WootBot


quality posts: 14 Private Messages WootBot

Staff

I just read this article yesterday about a Texas mom who was actually arrested, handcuffed and all, and thrown in jail for 18 hours because her neighbor called and complained that she was letting her children (ages 9 and 6) play outside unsupervised.

In the article, the mother states that they weren't unsupervised, that she was outside on the porch watching them the entire time. But even if she wasn't, since when is it illegal to let your kids play outside by themselves? Some might argue that it's not advisable. But the last time I checked, it's not against the law.

Still, the officers took the neighbor at her word without any investigation and slapped the mother with a child endangerment charge (which was later dropped). Now she's suing, the neighbor and the police.

I am not for frivolous lawsuits, but in this case, I hope she wins. And if she doesn't, I hope she at least gets one good slap in at that busybody neighbor. Kidding, of course. Violence is never the answer. That's what I'm supposed to teach my kid anyway. :)

So, rant aside … the bigger question is, do you let your kids play outside by themselves? If so, at what age?

Like many of the commentors, I remember the days when I'd leave the house at 10 am and my mom would tell me to "be back for dinner." Luckily, I was never kidnapped and murdered. And I wasn't a trouble maker, so I wasn't wreaking havoc across the neighborhood either. Unfortunately, those things happen sometimes. So do we keep our children locked up inside until they go to college, or do we just hope for the best and set them free? Is there a middle ground?

It's a tough one.

Photo by Flickr member Brain Fitzgerald, used under a Creative Commons License.

matkyne1


quality posts: 0 Private Messages matkyne1

As one of 10 kids, my mother NEVER knew where I was. As an adult with little ones of my own I let them play outside, but I have a BIG yard. They are still too young to be unsupervised (toddlers) but once I am reasonably confident they will not try to eat rat poison the moment I turn my back, they can have free reign. You don't want your kids to play video games all day but you won't let them outside either?

RWoodward


quality posts: 58 Private Messages RWoodward

I grew up in the 60s. Every parent in my town must have been a criminal, because we were rarely supervised.

How is a kid supposed to have any childhood adventures if there is an adult watching every single move? How can they learn to be trustworthy if we never give them an opportunity to test their trust?

kitti11


quality posts: 0 Private Messages kitti11

CPS showed up at my nephews house this summer becuase the neighbor complained that his 3 year old son was always playing naked in the back yard. The kid hates clothes so he runs around in his underwear.. not naked. but whos business is it anyway. if you don't like it, don't look through the fence!

kathleenhardy


quality posts: 0 Private Messages kathleenhardy

My son is 11(almost 12) my daughter is 7 I am still afraid to leave them home alone. Now its not that I think they will be harmed its just the fear that some CPS worker will be of the opinion that my children too young and that I will get thrown in jail. For as I was told there is no law but it is left to the discretion of the case manager and police to determine wither or not that they feel your kids are old enough. So you get someone who has no child rearing history or is a dramatic sort and poof your in cuffs and they are in the system. If you can't let them play in the yard when they are 6 when are they going to build the skills needed to be independent. "Yay Tommy your 18 now you can stop holding my hand to cross the street and can be in the fenced back yard all by yourself... and maybe next year you can stay home by yourself for an hour or two. " I know that the harm of a child is beyond sad, but I feel like someone went off the deep end like they feel that cocooning our children is the answer not realizing the development of self is being missed out on. People complain about obesity in children, well I got my exercise by tromping around town, playing in the park, riding my bike, roller skating. Yes kids can still do those things but only in the time frame that their parents are available. There is no way my mom would have had time to supervise me and my 3 siblings out on our explorations let alone today when almost 50% of children are living in broken homes and where many more homes both parents have to work. Society is taking away the supervision and yet making greater and greater demands. There needs to be more balance to this equation and less judgement.

inkycatz


quality posts: 105 Private Messages inkycatz
kathleenhardy wrote:For as I was told there is no law but it is left to the discretion of the case manager and police to determine wither or not that they feel your kids are old enough. So you get someone who has no child rearing history or is a dramatic sort and poof your in cuffs and they are in the system.



That strikes me as a horribly wrong way to do things.

