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