I Let My 4 Kids Play Outside, On a Sunny Saturday. The Cops Wrote Up a Report

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

 Hi Folks! Lenore Skenazy from Free-Range Kids again. Tell me when you start getting sick of these stories: The ones where parents let their kids actually PLAY OUTSIDE and the cops come a-calling. I get these letters ALL THE TIME and am at my wit’s end, as I don’t know what to tell these traumatized parents. In fact, I just asked a cop on a post below this one (aptly titled, “Ask a Cop”). So here’s the latest letter. Since when does the government get to decide whether or not our kids are allowed to FROLIC?

Dear Free-Range Kids: I  might be labelled as an overprotective parent. I don’t allow my children to spend the night at anyone’s house, and also don’t allow anyone to spend the night here unless I know the parents very well.  This is due to my own childhood trauma.

That said: I have had social services called on me twice and the police interrogate me 4 times, because apparently I am one of only two families that allows my children to play outside at all in our neighborhood (which is very safe  . Just today, I allowed all four of my children (they were all together) to go play in the field adjacent to my house. I could literally see them outside my kitchen window.  My 10 year old ran home to tell my husband and I that a cop had stopped and was interrogating my oldest daughter.

No, this was not after dark, it was at 4pm on a Saturday.  So my husband walked out to see what was going on, and the police officer even wrote up a report, stating that the children were left outside unsupervised.

So, since I am new to Virginia, I asked my neighbors if this was a “Virginia” thing.  Their response was, “Well, you know it just isn’t safe anymore to allow your kids to play outside.” I thought I was overprotective making them carry cellphones to check in every 30 mins, and only allowing them wander off 1/2 of a block.  Seriously?  We asked the police if they were doing anything wrong, he said, “No they were very respectful kids, I just wanted to make sure they were okay because it was odd seeing them outside unsupervised.”  We are not talking toddlers, we’re talking teens, pre-teens and one 5 year old all together. – A Mom of 4

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54 Responses to “I Let My 4 Kids Play Outside, On a Sunny Saturday. The Cops Wrote Up a Report”

  1. #1 |  stronginva | 

    There’s something wrong with the world when your kids can’t go outside and play.

  2. #2 |  confused | 

    I let my kids play outside all the time. they know the rules and do not stray from them. I live on a corner and my friends are my neighbors but i never let my kids out of eye sight. The parent should always keep the kids in sight if you have to go inside for any length of time bring them in till you are done. they will understand.
    As for the police. they have a job to do and most do it without trying to cause problems.(I personly do not like them all the time) they never cause me trouble with my kids because I am there watching them. Even when I am working on a car I can still tell you where they are at all times just by there sound. If anyone talks to my kids I stop everything and see who it is and what they want.
    I like lenore sugestion of raising good neighbors. but the point is you should always watch your kids in any town. the country the kids usually carry a 22 with them so watch out preditors. :) Respect the cop and they do the same respect the neighbor and they call the cops.

  3. #3 |  Warren | 

    Please inform us as to where you are a law enforcement officer. Not to cause you any problems. I just wish to know where not to ever move to.

    Your attitude is one of the reasons why LEO’s get a bad reputation. Your opinion is no more right than mine, just because you have a badge.

    You are absolutely right, ” Your kids. Your responsibility. Period!”. So that means, leave them alone when they are playing, they have my permission and confidence. You do not have the right to undermine my authority, with my children, nor do you have the right to impose your parenting ideals, on me. They are my kids, my responsibility. Period! Get over it!

  4. #4 |  Warren | 


    The major issue has nothing to do with the officer talking to the kids. The problem? The cop wrote up a report. Neither the kids nor the parents were doing anything wrong, and yet they were treated like they were.
    Here in Ontario, Canada my daughters have been spoken to by the provincial police a few times when, they are out and about. But these fine officers are only being friendly, and saying hi. Because these officers are wise enough to know that there is absolutely nothing wrong with kids being out and about on their own.
    So take your badge endowed righteousness and go do your job. Which does not include harassing innocent children and their parents.
    Also, stop the fear mongering. If you do not know that the vast majority of all crimes commited against children come from within the home, and that stranger danger is a crock, you should not be wearing a badge.