I'm just hanging out, really.

howie1234


quality posts: 0 Private Messages howie1234

Wow! All I can say is I hope that neighbor never becomes my neighbor or I'll be next. And my kids are even younger! In the Midwest, that's just how we do things. Maybe that's why there's an obesity epidemic. Parents are too afraid to let kids out unsupervised, so instead they are indoors eating processed foods and watching tv. Such a shame what this society is coming too.

narlymoni


quality posts: 0 Private Messages narlymoni

I let my 5 year old play in the small backyard that I have (we live in a complex of condos) We have a gate and I just make sure I have the door open with just the screen door shut, and I can hear things back there if I can't see out of the window/door. Sometimes I have to go in the rooms in the back, but he is a very responsible boy and knows not to go out the gate. I trust him so I let him play by himself out there. One good thing is that my ears are very tuned into the sound of the gate coming unlatched.. That way if some predator was trying to sneak in I could go run and save my child! I also let my 18month old in the back with him by themselves

britpj


quality posts: 0 Private Messages britpj

When my now 30+ daughter was growing up on a very nice, safe, close to the city, street, we used common sense. I loved being out-doors doing yard work, etc., and let my neighbors know their kids were welcome to play within my eye-sight. I would send the kids home when it was time to go in. We would let the kids know that at least one adult had to be able to hear or see them. My ex and I made our driveway and back yard as fun for kids as we could. My pay off was lots of "help" from the kids and teaching my only child, daughter how to share and inter-act with all types of other kids.

britpj

britpj


quality posts: 0 Private Messages britpj

Why doesn't that nosy neighbor offer to watch the kids whom they are so concerned about? I'm sure they could use some fresh air to clear their head!

britpj

anthonyhiga


quality posts: 1 Private Messages anthonyhiga

Neighbor's kids always play outside by themselves. No parents watching. The age ranges from 2-7. I am ok with the older kids playing outside, but the younger one always need my "help" to rescue him when he is blocking the road, or falls down from his bicycle/tricycle.

nicetry1007


quality posts: 0 Private Messages nicetry1007

My children are 7 and 8 and I let them play outside and have for some time. Since they were toddlers they have been able to play in our large yard and they were avle to start playing in the front yard as they got older. Now I let them ride bikes and play all up and down the sidewalk on our street. They ride bikes over to friend's houses that live nearby in our neighborhood. They have very specific rules they must follow and they are very responsible. Naturally I check on them frequently and if they are riding bikes between our homes and their friend's homes they are required to check in at specific times. They wear watches and are responsible to keep track of the time and check in when they need to. If they are not checking in when they need to then they do not get to go back to their friends and if they break rules by riding bikes where they no supposed to they get their bikes taken away. If they go outside of the area that I have said they may play, then they cannot play out font anymore. I try to make their consiquences as much a "natural" result of their actions as I can. They need to learn that every action has a consiquence. If I do not pay my water bill, it gets shut off. If I need to be at work but sleep in, I will be late. This is how life works and as their Mother I would be doing them an injustice if I did not prepare them for the world. There are already enough irresponsible adults in the world, I don't plan for my children to grow up to be part of that problem. They are given trust and are expected to be accountable for their actions. I feel that this helps them to be responsible, they are mindful of their choices. I give them my trust as long as they show me that they are trustworthy. Their play area increases as they get older and as they show me that they are becoming more responsible. A natural consiquence of their age and matrity. I feel that children do well when much is expected of them. They are able to live up to high expectations but so many parents do not expect enough from their children. I know that irregardless of their choices and responsibility their are many things beyond their control that could happen. We do all that we can to learn what to do in various situations. My children have (admittedly) much less freedom to roam then I had when I was little. A sad reflection of the changing world that we live in. I do not believe that locking them in the house as I hover over them is a good way to prepare them for this life.
The neighbor and the police in this instance are being ridiculous. I am sure that there are some children that have not learned the responisibility needed to be allowed the trust to play out front alone and that is sad. However, I am not sure that watching your mother be arrested for no reason is a good way to have a child feel safe or to respect adults and athority figures. I don't think that a Mother being tossed in jail because she let your child play outside is any way to help children feel safe or to let them know that the police are there to help them. How tramatic!! Children need to be able to start having some responsibility. Sending your child out in the world at 18 when you have hovered over them all their lives does not help anyone. They will never learn to do things on their own. This is a great way to end up with them living with you forever. I mean do you plan to still go over and pay their bills, clean their home, attend their job interviews for them when they grow up?
We should be able to allow our children some freedoms. The fear that our children will end up in a often scary and VERY imperfect system if we let them stay home alone for an hour or play in the front yard is just sad.
I hope this lady wins this lawsuit! Those poor kids and this poor Mother deserve it!

kats2882


quality posts: 0 Private Messages kats2882

I'm expecting my first and this article disturbed me. Do I want to raise my child within the confines of gossip and heresy? Of course not! If my child doesn't play outside, I won't get taken to jail, but at least I'll have a fat, unresponsible, unimaginative child. Arrggg! This is an example of "how to suppress the intelligent to make everyone equal". Personally, I think this is an example of a cop not wanting to do his job, a neighbor upset that they weren't included, and ignorance at its best.

