among, but another factor in your ‘disfavor’ might just be the whole male/female thing. Have you tried getting your husband to have a friendly chat with the neighbours? Within some groups, women may as well be spitting into the wind, trying to get boys to mind them.

  45. hineata August 24, 2015 at 3:33 am #

    @Rick – I must say you’re a more patient parent than me. When my young ones kicked a ball harder after I asked them to kick it softer, they just lost the ball. And got it back when they agreed on more reasonable play. Mean maybe, but worked a treat.

  46. everydayrose August 24, 2015 at 3:37 am #

    You’re absolutely right James, which is why I said almost exactly the same thing in my original comment. I’ve raised my children to be aware of the people around them and they would never behave like the children in this discussion. That doesn’t mean that they’re expected to follow the rules of every busybody neighbor who comes along.

    And pentamom, of course. I thought it went without saying that all people can reasonably be expected to follow other people’s rules while on their property, but suppose you’re right that not everybody teaches that to their kids. I certainly do. When I say that my kids don’t have to listen I mean when they’re in public spaces and not doing anything that could be construed as disrespectful to another person. I’ve been extremely strict about that since they were old enough to begin to comprehend it and at this age it’s second nature for them.

  47. Doug August 24, 2015 at 9:11 am #

    Air horn.

    When the kids are screaming and being little barbarians, walk up and unleash that thing.

    Works well with telemarketers and debt collectors, too.

  48. BL August 24, 2015 at 9:12 am #

    “I thought it went without saying that all people can reasonably be expected to follow other people’s rules while on their property”

    It’s good practice to stay off the property of unreasonable people. And make damn sure they stay off yours.

  49. Curious August 24, 2015 at 9:36 am #

    1. Get a secure Business Address. The home or business of a nearby friend, your hairdresser. Anywhere but your apartment.

    2. Take up a collection among neighbors for sports equipment for these kids. Bicycles. Balls. Dolls. Age appropriate activities. Get them away from your doorway. Send them out to play in traffic!

    3. Rejoice and be glad! School starts soon, if it hasn’t already!

    4. Put out cookies and juice for them after school.

    5. Read the ads. Get another apartment. My Mom moved us every year when I was a kid. We changed schools every year from K to 4, then again in 7, 8, and 9. Why? Just the same problem as here. Each move got us to a better place. But there were still issues, so we moved on.

    No one suffered from the moves, in the long run. We learned to make new friends. We learned to solved whatever problems life threw at us.

    Isn’t that what living FREE RANGE is about? Just Curious. Seeking the truth, and the best life possible. Under the circumstances!

  50. Curious August 24, 2015 at 10:32 am #

    Oops! Missed the space shuttle here!


    What keeps suburban middle-class kids so quiet and well behaved is the electronic toys in the basement. And Mom driving them to their off-premisis organized sports events.

    Could some kindly organization do some organizing here?

    These kids are obviously intolerably free range.

  51. Curious August 24, 2015 at 10:56 am #

    Also. Why not involve the police?

    Do you think you have to bring charges?

    Why not just have them show up and talk it over? They have great ideas about how prevent theft.

    I used to manage an office where employees pocketbooks went missing. The precinct sent an officer to meet with the employees.

    Older people sometimes accuse the cleaning personnel of theft. Having an officer talk to them about safeguards.

    Having cops show up sends a lovely strong signal. It’s a warning. Even if nothing is said to the neighbors about the reason they came.

    Isn’t it possible that the offensive neighbors are terrified of being evicted? Most people in rental property with kids are scared the kids will get them in trouble. The landlord called the cops on my brother and me when we were little, and on a different occasion took us to court.

    We weren’t in the wrong, but our Mom sure was scared.

    Just dial 911.

  52. Bonni August 24, 2015 at 12:11 pm #

    Similar situation here, and the thing that has worked is that, over the course of three years, I have been going outside with my toddler to play with the kids… (None of them are his age.) They tend to be a little more gentle with him around, and since I engage in their games, listen to their tall tales, and occasionally bring out craft supplies and healthy snacks (with parents’ permission), they are now at the point of listening and learning from me.

    Also, I *never* shout or yell or shame them. Never. They get enough of that at home and it obviously doesn’t work. My goal is to model how humans *should* treat each other.

    Hang in there, it’s not a quick solution, but I’d be shocked if you didn’t start to see real results in about a year.

  53. LisaS August 24, 2015 at 12:11 pm #

    There is a difference between criminal activity (theft of packages, vandalism) and “free-range.” For the criminal activity, call the cops. That’s 112% legitimate and should have happened already. And yes, I’d ask the Post Office to hold your packages. Or, see if you can use the address at the local UPS store for packages for a small fee – that’s what I did for my office for years and it was less than a POBox, and worked for all services.

    As far as the noise … when I was 10, my parents split up and my dad moved into an apartment complex. The population was much as described by the letter writer – except that our building had a “grumpy old man” who happened to live below my dad. If we walked normally in the apartment he would call and complain. If we spoke above a whisper in the hall, he would call and complain. If we bounced balls on the sidewalk outside, he would call and complain. Winter weekends at Dad’s were very long as a result.

    So, first make sure your expectations are realistic. You’re going to hear more noise than you did in a house. You can’t make other people’s lives miserable over that.

    For the part that is unrealistic – shouting inside the building, for example, let the kids know. Heck, if they’re outside and it’s too loud, let them know. One of the neighbors who lived near the playground would bring her two little kids out to play, and if we were too loud during naptime, she’d come onto the balcony and say, “Hey, Mike and Christy are asleep can you hold it down a little?” and we would. If you treat kids as your partners, they’ll do anything for you.

  54. Warren August 24, 2015 at 12:16 pm #

    As everyone else has pointed out. These are not free range kids. They are of the feral variety. Talk to the parents, and give them ample warning that if they do not deal with it, that you will then have no choice but to involve property management and or the authorities.

    As for the packages, forcing companies to require signatures can be good, but they will not make multiple attempts. If you are not there, they will leave a notice that they tried, and you can pick up your package at the nearest store or warehouse. Which can be local or not.

  55. Red August 24, 2015 at 12:37 pm #

    I would report the thefts (and vandalism) to the police and get them involved. Why? Because you don’t actually know who is stealing those packages. The kids are the obvious people on which to place the blame, but it also sounds like the type of situation that thieving adults know how to take advantage of–lots of people about, lots of noise, obvious other target to blame.

  56. AmyO August 24, 2015 at 1:36 pm #

    Get the hose.

    Just kidding. Seriously, I would put my foot down with those kids. Treat them as if they were your own, and let them know under no circumstances are they to behave like this. They’ll probably push back, then once they realize you mean business, they’ll either fall in line or go somewhere else to play.

  57. EricS August 24, 2015 at 1:43 pm #

    There still seems to be a misconception of Free-Range (or old school) upbringing. As Lenore mentioned, and we iterate often, it’s not about letting your kids do whatever they want to do. It’s about them learning independence, responsibility, self-esteem and confidence, all within a disciplined mindset. Kids can play all day at the park or at friends’ houses. They can ride their bikes around their neighborhood, to school, to the mall. They can talk to strangers. Learn about the community they live in. All the while, they still need to respect others. Sounds to me, your neighbor is just letting their kids run amoke. Which isn’t Free-Range at all. That’s just being irresponsible parents. I wouldn’t go as far as neglectful. More like the equivalent of busy parents sitting their kids in front of the television or iPad to occupy them, while the parent(s), take care of their business. Except these parents, scoot them out of the apartment and expect their kids to keep themselves occupied. But with no guidance, in how to behave when out in public.

    I say, have a sit down with your neighbor. Express your concerns. You wouldn’t call the police on them, but maybe others would. If your kids are behaved, maybe they can be an example to your neighbor’s kids. Perhaps, the parents are busy, and overwhelmed, that all they can do is have their kids run amok OUTSIDE of the apartment, so they can get some peace and quiet for a while. Maybe they just need an ear, and perhaps a helping hand. Hopefully, they are people that won’t fly off the handle when you approach them, but would welcome the support. Since you have experience in raising your kids FR, and your mindset is that of FR parents, it may help them in understanding how to deal with their own kids. One step at a time. Hopefully they are receptive, and not conflicted. Good luck.

  58. Rachael August 24, 2015 at 2:02 pm #

    Yes, there is a difference between free-range and no discipline. You can be free-range and have a tight reign on discipline. I give my kids plenty of freedom, but like you said-with responsibility. These kids are not responsible, they’re just not parented at all.

  59. M August 24, 2015 at 2:10 pm #

    James Pollock, they probably attribute the vandalism to kids for the same reason I attribute the scratches on my hood to kids. They are low, they just look like squiggles, they aren’t super deep and there isn’t a reason an older kid would have done that as opposed to another form of vandalism.

  60. That_Susan August 25, 2015 at 7:59 am #

    everydayrose — presumably, by the time your kids were going about the neighborhood on their own, they’d never have dreamed of doing crazy stuff like smashing beer bottles into the sidewalk. I personally don’t care a thing about kids out walking places on their own and not bothering anybody.

  61. SOA August 26, 2015 at 9:33 am #

    I think this is a common problem. Not to poor shame but yes, a lot of apartments are lower income families and they tend to not invest in their kids as much and let them run wild. My friends apartments had kids that ran wild all day unsupervised outside and one day we caught them throwing bottles off a huge hill and busting them so that cars were running over the broken glass. We reported it to management because there were going to be some flat tires. We also yelled at them to stop.

    I am pro free range kids but not pro-have no idea what your kids are up to, Those parents should have been coming outside every 15 minutes or so and checking on them. If they were doing that, they would have caught them throwing the bottles as they were doing it over several minutes.

    Free range kids should not mean let your kids terrorize others. The screaming outside the apartment doors is not okay. Send them off to a greenspace away from people’s doors to screech. Most apartments have some kind of green space area and that is where you should be sending them to play. Not in the breezeways.

    Then actually check on them every so often to make sure they are in the green space playing nicely and not up on the hill throwing bottles

    I don’t feel the need to coddle the family if they were acting like this. Its not okay. I would not expect someone to coddle my kids if they were behaving like this. I would tell the parents and give them a chance to fix it. If they don’t then next step is apartment management. Then it would be police.

    Your right to free range ends when it seriously hurts your neighbors. Stolen packages and destruction of property and super loud screaming outside your door is not okay.

  62. Rick46032 August 26, 2015 at 6:46 pm #

    Just found your site. Looked at 2 pages and am very impressed. The comments are diverse and very reasonable from my experience.

    Frankly I was impressed by by the writers story. I admire your spirit and your willingness to make a difference. We need a new pioneering spirit to revive our cities and urban areas into more livable terrains. As long as the balance of educated people is away from your cities core the more vulnerable your city structure becomes.

    It is difficult to engage kids that have already been imprinted with bad or worse both bad habits and no good habits. You may have a chance with the youngsters that are still open and that may help you build some dialogue with at least the kids as they age.

    I believe in many communities there is a complete lacking of parental involvement that is largely socioeconomic in nature. We can’t assign it to any one group, race or nationality. That said I’ve seen it in families on the other end of the spectrum with the same predicable outcomes.

    The kids know no boundaries and consequently are incensed to the point of open hostility by anyone they perceive as different or not a member of their group. Rich kids end up with psychiatrists and lawyers and poor kids end up with like minded groups and the penal system.

    One idea I heard from someone I was working with last week was she had a DVD player and a television and a kind heart. She invited the younger kids to come over to watch movies she got at the library. The price of admission was a can of food. She said the kids were delighted. She served some cookies and juice. She donated the food, with the kids knowledge of how they were ‘helping others’, to a neighborhood food bank.

    This woman is on SNAP and has raised a family while working gainfully. She gets around $300/month and she still finds resources to buy kool-aid and off brand cookies for the neighbors kids but she covers the cost of what she can’t grow and stretches the SNAP to last herself and family a month.

    This is in an urban environment. Her family has roots in the area over 100 years. They refused to move. They were impacted by declining home values, red-lining, foreclosure and inadequate transit and food options locally. We have a system that is failing.

    It will take all of us to right the ship.

    I saw a post that hit home for me that describes the problem.

    It stated that “x million of USA children had inadequate nutrition”.

    The number is less important than the message. It was this…

    “If another country was doing this to our children we would go to war.”

  63. PG August 26, 2015 at 7:05 pm #

    I think the kids being a menace around the apartment complex is happening because they’re at the wrong place. They should be at the park, unsupervised.

  64. Gritsforbreakfast August 28, 2015 at 10:47 am #

    On the theft of home deliveries, put a video camera outside your front door. You can get a small one rigged with a motion sensor and there’s even tech to have it tweet, text or email pictures when someone comes to your front door. (You could probably do that whole project with a Raspberry Pi for $100.)

    On the kids, one thinks of spoiled kids as rich kids but there’s another class of spoiled kids in certain cases among the poor. Kids can become spoiled when they are utterly neglected and nobody ever tells them “no.”

    In my experience, if you’re truly talking about children (and not gangs, etc.), most neglected kids respond remarkably well to the assertion of authority, especially if a stern voice comes with some sort of carrot for compliance. But you have to bribe them, there has to be something in it with them. We resolved a similar situation years ago by getting a wooden box full of toys and letting the kids play with them if they did so within the limits we set. Then that gave us something to take away when they violated the new norms you’re trying to establish. (Be forewarned: One of those kids is today my adult adopted daughter so in the long run, that tactic gave me a grandchild.)

    Food works for some kids. When there’s a ruckus, step outside and ask them to please play elsewhere, and if they do, you’ll give them cookies (or whatever) later on or the following day. Bake cookies, follow through. (Don’t give them immediately, buy some quiet time and set a precedent of delayed gratification.)

    Above all, though, whatever the method, make friends with the kids outside your door. Then they’re your eyes and ears and you’ll soon find out who’s vandalizing the cars, or it will just stop because the culprit enjoys cookies.

  65. Reader September 5, 2015 at 6:59 am #

    James Pollock: there is a difference between noisy kids (or people in general) outside and noisy people in a corridor of an apartment building. Having lived in both situations, when you live in a house there is a decent sound barrier; public/other people’s space starts at least a couple of metres from your house on all sides, and often some distance from your front door. In an apartment, your kitchen or bedroom might be less than a metre from “shared” space, plus sound travels and reverberates in corridors, rather than dispersing. Ideally the corridor should really be a place for getting to other spaces; conversations, kids’ meetups, etc can start there, but need to either move quickly to a communal space or into someone’s apartment.

  66. James Pollock September 5, 2015 at 9:08 am #

    “James Pollock: there is a difference between noisy kids (or people in general) outside and noisy people in a corridor of an apartment building.”

    I’ve no idea why you addressed this at me. Your point seems to be “one is more annoying than they other”. Accepted. So?

  67. Reader September 6, 2015 at 7:26 am #

    Hi James Pollock, what I meant was that I think it is acceptable for kids to be playing outdoors and for you to hear the sound through a window (whether that’s from a nearby park, your own or your neighbour’s garden, or from an apartment complex courtyard) and someone who is bothered by that should probably, as you say, get some earplugs and/or put up with it as a normal, healthy part of life. But I think it is reasonable to expect that children (and adults) will not make excessive/prolonged noise in apartment block corridors, as such noise tends to be louder, to simultaneously affect more people, and to be more difficult to escape.

    I totally agree with your view that some people complain too much about very faint, distant noise, but I also think that if there are really children playing in an indoor corridor space right outside the letter writer’s door, it is reasonable for her to want them to move somewhere else. Possibly an issue is that in a non-free-range society (or perhaps due to actual dangers in the OP’s neighbourhood), people might let their kids “go outside” as far as the corridor but be too scared to let them take themselves somewhere like a playground, park or even a footpath where they can have their fun in a way that’s more enjoyable for them and also less problematic for other people.