Son of Sam versus Modern Day Parenting

Readers, ahsdhkkbat
here’s the question that nags at me almost every day: How did we go from a time when  we basically trusted our kids, our neighborhoods and our own parenting skills — even when we knew there were scary things out there — to a generation today that almost slathers itself in terror? A time now when we believe that our kids are constantly in danger not just from criminals, but from crippling disappointment if we don’t actively demonstrate, every single second, how proud we are of them, and how interested, and how nearby? Why do we think our kids won’t know how much we love them unless we prove it with unending attention and attendance? 

Those are the questions swirling as I present to you this snapshot of the good/bad old days of the 1970s. – L

Dear Free-Range Kids: I grew up in the Bronx in the 1970’s. I lived in Co-op City, which is the country’s largest public housing project.

I walked to school (about 7 or 8 blocks) by myself in the first grade. Everyone did. At lunch we all walked out, unsupervised, to Joe’s hot dog truck or the shopping center to eat pizza. When I got home, I grabbed my bike or baseball gear and played with friends in the streets or park until 6 p.m.  or later, in the summer. I never met my friends’ parents unless it was raining and went to someone’s house. But that was rare. Most parents you never saw. If a kid’s parents came to watch us play, we would have all thought it was creepy, like the parents were checking up on us or something. No one was damaged because their parents missed a game. They missed all the games. Parents were not welcome.

In 1977 they arrested the Son of Sam and we found out he used to live in the next building over. This caused curiosity, but no change whatsoever in our behavior. There were many muggings. This was not a safe time or neighborhood. We thought to complain about the policing and the neighborhood in general. But no one thought to lock us up or helicopter over us. It was never even thought of as an option.

I returned to Co-op in October. I hadn’t been there in 20 years. The streets and parks were empty of kids playing. It was like a ghost town on a sunny Saturday afternoon with the temp at 68. The population of the neighborhood, we heard, was actually up a bit. But kids were not outside. – Jeff Varasano


Co-op City


58 Responses to Son of Sam versus Modern Day Parenting

  1. Susan January 11, 2013 at 9:41 am #

    It’s so sad that kids are never out. I moved into my neighborhood in March. My girls went exploring looking for other kids to play with, with no avail. When we were looking I was so excited to see all the swing sets thinking there would be lots of playmates. Unfortunately there’s only one, the 3 girls across the street aren’t allowed to come over and are rarely out. Older neighbors stopped at our house to give my girls some old outdoor toys and stuff. I find that funny that with all the kids that surround them they came up the road to the new people, I think they are just so happy to see kids playing.

  2. Lollipoplover January 11, 2013 at 9:59 am #

    I love this observation. Kids not playing outside in family neighborhoods is creepy.

    I also grew up in the 70’s. I remember not being allowed in the house on Wednesdays after school. My mom had her Bridge friends over and kids were not welcome. Instead, we played on bikes and explored the woods until we heard our dinner bell ring. We sprinted home because we were starving!

  3. Jemma January 11, 2013 at 10:13 am #

    Devil’s advocate here. I live close to a neighborhood that might be socioeconomically similar to Co-Op City. I don’t know about Co-Op City, but in my close-by neighborhood crime rates are WAY higher than the national average, even for big cities. I have lots of acquaintances in that neighborhood and their kids don’t play outside either, ever. Maybe I am wrong, but I think the biggest reason why kids aren’t allowed to play outside is not to protect them from immediate danger, but to keep them from running around with gangs, drug runners, and overall setting them on the wrong path. The thought is, maybe the kids you start hanging around with kids that are ok, but your contacts lead to other contacts, and next thing you know you get involved with people who are very bad news. Parents just don’t want to take that chance. Sure, you can say “but you have to teach your kid well and then trust him–otherwise they won’t learn”. But do you live in that kind of neighborhood? Peer pressure is a tough thing, and many parents think the stakes are just too high. They will find other ways to give freedom, it just won’t involve playing outside.

  4. Stacey January 11, 2013 at 10:50 am #

    Same experience as MR Varasano, from Yonkers NY. Same story. I think after the first day of kindergarten, where we were all walked to school by our parents to be shown the route, afterwards, we were left on our own.
    We too were allowed to walk home or go out for lunch, expected to return on time, on our own.

  5. Stacey January 11, 2013 at 10:52 am #

    Oh and I think Son of Sam worked at the post office near where we lived. I think the only change in our behavior was that summertime before he was caught that our parents asked us to call when we got to where we were going.

  6. Douglas John Bowen January 11, 2013 at 11:20 am #

    I have a (very) partial theory, which may apply only to me. I grew up pretty free-range, in part because I had a benignly neglectful father who saw his only job as providing funding for my upbringing (food, clothes, shelter). Raising me was mom’s job — very traditional beginning, until mom voluntarily went to work in the 1960s (upheaval in itself to that 50s tradition) and, weirdly, augmenting free-range tendencies among me and my three brothers. (We now had to help cook, help launder, help houseclean. I’m forever grateful we had to learn.)

    I’ve vowed to be more “hands-on” with my own son as he grows, in essence to make “new” mistakes as a dad rather than repeat the ones my own father might have made. But since that involves more day-to-day contact, it also increases the opportunity for more “gotta learn from me” and “hey don’t do that” situations–the temptation to micromanage.

    Adherence to a free-range approach helps minimize my well-intentioned but ill-advised interference, but I’m sure I’m butting in to my son’s development when, at times, he would be better off figuring it out for himself. Other dads (or moms, maybe) in my comparable situation perhaps might not be aware of, of deliberately choose an approach different from, a free-range upbringing they may have enjoyed, in the belief that they can “do better” by doing more.

    Again, just a personal experience, which may not be applicable to anyone else–but Lenore asked for perspective. Here’s one 60s child’s perspective–and, as I often note, with the hope that my son continues to inherit some of that 60s free-range sensibility for himself and any of his potential offspring.

  7. Gina January 11, 2013 at 11:36 am #

    @Jeff: Ah yes, the Summer of Sam. I was 19 that summer. Home from my junior year of college, living on Long Island. Was I told to stay home? Stay out of the Bronx and Queens? Was I given and early curfew? Was I told not to sit in a parked car? NO, NO, NO and NO. Why? Because my parents raised me to make good choices ON MY OWN. Did I stay home? NO. Did I stay out of those boroughs? NO. Did I come home early? NO. Did I sit in a parked car? NO..because that would have been stupid; but I decided that for myself. I was in Manhattan on July 13 when the power failed in the Northeast. Our parents didn’t swoop in and make us prisoners, they expected us to use our common sense. The odds were astronomically in our favor..panic would’ve helped nobody!

  8. SKL January 11, 2013 at 11:39 am #

    I was also a kid in the 70’s and this sounds a lot like my childhood. At some point the whole “my parents never attended” became an excuse to blame someone for our troubles, instead of something to be glad of.

    My mom used to work M-Th and be home on Fridays. Friday was my least favorite day. Who wants/needs a parent up your butt?