MISRy


quality posts: 0 Private Messages MISRy

Our saying at home was, Run! Be free! (mumble)... within predefined limits...(/mumble)

It was our job to establish the limits. Whether it be eyeshot in a mall or earshot the the neighborhood as long as you remember the rules for safety and I could hear them yell we were good. Till they got to be 11 or 12 when the rules got their first major overhaul.

runnerfrog13


quality posts: 10 Private Messages runnerfrog13

I read that article and it frightened me - not because I let my kid play in the street (we live in an apartment complex), but because my toddler is 2 and has screaming fits every single day. Like, an hour at a time, solid screaming at us. (Usually at bedtime). Our neighbor downstairs came up quite concerned and asked us about it finally this week. I was mortified, and not because I was beating my child (which I wasn't! I don't spank), but because I literally cannot get her to stop. I am so glad the neighbor came and talked to me before doing something drastic like calling the CPS! And yet after reading that article, I'm frightened that some neighbor who doesn't have the ganas to come talk to me will just take the easy way out and call CPS or the police or something.

jackgrover1


quality posts: 0 Private Messages jackgrover1

Hey everyone!
My daughter is 8. She's smart, pretty, polite and rather helpful (Especially when she wants something.). I wouldn't want anything seriously bad to happen to her. But that doesn't mean I don't expect to be able to keep her from getting hurt or in trouble sometimes. Kids must learn by making mistakes. And if I have been a good parent, then I've taught her well enough to know not to harm others and the rest should fall into place, with more gentle guidance.

Our neighbor, who has an 8 year old daughter also (They go to the same school and all), once asked me in shock if I had let my daughter walk over to their house to play with their daughter, all by herself. I said yes. Now understand, that our houses are catty-corner from each other and seperated by a quiet dead-end road, a few pine trees and about 250 feet. But she was shocked and said she would never take a chance like that with her daughter. Hmmmm, I wonder which one will grow up less afraid of the world?

But we all have this nagging fear in the back of our minds concerning busy-body people who know how to raise our children beter than us. And I think it's that fear that turns some of us into helicopter parents.

Just remember this, did you like being able to run around your neighborhood, play with your friends, have adventures and learn to interact with others? Then when you got home for dinner, you could tell your parents about all the fun you had. Wasn't that fun? Let your kids have the same fun.

jackgrover1


quality posts: 0 Private Messages jackgrover1
runnerfrog13 wrote:...I'm frightened that some neighbor who doesn't have the ganas to come talk to me will just take the easy way out and call CPS or the police or something.



Also beware of parents with a grudge. Our school has a strick entrance policy. All doors are locked at all times. You can easily get out but you can't get in without checking in at the office or using the secure entry on the side. I caught one parent, who helped out at the school frequently enough where they gave them a key, using the key on the side door to get in and pick up their child. That's fine, but they never, ever, locked the door once they were through it. I told that person a couple of times with no results, then informed the teachers. That person had their key taken away and they called CPS on us. Funny, we could have returned the favor, but we didn't. I have not changed my views on the security of our children. If I see anyone leaving a secure door unlocked, I mention it to them. Right is right and safety for all is important. Don't fear the fear mongers, just do what's right and you will win in the end. "Power to the Parents!!"

ariellem


quality posts: 3 Private Messages ariellem

My thoughts exactly.

kathleenhardy wrote:My son is 11(almost 12) my daughter is 7 I am still afraid to leave them home alone. Now its not that I think they will be harmed its just the fear that some CPS worker will be of the opinion that my children too young and that I will get thrown in jail. For as I was told there is no law but it is left to the discretion of the case manager and police to determine wither or not that they feel your kids are old enough. So you get someone who has no child rearing history or is a dramatic sort and poof your in cuffs and they are in the system. If you can't let them play in the yard when they are 6 when are they going to build the skills needed to be independent. "Yay Tommy your 18 now you can stop holding my hand to cross the street and can be in the fenced back yard all by yourself... and maybe next year you can stay home by yourself for an hour or two. " I know that the harm of a child is beyond sad, but I feel like someone went off the deep end like they feel that cocooning our children is the answer not realizing the development of self is being missed out on. People complain about obesity in children, well I got my exercise by tromping around town, playing in the park, riding my bike, roller skating. Yes kids can still do those things but only in the time frame that their parents are available. There is no way my mom would have had time to supervise me and my 3 siblings out on our explorations let alone today when almost 50% of children are living in broken homes and where many more homes both parents have to work. Society is taking away the supervision and yet making greater and greater demands. There needs to be more balance to this equation and less judgement.



tons o' screaming monkeys (yay!)
almost no Box of Cobwebs in the past few years (boo :-< )

crystalrose629


quality posts: 2 Private Messages crystalrose629

I was 5 and my sister was 10 we grew up in Philly in the early 90's. My mom let us go out unsupervised all the time. We play with a group of kids our ages, we knew not to go with strangers, we knew to look both ways before we cross the street, we knew to stay together, etc... It was normal I do not recall parents EVER hovering over all of us.