Crime or parenting? Cops called for kids playing alone in park

Parenting styles vary widely, from the helicopter variety to the free range. But a neighbor took the issue into her own hands recently, calling the cops on a dad who left his kids playing alone in a nearby park.

Tony Avelar / The Christian Science Monitor
Children play in a neighborhood park in Alameda, Calif. Parenting styles vary widely, from the helicopter variety to the free range. But a neighbor took the issue into her own hands recently, calling the cops on a dad who left his kids playing alone in a park near his house in Pittsburgh.

Readers! As we approach our third annual, “Take Our Children to the Park…And Leave Them There Day” (Saturday, May 19), this story is outrageous:

Apparently a dad let his two kids, ages 6 and 9, play in a local suburban Pittsburgh park on Saturday morning (April 7) for not quite two hours while he did some shopping and took a shower. That is, while he went about the tasks of everyday life.

Meantime, a woman noticed this unusual thing: Kids playing without an adult around!

That this fact was “disturbing” to an onlooker is what is so disturbing about our culture. For millennia, kids kept themselves occupied while their parents were otherwise engaged. A 9-year-old watching a 6-year-old was normal, not a reason to call the cops.

But call the cops she did.

And when they got there, they charged the dad with two counts of child endangerment. Meantime, of course, child protective services is investigating, too. Because any time you trust your children or your community, You cannot be trusted.

That’s what we’ve come to. You are punished for believing in your kids’ self-reliance and the neighborhood you chose to raise them in.

Hence, the Free-Range Kids movement. Hence this Free-Range Kids blog. Hence…I wish I knew.

We have got to turn our country around or children will be prisoners of their parents, and vice versa, all in the name of “caring.” Ask me, that word is missing an “s” at the beginning. – L.

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Lenore Skenazy blogs at Free-Range Kids.

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