    I recall my kid sister around age 13 telling me, “you know, lately mom has been so nice, asking me how school was every day, how was math, how was English. It’s nice that she’s so interested and all that, but having to give Mom the daily rundown is like having a pimple on your butt.” I’m glad I didn’t have that particular problem!

    I’m not really sure why things changed. Could it be that kids (and their neighbors) have fewer siblings on average and have to turn to their parents for more things? Could it be “busing,” which caused neighborhood kids to be going to various different schools far from home? What would put it in parents’ minds that it’s no longer natural for kids to play independently outside the home?

    My kids don’t play in our neighborhood much. We aren’t around much, and there is only one nearby house where young kids reside. We don’t know those kids beyond saying “hi” in passing when we take a walk around the block. (I have never seen them leave their yard, with or without their parents, on foot/bike.) They don’t attend the same schools as my kids or any of the same activities. And as a working mom, it’s not a priority for me to reach out to them. Does that make me part of the problem? Maybe.

    I also get a lot of pressure to not let my kids play outside without supervision. Hopefully that will lighten up as they get a little older. Then I could at least send them to the park (1 mile away) where they could dream and scheme. Though if they are the only unsupervised kids there, it still wouldn’t be the same. (Then I guess I’d be “that mom” who is so irresponsible/imposing as to leave my kids’ supervision up to the moms who are present – because it can’t be possible that my kid doesn’t require supervision to play at the park.)

  9. pentamom January 11, 2013 at 11:42 am #

    I’m with Jemma. Drive-by shootings and getting caught in the crossfire weren’t significant issues in the 70’s. Place like Co-op city ARE objectively dangerous to be out in, whether because of direct danger from violence, or what Jemma mentions — people want to protect their kids from getting mixed up with the wrong people or even “wrong place at the wrong time” situations.

    I understand that the drug wars and the crossfire shootings aren’t what they were 20 years ago, but that’s what the parents in those places grew up with. It’s not stranger-danger paranoia and overblown fears of crime that’s keeping those kids in, it’s a combination of real danger and the real-life experiences of their parents.

  10. Havva January 11, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

    Ever since the phone spying software article I have been trying to figure out a way to explain what it is like to live under constant distrust from adults. I saw this distrust ramping up as a teen in the late 90’s.

    What you are describing, as distrust of others, is in fact a distrust of the child. If you think your kid is unable to tell a bad person from a good person, and think your child would go so far as to extensively hang out with bad people, and do what they do, with out realizing they were bad… you don’t trust your child AT ALL.

    As I’ve said I’ve been trying to explain this. The impact, the effect. Unfortunately it’s an aggregate problem so individual examples get brushed off far to easily. I even recruited my husband who, like all our friends our age, understands because he lived with the early stages of it.

    The only explanation we could come up with, is this:
    Trust is like oxygen, you don’t miss it until it is gone.

    And when I try to explain this, I feel like I am trying to explain suffocation to a person who has never so much has held their breath before.

    As I aged the rules became ever more restrictive, intrusive, and problematic. And the reasons were rooted in the deeply flawed notion that kids were all the same, and inherently out of control. That we were all uniformly prone to every nasty behavior in existence. The idea being that the problems which occurred existed, not because a child chose to do wrong, or hadn’t been taught right yet. But because they believed we couldn’t help it, and that any one of us at any time could/would with no warning become violent criminals. That without their constant overbearing rules we would throw our lives away in an instant.

    The sick thing of it all was that it made no difference how you behaved, you would be treated like a criminal. My mom had what many thought impossible standards, and I lived up to them. I never once had a discipline incident in school. (Yet, hall monitors repeatedly watched me bee lining to the bathroom, hall pass in hand, then decided to stop me feet from the door to interrogate me as to what I was *really* doing out of class. My own grandma refused to meet my friends because “I know what kids these days are like.)

    I had more times than I care to recall where I had to ask myself… “Why do I bother? Why do I try?” (Why not ignore the hall monitor, do or say something rude, and go to the bathroom rather than stand here doing the potty dance while they insult me? Why not sneak out and play with my friends when grandma won’t let them come around? Why not run screaming though boring quiet, adult places where the adults in charge (who knew how well behaved I was) started going on, and on, and on, about how kids my age were incapable of self control?

    Time and time again one answer came to mind, and pulled me back from the brink. My parents trust me, extensively. With out them, privacy and freedom would be difficult to obtain. They were my fresh air, and I’d be damned if I were going to risk that.

    Had my parents imprisoned me at home, restricted me to activities they deemed 100% safe, had they forbid me to handle every ‘dangerous thing’ and refused to teach me. In short, had they not believed I could face the world with guidance. I know I would have quit caring entirely what adults thought or said about me. Or how they punished me. I know, because I wanted to quit trying more times than I care to remember.

  11. Dave January 11, 2013 at 12:50 pm #

    A very sad commentary on our society. Let the children play. Reclaim the public space, Let the generations mingle. Bring back community.

  12. Donna January 11, 2013 at 1:17 pm #

    Lets be reasonable here. Not everything is a sign of helicopter parenting and irrational fears. Helicopter parenting is 100% a construct of the moneyed and middle class. It rarely makes appearances in the life of the poor. If kids in Co-Op City are not outside playing, it is because Co-Op City is not a safe place for kids to play outside (although it is also probably a sign that, as far as housing projects go, this one is not too horribly filled with crack addict parents and neglected kids since those are usually dangerous and still full of kids outside).

    That said, many nondangerous family neighborhoods are also ghost towns when it comes to kids. I think there are many contributing factors.

    Most kids grow up in 2 working parent households now. Nobody is home most weekdays, and, once they get home, they are busy with dinner, homework and bed. There isn’t much time for outside play. Weekends are filled with those things moms used to do while dad worked and the kids were in school only now kids are in tow.

    Family time is more important now than it was in the 70s. In the 70s, nobody considered it important to make time to spend as a family. Now we do. Because both parents work, family time is limited to weekends so kids are not outside alone because they are having family time.

    Guilt plays a part. We have an idealistic view of previous generations. We often seem to view them with the stay at home mom spending all this time interacting and nurturing her children when in fact she spent on average less time interacting one-on-one with her children than today’s working mothers. She had to keep a house with no help from a spouse and without some of themodern equipment available to us and cook largely from scratch without microwaves. She also spent time socializing with other women. But we compare ourselves to our ideal, that never existed, and find ourselves lacking and try to make up for it with attention and activities and permissiveness.

    And we have more expendible income to do this. We have two incomes and basic necessities outside of our home (food, clothing) take a smaller percentage of our income than in previous generations. Toys, cheaply made in China, cost a fraction (when adjusted for the times) than they’d did in the 70s so we can shower our kids in them. Technology is more advanced and there are all kinds of fun gadgets at incredibly cheap prices so there are all sorts of things to do inside.

    Mostly I think easy access to birth control is the ground cause. Middle class kids are planned and well-thoughtout and that changes our attitude towards them.

  13. Jemma January 11, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

    @Havva I agree it is great to trust your kids and that most kids of capable of making good decisions. I have no idea what kind of community you grew up in nor what kind of neighborhood you live in now but I think it is naive to assume that social and physical risks do not vary according to location and do not affect the boundaries set by parents.

  14. Suzy January 11, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

    I’m a bit young to know about Son of Sam other than stories and movies as I was just born in the 70s, but I’d venture to say that media is a BIG part in the difference in decades with regards to free-ranging. I don’t think back then you were bombarded with “BREAKING NEWS UPDATE” every 15 minutes on your TV, email, FB, Twitter, smartphone, with every minute detail whether accurate or not, that is discovered about the case – always followed with a synopsis of what the case is about, in case you didn’t catch it the last 150 times you heard about it. It’s no wonder people are scared to leave their houses anymore. I read somewhere that younger children don’t understand that a news repeat is exactly that, a repeat, and their brains process it as if it’s new news, re-hashing feelings over and over again (it was an article giving reason to turn off the TV after tragedies like Hurricane Sandy and Sandy Hook shooting). I wonder if there is a similar subconscious response in adult brains too, since it seems so many of us can’t seem to let go of the stories we hear, too.

  15. Jeffrey Varasano January 11, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

    @Donna, I don’t think that explanation holds because this is not a middle class neighborhood and it’s actually far safer today than it was in my day. I’ve been the victim of several street crimes there. I had a good size rock hit my head on the way to school once. I was thrown from my bike and had it stolen and eventually had to testify when the teenager who did it was caught (by other kids who surrounded him with baseball bats when I saw him pass by a few weeks after the theft). My mother was dragged out of an elevator and pushed down a flight of stairs and had her purse stolen. I could go on. I really am comparing apples to apples and the shift is clearly one of attitude, not working parents, gadgets or other things. It’s a cultural shift that has permeated many levels.

    Let me add another story. I was recounting this whole return to Co-op city to a friend. She grew up in Boston and lives in Sweden now and returned to the US recently with her 2 swedish kids. Twice store security returned her ‘lost children’ to her. I mentioned to her that I had an employee recently tell me that they couldn’t be at work because there was no one to meet his daughter at the school bus stop which is a block from their upscale suburban home. “How old is your daughter?”, I asked. “14”… So I tell this to my swedish friend and she says “I was babysitting at 11”.

    This is not about one on one or family time, or working moms. This is a cultural shift towards fear, lawsuits, lack of responsibility and other things.

    Last Story. My mom was a school teacher in the Bronx. She tells me that she learned over the years never touch a child for fear of being accused of sexual crimes. She’s 70 now but still tutors kids 6-9 yrs old. She says she never brushes against their hand, or hugs a crying child.

  16. EricS January 11, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

    Sad…in ALL aspects. And it only shows the more parents coddle and helicopter, the more teachers avoid confrontation, the more marketing influences the masses in what to think, and the more authorities promotes fear, the more America will continue to bring itself down. Our children are our future, and if we teach them the wrong things – and I’m saying this, a lot of children are being raised wrong (vs old school rearing) – they bring that paranoia, non-common sense thinking into what they do as adults. They become teachers, police, doctors, executives, and politicians. People who control the thoughts of others. And what they bring forth is the same fear, distrust, and insecurity they learned from their parents. It can only get worse for the future in this direction.

  17. EricS January 11, 2013 at 3:02 pm #

    I agree with Jeffery, it’s not about the class, it’s about society as a whole. I know lower income parents who are just as fearful for their children as higher income parents I know. Fear is fear. And society is what instills this in the weak minded. Primarily, for profit. Especially these days, when people feel more comfortable listening to others, than trying to understand it themselves for what things really are.

    I do have a question about your mother’s rule of never touching a child. When you say “over the years” do you mean the years of the last couple of decades? Or the years since she’s been an adult? I’m guessing the last couple of decades. Because in the 80s and earlier, students hugged teachers, teachers hugged students. It was a sign of respect and admiration with no sexual deviance. And no parent that I have ever known, held it against teachers, coaches, and even mentors. It just wasn’t part of the mindset. Although, I’m sure in the RARE occasion (as it is no different now), there were perverts in the midst of our kids and interacting with them. These days, thanks to media, that mindset has become a ‘normal’ thing in society. It’s disturbing how the flow of misinformation can change a whole society.

  18. ifsogirl January 11, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

    We moved from an apartment building with no greenspace to play and no kids my childrens ages to a townhoue this past summer. I was pleasantly surprised to see kids outside playing and they immediately included my girls.

    What I am horrified to see, is my 5 and 8 y/o’s sitting in the grass with their 7y/o friend watching YouTube clips on her iPod. What happened to running and playing? When they go over to her house they are usually on the computer doing the same. I’ve encouraged them to come over to play, but their friend is almsot never without her iPod and so there they sit upstairs either watching eachother play games or YouTube.

    My kids don’t really show interest in electronics for the most part. They have an old laptop my brother sent for them, and they barely use it. I bought them Leapfrog Explorers a couple years back and they play with them now and then but most of the time they have no idea where they are. But all their friends want to do is play video games so that’s what they do when they go out.

  19. Gina January 11, 2013 at 3:33 pm #

    If you don’t allow your child to play with another child because the second child is a bad influence, it’s YOUR child you don’t trust. End of story.

  20. Jeffrey Varasano January 11, 2013 at 3:33 pm #

    Eric, when my mom started in 1970, hugging was normal and it gradually shifted. The McMartin case in the 1980’s and surrounding hysteria, including the Anita Hill nonsense, caused the shift. Political Correctness is a poison.

  21. Havva January 11, 2013 at 4:23 pm #

    Jemma, of course social and physical risks vary. I know I had it easy but since my opinions were informed by my mom. She was born and raised in a dangerous impoverished LA neighborhood. Her father was murdered there. Her school was riddled by bullets in a riot. I didn’t figure I would be too far off, and Jeffery seems to confirm that.

    I also see Donna’s point about the desire for close families. But I have to counter that at least part of the reason, that is so important to kids and parents, is because of society’s attitudes about kids. When community doesn’t support families, it is tempting to turn inward, rather than try to fix the whole community.

    I have times where I even sympathize with the worst of helicopter parents who disbelieve the teachers and interfere at school. It’s a personal experience thing. I had a perfect discipline record, my teachers loved me. Yet a million little injustices culminated in me asking about a new rule and a school. An administrator with others nodding along told me “I know what you really are, you just haven’t been caught yet.” So I can sympathize when a parent doesn’t trust the school and fights tooth and nail for their kid.

    And I harbor doubts about society at large as well. Some examples from bike accidents. A friend fell from her bike. I knocked on the door of a nearby house that could have seen my friend from her window. She wouldn’t let me use her first aid kit. She said that if she opened the door, I would probably rob or kill her. (There had been all of one robery murder in or city).

    When I had a bike accident as the last of a parade crowd was clearing, I couldn’t get up. My mom thinking I was talking to a friend rode away before I could call out. People seemed not to notice me until an old man came shuffling out of his house at top speed. Only after he came to my side, did some younger men finally help lift me from the ground. So I have to fight to remind myself that my daughter will be okay without me even if she gets hurt.

    Despite this, I do believe that people aren’t really intent on letting harm come to kids.

    As to where I think this is comming from…

    My mom listened to a ton of talk radio. Between them and the news it seemed like we heard virtually every crime or sin any teen committed in the US. If an adult did it though, it wasn’t “news worth.” And of course they were the crimes/sins adults committed every day. There was basically a moral panic going on. I was super sensitive to all this because my grandma feared and hated all kids but her grand kids (including our friends).

    The talk shows were all over how horrid ‘kids these days are.’ Then of course they got caught having to do the … “well, not your kid, you are a good parent. It’s the bad parents that are the problem” Then they were all over how your kid would be destroyed if they came in contact with “bad influences,” So you have to always know where your kids are, what they are doing, and with whom. And make absolutely sure those friends aren’t a ‘bad influence.” Just as I was leaving for college at the end of the decade, a knew drum was being beat with increasing fervor. “If the kid is bad, it is because of the parents! [List of teen crimes] And where I ask were the parents? The parents should be held responsible.” And there was the suspicion, the ‘if you aren’t there you don’t really know what your kid is up to.’

    Listeners calling in started repeating “where where the parents?” It started popping up in mainstream sources, too. The news couldn’t tell a teen crime story without mentioning that there was no supervision. They had a winner. “Your kids are wonderful,” they said. “And it is all because of the saintly sacrifices you have made as a parent.” It’s the others, it’s bad influences, the others weren’t paying enough attention to their kids.”

    At one point I just threw up my hands and ask. “What do they want, to throw us all in jail until we turn 18? A lot of good that would do when you release the a bunch of angry adults who don’t know how the world works!”

    The former secretary at my office told me once how none of her grown children would talk to her. But as she told me. “I was a good parent, they needed me, they just don’t understand. I did what was best for them, I sacrificed for them. So it doesn’t matter, because I did the right thing.”

    As far as I am concerned. These new rules about what constitutes a ‘good parent’ spring out of a desire to beguile parents into keeping their children out of society. And these rules are accepted by parents who want to have a close loving family, to protect themselves and their children, from a world that doesn’t give parents or children the level of acceptance and connection they deserve.

  22. Warren January 11, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

    I could list off all sorts of reasons why helicopter parents keep their kids inside, but we already know them.

    All I have to say is, if your neighborhood is not safe enough for your kids, to go outside and play……………… something about it.

    You basically have two choices;

    1. Move to a better location.
    2. Fight and take back your neighborhood, for the kids. Get the city involved, the media involved, the police involved, you neighbours involved. Eventually the element that is causing you stress and worry will move on, because they don’t want the hassle and attention.

  23. Donna January 11, 2013 at 5:52 pm #

    Jeff – I understand that it is not a middle class neighborhood. Far from it. That is exactly my point. I’m not convinced that it is helicopter parenting that is keeping children in in this neighborhood. I believe it is actually that the neighborhood is truly unsavory.

    Housing projects have changed considerably in the 20 years you haven’t been there. They were never quaint and upstanding but the are pretty much cesspools now. Parents aren’t keeping their kids in because they are helicoptering them, they are keeping them in to try to keep them out of the gang and prison for as long as they can. 7 year olds outside unsupervised aren’t thrown from bikes, they are used to run drugs for the local gangs.

    And I think the parents are right to try in this instance. I have plenty of juvenile clients. They age as young as 7 and 8. Almost all come from these neighborhoods. I don’t need more. I’m not ever going to agree with the proposition that kids in the ‘hood need LESS supervision. If one exists that does, I have yet to meet him/her in years as a public defender, one now exclusively representing juveniles.

    And the ‘hoods and trailer parks in my area have plenty of kids running free. All hours of the day and night. So this is not a societial shift in the underprivileged community.

  24. Jemma January 11, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

    @Warren, sorry but you are incredibly naive about how to solve the problem of “its too dangerous to go outside”. Gee, I bet no one living in a dangerous neighborhood ever thought about trying to “take back their neighnorhood”. Thanks for the suggestion–I’ll run right down to city council with it. Unfortunately the pesky little problems like no funds for adequate levels of policing, a public school system that is in absolute shambles, gangs, drugs, oh and a terrible job market get in the way. As for “move” I am sure you are already realizing how insulting that suggestion is to someone who is living in public housing. If you want to view the fact that YOU can let your kids play outside as something that happened because you are incredibly resilient/capable/proactive (no luck, not at all) and everyone else is either lazy or a big baby then go for it. Popular thing to do these days.

  25. CrazyCatLady January 11, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

    “Do you know where your kids are?” I think this PSA ruined a whole generation.

  26. Warren January 11, 2013 at 6:03 pm #

    I never said anyone was lazy or a big baby. But when it comes to our kids, there is never a more righteous motive to stand up and be counted.

    If you are willing to just sit back, accept the fact that you will let drug dealers and gangs rule the “hood”, then don’t complain about it.

    Neighborhoods have been taken back, and it can be done. You just have to put in the work.

  27. Donna January 11, 2013 at 6:42 pm #

    @ Warren –

    You’ve clearly never lived in the hood. Yes, some small neighborhoods have been somewhat “taken back.” There is still an extremely high crime rate compared to the rest of the country and the parents generally aren’t letting their kids run free. The kids can play outside but are constantly supervised for their own safety from the gangs that are still trying to claim the territory.

    However, this requires a concerted and vigilant effort from everyone in the neighborhood. You can’t do it if your neighbors don’t give a crap about the gangs, drugs and crime often because they are involved in gangs, drugs and crime. Many of your neighbors in the hood are directly profitting from things being as they are and don’t want to rock the boat. Others have children in the gangs and don’t want them in prison. Many are old, ill, disabled, mentally challenged and mentally ill and can’t help. Many are scared to get involved and legitimately so. This is not made up grandfather pedophiles. This is fear of an actual gun being put in your child’s face by a person more than willing to pull the trigger. Almost all are undereducated and have been beaten down and treated like nothing their whole lives.

    The neighborhoods that have succeeded in taking back the streets are extraordinary and should be viewed as such. They have overcome extreme odds against them. Extraordinary things are exactly that. They should not be viewed as something everyone can attain if they just want it.

  28. Donald January 11, 2013 at 7:06 pm #

    In the previous article we talked about warning labels. Some labels are needed. For example, the tobacco companies target children. The more that they can addict their customers, the better for business.

    However, News has a similar business. When the brain feels fear, it gives off chemicals to help us deal with the threat in much the same way as an adrenalin boost will help you to jump out of the way of a car. The more that the networks (News, CSI, etc) can addict the public to fear, the better for business.

    Tobacco companies aren’t allowed to advertise. However networks can air as much fear as the want.

  29. Donald January 11, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

    I see a lot of stories about gangs. I agree with most of them. It’s important to try to keep your children from becoming gang members or from treading on gang territory.

    As the world becomes more and more addicted to fear, tribalism is the outcome. The biggest reason for the increase in gang members is so that they can protect themselves from this scary world.

  30. Emily January 11, 2013 at 7:33 pm #

    I wasn’t around during the “Son of Sam” era, but I agree with the general idea of this story, that kids have less freedom to play outside now than they did, say, 20 years ago. I was born in 1984, and my parents’ house backs into a park, through a wooded area. During my childhood, in the 80’s/early 90’s, all through the spring and summer, I could hear children’s laughter coming from the park, and the woods, and in the winter, from the toboggan hill at the old folks’ home across the street (which has long since been bisected by a parking lot). Anyway, somewhere around 1990ish, O.J. Simpson became a household name, so around the age when I should have had freedom to start going to the park alone, and maybe walking the four blocks to school, my parents clamped down, saying that they “trusted me, but they didn’t trust the world.” So, a lot of the time, I was the bubble-wrapped kid stuck inside while my friends, schoolmates, and neighbours were allowed to roam freely. Since then, it seems like all the other parents have followed suit, and the park stands empty in the summer, except for organized baseball leagues, and the odd preschool-aged kid, with parents in tow–because, the old-school wood and metal playground equipment, that was challenging and fun for older kids, has since been replaced with “safe” equipment, that’s mostly boring for kids over the age of five or so.

  31. Earth.W January 11, 2013 at 8:56 pm #

    Never saw this when we lived in Rockhampon, a regional city about 700km north of Brisbane but here in Sydney, it is difficult to find children about. Like a desert is vacant of water, this place is a desert vacant of fun loving children. I spoken with a small handful of parents and every single one of them is frightened. The Government has won.

  32. Denishé January 11, 2013 at 9:35 pm #

    Maybe I’m too simple, but I think the problem started with cable TV. Try to imagine a world without it. I know what it’s like—we don’t have it anymore. I don’t have to listen to the repetition of news reporters announcing the latest horror at eleven p.m. I only find out about some things when I hear other people talking about them. I’m grateful for that.

    As a kid I moved from a more urban setting, where we had poor TV reception. We were always outside or trying to get there. When I was eight, we moved to the suburbs, where we couldn’t get far from our neighborhood because of a highway, and where we got this new thing called “cable”. I feel like I hardly went outside again. Now we have hundreds of channels, each competing to keep us glued to theirs, and what works better than the metaphoric “train wreck”.

    Along the same lines, I recently renewed my family’s subscription in our local, small-town paper. They have a section called the “Police Log”. I started reading it. By the time I got to the end I was thinking, “If I didn’t know any better, I’d think everyone out there was breaking into houses, doing drugs, or guilty of domestic abuse, and I know that’s not the case.” There is no balance to it, nor can there be—that’s not the purpose of the piece. .

    I’d like to see a movie made where TV and internet service gets completely knocked out and people are forced to go outside and even talk to their neighbors if they want to know what’s going on. Wouldn’t that be nice.

  33. Warren January 11, 2013 at 9:49 pm #

    I have noticed a very disturbing trend to your replies to alot of the issues discussed, including this one.

    Don’t step out of line, give in, accept, don’t fight, there is nothing you can do.

    Well that is BS. Those are the reasons that neighborhoods were lost in the first place. People gave up.

    Pure and simple if you are not willing to fight back, stand up, and fight for your neighbourhood, and fight for your kids, then don’t complain about it either.

    There are avenues you can take, and things you can do. It won’t change overnight, not by any stretch. But if you put in the effort, you will see changes.
    And yes Donna as a kid I grew up in one of the nasty area’s of the city. It is where I learned to stand up for myself and others. It is also where I learned that althought the bible advises turn the other cheek, it doesn’t say I have to let them hit me in that one to.

  34. Donna January 11, 2013 at 11:41 pm #

    @ Warren –

    Where exactly did I say not to fight? Where did I say not to try? People are fighting everyday to make these neighborhoods and their residents better. I happen to be one of those people. Doing so takes years, not weeks or even months. Often times it is never accomplished, but people are out there fighting every single day.

    I was commenting on your glib attitude that pretty much all they need to do is want it. And if they are too overwhelmed with their own situation. Too busy working 3 jobs to feed their children. Too scared of the gangs. Too scared of their own neighbors who don’t want the gangs out. Too tired. Too hopeless. Too out of ideas. Then they have no right to complain.

    I fight things worth fighting all the time (this is something worth fighting so I’m not saying it is not). But since I am part of those out there trying to so something to help, I understand how hard it is and what they are up against. I’m not holding it against anyone who doesn’t have the energy anymore to take on Goliath.

    And I’ve noticed a trend in your posts that everything is a battle. You are often fighting battles just to fight, not because they have any real meaning, but because you like to get on people’s faces and push them around. And people who aren’t like you. People who like to try diplomacy first as opposed to coming out in every single situation swinging as hard as they can, are weak and cave in.

  35. Donna January 11, 2013 at 11:50 pm #

    I’m also not going to fault someone for keeping their children inside or in organized activities and not out on the street playing in an attempt to keep them in school and out of the gangs and crime while working to change their neighborhoods. Because THOSE are the people who are fighting to make lives better for their children. Not the crackheads who don’t care where their kids are. Or the gangbanger dads who don’t even acknowledge their children. And not holier than thou people who don’t think they are doing enough and don’t have any right to complain.

  36. pentamom January 12, 2013 at 10:56 am #

    “If you don’t allow your child to play with another child because the second child is a bad influence, it’s YOUR child you don’t trust. ”

    Yes, that’s correct. I never trusted my six year olds to make all the right choices about people based on factors it takes maturity to understand or withstand. That’s why they were called “children” and had something called “parents.”

  37. Jeffrey Varasano January 12, 2013 at 3:55 pm #

    I understand that there are neighborhoods that are dangerous, but that’s a separate problem and misses the point of this thread. Consider my friend who twice had store security guards return her ‘lost children’. Are we supposed to start a campaign to “take back” Nordstroms?

    The truth is that NYC is far, far safer now that it was when I grew up. The murder rate in 2012 was the lowest in 60 years, with 2012 down an astonishing 81% compared to 1990

    Co-op City was never a haven for gangs and I didn’t see any evidence that it is now. So the idea that parents are keeping their kids home to keep them out of trouble, also, I think misses the point and doesn’t address the fact that we see the same effects in Scarsdale.

    The point is that our attitude and tolerance for risk is far, far lower.

  38. Rob T January 12, 2013 at 4:48 pm #

    Growing up in Bensonhurst Brooklyn was the same. Not allowed in any ones house, no sleepovers, no friends eating over….
    Like I always say, if I had to be a kid again, it would not be in today’s day. It has to be back when I was a kid

  39. carlygirl January 12, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

    @Jeff…I enjoyed reading your article, I too grew up in the 70’s in the Bronx . And I do find it sad that children are not playing in the streets and enjoying the outdoors. Unfortunatley Jeff it is a combination of things that have ;et to this reality of helicopter parenting so to speak. We definately grew up in a simpler time, where even though there was crime we didnt feel as though we were in iminent danger on a daily basis. I have a question for you ..Are you a parent? Because it is easy to look at this and say that we need to “allow” our children to grow up in a “free range” environment, but the reality of the times make that difficult. As a parent of 2 older children now, I am still very cautious as to where they go and who they are with. It is not that I dont trust them, but it is the world that I dont trust. and with all do respect, I dotn care to be politically correct–I care about the safety of my kids! it is sad. I always say that I wish my kids grew up when I did, where I did as I had the best childhood. We didnthave much but we enjoyed the freedoms and knew how to handle it. I;m sure you dealt with crime Jeff, living in Co-op City, but people werent coming into your building with machine guns and blasting their way into schools. Times are different and unfortunatley, AS A PARENT, we have to protect our kids first and formost!

  40. Donald January 12, 2013 at 6:16 pm #


    I have also been accused of having the attitude. ‘Give in, don’t fight’

    The fear hysteria has been developing over 3 generations. It was so subtle that we didn’t even notice it. That is until Lenore woke us up to it. It wasn’t quick to arrive. It won’t be quick to go.

    The problem is television. However, I don’t really even blame the networks. They only supply what the public demand. They didn’t even realize they were trying to addict their costumers with fear, they only wanted to survive in the cutthroat industry.

    News, movies and games have evolved into what they are today. The reason behind giraffes for having long necks is because of food scarcity, competition and the fact that giraffes with shorter necks were disadvantaged. The same is true about crocodiles. The crocodiles with the stronger jaws and sharper teeth had an advantage over the crocs that weren’t as deadly. In the same way the TV shows that survive are the ones that are best at stirring up emotion.

    However, if we ban or regulate TV, the desire will still be there! The answer is to outgrow this. I’m no longer entertained by visiting amusement parks. It sounds like many on this site are no longer ‘sucked in’ by TV as they use to be.

    @Jerfrey I agree – sort of

    The truth is that NYC is far, far safer now that it was when I grew up…. The point is that our attitude and tolerance for risk is far, far lower.

    The brain has two paths for decision making. It normally goes
    Sensory cortex
    Take action

    However when extreme fear is on, it takes a shortcut. It goes
    Take action

    Our brain was designed this way because every second counts when fighting a saber tooth tiger, jumping out of the way of a speeding chariot or fleeing from Genghis Khan. However, many people are now using that shortcut in most situations. They are actually losing their ability to use the Sensory cortex and the Hippocampus!

  41. Suzy Schooler January 12, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

    I grew up in Co-op City (in the Bronx) as well. Jeff and I went to the same High School and graduated the same year.. In reading this article he wrote, I’m reminded of how carefree our youth was. We traveled in groups and were relatively “safe”. we hung out after school, went to movies, went to Manhatten by bus or train, we hung out in the Village, We went to the Rocky Horror Picture Show at Midnight (most weekends), We did what we wanted to and have happy memories from that time period. We rode bikes with out helmets, we rode in cars with out seat belts and we dealt with our own “problems” (arguments with peers, bullying, etc.). We used our imaginations and brains and we were social. We were basically outside from dawn till dusk. We had no cell phones, or ipads, or tablets, or DS’s, etc.. We had mentors and it took a village. If we misbehaved our parents heard about it- Our friends parents, extended family, neighbors and teachers made sure we acted appropriately, when we didn’t we were reprimanded by each of the above! Those days were awesome and I wouldn’t trade them for anything!- These days I have a 16 year old son and a 10 year old son- My older son drives- He’s a black belt in Karate, a kickboxing champion and a life guard as well as an all A student in all AP/ Honors classes- He makes wise choices and he has been working for almost 2 years- 3 jobs. My 10 year old comes and goes as he pleases too- However when he rides his bike- he needs to wear his helmet (Enough people have cracked their heads open with out them and I don’t want him to be another statistic)- In our car we all wear seat belts (Enough people have died with out them) He goes out in our (safe) neighborhood and finds friends to play with- I ask him to call me and tell me where he is, who he is with, who is supervising and when he will be home- because times have changed and sadly we know now that we have no idea what a psychopath looks like until AFTER they melt down… My 10 year old is an Advanced Brown Belt in Karate and is the Kichboxing State Champion in 3 states. He is also an amazing swimmer and is on the A Honor Roll… So I am lucky I can trust my kids- I still have a bit of a pit in my stomach till they come home- not because I don’t trust them- It’s the predators out there that I don’t trust., We now live in a Nation where we hear all to often of lunatics that go into schools with guns and shoot as many people as they can- This is a reality we have to deal with. There are so many “Games” that our kids play that involve shooting and killing (Nazi Zombies, Black Opps, etc)..We need to monitor and expose our children to positive activities and people! Jeff mentioned an employee that picks up his 14 year old daughter from the bus stop. Though our bus stop is right out of our cul-de-sac, I have to say, If I had a daughter I might pick her up too- Especially if I didn’t want to be a grandparent “SOON” There are MANY kids these days sexting, and engaging in sexual activity and their parents are clueless… So there you have it- My 2 cents…

  42. LadyTL January 13, 2013 at 2:09 am #

    Suzy, you talked about how you “hear” about so many lunatics. Well that is exactly the problem. There is not a lunatic or a predator every other house on the block. Violence in game that children play didn’t spring out of the ether with video games either. Kids played cops and robber, cowboys and indians etc and played “shooting” each other. Or fighting each other or imaginary enemies. Kids played superhero and “defeated” their foes through strength. I was one of those and I was a kid in the 90s no less. (luckily born just before overparenting became a thing)

    Oh and trust me teens were “engaging in sexual activity” for decades before sexting. Ever heard of Lover’s lanes? They weren’t just popular for the views. It’s just easier to get Caught doing it now then before. Or did you think teens never had unexpected pregnancies before cellphones and the internet? STDs didn’t just happen because we can now watch what kids are doing these days either.

    The only real difference between now and 20 years ago is the air of perpetual surveillance just because we can. Now you can lo-jack your kids phone when before you had to actually physically find them to find out what they were up to.

    Kids are having the same exposure to violent media (unless you think history has no violence and kids never had any access to books with violence in them).
    Teens are still exploring how puberty makes them feel sexually with or without parental permission.
    Violent crimes are actually historically down regardless of the percentage shown on tv going up.

  43. Lisa January 13, 2013 at 6:46 am #

    My daughter is 10, and reading these responses I find myself wondering if we are not all talking about kids of the same age. I trust my kid to make basically good decisions *most of the time* and *with guidance*, because she is a smart, capable, confident, mature kid but she is still only 10. She walks to and from school, but she needs to call me when she gets home and she needs to ask permission in advance if she is going anywhere else (that could mean a phone call from the school or a friend’s parent’s cell phone, but it can NOT mean a call after she’s already arrived at someone’s house without my permission). She has walked to my office to meet me, gone to the library and grocery store by herself, and spends a lot of time home alone whether because I have to work and she’s out of school, or because I have to go somewhere that she’d prefer not to join me for. But I do think it’s important to know her friends, at least the ones she’s close to… I don’t helicopter, but I do spend time with her friends’ parents sometimes, or let her invite a friend to our house, to a movie, to dinner, or to other fun things that I try to make time to do together at least occasionally. And we TALK, a lot. My daughter tells me about the other kids, and I just listen – I know not only who her friends are, but what she sees as the best qualities in those kids, and WHY she’s not friends with kids she’s chosen not to spend her time with. She has electronic devices (no phone yet, but an iPod and iPad, plus she uses my computer sometimes), and the rules around them are pretty flexible (turn it off when I say so, TELL me if you come across anything weird or inappropriate), and her email is a protected account with any messages not to/from someone in her contacts monitored by me. We are incredibly close, and we spend time together because it’s FUN – we watch movies/tv, go out to eat, go to a show or sporting event together. Sometimes we do things that are only fun for one of us, but I think that’s ok too. And yet last year when she was in a play, and I got a last minute invitation to go out of town to attend a wedding, and I was torn about what to do, my then-9-yr-old said “Do I still get to be in the show? Ok, then what’s the problem, mom? You do your thing, I’ll do my thing”. I think we can spend time with our kids, and have close, open, communicative relationships with them, *without* hovering.
    I don’t know many people that would trust a 5 year old to make wise decisions about people they meet without input. If there were drug dealers running rampant in my neighborhood, I would likely not let a young child outside. At 10 (and with a very strong personality), my daughter would simply come home and tell me if she were approached by someone who seemed strange. At 5, I don’t know what she would have done – I have carefully monitored her independence in a way that allowed her to take small steps as she was ready, to the point that now she can pretty much handle things herself (although, again, we still talk through anything that is challenging for her). Are people suggesting that teens can’t go out because of potentially being exposed to “bad influences”, or that preschoolers can’t? There is a world of difference.

  44. Suzy Schooler January 13, 2013 at 10:28 am #

    Lady TL- I’m well aware of everything you posted going on today and in the past. I was talking about why I allow my children freedom to be children, while trying as best I can to make sure they are safe (being as good at Martial Arts- gives me much comfort) and telling them they need to be aware of their surroundings. I don’t think there is a lunatic or a predator on “every corner” that would be paranoid and I am not! However by the time you figure out that you are inside the home of a predator or lunatic most of the time it is to late to escape unharmed or untraumatized. I’m well aware of teen and sometimes younger sexual activity too- Lover’s Lane was before my time… However when i was growing up there were plenty of places to go for those that were interested (as I’m sure there are today too)…And you are right- we did “beat each other up, or bully”- But the loser of the fight or the victim of bullying did NOT go get weapons and shoot up schools…History is FULL of violence, but that does mean we have to repeat it. History and the Bible are full of violence and wars- but if you involve children/teens in sports or other activities they are less likely to engage in drugs, alcohol, etc… (They simply don’t have the time or the desire to ruin their bodies- some not all of course)- And about the percentage of crimes going up, down or sideways- I don’t care-1 violent crime is 1 to many… I didn’t say I keep my children locked in the house for their “safety”… My kids hang out with friends, have fun and play (safely- to my knowledge)- We also go to Church at least weekly and they are involved there too (NO I don’t worry about the priest doing anything with them!)- I have a question for you- How many children do you have? and how old are they?

  45. Jeffrey Varasano January 13, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

    Just to let others know, Suzy actually lived in the same building as the Son of Sam.

  46. Suzy Schooler January 13, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

    Actually Jeff, Sam Berkowitz’s grandmother lived on the other side of my building (the building you took the picture of)- across the street from you. I’m not sure if he was adopted or not either, I think I remember hearing that he was… but either way, I remember being about 11 or 12 having VERY long dark brown hair and my Mom trying to talk me into cutting it- I remember arguing that the girls he was killing were much older than me and I got to keep my long hair 🙂 … So there was concern about serial killers (aka lunatics) back then too… But it didn’t interfere with me being able to play with my friends (trading stationary with friends that lived in my building and nearby) or my going to dance class right across the street or my being able to walk around outside (in the daylight)…

  47. LadyTL January 13, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

    Suzy, it just comes across as weird that you talk about how nice your childhood was while admitting you will never let your kids have that since you do monitor and hover over them more then your parents did.

    Also why do I have to have kids in your eyes or a certain amount of them to have a point?

  48. Liz January 13, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

    I am in high school. I have a study period right before lunch and about an hour and a half of free time. It annoys me that I cannot leave the school to go buy a cheaper and tastier lunch. I can take of myself enough to walk a couple of blocks, really it’s no trouble at all. It is so friggin irritating that Chartwells has a monopoly on school lunch,

  49. Suzy Schooler January 13, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

    Lady TL- Firstly I do not hover over my children, but I do love them and want the best for them ( as it should be)-

    I notice you didn’t answer my question to you about how many kids you have or how old they are? The reason I asked you if you have children is because if you don’t you are basing your thoughts on theories. Before I had my children I was convinced of how I’d handle certain situations, I thought I knew all about- Theories are awesome- but sometimes you notice when you try putting them into practice- they do not work! If I had to guess about whether or not you have kids, I think you probably don’t. Maybe if or when you have your own children you will see giving them the freedom they NEED to mature while keeping them safe and healthy is a balancing act… It requires trial and error and much thought.

    I try very hard not to judge other people- especially people I don’t know and even more so people that have experiences that I have not had (ie: parenthood) unless you walk a mile in someone elses shoes you have no right to judge, criticize or have a holier than though attitude. I’m not saying these are things you are doing… Although I do think you read my comment wrong.

    …- I have been polite and respectful to you in my remarks and I would appreciate the same courtesy.

    I think you are quite confused about what I said…maybe you read someone elses statement and think it’s me… go back and re read what I wrote.. I said my kids DO go out and play with other kids in our neighborhood, I said they have the freedom to go out – I said my 16 year old drives to his friends houses, he jogs around our neighborhood, goes to the pool and tennis courts with friends and my 10 year old pretty much comes and goes as he pleases- How much more freedom would you think is appropriate for a MINOR… – I said I trust them and I want them to feel safe- I also said I want to know where they are, who they are with, who is supervising and when they will be home- These are not “HOVERING” questions- in fact, the lack of these questions can be interpreted as NEGLECT!

    And saying I have happy memories of hanging out with friends as a child in no way is weird… There were parts that were fantastic and parts that were learning experiences that might not have occurred if I had more supervision.

    Either way, I still stand behind what I said and how I parent… Times have changed… Laws have changed, Parents are legally accountable for their children’s choices (Morally and ethically as well) . My children know I am in their corner and they have all the freedom they can cope with at this age in their lives.

    They are wonderful kids and I couldn’t be prouder!

    I also happen to be a teacher and know a bit about child psychology- Children NEED boundaries- They NEED rules to follow, They NEED to know they are loved, cared for and appreciated. They need to have age appropriate experiences… That is how they become independent and that is the goal of all parents…. Creating happy, healthy and productive members of society~! Seeing kids that don’t have that necessary attention at home or no boundaries or filters WILL find the attention elsewhere (& not in constructive places) and interpret controlling partners as loving ones… Just sayin….

  50. LadyTL January 13, 2013 at 9:46 pm #

    Suzy, no I do not have children personally, however I got a baby sister at age 14 and have done more to raise her than our mother even did, so yes I understand raising children. So contrary to your theory, people without kids can in fact have workable experience with raising children. So as I said in the first place, you really didn’t have a good reason to ask if I had children except to try and say I was too stupid to know I was wrong.

    So your nasty assumptions about me, my life and my ideas are all completely and totally wrong and I did not deserve the nastiness you gave off because you assumed I obviously had no idea what goes on in raising children. You obviously also were not polite or respectful in addressing me in your last remark. You also judged me from the moment I disagreed with your assumptions about video games and sex and then judged me again when I rightfully chose to ignore your question about having kids. You also chose to feel attacked by me simply and politely disagreeing with you.

    I just feel that you are hovering by requiring your kids call you every time they go somewhere with where they are, who they are with, who is supervising and when they will be home. Particularly of the 16 year old since that says you don’t trust them to go to place they feel safe, don’t trust who they are with, don’t trust them to be unsupervised and don’t trust them to come home at a reasonable time. It’s not neglect by the way to have trust in someone who is almost an adult.

    And yes Children need boundaries, but not the same ones at every age, need rules, but should need less of them as they get older and need to know they are loved, cared for and appreciated as well as when they get older the respect of being their own person who will do their own things and the trust to do them safely.

    “seeing kids that don’t have that necessary attention at home or no boundaries or filters WILL find the attention elsewhere (& not in constructive places) and interpret controlling partners as loving ones” I don’t see how you know for a fact though that every child ever in all of existence will for a fact turn to bad and be abused simply for not being raised how you see fit. Since it is blatantly not true in all cases and portraying it that way is spreading more stereotypes that you can’t ever be happy because your parents weren’t perfect.

    I was abused as a child ( dad broke my shoulder and sliced open my back). I never joined a gang, never did drugs and have a happy and healthy relationship with my husband, I have a co-worker who was neglected and lives a happy and healthy life, also never joining a gang or doing drugs and he is older than me.

    But then that is My Opinion and I can have it without telling you your’s is wrong like you are taking it as.

  51. Lisa January 14, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

    @LadyTL, we are all entitled to our own opinions, but just to share another perspective: it is not *always* a sign of distrust to expect kids to tell us where they are. My fiancee almost always knows where I am, and I know where he is… and we have 100% trust – we’re just *interested* and *involved* in each other’s lives. His parents, married over 40 years, are the same way – his dad calls his mom every day when he arrives at work, and again when he’s leaving – they ALWAYS know that the other is ok. Their two kids call and check in daily, and always have – they are now ages 37 and 31. I always told my roommates what my plans were after work, and when I’d likely be home, and they told me – not because anyone was in charge, but because it seems like basic respect to tell those you live with when you will be home. I expect the same from my daughter, and will for as long as she lives in my house. At some point, where she goes and who she is with will cease to be my decision, and I will trust her to make good choices (at 10, I still have some say, especially when rides are needed). I expect that she will choose NOT to spend her time with teens who are drinking or doing drugs. I expect that she will choose NOT to stay out so late that she is overtired for school. Knowledge is not the same as control – asking where they are is not the same thing as trying to micromanage every moment of their time. I DO need to know where she is, in case I need to be able to call or pick her up for any reason (emergencies *can* happen, and so can unexpected changes in plans). I have done it already, when she’s been at the playground after school (where she is allowed to be without calling, since the regular routine is for her to play for a while, then walk home and call me), and something came up – an invitation, once, and a mistake (mine) in her voice lesson schedule which required leaving earlier than I’d told her. There are very valid reasons for parents to know where kids are. And in my experience, people who have nothing to hide generally don’t mind telling anyone where they are going.

  52. Susan2 January 15, 2013 at 10:27 am #

    Liz – I’m guessing that students are not allowed to leave campus at your school because the students end up not coming back, or not coming back in time for the next class, not because of fear of what someone will do to the teens. It may also be that the teens were causing disruptions at local businesses and the school was catching flak for it. Both of those are reasons why our high school no longer has an open campus policy.

    With NCLB and Race to the Top, the schools have a much greater incentive to make sure as many students as possible are in class, which isn’t always a bad thing.

  53. Liz January 15, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

    Honestly, the kids who won’t come back either A) Don’t show up at all or B) leave anyways. Thus, leaving them free to go and be rapscallions in all the local businesses. We do have a smoking area at school so it isn’t like kids aren’t going outside. Kids who want to do bad will do bad and there is no reason to punish kids who just want to grab some lunch that does not taste like cardboard.

  54. Warren January 15, 2013 at 4:17 pm #

    Would a letter of permission, and I know it is a little demeaning, but one from a parent do any good?

    And if not, then get the student council and the parent’s working on changing that ruling.

    I would also assume it has something to do with the agreement with the company running the cafeteria. The school most likely gets a percentage of the sales.

  55. Suzy Schooler January 15, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

    Lisa- Well stated and I agree 100%!

    Carlygirl- Rock on Sista Friend !!! 🙂

    Lady TL- If I don’t have a good reason to ask if you have children, why do you think you have a good reason to judge my parenting? Which you DID do- when you said It was weird that I don’t allow my kids the freedoms I had growing up. You also said I hover over them- That is not a nice comment to make either.
    I certainly do not believe I was offensive or impolite to you. And If you took it that way, please accept my sincerest apology-

    I have no problem being disagreed with. I’m sure plenty of people disagree with me on a regular basis- “Suck it up,buttercup” is my motto!

    However having a baby sister at 14 has NOTHING to do with parenting. Whether or not you “raised’ her… When you have your own children (natural or adopted) your perspective changes – you mature and you realize that things are always changing and you accomodate. I had a cousin at 11 that I took care of ALL THE TIME… That did not make me her parent. I loved her very much and took her everywhere. But we were both kids. I thought I was like her parent- In fact she often raised her hands to me if she wanted to be held or comforted even with her parents standing right there.
    There is no ONE right way to raise children- Different things work for different people. You don’t know me or my kids, So how can you say I’m parenting correctly or incorrectly? They are happy and healthy and well adjusted kids- that excell on so many levels Their achievements speak for themselves, and is not by luck that they achieved them- but hard work, drive , determination and guidance and support,. that is due to how my husband and I raise them- They understand we love them and it is our JOB to protect them and make sure they are safe and healthy- And as I said before- FREEDOM is a learning process- we don’t give it ALL AT ONCE… Even as adults- When you meet new people… They gradually earn trust and friendships build from there.
    In your comment to me you initially said I hover over my kids- That is a judgement! Whether you want to admit it or not.
    You are certainly entitled to your opinion as am I and every single human being on the planet. I think we are going to have to agree to disagree here. And that really should be fine with both of us. As I said before I apologize if you feel I was nasty, I didn’t intend to be.

  56. Liz January 16, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

    @Warren Nope. A rule is a rule is a rule. We don’t have a junior prom because someone *might* spike the punch.

  57. Warren January 16, 2013 at 3:59 pm #


    Well that really sucks. I feel for you having to miss some of the better times of high school.

    Ever seen the movie FOOTLOOSE? They were not allowed to have a dance with in the town limits, so they moved the dance just outside the town line.

    Organize your own prom off school property. If you can.

  58. first aid July 22, 2013 at 2:01 am #

    yah times did change its because of the arising alarming criminal events everywhere.So parents will just decide tolet their children play inside and also the fact the domination of the computer games children nowadays most of them will prefer doing that..sad though..