I Am The Concerned Neighbor Reporting Your Unattended Kids In The Street

neighborThere’s a lawsuit out firing up free-range parents and causing plenty of debate about police intervention in parenting. It comes from Houston, Texas and it centers around mom-of-two, Tammy Cooper. After a phone call of complaint by a nosy neighbor about Cooper’s kids playing in the street unattended, police arrested Tammy Cooper for child endangerment, though the charges were later dropped and Cooper was released. Now she’s suing the neighbor for defamation and the police officer for false arrest. While I feel bad for this mother in this circumstance, I have to admit that I also can relate to the woman who peeked through her windows, saw two young kids playing in the street by themselves and decided to call the police.

The particulars of this story seem a little fuzzy. Apparently the neighbor, Shelley Fuller, called the police with Cooper’s 6- and 9-year-old children were riding scooters in the street. Fuller says they were unattended. Cooper says that she was on a lawn chair on the porch the whole time, though she admits that she sometimes watched her little ones from inside the house through her front picture windows while they play in the cul-de-sac. The police officer who responded wasn’t going to pursue the issue further until Fuller said that she had “struck one of Cooper’s children with her vehicle as they played in the street.”

At that point, even though the story about the vehicle incident ended up being completely false, Cooper was arrested on felony charges of child endangerment and child abandonment. The officer also refused to cuff Cooper with her hands in front of her, even though she told him that she had neck and back issues which make it painful for her to have her hands behind her back. After the children were found to have absolutely zero bumps or bruises from an accident that the mother supposedly didn’t respond to or notice, Tammy Cooper was released. CPS did a follow-up investigation, found no problems and the case was closed.

In this particular case, I feel bad for Tammy Cooper. I think it’s horrible that Fuller would lie about a car accident to make it look like the children were in more danger than they were realistically. I am completely confused as to how a woman can say she personally hit a child with her car and not be questioned or prosecuted in any way. And of course, I don’t understand why the officer couldn’t have, at the very least, handcuffed Cooper in the front of her body to save her from pain. In this instance, I believe that Cooper was treated unfairly.

All of that being said, I can still sympathize with the concerned neighbor. And I don’t think that Tammy Cooper’s case means that neighbors have no right butting in when they see behavior that they think is dangerous.

(Photo: Alex Hinds/Shutterstock)

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  • ipsedixit010

    The street in question was a cul-de-sac, not a thru street, so the “danger” was pretty minimal.

    While I think it’s good to report dangerous situations, the problem is that “dangerous” can be subjective. You have to be cognizant of what is actually “dangerous” and what is something *you* aren’t comfortable with. Kids running out into the road without regard? That’s definitely dangerous. Kids playing with a scooter in a cul-de-sac within view of their parents’ home? Not so much. There are hypersensitive people who think that letting your kid walk to the school bus alone or play in your front yard, etc. is risky behavior.

    I don’t want someone calling CPS on me and wasting precious resources just because *they* aren’t comfortable with the situation when *I* know my kid is mature enough to have some independence. Just because someone wouldn’t let their child leave their site for 2 seconds doesn’t mean that someone that does is a negligent parent.

  • Jules

    Um, what?? Who sees fit to just pick up the phone and call the police as a first line of defense? Wouldn’t you ask the kid where their parent is first?? This is absurd. Parents should be able to parent as they see fit and for her to have been arrested because of the lies from her nosy, neighbor who is likely pursuing a vendetta is terrible. I hope she wins her FI claims!!!

    • Fabel

      Agree– if someone was truly concerned, wouldn’t they step outside first to assess the situation? Rather than hiding in their own house dialing 911 over a couple kids playing outside?

  • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

    a 6 year old and a 9 year old?! Lenore Skenazy suggests letting kids hitchhike at that age!

    • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

      No one gets when I’m joking :(

      To clarify: I think 6 and 9 year olds are old enough to play outside!

    • kathleen

      You need to use the FULL range of emoticons in your comments. >I:P……right there you are a frowny-face unibrow who is ironically sticking out her tongue to indicate that she is only joking about how much Mommyish people hate Lenore Skenazy.

      Then you’ll be juuuuust fiiiiiiiine….

    • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

      Haha! Thank you. You are my emoticon hero!

    • http://fairlyodd.net Frances Bean

      I knew you were kidding, lol. I agree with Kathleen, there needs to be some way to convey tone on these things.

    • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

      haha, TY! I’m just going to be REALLY OBVIOUS from now on. (I’m not kidding)

  • Ilsa

    I think culture plays once again a huge role on these kinds of situations. For example in orthodox Jewish communities it is very common for the oldest child (even at 9 years old) to be in charge of their younger siblings. Here in Montreal you can see these broods walking alone on the street, and from lack of reports to the contrary we can assume its pretty safe.

    Also as another poster mentions calling the police should be the last thing you do not the first. I was concerned and would approach the children not the police. I think maybe the neighbor has a grudge against copper or does not want the kids playing on her street. She sounds like the neighbor from bewitched.

    • CupKat

      The neighbor having a grudge was my thought too. Who would be that insistent on getting the police down there that she’d make up a lie that could potentially get herself in trouble in the process? It would have taken her two minutes to go out and say, “hey guys, where’s your mom? You shouldn’t be out here alone,” if she was genuinely concerned. Sounds to me like she just had an ax to grind.

    • http://fairlyodd.net Frances Bean

      I grew up in a neighborhood with a large Jewish community and I saw the same thing. 9 is certainly old enough to be unattended in your yard and with many families old enough to walk to the store or park with younger kids.

  • Another Steph

    Okay, first of all, the woman ‘peeked’ through her curtains, she didn’t ‘peak’.
    Secondly, you can relate to calling the police because a 6 and 9 year old were, gasp!, playing unattended? Talking to the children, and then the parents, doesn’t seem like a reasonable option?
    It seems like Mommyish has it in for Lenore Skenazy, in a passive aggressive, pussyfooting sort of way, so this probably won’t help my argument, but this is what Skenazy calls ‘worst thinking first’. There’s more visibility in a cul-de-sac so, as ipsedixit said, the danger is minimal and seriously, who calls the cops first?!
    This was a tragic waste of the limited time and resources available to the police and to CPS and I’m disgusted that the woman who made the false complaint isn’t being held responsible for her actions.

    • http://fairlyodd.net Frances Bean

      I agree with you about most of what you’re saying and I am a huge fan or Lenore Skenazy but I have to point out again, to the third person that the author mentioned that these kids repeatedly ran out into the road. That is way worse than being unattended in the yard. I probably wouldn’t call the cops or CPS but after the second or third time I saw it I would definitely pull over and have a chat with the parents to let them know that their kids were doing that.

    • Tinyfaeri

      The mother with the nosy neighbor who called the cops lived on a cul-de-sac. The street Lindsay drives down and sees the children randomly darting out in the street is not a cul-de-sac. Two differnt things that I think people are confusing because Lindsay linked them…and probably should not have because they are two different things. That’s where some of the confusion is coming from.

    • http://fairlyodd.net Frances Bean

      I also think the title is misleading because she didn’t actually call CPS on anyone, she just ‘wished’ she did which is different. I do think that even cps is extreme though. I would stop and give the kids a friendly reminder not to play in the street and in my neighborhood also give the parents a friendly heads up about what was going on (in my area the parents seem to dislike their neighbors talking to their kids even if it’s friendly).

    • Another Steph

      Sure, I kind of edited a little for brevity so I did miss a few points. I don’t think there’s anything wrong whatsoever with a neighbour knocking on the parents door and saying, “Hey, your kids keep running on the street, I’m worried they might get hurt.” And I don’t even think there’s anything wrong with the neighbour then calling the police if the parents ignore her completely. But to call the police first, and then make a false statement, is stupid, and the latter is reprehensible.

    • Maegan Bledsoe

      What if I don’t have a problem with my children playing in the street b/c I’ve taught them to watch for cars & they know to move out of the way for passing vehicles? It’s not your job to be worried about my kids. I lived in a neighborhood without speed bumps…and we didn’t have sidewalks. 10-15 kids would be in the roadway most days riding bikes & skateboards…and various wheeled devices…Sometimes using chalk to mark out hopscotch squares. In 2 decades – NOT ONE KID WAS HURT. B/c the kids got out of the way when they saw cars. They stood on the grass & waited for the cars to pass. 30 mph in the neighborhood…and I’m sure not everyone obeyed the limit. I don’t EVER remember a neighbor getting upset about us being in the road. I don’t remember parents being worried about it either.

      If kids got hurt…it was by their own play…falling on to the asphalt, scraping a knee or palm. Nothing serious & an injury that could occur on a driveway, basketball court, or other paved surface.

      If someone knocked on my door & said, “Your kids are playing in the street!” I’d go…’I know.’ If you expressed concern I’d simply respond, “I’m not really worried about it, but thanks.”

    • Another Steph

      Again, I was trying to keep my comment short, so I may not have expressed myself properly. My second comment was addressing the second part of Lindsay’s article, i.e. the children on her street running onto the road. There’s a difference between children playing on the street, and darting out onto it. Me personally, I wouldn’t raise an eyebrow at the first, but I might feel a little twingey at the second. And if one were to inform the parents that their children are darting onto the street and the parents didn’t seem to give shit, in that circumstance, I can see why one might call the police. I wouldn’t, but I can understand why someone else would. And if one did call the police and the police said, “Yeah, big deal,” then that’s that. You don’t then go and make a false report because the majority disagrees with what you feel is safe.

    • kathleen

      I would think that the immediate thing to do would be to stop and remind the children that running out into the street is not a good plan. If that does’t work. head for the parent.

    • http://fairlyodd.net Frances Bean

      I thought that was a given, but I would also have a friendly chat with the parents because if I didn’t then I was just the stranger who talked to their kids. I guess it depends on where you live though. It would be different in the neighborhood I grew up in in the midwest. I live in NYC now and the last time I tried to give a neighborhood kid a friendly reminder (this time about climbing on the hood of my husband’s work truck) the mother was pissed that I didn’t come to her first. That seems to be a thing where I live now.

    • kathleen

      Yeah, I grew up in New Jersey, in a small bedroom community, and we had a lot of freedom (we lived on a street with a cul de sac, and we rarely had parent watching us). Any adult was the voice of authority, and it was rare that a parent would take offense regarding adult intervention.

      It’s the same on our street — parents are usually not offended by a well-meant intervention or piece of advice.

    • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

      I’m with you. I can’t imagine calling CPS over this. Kids SHOULD be outside. I do think it is telling in regard to how we interact with our neighbors and how we don’t really interact as a community with one another. I’m lucky to live in a cul-de-sac where I know my neighbors, all the kids play outside, and all the parents look out for each other and are aware kids are running around so they drive carefully.

    • Another Steph

      Yeah, cul-de-sacs are the best!

    • Andrea

      Yeah, but this cul-de-sac is a street with 22 houses, in which she lives right in the middle, not the end of the cul-de-sac and it is next to a fairly busy 2 lane street. I think her arrest is ridiculous, but I don’t believe for a minute she was supervising her kids the whole time and I think the nosy neighbor had probably seen this time and time again and was probably tired of seeing the kids almost get hit by cars.

  • dunia sinnreich

    The sorry thing is that there is a person who takes time enough to write about calling the police on her neighbor and will not take that same amount of time to stop and chat with the neighbor. We are all the solution to this issue. Neighborliness doesn’t have to be a dying art.

  • Susan

    I believe there is more to this story, but that aside…
    You never, never, never handcuff a person in front. It is dangerous for the officers and allows the person in custody too much freedom.
    Remember that the officers may also be moms and dads who want to go home to their children at the end of their shifts.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Carmen-Finnigan/841528248 Carmen Finnigan

    I would call the police if they were playing on major city artery. That did not happen here. