OUTRAGE OF THE WEEK: Cops Say It’s ILLEGAL for Kids to Play Outside, Unsupervised

Hi eshtifzfzz
Folks — Here it is again. The creeping idea that anytime our kids are outside without us they are in DANGER, thus it is CRIME to take our eyes off them. The writer of the note below, from Western Maryland, also pens this blog. Here’s what’s happening out by her:

Dear Free-Range Kids:  Our kids have always been “Free -Range.” Unfortunately, today, someone called the police because of the “unsupervised children” running around the neighborhood.  My son is six (seven in September), and we allow him to ride his bike to friend’s houses up the street (we live in a small, three-street neighborhood far from any major roads), rollerblade down the road, play with friends in the little patch of woods across the street from our houses, play in sprinklers with the neighbors, etc.  There are constantly kids running around our neighborhood, playing with their friends — kids of all ages.

The officer said that kids under ten, by law, are not allowed outside, unsupervised except in their parents’ yard.  The officer did not come to our house, but visited the mom of two of my son’s good friends.  The people who called reported that all the way back in the winter, a “whole bunch of unsupervised kids were sled riding down the hill” that is across from our townhouse units.

It’s true — there were 10 or 12 “vagrant” children sledding in full snow attire with NO PARENTS present for hours, with some stops to run home for bathroom breaks and hot cocoa.

I don’t know who reported our kids.  The officer was very kind and said he understood, but still said that if there were more reports they would have to take more aggressive action than just a warning.  I have no idea what to do about this. My husband and I have been looking for the law online and found nothing.  All I know is: it’s not fair for us to have to keep our kids inside or in our backyards for the entire summer.  Any insights? — Maryland Mom

Dear MM: This requires a fight — for the sake of your family and for the sake of the neighborhood. If there really IS a law, you and your neighbors must protest. If there isn’t a law — and I certainly think you could ask the local precinct to actually show it to you — then you have to remind law enforcement that we live in a free society where parents are allowed to determine the way they want to raise their kids. Oh, and by the way, it is GOOD for kids to go find their friends outside and play. Not bad. Good. — L

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166 Responses to OUTRAGE OF THE WEEK: Cops Say It’s ILLEGAL for Kids to Play Outside, Unsupervised

  1. JB June 9, 2011 at 8:02 am #

    Wy beyond bizarre. So, it’s OK for parents to stuff their children with junk food, let them sit in from of a TV screen or video game for 18 hours a day, start dating at the age of 11, expose them to R-rated movies at the age of 6 — but it’s not OK to give them an experience they NEED in order to be functional human beings?

  2. Shaun Lang June 9, 2011 at 8:02 am #

    Suppose someone were to arrange a “flashmob” of hundreds children all playing unsupervised at the same place at the same time.

    Try enforcing that bogus law NOW……

  3. paul June 9, 2011 at 8:03 am #

    I’d like to hear the definition of “supervised” particularly from the jackass who called the law.

  4. Sara June 9, 2011 at 8:22 am #

    Do they not allow elementary schoolers to walk home? Ten is absurd.

    And if kids are causing problems then it needs to be dealt with but really?

  5. Joette June 9, 2011 at 8:23 am #

    From http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/content/frs-safe/resources/parents/childcare.asp

    Maryland Child Protective Services Procedures (SSA95-13) define an “unattended child” as:
    * A child under eight left alone or in the care of a person who is not reliable or who is under 13.
    * A child aged eight through 12 left alone for longer than brief periods without support systems which should include phone numbers of parents, other family members or neighbors, information about personal safety, and what to do in an emergency. Children in this age group may not be left to care for children under the age of eight.
    * A child 12 or over who is left alone for long hours or overnight or with responsibilities beyond capabilities or where there is some special risk factor such as mental retardation or physical handicap that would indicate that the child may be in jeopardy.
    * A child who has been abandoned.
    * A child of any age who is handicapped and left alone, if the handicapping condition constitutes a special risk factor which indicates that the child is in jeopardy.

    Maryland Family Law, 5-701(p) states that NEGLECT is “the leaving of a child unattended or other failure to give proper care and attention to a child by any parent or other person who has permanent or temporary care or custody or responsibility for supervision under circumstances that indicate: that the child’s health or welfare is harmed or placed at substantial risk of harm.”

    The Montgomery County Child Protective Services defines neglect as “the chronic failure of a parent, caretaker, household or family member to provide a child under 18 basic needs of life, such as: food, clothing, shelter, medical care, attention to hygiene, educational opportunity, protection and supervision. Cultural standards which differ from those of most of the community are not necessarily neglect.”
    Granted, the focus of that page is about the decision of when it’s OK to leave a child home alone for a bit, but it seems to me that the same criteria would apply to allowing a child to play outside unsupervised for a period of time. So long as a parent is at home for “support” or some neighbors are, I don’t see how letting the kids play outside could possibly reach the level of neglect or.

  6. Joette June 9, 2011 at 8:27 am #

    Another page on that same website offers winter safety tips, one of which regards sledding: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/content/frs-safe/resources/parents/wintersafetykids/sledding.asp. The astute reader will note that in no place on that page does it require parents to hover over their sledding children.

  7. Lnda June 9, 2011 at 8:41 am #

    Are we raising a generation of non-self-reliant people, or what? My kids are all grown up, and when they tell me what they did when they were kids, I’m surprised we weren’t accused of child neglect, but all the kids around here were in the same situation. They had to be home by dark. Earlier in winter, and later in summer. They are all capable adults who are raising my grandchildren to think for themselves, too. Our nation is full of ‘scaredy cats’.

    Your link didn’t work.

  8. Dave Higgs-Vis @ Folkabout Baby June 9, 2011 at 8:44 am #

    So, neglect is “the leaving of a child unattended … under circumstances that indicate: that the child’s health or welfare is harmed or placed at substantial risk of harm.”

    That’s the kicker right there. If a paranoid cop is the one deciding if there is risk for harm, then it’s neglect. If a free-ranger is looking at it, then of course it’s not neglect.

    Ugh, these vague laws are going to get some people in trouble, I fear.

  9. Donna June 9, 2011 at 8:46 am #

    I would venture to guess that there is no such law. MM needs to demand to see the law the next time a police officer confronts her about it.

  10. DJG June 9, 2011 at 8:49 am #

    The fact that her neighbours called the cops is as sad as it is predictable. I’ll lay good odds that Snitchy McRatterton doesn’t give a damn whether those children are safe and secure, but is generally annoyed to see and hear children outside.

    In Canada this trend has been most noticeable with respect to street hockey. The script runs thus: Police get a call because kids are playing in the street. Police tell parents that the law says it’s unsafe to play in the street. Reporter tracks down informant who is more than happy to complain that those kids are loud, and it’s hard to get to sleep at 4:00 pm when they’re shouting and laughing and enjoying life and such.

    If you give in and offer lame, pointless supervision, expect to get further visits from the police. The complainers aren’t pro-law. They’re anti-child.

  11. Joette June 9, 2011 at 8:56 am #

    @Dave Higgs: You may be right about the vagueness of that law, but in my opinion, as Free Range parents we must fight vague and unreasonable laws that impinge upon our children’s rights to have a childhood. “What if…” is not proof of substantial risk of harm, which I know you already know. I’m with Lenore. The letter writer needs to go to her local precinct, attempt to speak with someone in charge, and clarify to the greatest extent possible what exactly the problem is with children playing outside unsupervised. If possible, get that clarification in writing, and the phone number of the person in charge, so that if this ever comes up again the neighborhood busybody and/or the responding officer can get the real scoop right from the horse’s mouth.

  12. Ann June 9, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    Most police officers don’t know the code of law very well in any one area. What I did was to contact child protective services directly and ask them. Most laws like this are vague, and I believe that is intentional. And bad.

  13. Anna June 9, 2011 at 9:20 am #


    What would they have them do w/their kids all summer? Lock them indoors until they’re vitamin D deficent, lethargic and 50lbs overweight? It’s SUMMER. Little kids are supposed to be running around outside playing!

  14. Jonathan hoch June 9, 2011 at 9:22 am #

    Ask the cop for the exact statute and read it. Most cops are not well informed. Do not take his word for it. It’s likely that there really is no such law but really a culmination of paranoid parents complaints.

  15. Frank DiSalle June 9, 2011 at 9:24 am #

    This effectively prevents children under 10 from walking the streets without their parents. Any law that depends on the personal perspective of a policeman or a C P S employee ( but I repeat myself ) , is a dangerous law…

  16. Mom of 2 June 9, 2011 at 9:33 am #

    I’d love to see what the “more aggressive action” would be! I’d demand to see the law he refers of as well.

  17. bmj2k June 9, 2011 at 9:34 am #

    I just wonder what kind of Grinch called the cops.

  18. Silver Fang June 9, 2011 at 9:35 am #

    Get a lawyer and sue the police department.

  19. Mthousemama June 9, 2011 at 9:36 am #

    I certainly hope she updates this to let us know if the law is real or not. Cause I am really curious about what it states.

  20. dmd June 9, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    What’s most amazing to me is that it’s become so accepted. That the average person is okay with this. It’s like they just can’t remember being young and running around. I’m sure our public safety officer and our local crime watch rep would both support the officer in this story. We’ve been led to believe that the safe thing is to watch your kids at all times, not realizing that that is making us ALL less safe.

  21. Peggy Emch June 9, 2011 at 9:43 am #

    I started reading this article thinking it was about little city kids running around downtown unsupervised. I mean why else would the police get involved right? There is clearly more benefit to running around a quiet neighborhood or open space than there is in being trapped inside eating dorritos with the parents. This is a really disturbing law and, if not a proper law (yet), it is a frightening mentality.

  22. Janet June 9, 2011 at 9:57 am #

    *Cultural standards which differ from those of most of the community are not necessarily neglect.*

    Which means that the free-range culture, while differing from that of the paranoia rife in the majority of the parenting community, is not necessarily neglect, just a different culture, right?

    I too would be interested to see the actual statute the officer was referring to. If it exists…

  23. Taylor Meacham June 9, 2011 at 10:00 am #

    Vague laws are easier to pass, but they require good judgment by, you guessed it, judges on the backend. Lately it seems this has been starting to become a snag in the process.

    The no kids outside their own yards under ten is crazy. I’m not sure anyone was ever elected for creating laws that allowed children the freedom they need to mature vs. laws protecting them. Protection is “sound-bitier”, and so sells better much better.

    That said, a call to a family lawyer might be helpful. Maybe a quick, free consult? Or if you and the other parents have resources for more…you know, for the sake of the children.

  24. gotplay June 9, 2011 at 10:23 am #

    Do as much research as you can and give it your voice do it for your kids. cps showed up at my house. I will say hear in michigan laws are vage really vage. if enough of us ban together we can start a move ment to try to change some of these laws. view the web site above. I hope it helps! i’m so sorry this has happend PLAES I BEG to STAND your ground I AM. I also have not stoped letting my kids go out side. ALos i would go knocking on some doors ask who did it. good luck

  25. Kerrin Hearfield June 9, 2011 at 10:37 am #

    My goodness! I would go to the precinct and ask to see a copy of the law – maybe have a neighbourhood meeting where you can talk to all concerned about what you let the kids do. Call it a neighbourhood watch type meeting where everyone can keep an eye on the kids.
    Yes that is extreme for kids to unable to play unsupervised. I’d fight it!

  26. Kat June 9, 2011 at 10:38 am #

    My kids are home schooled, and spend their free time when they’ve finished reading and math and whatnot running around outside.

    The day public school started last fall (well, really summer because it was about the second week in August, and our school year started the day after Labor Day) my kids were outside in my front yard, and someone CALLED THE POLICE claiming my 5yo was a two year old toddler “in the middle of the street all alone.” She wasn’t “all alone” she was playing with her siblings, with me in the house RIGHT THERE. And second she was never in the middle of the street, she was in the driveway or the yard. I know she’s small for her age, but how the heck do you decide a 5yo child is a 24 month old toddler? Personally, I think the nosy old coot just didn’t like kids, and that’s why she made up lies to tell the cops about what was going on, because all the other neighbors on the street constantly tell me my kids are cute, polite, sweet, and they enjoy seeing them out being active like kids should be.

    The cop came out to do a “welfare check” and while I was coming to the door told my children “You know it’s wrong for you to be out there, don’t you?!” (I didn’t hear about this until after she’d left, but I was LIVID. If my kids were to spend 12 hours a day inside watching TV and playing video games, nobody would call the cops, but heaven forbid they play tag in the front yard, oh my gosh! There are not state laws specifying that my children cannot play in my yard, and I don’t appreciate that a police officer (authority figure) tried to tell them they had done something “wrong” by being outside!

  27. gotplay June 9, 2011 at 10:41 am #

    The liberty of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children is a fundamental right

  28. Missy June 9, 2011 at 10:41 am #

    Thanks so much for your comments, everyone! I noticed that the link to my blog is broken, so I figured I’d provide it here: http://adventuremobile.blogspot.com

    We’ve been talking to our friend in social services and she has said the neighbors don’t have a leg to stand on. It’s still disconcerting to the parents in the neighborhood and many parents are opting to keep their kids in until “the heat is off”.

  29. Minger June 9, 2011 at 10:43 am #

    We’ve had the same problem to the extent that my kids now worry when they go up the bike path to set up a lemonade stand that they will be stopped by the cops rather than that they will lack customers or any other “business related” concerns.

  30. Missy June 9, 2011 at 10:43 am #

    PS – Lenore – thank you so much for posting my comment – it means a lot to me and to the other parents in my neighborhood. It’s scary to have to fight to let your kids be kids!

  31. Missy June 9, 2011 at 10:44 am #

    Minger – it’s seriously unreal.

  32. Missy June 9, 2011 at 10:49 am #

    Joette has it right as far as the law currently on the books that has anything to do with anything remotely like this. There is nothing about ten year olds anywhere and nothing about kids playing outside in their neighborhood with other kids. Period.

    PS – I’m Maryland Mom, in case that wasn’t obvious. 🙂

  33. Joette June 9, 2011 at 10:53 am #

    @Missy: The idea above of a neighborhood watch type meeting to talk about your plans going forward is an excellent one. It would be even better if you have any inkling about who might have made the call and make sure that person is invited. Most neighborhood busybody’s would be DELIGHTED to be invited to join a neighborhood watch association. If you could contact the local police to get clarification beforehand (and I’d be absolutely stunned if they agreed that it’s illegal for children under 10 to play anywhere outside their own yards), you could even invite a police officer to speak to the Watch meeting.

    Even if the snitch doesn’t attend, it would help all the parents in your neighborhood to know what the law *actually* says, not just what one officer thinks, and should what he said be true, then at least you will all KNOW and can create a plan of action (trading off supervisory duties with other parents or whatever).

    Please update us and let us know what happens!

  34. Kelly Mayr June 9, 2011 at 10:58 am #

    I feel really lucky that we live where we do ( Colorado). I see kids out unattended all the time. I walked to the grocery store with one of my kids today and we saw several groups of vagrants …..ummm I mean children ; )
    We have tons of kids that ride their bikes to school. Many days two or three of my kids walk to the grocery store to get a free sample cookie.
    I wouldn’t say that all the parents are free range, but it is getting there.

  35. Dolly June 9, 2011 at 10:58 am #

    See this leaves me torn. I understand there are just awful kid haters out there who will report even good kids, but in most cases, unless the kids are acting up no one is going to report or care about this. How well do you know all your neighbors especially the childfree ones? Do you know if they are bothered by the noise level? Do you know if the kids go into yards they are not welcome in? Do the kids block the street? Do they destroy property or leave their toys out everywhere? Because unless they are doing something like this I find it hard to believe someone would raise a stink.

    However, I CAN see how kids being in yards they are not welcome in or blocking the street, or making too much noise, etc might upset other neighbors. It might possibly upset me and I have kids. There is a level that this can get to that can make it unpleasant for others. I have see roaming kids without any parental supervision that were throwing bottles into the street at cars. We darn sure reported it to the cops and apartment managers immediately and the parents got a talking to probably much like you did. Not saying your kids were doing something destructive, but I am sure those parents would have sworn up and down their kids were little angels too, when they were not!

    My suggestion is for the next couple weeks be out there with your kids and supervise them. Make a schedule with the other moms to take turns being out side with the kids and present. You don’t have to hover. Just be out there and keep an eye on just exactly what they are doing. If the complaints still happen, then you know they just hate kids. If the complaints don’t happen, then maybe your kids were being too bothersome to the neighbors or doing something wrong.

  36. Frank DiSalle June 9, 2011 at 10:59 am #

    You all seem either outraged or expressing disbelief… The question is, “What generates this behavior by individuals (calling the police on kids in the daytime, doing nothing but playing)?” The other question is, “What has turned policemen into social workers?”
    When did the statement “It takes a village to raise a child” become “It takes the government to raise YOUR child”?

  37. LauraL June 9, 2011 at 11:02 am #

    I hope it all works out for you, Missy. What I always worry about with these sorts of things, and I run into it trying to defend eliminating the stinkin’ thinkin’, is that all someone has to say is, “Well if your child is kidnapped/raped/beaten/killed will you still feel so justified in having let them out of your sight then?”

    And I have nothing to reply with other than, “it’s so unlikely” because they simply will not be listening to me.

  38. Uly June 9, 2011 at 11:03 am #

    Joette, that last comment is really helpful and good advice 🙂

  39. Marie June 9, 2011 at 11:04 am #

    I’d be in trouble in that case too. My 6 and 9 year olds play up and down our street all the time on their own. Sometimes with friends who usually have parents watching, but other times just on their own. No problem, although I do have to sometimes remind them of their limits.

  40. CherubMamma June 9, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    I’d be in huge trouble. I’ve got a 6 year old & a 7 year old. All i require is that they tell me:
    1. Who they’re with
    2. Where they’re at
    3. What they’re doing
    That means they can run the neighborhood all they want if I have a general idea of where they’re at. If they go INSIDE someone’s house or in a BACK yard they have to tell me exactly where they are going to be. But if they’re riding their bikes, they’re free to go wherever they want. We too live on an awesome four-street somewhat “confined” neighborhood that is very safe. I’d just die if we got in trouble for letting our kids play outside. Thankfully, many many other kids in the neighborhood seem to have reasonably free-range parents so it hasn’t been a problem yet.

  41. Sue June 9, 2011 at 11:59 am #

    I think we have lost the definition of “supervise” in our society. I had neighbors call CPS on me because my children weren’t supervised outside. I told them that I look out at them every 15 minutes or so and the windows are open so if there is crying I can hear it. We don’t expect supervisors at our jobs to sit and stare at us for it to be supervising – they are just around and available if we need help. So why then are we supposed to be staring at our children in order to be “supervising” them? I am always around and avaiable to help if needed for my children; that IS supervising them as far as I’m concerned and I have no shame in telling that to the police or CPS if need be.

  42. mollie June 9, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    RIGHT ON, SUE! I love your questioning of the definition of “supervise,” which basically means “watch over.” And yes, I think it does get people into a mood of all-or-nothingness because when it comes to kids, “supervision” means “eyeballs on the young at all times.”

    Likewise, the word “unsupervised” has an enormously negative connotation, perhaps even synonymous with “neglect” these days, but back in the day, in the 1970s, most of us in the four-to-twelve range were totally unsupervised for a majority of days when the weather was nice.

    Of course, I do remember that changing significantly with the advent of our neighbour’s Atari. Suddenly, Space Invaders was far more compelling than our outdoor pursuits, and I vividly remember my friends’ mom screeching at us during sunny days in July, when we were holed up in their basement playing another round, “You kids go outside! It’s a beautiful day! You need to get some fresh air and sunshine!”

    And nowadays, she’d be reported to CPS! Really, I’m agog at this. I really get the sense that I was totally ripped off, being a parent in this generation. I mean, life had a lot more balance for kids and adults back 35 years ago, and now all that has been supplanted by ridiculous expectations of constant supervision. What a travesty, seriously.

  43. Terry June 9, 2011 at 12:42 pm #

    I’ll bet when asked who made the call that you were refused an i.d…. That asshead has more rights then you as a parent does!

  44. Wendy Case June 9, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

    This is why I am so glad that I live where I do. While I do live in a BC suburb there are still kids out playing hockey in the street and kids who go sledding (for our seemingly 2 weeks of snow!) without parents present.

    I’ve been watching more and more and I like what I see. There are elementary school students walking home alone from about age 8. Doesn’t bother anyone. There are also elementary school students taking the bus alone (I leave at 7:30am and 2 kids get off one stop after I get on every school day) who look to be about 7.

    To the OP, go get a copy of that law. If the cop didn’t get it right print it out and keep it by your door so you can answer to these silly complaints. Honestly, noise should not be a factor during the day and as to playing in the streets I would love to see someone say that to somebody here, especially with the Canucks in the finals! The reaction would be priceless! Honestly, a six year old rollerblading or biking in the street shouldn’t be a problem unless he’s not wearing a helmut. My foster siblings and I did that for years in the street and we were a block from a major street. So did the 4 & 5 year olds across the street.

    I don’t understand why this would be a problem. I’m stunned and now I want to check the laws here…

  45. Tim Gill June 9, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

    Terrible story. Missy, if you have a meeting with neighbours, start it by getting the adults to talk about all the things they did and places they played when they were young. Ask them if there were any adults around. You will find 1) there weren’t 2) tthey all had a lot of fun, and probably had some amazing experiences too. Seriously, this helps people ‘get’ what free ranging is all about. Yes the world is different today. But even so, don’t we want our kids to have some of the same kinds of everyday adventures that we enjoyed?

    When I give talks or run training I *always* start with this kind of exercise. It makes a big difference.

  46. John June 9, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    Help me, I was raised as a free range child. My parants must suck. they let me play outside all the time.

  47. racheljoyhatten June 9, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

    WHAT is wrong with people? I mean really, who has time to report kids playing outside??? Isn’t that kind of creepy? Who thinks like that, “Well I know those kids live across the street but they are unsupervised and I need to call the cops”. sheesh. People.

  48. Myriam June 9, 2011 at 3:54 pm #

    I’m sorry this happened to you Missy.

    I don’t find it at all hard to imagine that someone might complain even if the children were doing no harm. And it seems likely that the police officer would have mentioned it if the problem were noise/destroying property/blocking the street, etc.

    Possible motives for complaining include:

    a personal grudge

    paedophiles on the brain

    someone who is generally unhappy and doesn’t like to see someone having more fun than they (or their children) are having – there are plenty of those

    not wanting their own children to get any “ideas” – it’s a lot easier to say “sorry, darling, no – it’s too dangerous out there” when there are no other children out in the street

    some people simply like to bring others in line with social norms and, unfortunately, it’s pretty unusual for six/seven-year-olds to be playing out with no adult in sight in much of the Anglo-American world. Even in a very safe environment.

  49. AmyB June 9, 2011 at 5:47 pm #

    I don’t know how many neighbors you have so this may not work for you but I have made it a point to visit or catch all the people that live on my street for a neighborly hello and at some point work into the conversation that my kids have my permission to play outside…like kids did when I was growing up…(which is usually the same as when they were growing up…trying to bring out the feelings of warmth and nostalgia lol). Most responses have been very positive…all but one actually…so I know if there is ever a complaint who it is probably going to come from.

    Just from chatting, my neighbors know that if they have a concern or don’t like something they see going on they can knock on my door or give me a call. I have yet to hear anything negative and every so often a neighbor will mention it’s great that my kids are out playing. (unlike the child of the parents who didn’t have the positive response to the neighborly chat, who is never allowed to play outside – ever).

    I think that it is so odd that our culture has changed so much that it used to be the kids who were quickly shuttled into the house, never allowed to go out and play, that used to be the houses we wondered about, worried that something bad was happening to the kids inside…now it’s the children outside playing that people are calling to report.

  50. Myriam June 9, 2011 at 6:17 pm #

    That’s right Mollie, back then a mother’s entire job description consisted of cooking, cleaning and yelling at the kids to “go outside, it’s a beautiful day”. When I tell my children to go outside I do feel faintly retro.

  51. Michael Bell June 9, 2011 at 6:32 pm #

    Thanks for writing! Looks like the link is broken…

  52. Tuppence June 9, 2011 at 7:20 pm #

    Missy, you are very lucky that other neighbors have a similar parenting philosophy to yours, and let their kids play outside “unsupervised” (great point, Sue). Lots of folks who’ve commented on this blog have the problem that nobody else around them sees things their way. That’s tough. It’s a huge plus that you have that, and you should play to that strength. And to that end, I think the suggestions of the neighborhood meetings/neighborhood involvement are really good.

    Obviously, this meeting would be then with an eye to winning over the naysayers. Usually, compromise helps. Once you find out that the law does indeed allow your child to play outside (and it will, I’m sure, and if it doesn’t, you’ll take care of that by FIGHTING it and then will have this meeting), you and the other parents might say that your children WILL be outside playing, but you realize that may be disruptive to some people.

    It could very well be that the neighbor who complained was truly disturbed by the children playing. For whatever reason – shift work, needs to sleep, works at home, just grumpy. But I think it would be helpful to try look at it this way, rather than that someone is just trying to make YOUR life hell. Because it very well may be the case. (Even though, no argument from me personally, that calling the cops on your neighbors – your neighbors! – for anything, is just about the rottenest thing, but not everyone sees it that way.) And after all, we all wish to live in communities where everyone matters – children and adults alike.

    Maybe you could offer a “quiet hour” sometime during the day? When the kids come in to eat lunch? Or really raucous play can only take place after 11am, or . . . whatever. All depends on what works for your neighbors. The point is, if you all could make an honest attempt to meet as many needs as possible, it might make everybody happy.

    Of course, there’s no pleasing some people, and some people ARE only trying to make the lives of others hell, but the honorable thing to do is give the golden rule a chance first.

    Good luck and let us know how you get on.

  53. Lola June 9, 2011 at 7:21 pm #

    @AmyB: Right on! That’s just what I did. There are many neighbours around here who are either childless or have grown kids (the sort who are too cool to “play” outside). As I acknowledge that my bunch of kids can be a nuisance, I’ve told my neighbours to feel free to shrug them off, scold them and/or drag them by the ears to my house, “like in the good old days”, if they catch them misbehaving. It’s also been an excellent way to break the ice.
    Incredibly, I’ve had no complains so far. It seems my kids save their bad habits for their parents…

  54. gap.runner June 9, 2011 at 7:24 pm #

    When I first came to Germany, a lot of my fellow Americans complained about all of the rules for everything. Germany does have a lot more rules than the States for everyday living. But when it comes to kids playing outside or doing things on their own, it seems like Germany is more “the land of the free” than the States.

    There was one (American) busybody who called me about my son “wandering around downtown” with one of his German friends without parental supervision. He was in 3rd grade at the time. When I asked my son about it, he told me that his friend’s mother drove the boys to a local shop. But because there was no parking nearby, she dropped them off in front of the store while she looked for a parking space. They were walking the 10 meters from the car to the shop, which I’d hardly call “wandering around.” At least this person called me directly instead of calling the police or the German equivalent of CPS.

  55. Myriam June 9, 2011 at 7:29 pm #

    Good for you, Lola. Those parents who are all up in arms whenever someone else tells their children off do us all a disservice (although I do understand that it’s not a pleasant experience). Far better that than having the police knocking on your door.

  56. Dolly June 9, 2011 at 7:34 pm #

    Great response Amy. That was what I was getting at when I asked if they knew all their neighbors and have talked to them. Not just the ones with kids who play outside. Get to know the older childless couple. Get to know the single man. You might find out that the kids had tromped through Mrs. Smith’s flower bed and that is why she called. Something you can easily apologize for and make right and keep your kids from doing again. Then problem SOLVED! Or you might find out Mr. Jenkins works third shift and needs some quiet around his house. Again something easily SOLVED! Tell the kids to keep their voices down around his house.

    I don’t like how this site always has everyone getting all indignant and always being on the side of the kids. I have met some bad kids in my day. I have also met tons of awesome kids. I believe there is always two sides to a story and that yes, sometimes the kids may be to blame. I don’t know why that is so hard to understand? I had some neighbor kids open up the crawlspace door under our house and try to go play in there. My husband and I luckily heard the door open and went to check it out. I saw the kids coming out of there. I told them nicely that it is dangerous under there and don’t go back in there. They said “Okay” and complied. Great, no big deal. Of course, they also could have ignored me and kept doing it. Then what? Their mother had zero idea what they were doing either.

    I was at times a bad kid myself when I was young and roaming. I did things I was not always 100% supposed to do. I walked in yards I was not welcome in. I played ding dong ditch on people. I would mess around empty houses that were for sale looking in windows and going on the porch. I played on swingsets of empty houses. I was a good kid too who made honor roll and was considered a delight in class. So if even a good kid can do stuff like the above, then I bet kids that were not goody goodies could do even worse.

    My main point is I don’t automatically assume my kids are innocent. That is a bad attitude to have. I have seen it backfire on many parents. I investigate all around and then come to my conclusion. Not saying her kids are doing anything wrong, but it might be a good idea to investigate some by talking to her neighbors and watching the kids a bit more for the next couple weeks. You might be surprised by what you hear. Or not. Either way at least you know the whole story now.

  57. Lola June 9, 2011 at 7:36 pm #

    Oh, and all this “loitering” kids being offensive, something barely on-topic comes to mind…
    There’s a mall near here where retired folks tend to congregate, just to sit down in an air-conditioned atmosphere, and watch the youngsters stroll around (and criticise them, of course). When asked by the local TV station whether the old geeks weren’t bad for business, the manager promptly answered that they were his most effective security system. They’re so nosy and gossipy that they immediately “smell” a shoplifter; they are the first to know whose wandering toddler is that; they gang up to prevent any vandalism… So no, he wouldn’t kick them out for anything!

  58. Dolly June 9, 2011 at 7:46 pm #

    Tuppence: I am responding to your comment about why would someone call the cops on their neighbors? I have and I want to defend myself. It really depends on what kind of neighbors you have and neighborhood you live in. When we first got married we lived in a rental property around other rental properties in a not super nice area. We were trying to save money. Our neighbors were in and out constantly because of rentals. There was a HUD house next door with two different families in it. They were consistently a problem. I had one guy letting his dogs run in my yard and possibly poop there. When I said something to him about it, he cussed me out and insulted my appearance.

    We had suspected drug dealers living there once too. They had cars coming in and out all day long only staying for a short period of time of bunches of random people. It was suspicious. Not confronting a suspected drug dealer. They also liked to park illegally and block up the cul de sac unsafely. I just called the cops about it. I was not comfortable approaching them. The parking problem was ongoing. They knew it was wrong and I didn’t like it and they continued to do it. Some people are just jerks. I had another neighbor in that property let his dog scratch up my legs when it was off leash. When I asked them to pay my medical bills they didn’t and left in the middle of the night to avoid having to pay me.

    So yes, sometimes you have to get the authorities involved depending on what neighbors you have.

  59. Myriam June 9, 2011 at 7:48 pm #

    According to the post, the complaint was centred around the fact that no parents were present. Doesn’t say anything about noise etc. If people were concerned about noise, they should have spoken to the parents about it or called noise abatement officials. Perhaps Missy can clarify anyway.

    Me saying that sometimes people complain about children who are doing absolutely no harm in no way equates to an assertion that all children are angels.

  60. Selby June 9, 2011 at 8:24 pm #

    “I’ll bet when asked who made the call that you were refused an i.d…. That asshead has more rights then you as a parent does!”

    Terry, I totally agree. No more anonymous reports. If your concern or complaint is so strong that you feel you can skip speaking to the parents and jump right to the police or CPS – which as we’ve read here has the potential to ruin innocent people’s lives – then you better be ready to step up and stand by your report WITH YOUR NAME, present your argument, present your evidence and risk your own ruination. WITH YOUR NAME.

  61. pat kinney June 9, 2011 at 8:32 pm #

    facebook post today

    …Japan is one of the safest places for kids….and they play outside alone, walk to school alone….stay home alone while Mommy goes to the store…..

    Lived in Japan….now in NJ Japanese community….had column Neighbors from Japan in The Record

    Lets discuss this parenting/safety subject. I think we spoke in the past….

  62. crowjoy June 9, 2011 at 8:37 pm #

    Missy, you are entitled to a copy of the police report, and if a cop visited someone’s home, there is a report. That report will name which neighbor called. An open, friendly visit to that neighbor with report in hand, some free range statistics and the actual law might make that person think twice next time, maybe even become an ally rather than a foe.

  63. Ellen Castelbuono Vitale June 9, 2011 at 8:40 pm #

    Missy, I am so sorry this happened to you, and that the police officer was either misinformed or lying. If the officer had supported you, things might have been different.

    A few years back a nasty neighbor called the police and said my children were unattended on Mother’s Day. When the police officer drove up and found me in the front with my little ones playing in the backyard, he was totally on my side. I said to him, will you tell my neighbor that I am willing to let this go this time, but that if it happens again I will have to call my lawyer and take action against her for misusing public services, making malicious accusations, and that I will pursue the matter both criminally and civilly. He assured me that he would let her know. It never happened again.

    Now, it would seem to me that a police officer ought to know the law, and ought not be threatening citizens with laws that don’t exist. I would like to encourage you to report this problem with the officer to the supervisor and the captain. Write letters. If police officers get flack from parents, instead of fearful cooperation they are more likely to check on the law and change their ways.

    Good luck!

  64. Nanci June 9, 2011 at 9:07 pm #

    Last summer when my kids were 8 & 6 they were having a kool-aid stand. We went to my mom’s subdivision and they set up on a corner near a park. My mom and I went about a football fields length away to play on the tennis courts. To anyone going by it appeared that we were 2 separate parties, adults on a tennis court and kids on a corner selling kool-aid. I could see them from where I was. They were doing quite a business, car after car was stopping for a drink. Then a police car pulled up. I thought oh great we’re in trouble now. My mom and I continues to play and see how it would play out. Turns out the police officers just bought some kool-aid and went on! I ask my daughter later and she said they didn’t say a word about them being out there selling drinks alone. They even gave them a 5.00 bill and didn’t want change! Later another police car came by and bought some kool-aid also. The kids had a great time that day. They learned about business, talking and interacting with others, making change, and they earned almost 40.00 in less than 2 hours 🙂 I got the piece of mind of knowing that in our city in the mid-west there is still some sanity! I am so sorry to hear this kind of non-sense is going on in America. I hope it doesn’t start to creep across the country!

  65. Jessica June 9, 2011 at 9:08 pm #

    Wow, that leaves the term “supervised” with alot of holes in it.
    I’d do what others have suggested; call the police department and have them present the statute to actually read.
    Then, and I never suggest this usually, get a lawyer.

  66. Tuppence June 9, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

    Missy didn’t say anything specifically about the kids being noisy. Does she need to? Don’t we all know what it’s like when a bunch of kids are playing? They are usually noisy and it can be disruptive (depending on your state of mind, what you’re doing, etc). Or are these some special kids that just sit quietly playing tiddlywinks all day long, and when even that breaks out into a fight, calmly do some conflict management?

    Kids have a right to be loud, boisterous, even a bit naughty, because that what kids do. That’s what they need to do. And all societies MUST accept this. This much is true.

    But kids being kids are going to annoy the heck out of some folks. And unfortunately, nowadays, those people have much more power to “fight back” than they used to: They can blather on about kids not being supervised. And get the cops involved. They shouldn’t even be able to get out of the starting box with that OF COURSE. However, it doesn’t change the fact that kids can get on a lot of people’s nerves. Sometimes people with kids forget that not everyone finds them a joy. Kind of like people with dogs, I guess. It would be NEIGHBORLY to attempt to take that into consideration, should that be the case (and my guess is, someone was indeed annoyed).

    I should say I don’t think Missy HAS TO. And of course, she can only do so much, because kids will be kids. And, ultimately, in a situation/setting such as this one, people have to except that children playing is part and parcel of living in a neighborhood, and that “trumps” their right to peace and quiet. But it would be nice. And perhaps even more importantly, may mean she gets no more cops knocking on her door.

    Of course, this is all assuming that what that cop said in nonsense. If it isn’t, then there are bigger fish to fry.

    Dolly, I didn’t read what you wrote. Regarding calling the cops, I was referring to the neighbor in this story, not you.

  67. Donna June 9, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

    Dolly, I don’t deny that some kids can be brats, however, that was NOT the complaint. The officer said the complaint was of unsupervised children sledding. He said nothing about throwing things, going in people’s yard, breaking items, leaving toys all over the place or otherwise unruly children. If some bratty kid is throwing rocks at my property, I’m not going to call the police and report an unsupervised child and leave out the part about the rocks.

    As for noise, I’m only sympathetic to a point. Is the noise what is expected from children playing in the neighborhood? Is it at a reasonable hour for children to be out playing? If so, then you have to deal with it. Reasonable noise from neighbors is part of living in a neighborhood. The entire neighborhood doesn’t have to shut down because you work third shift or don’t like noise. If it ‘s extreme noise, talk to the children. If that doesn’t work, talk to the parents. If that doesn’t work, stronger measure may need to be taken. I think that should be the manner of handling every complaint against children before jumping automatically to the police.

    I would get the report from the visit to the friend. See what the actual complaints were. If the caller reported bratty activities by the children, talk to the children.

  68. Matt L. June 9, 2011 at 9:40 pm #

    Amy B, Lola and Dolly. YES! Not saying that in this case the kids were “at fault” but something we all need to consider as free rangers is our community. We are not at a point where we can expect to send our kids out and expect that the neighbors will see kids along and think “great look at those kids all alone.” We need to use those busybodies to help us out, engage them so that their call is to us rather than the cops when they see something out of place. I try to not deride the intrusiveness of the busybodies, sometimes their eyes and ears actually help keep kids safe. It is important for your kids to understand the rules of the neighborhood. what I have noticed is that in some areas this is not a concerted effort you have to make, in others, maybe where people aren’t lifelong residents, you do.

    If i see kids I don’t know doing something I don’t like, I might yell at them. If it is repeatedly I will not likely try to figure out who their parents are and dig through my available resources to contact them (or knock on the door, waaaay to confrontational for many). No, I will call the cops and let them figure it out. It is not wrong, lazy sure. I also wouldn’t trump it up too much but I can totally see how the complaint of “UNSUPERVISED VAGRANT CHILDREN” gets more attention than “neighborhood kids trampling my tulips”

  69. Matt L. June 9, 2011 at 9:50 pm #

    Part of the era we are all nostalgic for was when parents and other neighbors got together and were outside and had rapport. Tuppence, that is being neighborly and I would posit that if you want an unencumbered free range experience you do have to be neighborly. The adults,while they did not hover, were still a very large part of how that social contract worked and provided an invisible support network.

  70. Myriam June 9, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

    If someone has got a problem with noise and they choose to deal with it by making a trumped up complaint of unsupervised children that they know could get the parents in serious trouble, I would call that malicious and something warranting the strongest condemnation.
    I do agree that there is a problem with people not wanting to talk to parents directly because they feel, with some justification, that the parents will just defend the child or will take severe offence.

  71. Donna June 9, 2011 at 10:11 pm #

    Matt L. – And part of that era was also the fact that you talked to parents to see if you can resolve the issue BEFORE you call the police, something you clearly stated that you would NOT do. Calling the police on your neighbors is the absolute height of being unneighborly. I can’t think of anything at all that would actually be less neighborly then getting your neighbors arrested. In some instances, it may be necessary. However, kids tramping in your tulips should not be one of those instances.

  72. Laura June 9, 2011 at 10:23 pm #

    That would be another advantage to the neighborhood meeting and talking with people – if they know whose kids they are and know you welcome complaints if they are misbehaving, at least a subset of those who might call the police are more likely to just call you. It won’t feel as confrontational if they know you’re not one of those hovering parents whose kids can do no wrong in their eyes.

  73. Tuppence June 9, 2011 at 10:30 pm #

    It’s a good point, Matt L. It’s somehow all interconnected, isn’t it? As Lenore has pointed out, time and again. Sense of community is now often so sorely lacking. The disconnect is the bedrock of NON free-ranging. Because Lord knows I’M not responsible for something happening to YOUR child. I won’t be looking out for him, so you’d better have your eye on him ALL THE TIME. And, conversely, how DARE you tell MY child NOT to . . .

    And the knock-on effect of that is an attempt to replace that kind of “unofficial” oversight – at the grassroots, neighborhood level – with OFFICIAL oversight:
    Kid has been late to school many times, hmm, gotta consult the manual. Well according to this — RED FLAG! Procedure? Call CPS.

    Meaning, “Shoot first, ask questions later” has become the order of the day.

  74. Dolly June 9, 2011 at 10:34 pm #

    What Laura said. Very well put. I made it clear to my kids’ teacher that if she has any problems with them do not fear to tell me and punish them. She appreciated that I could tell. Many parents want to blame everything on anyone BUT their kids. I am not one of those parents.

  75. Sky June 9, 2011 at 10:55 pm #

    ] When did the statement “It takes a village to raise a child” become “It takes the government to raise YOUR child”?

    You don’t understand what politicians mean when they say things such as “It takes a village to raise a child.” The village is the government. YOU are the child.

  76. Matt L. June 9, 2011 at 11:19 pm #

    Donna, I think you missed my point. while not agreeing with the outcome, I totally see how it happens. I do not think it is realistic to expect neighbors to hunt down parents of kids who are out, it would be awesome and grand and very neighborly but I don’t see it happening in every situation. If it were, these stories wouldn’t happen. The flip side of not bing present is also being unknown to those “observing’. So there has to be a way of doing both…

    The order of the day currently is to call the cops, wrong or right that is what it is and if you don’t want that to happen it is your job to get out and try to forge relationships with your neighbors, give them someone to call because the default is 911. We need to understand how the world actually works if we want to mold it to our desired outcome.

  77. LRH June 9, 2011 at 11:25 pm #

    I am sorry if has taken me so long to chime in on this.

    Needless to say, the original poster’s situation is bull. I suspect the “law” is as well, much as police sometimes tell us photographers that there are laws against taking photos in public without the permission of the other parties etc, when that isn’t true at all, I suspect likewise is occurring here.

    We live in the woods, about 80 acres of it surrounds us, and my kids play outdoors in our own yard for periods of time, and they’re only 2 & 4 years old. As they get older, the plan is for them to be free to play in the “woods at large” which surrounds us.

    Anna Exactly right. Kids are SUPPOSED to be outside. When people like to say “have you seen Law & Order?,” my reply is “have you seen Sandlot?”

    gotplay You are so right there–the right for a parent to parent their kids THEIR WAY is a fundamental right. And yes selby, I agree–no more anonymous reporting. Own up with your name and real evidence that matters, else stay out of it. If you’re too scared, too bad–stay out of it.

    Ellen Castelbuono Vitale Good for you letting the snitch of a neighbor know that any further meddling in your parenting affairs would be met with a legal response.

    Donna is absolutely right. Calling the police on your neighbors in situations when you could handle it parent-to-parent is most certainly being a bad neighbor, and as that other one person said deserves the highest level of condemnation. The same goes for unruly children, and dogs too. Try handling it with the offender first, don’t go jumping to the police as as first-response. And yes, as Donna says, where it regards the noise of kids playing–it’s part of what a neighborhood is.

    I do want to stand up for the “Mr Wilsons” of the world a little, though. I’m referring to people like Mr Wilson from “Dennis the Menace.” Such people have every right to be left alone if that’s what they want. Respect it. Teach your kids “Mr Wilson is a tired man & can’t deal with kids in his yard, so stay out of his yard” etc. Discipline if your kids stomp on someone’s flowers, and also–anyone should be able to discipline another’s kids in such situations. If I’m, say, Mr Wilson, and kids are coming onto my place and causing damage/trouble etc, I should be free to discipline the kids MYSELF, and the parents should back me up rather than scream “don’t touch my kids!!” as they’re prone to doing nowadays often-times.

    But if the kids are running up & down the street, that’s kids being kids, on public streets. That’s what being a child is, and the Mr Wilsons of the world don’t have much of a legitimate complaint about that in most cases, unless they’re extremely noisy in how they’re doing it.

    I will side with Dolly regarding the dogs thing, too. I’m not a dog person. I can’t stand the noise of a dog barking, and on my own property believe I shouldn’t have to hear that racket trespassing onto my space that way. I shouldn’t have to tolerate your mutt trampling onto my space either. Where I come from, in fact, people will shoot & kill animals who trespass onto their space, and I think that’s appropriate (although not always legally recognized as such, depending on your local law enforcement’s interpretation of things) if you’ve told the dog owner first and they refuse to be responsible about it–which, unfortunately, is a rather common response I’ve found.

    In fact, sometime back, we had dogs trespassing onto our space, they were large-ish dogs that weren’t particularly friendly. I felt that they were a threat to my kids being able to play in our OWN YARD safely. I warned the owner NICELY, I was very diplomatic about it–they did nothing about it. The problem was only handled when I told them I would shoot & kill them if I saw them on my land again. (The local law authorities told me that was an appropriate response if they were dangerous.) I was even target-practicing so I’d be successful if it came down to it, I suppose they heard me target-practicing and deduced that I meant what I said. (I did.)

    So–in summary–the Mr Wilsons of the world who want to be left alone on their OWN PROPOERTY should be respected that way. Other neighbors who are ok with kids in their yard–take advantage of it, but in return it needs to be ok for the neighbors to discipline if your kids trample on their flowers etc. And neighbors who call the police over kids free-ranging responsibly–as Donna said, that’s just wrong. People should learn to handle problems between themselves rather than involving the police in everything.


  78. Claudia Conway June 9, 2011 at 11:47 pm #

    One massive problem I find with all this is that when you ask people ‘OK, when *should* we allow our kids outside?’, they often say preposterous things like, ‘Oh, about 13 or 14 maybe?’

    By which time, unsupervised children become ‘youths’ who are ‘loitering’ and apparently need shooing away by the police.

    So it’s a no-win situation for kids – society seems either scared for them or scared of them, with nothing in between and no sense of proportion.

  79. Matt L. June 9, 2011 at 11:47 pm #

    “People should learn to handle problems between themselves rather than involving the police in everything.”

    That is exactly why we need to give the neighbors someone to call. I doubt it is a common experience for people to do the legwork. Now, if you will all excuse me, I need to go ask some guy to turn down the music in his green suburban. My plates are rattling.

  80. LRH June 10, 2011 at 12:04 am #

    “I doubt it is a common experience for people to do the legwork.”

    Then tough luck on them. If you’re not willing to do the legwork, you have no right to complain. I could never be a police officer, because that’s exactly what I would tell people. I’d ask “did you let the person know yet that their music is too loud for you and is bothering you? No? Well do that first, until then, leave us (the police) out of it.”


  81. Matt L. June 10, 2011 at 12:17 am #

    Not sure that I understand how you expect things to change then…

    “Then tough luck on them”

  82. Jynet June 10, 2011 at 12:27 am #

    My city offers free hotdogs and burgers to any neighborhood that wants to have a block party. The neighbors all get together and bring drinks, salads, desserts, etc. and have a block party in the neighborhood park. We are even allowed to shut down streets.

    Guaranteed that once all the parents have met all the kids the result will be: 1. kids that are better behaved because they know all the adults in the neighborhood know who mom and dad are, and 2. more tollerant adults because they know the kids and who they belong to!

  83. LRH June 10, 2011 at 12:36 am #

    Matt L It’s easy–people need to quick defaulting to calling 911 or the police over silly things they could handle themselves. Obviously some things rise to a level that police are necessary, I sure wouldn’t tell someone who was a victim of a burglary to go “handle it themselves” by being a vigilante. But the situations as described in here are the sort of thing parents & neighbors ought to be able to handle themselves.

    Involving the police over such things is overkill, and creates an environment of tension where people are scared to let their kids just be kids because of snitches in the neighborhood who think 911 & the police are the response to every single petty thing. Me: if a child were to come in my yard my inclination would be to correct the child myself, and tell the parent–in a polite tone–what had occurred, and let them know also that if my children ever cause such problems feel free to let me know & I will correct my child thus.

    No police are necessary for such things. Yes if someone becomes difficult or threatening, by all means, involve them–otherwise, as Donna correctly states, calling the police on your neighbors over such matters is just bad form and wrong. It is more than just lazy, although it certainly is that as well.


  84. Tuppence June 10, 2011 at 12:43 am #

    Jynet — I love that your city does that! That’s a fantastic idea.

  85. Dolly June 10, 2011 at 12:48 am #

    Did you read my post earlier Larry where I said I called the cops instead of approach the suspected drug dealers about their cars parked illegally? So do you think I should have gone and talked to them first even if it got me shot? Because everyone knows you don’t go to a drug dealer’s home if they don’t know you. They might think you are a cop or with ATF and bullets might start firing. I am not putting myself in danger like that.

    Or what about the few times I did approach the neighbor first like the time the guy cussed me out and insulted my appearance? What freaking good did that do? It just made him more pissed at me and more likely to ignore my requests. Or when I approached the guys with the dog that scratched me and they pretended to not speak English. So then I talked to them in Spanish and they still acted like they didn’t understand me when I pretty much busted them. Then they left in the middle of the night rather than pay my medical bills?

    The fact is that some neighbors depending on where you live are scary and approaching them could get you hurt. I was very scared the guy that cussed me was close to striking me. I am a small girl with medical problems. One punch could end me depending on where it landed. I already have severe back problems. Last thing I need is to fall down on concrete when someone punches me. I am not taking that chance. If the neighbors looks questionable and unfriendly I am not approaching them ever again. I will go through the police. My health is worth it.

    If they do look normal and friendly, then I will approach them personally first. In the neighborhood we live in now, I think I could approach just about everyone minus a couple exceptions. My previous neighborhood, no way. Most everyone there was scary.

  86. Dolly June 10, 2011 at 12:50 am #

    That’s awesome Jynet!

  87. Tuppence June 10, 2011 at 12:58 am #

    Donna and Larry, why do you feel it’s always your job to “okay” what other people comment here? I mean all of us do that occasionally, but you two do that every time.

  88. Donna June 10, 2011 at 12:58 am #

    “Discipline if your kids stomp on someone’s flowers, and also–anyone should be able to discipline another’s kids in such situations.”

    I agree that I should discipline my kid for stomping on someone’s flowers. You can certainly ask my kid not to stomp on your flowers. You can yell at my kid for stomping on your flowers and insist that she get out of your yard. You can walk my child home and report the flower stomping to me. But you sure as hell can’t DISCIPLINE my child for stomping on your flowers unless we are friends and have that type of relationship.

    “I can’t stand the noise of a dog barking, and on my own property believe I shouldn’t have to hear that racket trespassing onto my space that way.”

    Sorry this is no different than children. There are certain hours that you shouldn’t have to hear dogs (or kids) carrying on non-stop, but if you are going to live around people, you have to accept that you are going to hear their dogs barking and kids playing during daytime hours.

  89. Donna June 10, 2011 at 1:01 am #

    Look Tuppence. You don’t like me. The feeling is mutual. I ignore your posts unless directed specifically at me. You can ignore mine. Or you can continue to be petty.

  90. Lola June 10, 2011 at 1:06 am #

    @Jynet: Wow! THAT’S a wonderful place to live! If any city in Spain were to do that, I guess we wouldn’t stop partying the whole year round (not that we don’t try anyway…).

  91. Tyler Proctor June 10, 2011 at 1:13 am #

    Remind the “kind officer” of the First Amendment which guarantees citizens the right to peaceably assemble. I am confident that the “nice officer” will not be eager to engage “more aggressive measures” if he realizes he is facing a civil rights suit!

  92. Tuppence June 10, 2011 at 1:13 am #

    You can say you don’t like me, but you can’t say I don’t like you. That’s only for me to say. But, as you like – I’ll ignore your posts. Haven’t made my mind up about being petty though. That may continue.

  93. Donna June 10, 2011 at 1:14 am #

    Matt L – I don’t know most of the parents of the few kids in my neighborhood. I’m not home that often. If an unaccompanied kid is doing something that I think should be interfered with, I’d try to stop the kid, walk him home and tell the parents. Just like the adults did in my neighborhood when I was a child. My neighborhood was HUGE growing up and we ranged all over it. My parents knew the people in our immediate area and the parents of my friends but certainly didn’t know all the people within the entire neighborhood. The neighborhood still managed to resolve flower stomping issues without resulting to police interference.

  94. Lola June 10, 2011 at 1:22 am #

    Anyway, it IS kind of sad that policework has changed so much… I thought it used to be locking the wrongdoers in, so that honest taxpayers could roam the streets, rather than the other way round.

  95. Jynet June 10, 2011 at 1:25 am #

    I have to admit that it is one of the better ideas our city council ever had 🙂 They stopped clearing the river for skating in the winter, which is a loss because that is where a lot of the city wide “getting to know other parents” went on, and there isn’t anything like that in the winter now.

    The lady organizing our neighborhood party came by last night which is why I was thinking about it.

    Sadly they feel the need to bring along a list of EVERY crime that was reported in our neighborhood in the last year as well to try to scare us into being “more vigilant”. I looked at the list – only half a page long – and realized that most of it was related to one night’s vandellism at the church and highschool for which they caught and prosecuted the teens involved…. and promptly disregarded the “danger” I was in, lol.

  96. Matt L. June 10, 2011 at 1:38 am #

    OK, for Donna and Larry who, bless their poor souls, I have horribly confused.


    I also accept that my free-ranging ways will confuse others with a different worldview so I will meet all the people I can in the areas I know my kids play in. This might work, they might call me if there is a problem. I do not fault them however if they don’t know who I am and my kids are misbehaving that they resort to calling the cops. Hello kids, teachable moment, if you are doing something wrong, asked to stop but do it any way – there are conscequences. If you don’t listen to Mr. Grump you will have to listen to Officer Grump and you might not get to play in that area any more…

    Please read (with comprehension) the entirety of the posts, I was saying that I understand how a non-free ranger would get to the point of calling the cops. Because I understand this, I can probably prevent it from getting out of hand. Although, this whole hullabaloo makes me wonder…

  97. Matt L. June 10, 2011 at 1:43 am #

    FYI, the nice “hoodlum” turned down his music, no police involvement was necessary.

  98. Martin June 10, 2011 at 2:33 am #

    I am new to this whole “free range” thing. While I won’t do some things like let my 11 month old stay in the car by himself (we live in florida) I would like to think that when he’s old enough I would let him play outside without me stalking him. Our neighbor is a cop and he and his wife have 5 kids. They play outside “unsupervised” all the time. It’s were kids should be. Once they understand the boundaries (stay out of so and so’s yard, don’t go past this driveway, whatever the parents decide) they should be allowed to play outside. I enjoy seeing kids playing outside even my neighbor’s kids in MY yard!

    Today I was shopping and trying some clothes on. My mom was watching my son so I could have some me time and while I was trying clothes on a woman started frantically calling her son’s name. He wasn’t responding. So the store went balistic. Everyone was searching for this 2 year old. The mom was completely freaking out. Well it turns out he was in the dressing room the whole time! He was afraid he’d get in trouble for getting lost. That’s why he didn’t respond. Now I have an issue with a few things. If the mom was so uptight shouldn’t she have kept a better eye on him? Or stayed home. But then I also heard a store clerk criticizing the mom for even bringing the child shopping! I am torn here.

    As for playing outside I feel that kids belong outside. As much as possible! While parents have different styles and comfort levels maybe communication would better serve the community rather than a call to the cops.

  99. gap.runner June 10, 2011 at 2:48 am #

    Today in Germany it was “Spieltag” or “play day” sponsored by Nickelodeon TV. We get Nickelodeon dubbed in German on our cable system. All of Nickelodeon’s programming was off the air until 6 pm. When you put on that channel, you just got the Nick and “Spieltag” logos. The idea was that kids were supposed to turn off the TV and go outside to play. Unfortunately, my son didn’t go outside to play today because it was raining heavily in my part of Germany. But it was great to see kids being told to go out and play by a TV station. The funny thing is that kids here don’t really need to be told to go out and play. They’re always out doing something: playing street hockey or soccer, riding their bikes, or jumping on a friend’s trampoline. Ninety-nine percent of the time they’re playing without adult supervision.

  100. Tuppence June 10, 2011 at 3:32 am #

    @gap.runner, they are very anti children watching television in Germany in general, so it is rather clever of Nickelodeon to do that. And good, of course.

    I mean, adults here will also generally not fess up to watching a lot of TV – although a walk through any neighborhood at night will tell a different story (you can see the TVs shining away through the windows). So don’t know if it’s all fabrication with the kids, too. But I don’t think it is.

    But if it were, it’d be more of a “throw the hands up and give in”, kind of thing, and not any kind of Good TV vs Bad TV thing. For sure they never bought into the TV-as-teaching-tool jazz. And a daycare putting in videos for children to watch would most definitely be met with outrage of the first order. I noticed the few ever times a child here talked about a television show, and it made me realize most of the children don’t do so.

    This is also great for the peer pressure aspect. Kids don’t feel left out because they’re not the only one not watching a show — most of the kids aren’t. Maybe this will change as my daughter gets older.

  101. EricS June 10, 2011 at 3:35 am #

    I’ve never heard of such a law. I have heard of a law leaving children under the age of 12 alone at home. But nothing about kids under 10 not being allowed to play outdoors by themselves.

    Chances are, the cop was probably one of those sympathizers for heli-parents, and was using his authority to instill fear in the rest of the neighborhood. If no law, screw him. If he charges you, take the police dept to court for unlawful charges. Make sure to take note of what you are being charged for first. I have a feeling it wouldn’t be for letting your kids play by themselves outdoors. If anything it would probably be “child endangerment” or “child abuse” which is a far cry from “child playing outside unattended”. 😉

  102. EricS June 10, 2011 at 4:11 am #

    @ Amy: not sure how old you are, but when I was growing up, almost anywhere I go to, parents never really made a point of getting to know each other and to give each other heads up that their kids go be outside playing on their own. We just did. We went to each others’ houses and were treated as part of the family. The only time parents talked to each other (if they had never met before), was when the kids stayed over each others houses, stayed for dinner, or went along on a camping trip with the other family. We’ve also never been scuttled indoors. On occasion we got the “I told you to get your butt in here for dinner! George, time for you to go home. Don’t make me call your mom!”. lol This was back in the 70s and early 80s. Back then other parents had no problem implementing the same discipline as they do on their kids with the rest of the neighbourhood kids (nothing physical). Just as long as discipline was implemented when it was necessary.

    @ Dolly: those are a far cry from kids playing outside. I’ve known neighbours call cops on kids because they were getting annoyed by the sound of them having fun. ie. laughing, screams of joy, yelling “your it, no your it, no your it…”. And then making up some lame excuse that they were throwing garbage on her lawn. Your right, though about calling cops for legit reasons. But in this case, I don’t think it was, other than a “holier than thou” attitude of the caller.

    @ Donna: “And part of that era was also the fact that you talked to parents to see if you can resolve the issue BEFORE you call the police, something you clearly stated that you would NOT do. Calling the police on your neighbors is the absolute height of being unneighborly…”
    Agreed. We don’t know the whole story. Why compound the issue involving authorities when we can easily find out what the deal is. If it is serious, by all means call the authorities. If it isn’t, you just save someone a whole lot of headache, by not being misinformed.

    @ Matt L.: “I do not think it is realistic to expect neighbors to hunt down parents of kids who are out, it would be awesome and grand and very neighborly but I don’t see it happening in every situation. If it were, these stories wouldn’t happen.” That’s how it was in my day as a kid. Calling cops was the last thing on anyone’s mind. Everything was settled personally first. The difference between now and then, is people have made the choice to give into paranoia, and believe every negative thing they hear. And some are even so opportunistic that they look for ways of suing people. This isn’t the reality of the world today. The reality has been shoved under the table. Now, it’s just about people clinging to the “old ways”, and people giving into the “new way of things”. By giving in, your tell others you support their paranoid ways. People are even to fearful to approach their neighbours. Fear is contagious.

  103. gap.runner June 10, 2011 at 4:22 am #

    @Tuppence, kids here watch TV and play with Nintendos and Play Stations. But they also spend a lot of time outdoors. The electronics are mainly rainy day diversions. My son’s kindergarten didn’t have a TV. There wasn’t any need for one because there was so much for the kids to do both inside and outside. They spent most of time playing outside except when it was raining heavily. When I asked my son’s kindergarten teachers how to increase his German vocabulary (we speak English at home), they all said, “Read, read, read” and play outside with his pals. His elementary school teachers said the same thing. When I told my son’s first grade teacher that he watched German TV, she said that it was better to read and play with other kids to learn new words.

    There is a little bit of a peer pressure aspect for TV programs. When the German national soccer team is playing, and the games are televised, everyone watches. Kids who go to school the next day and say that they missed the game are viewed as oddballs, especially the boys. But that seems to be the only time there’s real peer pressure to watch a TV program.

    I personally believe it’s more abusive to keep a kid indoors glued to the TV, computer, or Nintendo than to have him play outside unsupervised.

  104. LRH June 10, 2011 at 4:31 am #

    Tuppence I don’t think either I nor Donna consider it “our job” to “okay” what people are saying, we’re merely commenting.

    EricaS I agree with ALL of it. I appreciate Matt S clarifying his position, regardless–yes, don’t call the cops on people unless it’s really something serious. People have too much of an “itchy trigger finger” (or dialing finger) in terms of calling the police on everybody about everything.

    Donna I will admit, what you said (about dog barking being a normal daytime noise that’s part of life) is what I figured I’d hear from whoever evenutally, and while I disagree, I do understand. On one hand, to expect everyone around you to tip-toe like they’re in a library because you’re tempermental about one sounds, yes that’s ridiculous, but on the other hand that it’s daytime and that people are around you is not, to me anyway, a license for the whole world to sound so very noisy either. Either way I will admit, it is a bit tricky, to wit: what do we define as a “normal part of the environment” (which is unreasonable for one to expect to change to suit them) vs what is “noise” (which a person is correct in asking for a change in to protect the quiet of their environment)?

    In that sense, I consider children playing the former, dog barking the latter. Maybe that’s inconsistent, a form of “singling out” much as I often-times observe with cellular phone etiquette (that is, all the peer pressure for people to not use their cell phones in quiet situations, but talking aloud is okay, also how there are so many people screaming for cell phone usage while driving to be illegal, but no such calls are made for other forms of driving distractions). In my defense, though, there are a lot of other persons who also consider dog barking to be “noise” that they’re entitled to not have to suffer when they’re in the space of their own private property.

    Also, I figure chilren have more of a right to make noise than dogs do because, well, they’re human, and humans are more important than animals. So, my right to quiet trumps a dog’s “right” to bark, while my right to quiet doesn’t trump a kid’s right to enjoy their childhood, since children are also humans just like me. Dogs are even fitted with shock collars (or “smell” collars) or even surgically debarked if they’re enough of a bother, or a dog owner may be compelled to get rid of their dog on account of the noise disturbance to their neighbors–neither of which would (or should) be asked of a parent with respect to their children.

    Heck, in my time in AZ, that concept was taken rather far to include other things. There was actually the concept of “light pollution” or “light trespass,” so neighbors were compelled to have no lights-on in their yard at night-time because it lit up their neighbors’ yards and said neighbors wanted their yard free of the “light pollution.” It was so seriously observed that way, it was not uncommon to find street signs hard to see at night because nothing could be lit up. All of this was done NOT just because people wanted to be able to sleep without bright lights in their window, but they also wanted to be able to enjoy the “dignified night-time” environment of their yard outdoors without the neighbor’s lights taking away their dark “buffer zone” as it were.


  105. frootbat31 June 10, 2011 at 4:50 am #

    I wonder if they misinterpret the law. Here in Maryland you’re now allowed to leave a child under a certain age alone, but I don’t think it says anything about playtime outside. Maybe its what the cops see as the law..?

  106. Kymlee June 10, 2011 at 6:19 am #

    This is sad. I’ve had a couple encounters with the police regarding my son playing around the neighborhood. This is something kids should absolutely be able to do. But it seems like people think kids should be under the thumb of their parents at all times. In fact, this sort of free-range hating is what deteriorates community. It undermines the idea that community is supposed to be part of the familial support system, a support system that is essential to childhood development and keeps parents sane. There was a time when kids were “supervised” by the entire neighborhood. If a kid behaved badly, he could be certain to get a scolding from the neighbors and then another when the neighbors got in touch with his parents. This is what the “it takes a village” adage means.

  107. wellcraftedtoo June 10, 2011 at 7:22 am #

    I’m no longer the parent of kids of this age group, but if I were this is what I’d do.

    First, ask the police department for the name and number of the statute or ordinance. Find it online (many, if not most, communities now have their local laws online), and verify that it does, indeed, exist.

    Next, ring up or email your local ACLU office and ask them about it. Is it constitutional, in their opinion? You could also ask any number of attorneys working privately or in government positions.

    Finally, publicize it. Write a letter about it to your local paper. Discuss it at local PTA/PTO meetings. Organize a campaign to discuss it on a local level. Discuss it with your local committeemen, trustees, city manager, or ward reps–whatever your local gov is.

    Continue to publicize it online; this blog is a great start to that. Notify local and state news sources of your efforts.

    Question it. What purpose does it serve? What is the history of the stat/ordinance? Why was it put into place in the first place?

    Although juveniles have reduced rights in our society, they are not free of rights and protections. This law appears to me to be a significant infringement on a number of rights of both kids and their parents. Whether it is unconstitutional is another matter. It certainly sounds like an old, outmoded, seriously problematic piece of legislation.

    In short, organize a effort to publicize it, question it, and take steps to get the stat/ordinance repealed.

  108. Dolly June 10, 2011 at 7:25 am #

    I am not worried about my neighborhood when mine start roaming on their own or walking to and from school honestly. We have 3 police officers in our neighborhood. One lets his kids be free range. I see his kids outside playing all the time alone. One time his son wandered out of the house naked while the parents were “taking a nap in their bedroom with the door locked” as the boy put it. So yeah, I bet he would not give someone a hard time.

    The other officer I talk to a lot so he knows me and my kids. The other lives actually two doors down from me and he works third shift. I respect his sleeping needs by not letting my kids in his yard. Everyone in the neighborhood knows me and my boys. We are outside in the front yard or walking down the street all the time. We had a lemonade stand and people stopped. Everyone waves at us. So they will know who the kids belong to.

    I have to wonder do the parents EVER go outside with the kids? I am not saying they have to be out there all the time but do the parents never go out and have a picnic in the yard with the kids or bring them popsicles, etc? Do they never play catch? Do they never take a walk with them? You can be free range and still play with your kids and spend time with them outside enough that your neighbors will know who belongs to whom and where your house is I would think.

  109. Dolly June 10, 2011 at 7:28 am #

    Wanted to add we have free range kids in our neighborhood already. There is a dead end with some trailers and houses that all are family living in them. They let the kids run all over that dead end by themselves. They have to stay in that dead end area though but its a large area. They are out there all the time. Pretty much constantly. We go down there and play with them sometimes. They know us. I will have no problem sending or walking my kids down there and leaving them to play with those kids. They all look out for the kids and they actually have foster kids there.

    We also have kids who walk to school I have seen. I see them walking around or riding bikes. It is a very nice safe neighborhood. I know what kids belong to what house for the most part. I see them in the yard or can see the toys or swingsets or see the parents out there occasionally working the yard while the kids run around the vicinity and play. That is why I wondered do the parents EVER go outside? Even if they are not hovering they are still outside working on the cars or washing the car or watering the plants etc sometimes and that should be enough to get to know who belong to who.

  110. Jessica June 10, 2011 at 9:33 am #

    I said call lawyer in a reply above, I should clarify in saying that I’d do so to rattle the drum a bit so that they, if they are to hit people on the head with the law, knows the said law more than just casually saying that well, I don’t know where it says exactly but its in there!! I don’t include sueing in calling a lawyer, just to get the city officials on their toes.

    That way you can just go around and make stuff up, just as long as you wear a uniform and/or is in a position of authority.

  111. J.D. St. Michaels June 10, 2011 at 11:01 am #

    Indeed. Less bizarre and utterly ridiculous remedial measures, more education and preventative efforts.

  112. Scott June 10, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

    Just for the record, I don’t agree with the actions of the police in this regard, but to the person who suggested the parent “demand to see the law”, are you kidding me? The police are not required to show you any law on the books because you “demand” to see it and why you’d assume they should baffles me. You’re free to familiarize yourself with your state laws from a variety of sources but to expect the police to show them to you on demand would make an already difficult job even harder than it is already.

  113. Cheryl W June 10, 2011 at 11:49 pm #

    So does this only happen in city/town environments? Just wondering because I live in a more country area on 3 acres and I routinely have to leave my kids (6-11) to do things like mow, feed animals, weed garden, take care of trees and such. Sometimes they are inside while I am out, sometimes they are outside while I am in. Often times we are not within hearing of each other. I had my husband make a dinner triangle so I could ring it and get the kids in instead of yelling. I do have neighbors, some are closer to the house than the end of the property, so I dislike the yelling. (Not sure what they think about the bell.)

  114. Lisa H. June 11, 2011 at 12:12 am #

    I am really struggling with the demographics in which we live because though it’s a VERY safe neighborhood, parents here are generally on the extreme end of being over-protective. I lived in the “country” with a cliff in my backyard. As a kid, we’d follow the path that ran along the edge of the cliff down to a creek, where we’d do everything from catch crayfish, salamanders and even snakes, to swim in the deepers polls of water. WITHOUT OUT PARENTS!!! Prior to living there I lived on a property that abutted swampland and vast acreage of fields. I’d go wandering around for HOURS by myself (there were few kids nearby) during the summer and winter. ALso, in the winter I’d shovel the snow off of the frozen swamp-waters and ice skate by myself. There was an old chicken coop behind my neighbor’s house, which I asked permission to use as my own. I “built” a little fenced-in portion for my dog, dragged some old cushions from home to use as a seat, and I’d disappear there for hours, often bringing a book with me. I spent a lot of time alone and was a very self-sufficient kid. In some ways, I was a bit too self-sufficient and isolated from other kids, but it served me very well as an adult.

    I am a mother of an eight year-old and we live in the suburbs. In a cul-de-sac nonetheless. It wasn’t until about eight months ago when I started to let her out of the house to play without me. At that time, I became ostracized by my neighbors because, in their eyes, I had become a neglectful mom. One neighbor’s daughter, who is ten, is not allowed outside by herself AT ALL. Her dad is a cop and is the most over-protective parent I’ve ever known. There is a park not even 100 yards from the cul-de-sac, and yet if the kids want to play there, the parents follow. I have a very clear view of the park from out house and can hear every sound. There are lots of trees around, which my daughter climbs without hesitation. Lots of other parents yell at their kids not to climb trees. So, of course, I’m a horrible mom to allow my daughter to be put in harm’s way. Also, I really can’t stand a lot of my neighbors. WHile they are out there “supervising” their kids, they gossip endlessly about our other neighbors. It’s awful and makes me sick. I would move in a heartbeat if we could afford it, but right now we are not in a position to relocate.

    It’s not easy for me to know that I am being judged by my neighbors, but I believe that I am doing the right thing. I want my daughter to be comfortable in her own skin and letting her outside on her own, I believe, will benefit her. I only wish we had wide-open spaces like when I was a kid because the best childhood memories I had as a kid involved just wandering around in the woods, playing in the creek, and climbing every single tree I could find.

  115. Cin June 11, 2011 at 1:48 am #

    Actually, Scott, in most places a police officer is required to quote you the statute under which he is investigating — and you have the right to read it or have it read to you.

    In my experience, many officers do not know the law, and are going on something an older officer told the,m, or past laws. A good example — I am a Canuck, and in the late 90s was working in an office where one of the employees kept getting threatening phone calls from a member of the public. After awhile, we called the RCMP, who told her there was nothing they could do unless he showed up at the office, her home, etc and hurt her.

    This was BS, and I called them on it — Canada had recently passed a “stalker law” aka criminal harassment. I rpinted off a copy of the statute while the cops were still there blowing her off — gave it to them and said, “You have a duty to follow this law and investigate it. If you won’t give methe name of your supervisor.”

    They ended up charging the man. I was a 21-year-old intern.

  116. Michelle Potter June 11, 2011 at 3:32 am #

    This is in response to Dolly, who was concerned that the complaints may actually be in response to problems caused by the unsupervised children. I used to think much the same as you. I assumed that the other adults in my neighborhood were, by default, sane rational people, and I didn’t want to be the mom who insisted that my perfect little angels could never do anything wrong, so I automatically took the adult’s side in any complaints against my children.

    Then came the day when one of my elderly neighbors rang my bell and proceeded to ream me out, claiming that my children were setting off her home burglar alarm by — according to her own story — riding their bikes on the sidewalk past her house. I even tried to apologize and promise to keep my children away from her house, but she insisted this wasn’t good enough, that children should never be allowed outside unsupervised. My sons were 11, 8, and 6 at the time.

    This neighbor has yelled at my children for:

    * Sitting in the grass in our own front yard. (Bad for the grass, you see!)
    * Playing outside while other children were in school. (We homeschool. She claimed that it was illegal for my kids to be outside, but our county has no daytime curfew law.)
    * Knocking on their friend’s front door. (One of their good friends lives across the street from this woman. When my kids went to knock on their friend’s door, she came out and yelled at them to “leave those people alone!”)
    * Waiting on the porch of another friend’s house, while the friend was putting on shoes to come out and play. (Again my kids were told to “leave those people alone!”)

    I am not exaggerating — she LITERALLY told my children that they were not allowed to be outside, to sit in the grass, or to visit their friends. She didn’t even claim that they were causing any other kind of trouble. The last time, she told my children that they are not allowed to come down the street where she lives at all. Difficult to accomplish, since we live on the same street, as do most of my kids’ friends.

  117. Dolly June 11, 2011 at 8:00 am #

    Michelle: No doubt, you are going to run into crazies now and again. You can usually see them coming a mile away. Since the letter writer did not have any idea who made the complaint my guess is that it may not be a total crazy but someone who has a legitimate complaint. The idea should at least be entertained and discussed that the complainer may have a real complaint. Just like we had a real complaint when the kids were throwing bottles at cars. The officer probably addressed the vandalism bottle throwing but also probably addressed the lack of supervision too. After all if their parent was paying any amount of attention to them, it would not have happened. Not saying the parent had to be right next to them but it was going on for awhile and there was no parent peeking out windows at them or checking on them or anything or they would have stopped it.

  118. FrancesfromCanada June 11, 2011 at 1:42 pm #

    Did anyone but me notice that the Maryland law (or guidelines, or policy, or whatever that document is) says it’s not okay to leave a child OVER 12 alone overnight? No upper age limit that I could see.

    So, folks, no more weekends in Vegas unless you get the grandparents to come look after your 17 year old!

    What is up with calling the cops, or social services, on your neighbors? What happened to walking down the street and knocking on a door? We’re talking about kids here, not walking into a drunken party.

    “Course, I might think twice about complaining face-to-face if I thought all my neighbors were armed.

  119. Tuppence June 11, 2011 at 4:06 pm #

    Yeah, okay Larry. And I suppose it mostly is also just good fun to challenge one another. Only, I sometimes wonder if the, what could be perceived as – bellicose – atmosphere here puts some let’s say, more mild-mannered, free-range/free-range leaning types off from commenting, while conversely attracting those who aren’t really down with the concept, but really do love a good fight. But maybe I’m off base with this.

  120. Donna June 11, 2011 at 8:18 pm #

    Dolly, Why would you assume there was a legitimate complaint? Absolutely nothing was given to tell us that there was a legitimate complaint. The police officer said that someone complained of kids alone. He didn’t say the complaint involved being too loud, traipsing through yards or doing anything else. Police are not going to get a complaint of noisy kids and come out to the house and not bother to mention the fact that the complainer said that the kids were too noisy. He may still try to pull the under-10-can’t-be-out-alone stuff but he’ll at least mention that the kids were doing something wrong as well, if for no reason than to emphasis his point that kids under a certain age should not be unattended because they misbehave.

  121. Dolly June 11, 2011 at 9:37 pm #

    Donna: Because for one thing there are always two sides to every story. Maybe it was not something technically illegal like stomping on her flowers so the person thought they would get more done by just saying the kids were unsupervised? I am not saying the kids were being bad. I pointed out numerous times you can get people who just hate kids or hate you and want to hurt you. But, just as often you get people with legitimate complaints. We don’t know which one it is because we don’t live in that neighborhood.

    That is why I suggested she get to know ALL her neighbors not just the ones with kids and heck even the ones with kids could be the ones that complained because maybe her kids were bullying their kids or something? You see, there are all kinds of possibilities but in most cases, people don’t call the cops for no reason or just because kids are out happily playing not bothering anyone.

  122. Donna June 12, 2011 at 10:33 am #

    You are correct; people don’t call the cops for no reason. However, many, many people call the cops for no GOOD reason. Unfortunately, kids playing happily not bothering anyone UNSUPERVISED is a reason for some people to call the police today. So, if all the complainant truly said was “unsupervised kids” (and that we don’t know), I don’t think the complainees need to assume there was more to it and play detective to try to figure out what.

    I do agree that people need to get to know their neighbors, though, which may stop cop calling for any reason, good or bad. And, before you go out stomping someone’s flowers; that is actually a crime. 🙂

  123. Random Gaelicstorm fan June 12, 2011 at 5:12 pm #

    The idea that it is illegal for a 10yo kid and x amount to play is ridiculous. I personally as a minor under the law I see and hear stuff that me think WTF was the goverment was thinking this rather on the list but still

  124. Sockitmama June 13, 2011 at 4:29 am #

    I appreciate reading other people’s opinions on the subject, however, even though I may disagree. I think it odd that the cops were called, but I don’t like seeing little kids (the under 10 crowd) roaming through my neighborhood unsupervised and I live in a nice, gated community.

    I have never roamed “free range.” I played outside all of my childhood. I rode my bike up and down the street and around the block. We played kick ball and soccer in our friend’s yards who lived 10 doors up. We went to the corner store and got candy by ourselves. But, my African American grandmother (blind) and great aunts were sitting right there on the porch together with a glass of iced tea or lemonade listening to our every move, though always trying to give the impression they weren’t. My grandmother always had her “ears” on us. Before we rounded the corner to go to the store, the owner had an eye out for us because she knew we were coming: they had called. We had to pass the piano teacher’s house (Mrs. Porter), who watched us from her kitchen window and we waved. We had to pass a teacher’s assistant house who always kept her door open when she got home from school, she could see us through the screendoor. It took a village to raise a child and it was a village: even in the inner city before we moved to the suburbs.

    I grew up during a turbulent time in America in a city going through a major cultural and economic transition. But, we managed to live an outdoor lifestyle thanks to the women that protected us. If a strange person so much as walked up our block, you’d see mothers coming out on their porches to check the situation out. Today, kids don’t have that type of protection because many mothers have to work to make ends meet.

    My children have a very active lifestyle. They also have Special Needs. Self-sufficiency and independence are very, very important to us, but I believe you can teach your kids to achieve these things without them roaming free, unchecked, unsupervised at too young of an age.

    I’m very happy to have found your blog because I like most of what I’ve read.

    Thank you.

  125. Dolly June 13, 2011 at 5:30 am #

    Sockitmama: That sounds perfectly fine what you wrote. There is nothing wrong with parents sitting outside and keeping an eye on the kids. Same with neighbors. I am not speaking for Lenore, but I think what you described sounds very free range actually. You were allowed to ride bikes out of your own driveway. Your guardians gave you space to play independently. You were allowed to go to the store alone. The community worked together. That is all great things.

    I also get a bit unsure about “free range” when I feel sometimes if you so much as sit outside while your kids play you are considered helicoptering. Maybe that is weird of me but if you read all the comments on this blog and I have been for a couple weeks, some people act like if they monitor their kids AT ALL, they are not being free range.

    I will let my kids walk down to our corner store by themselves maybe upper elementary age and let them walk to school on their own maybe second gradeish or whenever I think they can handle it. But I will still monitor them. I will always monitor them. That is my job. If they start trouble, I need to know about it. I need to make sure they are not abusing their freedom. I also need to be there if something bad should happen to where I at least know where they were abouts. Being clueless about what your kids are doing is not free range. That is just lax parenting.

  126. Library Diva June 13, 2011 at 6:53 am #

    Just wanted to say that maybe Missy still has a chance to make her neighborhood a friendlier place. It’s a shame that person had to call the cops, but if she could find out who called, she could maybe talk it out with them and find out why. As some have suggested, there could be another side to this: the neighbor could be on third shift, could be undergoing debilitating cancer treatments and need it quiet. Or they could be genuinely concerned, and it would give you an opportunity to show them some crime stats, let them know how strongly you value independent play, assure them that your door is open too, and you want to know if the kids are doing anything genuinely dangerous or if they’re causing trouble. And if the neighbor turns out to be just a jerk, well, sadly that’s a life lesson for the kids too and maybe they should just be told not to play near that particular house.

    I agree with Dolly that some people force you into escalating it through unreasonable behavior, and others are no one you’d want to mess with or know in any way. A bunch like that just moved out next door to me, in fact. But I still think that in most cases, unless confronting them obviously presents more danger or it’s a very serious situation, the cops should be your last resort, not your first.

  127. chris k. June 14, 2011 at 12:17 am #

    As mother of a 3 yr. old I am appalled by how many negligent moms are openly admitting right here for the whole world to read that they let their young kids play unsupervised outside. Sorry mom, get on the job. If you wanted a life for yourself you should’ve stayed single. You have kids, love them, spend time with them and don’t let them out of your sight!!! 13 & under should not be all over the neighborhood alone, even if they’re going “up the street” to their friends house, or in the field next door or whatever. Even in groups young kids are just that – kids. They need adult supervision. Get off your rear, mom, and show your child how much you treasure them by playing with them. Get involved in everything. Go out and play with them and their friends, go and play with them in the field/park, go bike riding with them. Play can be fun for adults too. So glad i’m young at heart.

  128. chris k. June 14, 2011 at 12:22 am #

    Wanted to add that just yesterday in my neighborhood i watched as an unsupervised group of 4 kids in my neighborhood attempted to gain entry to the empty house for sale across from mine. Oldest in group is like 8, youngest probably 6 or 7. No supervision, 4 kids. This is what unsupervised kids do. Had they gotten in heck yes i would’ve called the cops. I know these kids, i know their parents, too. Going to the parents would not teach them a lesson. Calling the cops would. 2 months ago called cops on the 2 older ones whose parents bought them dirt bikes – which they proceeded to ride around and around our block, not off road as they should. They lost those bikes to the impound, thank goodness.

  129. Cheryl W June 14, 2011 at 12:44 am #

    Chris K, you still have a lot to learn, because your child is only 3. Tell, me, do you have your child beside you all the time? While you do the dishes, does your child stick to your side, or does it play in the other room? If you say by your side, it that every time? Really, you never let your child out of your sight? Or do you just play all the time. Do you have help to do your laundry, clean house, cook, cut the lawn and all that? Because I don’t. I don’t want a yard and house that is a mess, and I want to cook from scratch. My kids can learn with me, but they don’t have to be beside me all the time.

    My children actually learn a LOT, just being by themselves for a while. Sitting in their room and playing, or sitting on the lawn looking at ants, flowers, under rocks….and sitting in the lawn while I do the dishes should not warrant a visit from the police. Which is what happened to the original poster.

    Yes, I DO lots of stuff with my kids. We home school. We ride bikes, we hike, we draw, we garden, we raise ducks and are planning to show them at the fair.

    But, I don’t do EVERYTHING with them. Sometimes they need to be with their friends. They can do that (at 6-11) without me being beside them for every second. MY kids have rules. The kids who are in your neighborhood – they don’t sound like they have rules. That is not Free Range. Free Range is having kids who respect the rules and parents can trust them to do so. Kids who can stand up to their friends and say “No, I will get in trouble.”

    At three, my daughter I would let play in the back yard alone, where I could see, or while I was hanging clothes. My oldest son, no he was not ready. Youngest son, at three, he was ready. Your kid, you need to decide. But don’t tell me how to parent my kid whom you don’t know. You are making false assumptions about all kids based on a few from your neighborhood.

  130. Cheryl W June 14, 2011 at 5:28 am #

    Oh, and Chris K, when do the kids learn how to entertain themselves, and not be entertained by someone else all the time? If I don’t let them out of my sight, then they will come to expect me to direct play. To tell them what to do. They never learn how to just be happy by themselves and do things alone.

    And that is a bad thing and that has wrecked more marriages than I can tell. The fact that one person expects the other to make them happy and entertain them, when in fact that has to come from within. It is not my job do for them, it is to teach them how to do for themselves. Part of teaching is allowing them to do it on their own.

  131. Beth June 14, 2011 at 9:24 pm #

    Chris, it might have been nice if you could have tried to make your point without calling us “negligent” and telling us to “get off your rear.” If you don’t like what you read on this site, then there are thousands more available to you.

  132. Karin June 14, 2011 at 10:15 pm #

    Here here beth!! Chris – there is a word for people who go to message boards just to call people rude and nasty names. They are called trolls. I think you should be watching your 3 year old instead of trolling this board.

    My BF out parents you any day of the week. He spends more time with his kids in 7 days than you ever could in 14 (he only has custody 1/2 the time). He adjusts his work schedule to be with the kids. By the time most people are getting home from work and getting dinner on the table he has played baseball/soccer/kickball in the park with them for 3 hours. Then they do homework together. Then they have dinner together. Then they go to soccer together (where applicable). But the kids have these little things called “friends”, whom they sometimes wish to spend time with without daddy. And because these are “children” and not “pets”, BF must let them go out into that dreaded suburbia and play like 8 year olds play. No matter what you think, grown ups aren’t interested in ALL the same things 8 year olds are!! Their humor is dull most of the time. Right now they think it’s HILARIOUS to say “g-string” 1,000 times in 10 minutes. We find it unfunny but their little friends piss themselves laughing too. So BF sends them off to enjoy their 8 year old humor together. SCANDAL!!!

  133. pentamom June 15, 2011 at 6:36 am #

    “This is what unsupervised kids do. ”

    This is what unsupervised kids who haven’t been taught to supervise themselves, do. That comes from things like never letting them out of your sight until they’re much too old to begin to learn to be responsible for themselves.

    A 12 year old can’t go play a few houses up the street or in the field next door without supervision? Seriously? I’d be interested in how you expect a child to learn to look out for himself and develop responsibility and a conscience under those conditions.

  134. bbbbarry June 15, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

    Has anything ever been done to set up a legal defense fund or legal action fund for just such situations as this? You could have people donate to it easily through PayPal and go from there….

  135. Mildred June 16, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    I think Chris has a valuable point. I personally think that at 3 years old, they should be spending the majority of their time with their parents. It’s called attachment parenting and it teaches them A LOT and creates a secure bond that lasts while they are growing up and becoming self sufficient. I raised 10 kids and we spent A LOT of time with them while they were little. We did everything as a family. We worked, played, and served oters together. We loved being with our kids! As they grew we continued to spend tons of time together. But part of what we did was show them firsthand how to be a responsible adult. Sure they can figure it out on their own. But having an example to follow is so much easier. And yes, my kids rode bikes, and went places (using the buddy system) as teenagers. But I don’t remember letting them out to wander much before that. Definitely not at 6 or 7. Even as teenagers, they weren’t allowed to just wander aimlessly about. We had things to do as a family and we had too much fun together for that. 🙂 We made friends with other families and hung out together. And yes, they all grew into responsible adults who could figure out how to get places on their own and utilize others for help and make good choices. But I have to say, that comparing our kids with other families who allowed their children to wander the neighborhood unsupervised all day until dark, our kids ended up more responsible and definitely had a stronger sense of right versus wrong. They are all happily married, finacially independent, homeowners raising beautiful families of their own now and I don’t regret one thing in how we raised them. I know we gave of ourselves to our children during that time of childhood that is so precious and goes by so fast. There’s plenty of time to learn to be self sufficient in the world. (The perfect time for those lessons are during the teenage years.) Just my 2 cents from an old timer. 😉

  136. Uly June 17, 2011 at 12:12 am #

    Chris, we have minimally supervised kids on my block too. But we don’t call the cops on them. If any of us were to see a kid trying to get into an empty house, we’d ACT LIKE GROWN-UPS and tell them to go bug somebody else. That’s being responsible – not fobbing it off on the police.

    And being responsible for your child means, as she or he gets older (and trust us now when we tell you never to say never. You have NO idea what you’ll think is okay in six years time), to teach him/her to be responsible. It means giving periods of time where the kid has to figure out problems without your input, and make moral decisions without being able to turn to you, and work on things without being chained to your side.

    Because you’re not raising a child, you know that, right? You’re raising a future adult. Time was when kids were adult at puberty – witness B’nai Mitzvah, confirmation, baptism at 13, apprentices. People that age captained ships, ran shops, studied law. And they weren’t ready to do this just because of a magical clock ticking, they were ready because they had already practiced being more mature by going out and doing things on their own when they were children – playing, running errands, watching other kids.

    Humans haven’t changed. Your kid may well grow up to surprise you.

  137. Elaine June 20, 2011 at 5:10 am #

    This reminds me of the day last fall when I dropped my 9-year-old daughter off at the library to participate in Battle of the Books. She was early so she went down from the conference room to check out the new books display. A librarian told her in no uncertain terms that it was illegal for her to be at the library by herself. Good grief!! Some of my best childhood memories are from afternoons at my county library, discovering wonderful stories.

  138. LRH June 21, 2011 at 8:20 am #

    I just noticed the comments of chris k nearly a week late, so although I’m posting my thoughts–which should be obvious by now, but anyway–I doubt anyone will see them, but I will do so anyway.

    So, chris K–how about this? As far as the kids you see playing unsupervised, here’s a novel thought–it’s NONE of your business, so stay the hell out of it. They aren’t your kids, the parents don’t answer to you for how they parent their kids, and for you to even suggest that you’d call the cops on them because the parents wouldn’t “learn a lesson” makes you downright evil, and deserving of any bad thing which happens to you, frankly.

    I let my kids, who are only 2 & 4, play outdoors for an hour or so almost daily-in a fenced-in area, and we’re in the woods not in-town, but still–that’s how I chose to parent. I don’t feel the need, nor should I, to ask you or anyone else permission and approval. Close family & friends, sure, they’re welcome to give me suggestions and their opinion, but even they know better than to try & go beyond that to the point of being preachy or meddling. Such persons are given the boot immediately, as well they should.

    Your idea of parenting “never let them out of your sight” is not how parenting needs to be, it’s how you THINK it needs to be. Maybe you don’t think other parents should be doing differently than what you think is right. News flash–you aren’t the one making the decisions, nor should you be. You parent your kids your way, and no matter how much I disagree or someone else disagrees with how you do your parenting, unless it entails drug addictions, beatings, or molesting etc, we will nonetheless leave you to parent YOUR kids YOUR way because YOU and not we are the parent.

    You owe the others around you the same respect and courtesy. Butt out.


  139. Uly June 22, 2011 at 2:36 am #

    Actually, LRH, although I think it’s the wrong approach to take, there’s nothing morally wrong in calling the police to report that somebody is breaking into an empty house. Or a not empty house. Any house at all. That’s the specific incident Chris was referring to, not just the fact that the kids were unattended. (If their parents were with them as this happened, that really WOULD be bad parenting!)

    I agree that calling the cops on some kids is over the top (I’ve found calling out “Guys? What’re you doing over there?” works just as well and doesn’t mark me as the neighborhood kook), but at least it’s not as absurd as calling because they’re out and about, as you interpreted it.

  140. Otto June 22, 2011 at 3:11 am #

    The original story at http://adventuremobile.blogspot.com/2011/06/my-kids-outlaws.html says that there is no such law, just that that is what the cop said.

    Here’s the thing: Cops will tell you all sorts of BS nonsense about what the laws are, simply because they assume you’ll believe anything they say. If you disagree, then you should call them on it. Say “okay then, arrest me, because I am not going to obey that law, and I will fight it out in court”. Then watch the police officer either back down, or you have your day in court and get a judge to back you up, then sue the crap out of the city for wrongful arrest.

    The only way to change that sort of nonsense is to fight it. Of course, you also have to have the will to fight it. Sometimes it’s easier to just agree, wait for the cop to go away, then ignore whatever it was he said. Unless he actually decides to do something about enforcing his made-up law, then it doesn’t really matter what he says to anybody, does it? The police are just people, they have no power except that which you and the law actually gives them, and if they exceed those boundaries, they can be held accountable for it.

    Know the law and don’t be afraid to actually tell the letter of the law to a policeman when necessary. Tell them to check on that law. Tell them to prove it to you. Tell them to enforce that law if they are so sure about it. Especially when such a law obviously does not exist.

  141. Roberta June 25, 2011 at 9:41 pm #

    I try to encourage my kids to play outside, but they are too creeped out by adults who harass them when they are minding their own business. I’ve had someone threaten to call the cops or CPS if they encounter my “under age” (i.e., 12 years old) child running around by himself on a lawn in front of a church. I have been told that children in church are not even safe to use the bathroom without parents within arms reach. At the playground my 12 year old is shoo-ed away by parents who think he is too old to interact with their tots. Some neighbors have been disturbed at seeing my 3 kids (ages 4, 8, and 12), walking hand in hand around the block. And I’ve had my 7 year old escorted to me in the library because he was looking at juvenile chapter books that were “not age appropriate”.

    So I have to caution them: go outside and play, but stay away from churches, playgrounds, libraries, and adults of any description. What’s left? go play on the train tracks, in the urban wild along the river, or in the “pit” behind the train station?

    I have tried to persuade people to allow children access to the world so they can learn how to navigate on their own, naturally and safely. But I don’t know how to make that argument – people just aren’t ready to see reason. Which is why I thank you again, Lenore, for making a space for this point of view.

  142. Michelle Potter June 26, 2011 at 8:46 am #


    That’s awful! Especially the part about adults being freaked out that kids of different ages are playing together. A neighbor of mine told me that my 13yo daughter was “emotionally stunted” because she plays with two neighborhood girls who are 7 and 10. My daughter is homeschooled, and the neighbor told me I need to send her to public school so she can “grow up” and play with kids her own age. I guess she’d be very disturbed to find out that my daughter actually has friends as young as 2, and as old as 82, and every age in between. She even — shock, gasp, horror! — plays with her brothers and sisters!!

    It’s also very disturbing that the adults of your community think church is not a safe place for a child. There is a church right by our house, and my kids asked the pastor for permission to play at the church playground (so as to not be trespassing, since we aren’t members there). They were given permission to come play at the church whenever they want, including borrowing from the church library and hanging out with the pastors and others.

  143. Dayzee June 28, 2011 at 2:22 am #

    I actually had CPS called on me for this exact law because my 5 year old son was playing in front of our house with his 12 year old brother, 9 year old sister, and 7 year old friend. CPS did an investigation and said that I must physically outside with my son in order for him to be allowed to be out there. That watching him from the window where I honestly have a better view of him then from the front steps is unacceptable. The saddest thing is that I could have lost custody of all 4 of my kids had I been found “in neglect” for the simple fact that I of course thought it was okay that my kids play in front of our quiet, suburban house. This law has and will continue to ruin people’s lives and needs to be revised. My 5 year old son is now stuck in the house for the majority of the summer because I can’t be out there at all times to watch him because of his younger sister. Instead of making people’s lives better, safer, or happier, they are making them quite the opposite. BTW I also found out from CPS at the same time that you better not let your kids ride their bikes in the street either (even if you live in a quiet court and are with them like I do) because that is against the law and considered neglect.

  144. chelsea July 2, 2011 at 11:06 pm #

    I just had a visit from DCFS about the same thing however I am outside with my children but doing yard work. Someone called DCFS and told them that my children were down the street unsupervised. They were riding their bikes in front of the house to the corner and back. I was in the garden and now I am being threatened with neglect. If they find me guilty which I dont know how they could, I will lose my job as I work with children who have developmental disabilities. I am the main source of income for our family. My children are 4 and 6. I know who called and she feels because I work 3rd shift I couldn’t possibly be capable of watching my children during the day. I come home at 7 am sleep for a few hours until my husband goes to work then I sleep again at 7:30 at night till about 10:45 when I leave for work. Because of this I couldnt possibly be watching my children and therefor am neglectful in her eyes. However she is not there, nor has she seen my children running around outside without me.

  145. Duncan September 4, 2011 at 1:39 am #

    i live in scotland, uk.The street i live in has children as young as three years old playing on the road for long periods of time unsupervised .I was wondering it any of these kids were knocked down by a car would the parents accept any blame.I have two children who are much older now but when growing up were told that cars used the road and not every car driver paid attention all the time so stay off the road as much as possible.

  146. Katie October 23, 2011 at 5:30 pm #

    As tough as this law may seam i think it is there for the childrens security because these days everything is revolved around childrens needs and what should be exepected from parents. Some parents, not all, but a good fair few actually let their kids run riot out and then these children dont turn out to be respected young teenagers and adults in the end that the community needs. I think the law has enforced this to at least teach some form of disipline, and that if the parents cant do it, their children will be taken away from them.
    Im not saying that children should be barricuded in their homes, but a back garden seams far more safer than children roaming at around the streets. Plus as unresonable as it seamed to be, that a young mother was told it was wrong for her to watch her children out of a window playing, but how quick do you think it would take for her to run and get out of the front door in time to stop a stranger trying to tempt her children with sweets or something, than if she were outside, and could spot danger before it came up to her children.

    I think, as much as parents want to let their children have freedom they have to think of the safety of their children also. There are too many evil people out in our society.

    I was told years and years ago and im going way back now, you could leave your back door open and no one would dream of going in to your home, the world these days is not as it once was. Safety has to come first.

    I remember being told by my Mother that as a child i wasnt allowed to ride completely out of our close, that i could go up to a certain point but was never allowed over it, not unless i had my Dad or an adult with me. And that under no circumstances was i allowed to go under the underpass at the bottom of the road either. I never did go under that underpass but i did go over the other point what i was allowed to do once or twice as i know i wanted the freedom further.
    Also cars was an issue, you might know how to look left and right on foot but on a bike is different, id collided with a landrover the once but that was not on a forbidden path i wasnt allowed to go down at all, so my parents could shoot out of the house to come and get me.

    In one sence i suppose its one thing to teach about safety but if your child is out and alone somewhere that even they shouldnt be, or even unsupervised, dangerous things can happen and if they are in a situation with someone they might not all be lucky and able to get away. I suppose we all have read news paper headlines where men have tried or have dragged girls or boys from roadsides and pulled into cars, etc. And if they werent alone and their parents or adults would have been with them, that would have been preventing it from happening.What im saying is, you can teech your child about safety as much as you can but if they are alone and out of your sight then anything could happen., I know thats an awful thought to leave this page with but no one has mentioned anything like this here, as of what i have read. And as i said and admitted children test bounderies and want to go further a field, so even if you have told your children where they can play they will do something like that when your not looking, as usually id have everyone looking for me. Where’s Katie? Where’s she gone? Katie.. KATIE!! I knew right from wrong and where i shouldnt be and be doing something that i knew i shouldnt be doing would give me more of an adventure thrill. I wouldnt think someone out there could harm me as a child. Thankfully nothing ever did happen to me, as a child, but still id give my parents more than enough worries.

    And that little patch of woods that someones children were allowed to go up to, which was mentioned at the start of this website, id say thats a no go area for children without supervision. Anyone could be lurking in those woods.

    If we all remember Holly and Jessica were too girls both together and the sumbag had these two little girls, even though, they were both together. Childrens safety had to come first and if police or social workers find out differently the children will get taken away into care. It only takes a spilt seccond for something to happen, then it comes back on the parents, where were they? Why werent they with them?

  147. Katie October 23, 2011 at 5:51 pm #

    if i ever went to a friends house i was always asked which friend, whats their house phone number to get in contact, and my parents would become good friends with the other child parents. They would ring to make sure i got there or ran me around there in the car.

    If i went out, id be asked where i was going, who was i going out with and how long would i be? Have i got a mobile on me so my mum or dad could ring to check that i was okay? I used to say, why’d you wanna know all this for?
    My Mum would always say, the day i dont ask you all this is the day i dont care.. and that day even now, has have never happened, they have never stopped caring for the safety of me.

    Oh i have gone off down forbidden paths and used to run off at nights when i was a teenager but the point is if you want to stay safe and have nothing happen to you, dont do what ive done. I know children have to grow up and learn stuff but it doesnt always have to be the hard way plus it upsets parents so much to hear some one has hurt you, their child. Who they have cared for since day one and held in their arms.

  148. Mugglemama November 2, 2011 at 9:18 am #

    What kind of cracks me up are comments from parents saying, “If my kid does something wrong on your property, feel free to yell at them or bring them home and tell me about it”…or similar things.

    When did it become acceptable to turn your kids loose on the rest of your neighborhood, and expect your neighbors to parent them for you?

    I’ve been a Mom for 20 years…4 kids, from 1st grade up to a junior in college. While I provide ample time for my kids to play outdoors and run and climb and jump and ride bikes, etc., I supervise them. Why? Well, because they are MY children….I didn’t plop them out with the intent of making them a burden on anyone else. They are my responsibility (one that I happily and willingly took on), not the responsibility of neighbors.

    When we lived in an apartment complex, I brought a folding chair out to the recreation area (about an acre of grass w/ playground, etc.) and a book, and I sat off in the distance….where I could see my kids. I was one of only about 3 parents who did this, and some of the totally unsupervised kids playing out there were literally, 2 years old.

    The only time I ever went to a parent to gripe about something, was to tell a Mom that her 5 year old was throwing sand in my daughter’s eyes (now, if she’d been out there watching her own da** kid, that probably wouldn’t have happened). She could have cared less, he was right back out there acting just as monstrous as ever within minutes – again, alone.

    I did call the cops a couple of times….for things like a 4 year old pushing a 2 year old in a stroller through the middle of the parking lot with moving cars driving past them. For a 3 year old whose parents thought that a good way to discipline her was to lock her out of their apartment at MIDNIGHT while she screamed in terror 2 inches from my front door.

    The kids who were outside with a parent behaved and treated others decently for the most part, and If they acted like shi*theads, their parent took them home. The ones who knew nobody of authority was watching – well, they did whatever the hell they wanted. Threw rocks at each other, knocked each other off of bikes, kicked each other, threw sand in each others’ faces, punched, bit, and even peed on each other. Yeah, a lovely bunch.

    And that’s not even bringing safety into it.

    We ended up resorting to taking the kids to parks to play, or to the zoo most days. At least there, people were watching their own kids.

    The big difference between the unsupervised kids of today, and the unsupervised kids of my generation (I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s) is that we went out to play alone…yes….but we had been taught manners, respect, and courtesy at home and at school. We weren’t set loose on our community to be raised by the community. We were parented children who were allowed to go out and play. Not that we never did anything wrong….but we were held accountable, and we learned to stop doing those things.

    The amount of parents that I have been exposed to during the past 2 decades while raising my four children has been considerable. And sadly, the VAST majority of them have been entirely willing to just allow their children to be rotten, mean, self-serving, ill-behaved human beings, while at the same time also feeling “entitled” or something like it, to set the little beasts loose on everyone else to deal with. It’s really imbalanced. Every once in a while we’ve met families here and there who actually really cared if their children were decent human beings, and put time and effort into teaching them to be decent, and also took on the responsibility of supervising them, THEMSELVES. But it seems so rare to me anymore.

    So, I don’t think the issue is always that everyone thinks parents should be watching their own kids simply to keep them from accidentally hanging themselves on that rope swing they’ve fashioned onto the neighbors tree….or to keep them from being abducted, raped, and murdered by some pedophile (although that would be nice), but the issue I think most people who don’t agree with people setting their very young kids loose on a neighborhood have is that they don’t believe it should be *their* responsibility to get a kid to stop doing something raunchy on their property (or to their car, or their mailbox, or their kid, etc.)…..but that it should be (gasp) a situation where the actual parents of those children are the ones out there teaching the kids how to, and not to, behave – BEFORE getting to a point where they set them loose for everyone else to have to deal with.

    It’s a pretty simple concept. YOU had the kid – YOU parent them. It’s gotten to the point in society now, where older people HATE children…why?….because they’re sick to death of all the ones that act like monsters with no parents stepping in to correct those behaviors and teach differently. So, now, when someone like me, who has kids who behave fantastic in public, goes into a restaurant…we get all kinds of scowls from old people at nearby tables (sometimes they even get up and LEAVE)…because they’re so accustomed to having to deal with little demon spawn in public places. Same is true of neighborhoods….they hate ALL the kids because of the ones who have not been taught to behave, and who are not supervised.

    Not that I expect it to change any time soon. Sigh.

  149. Kia November 13, 2011 at 4:25 pm #

    I am up in arms at the moment. After reluctantly moving from a farm to suburbia my sons father says he trusts our 2 year old to play out the front of the house unsupervised but of course I won’t allow this, (but what happens if I’m at work ?) My boy has become friends with a 4 year old across the road, who to my horror plays unsupervised on the nature strip so if my bubby sees him, he bolts across the road. Of course there’s also driveways to worry about too. How do I get through to his dad? Do I call the authorities? He just won’t listen so it’s like playing Russian Roulette. I guess I could quit my job and move away from his dad but there has to be a way for him to understand my grief.

  150. aryan nation January 7, 2012 at 2:46 am #

    Half your kids on this blog need your kids taken or your head is truly in the sand.a little girl playing in her own front yard was kidnapped,with her head cut off and feet. Is this what you want or you just need to watch your soap opera undisturbed. if you think we are scardy cats ,kiss my ass.That what i tell my husband when he allows our children to go around the “hood”.people get shot here,home invasions,drug dealers and yes pedeophiles on list .But thats ok ,it want happen to us,right? Keep living in your make believe world…I like Smith and Wesson and believe me I will use it and cut his private off and hang on my Confederate flag. Just Sayin!

  151. Lo January 21, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    I can not BELIEVE parents let their 6 yr old children play outside UNSUPERVISED !!
    Wake up people, get your heads out of your iPhones, tvs, etc an raise your children!!
    The most common target for pedophiles is stealing kids playing in their own neighborhoods. A young child has absolutely NO self-protection against this–physically or mentally. “help me find my puppy” is all they’d need to respond to. Have parents take turns being out on the driveway or porch. Even an adult presence is often enough to deter your child being a target. Omg, BE SMART not sorry!!

  152. rebecca January 27, 2012 at 9:22 am #

    I totally agree with Lo. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? We do not live in the society you people are tossing your kids out into. Stupid, stupid, sit in your house stuffing your face with carbs, lazy people. When your child ends up missing you have only yourself to blame. Did I say stupid enough? No. Stupid.

  153. MzB February 3, 2012 at 10:01 pm #

    I personally think the government/law should stay out of our personal lives! However I am very aware at all times where my son is, what he’s doing when out side of house. I sit on porch while he’s out, I go out there and plant something or just hang out, blow bubbles or whatever. He’s 8 we live in a rural area and he don’t leave my 2 acre yard. I could never let him out of my site he’s my responsibility and as a mother I know all, pretty much all the time. He is home schooled, so he’s home or with us all the time. However, I do feel it is the parent’s right to raise their child as they see fit.

  154. Ally Johnson March 17, 2012 at 7:57 am #

    Hi I was writing because on the street 1608 Neely rd silver spring md 20903 there is a 8 year old girl riding her bike across the streets with no supervision of parents parents leave and dnt come back till 11 pm the little girl is rude she says bad words and disrespects people’s property she is also with kids right next door to them this has been continuing and has not stopped please help solve this problem because the parents are not doing anything About it thank you they keep disrespecting properties on Neely rd.

  155. jessica April 7, 2012 at 3:46 am #

    I dont think its a huge deal to wait untill your kid gets a little older and more aware of dangers outside.
    I am writing a school paper right now about children getting hit by cars, and it happens a lot with young boy 14 and under. Just think if something like that were to happen to your kid if a driver was drunk. The decision would be you loosing your kid forever, or just letting them have their freedom..your choice.
    Six is a bit young, when i was six, I wasnt running off into no-mans-land. But if you do know where your kid is going, then i wouldnt be too against that. Just remember to teach them safety.

  156. LauraL. April 7, 2012 at 3:58 am #

    That’s exactly the point, Jessica. TEACH them, not hide them away from everything or never expose them to what they can learn.

  157. Monica April 18, 2012 at 7:15 am #

    Do you folks have any clue how badly your “innocent” children behave when unsupervised? SERIOUSLY? I wish it had been ME who turned in that negligent parent. Watch your own kids, and stop expecting society to watch them for you — or worse, expecting us to look away when your child inevitably acts like a moron because he is not being supervised. Take some control, “parents,” and stop blaming everyone and everything on your own faults.

  158. lynn May 21, 2012 at 3:28 pm #

    I just got two tickets for child abuse because my 7 yo and her friend were playing in the conplex when 2 older girls tried to hit them with sticks. They ran away and my daughter, being frantic, got lost. The police found her and brought her home. They then gave me a ticket for both girls but not the other girls parents! One officer said I could not let her out to play at all without me. The other said she could but needs to stay close and tell me where she will be, which she always does. Thete are many children in thid complex who play outside alone! They said children under 16 must be supervised. So shouldn’t parents who have their kids walk home from school alone be ticketed for abuse also?!? My daughter has been playing outside for two years, and knows her limitations. If I endangered my child why didnt her friends parents get cited also?

  159. Hiroko Orito May 22, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    Okay, I think it’s great that parents want their children to be independent. I think it is rude to have kids running around unsupervised. I’ve seen kids writing on walls and breaking no parking signs because their parents don’t care. They let their kids ride around on razors until 7/8 pm at night! You can teach your children self-reliance in other ways besides just letting your kids run wild. There is a difference. It becomes an issue when it’s not just one child, it is 7 or 8 kids. Not to mention the “pack” mentality. These kids also seem pick on the younger kids in our neighborhood. What about respect for your neighbors? I had a younger child try and show my son a porn site on his iphone! This kid was in fourth grade. An older child showed him the sites and I guess he just wanted to share the love. Scary.

  160. Lynne Gomez August 6, 2012 at 2:31 pm #

    I found this today while searching for the law. Today the police visited my home after one of my neighbors called in about my children being outside alone.. in our yard with a home on two sides and six foot fence on the other two sides. The officer said don’t have them called back out. So now, do I have to go outside with my children every time they go out? I have a chronic illness and sitting outside all day sucks for me. They love it. They come in for bathroom breaks, one comes in for nursies, they come in to tattle, they come in to say “I Love You”… they are in and out every 5-10 minutes. I check on them anytime I pass the door and I lay or sit next to an open window. If I call for them, they come to the door/window and answer as a “check in”. They will literally stay outside from wake up to 9pm when I force them to come in.. with breaks for the above and for food. They were perfectly safe. IDK what to do> 🙁 Do I punish my children and make them stay inside or torture myself, putting me in great amounts of pain to sit outside with them all day, every day? 🙁 I plan to call CPS tomorrow to see if they can shed any light on the situation. 🙁

  161. Warren September 10, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

    By all means have the meeting with the parents and adults in the neighborhood.

    Tell the ones that agree with your parenting methods, that you hope yours and their children will enjoy many hours of playing outdoors, together.

    Tell the ones that don’t agree with you, to mind their own business and keep their overactive mouths shut. What you determine is fine for your kids, is none of their concern.


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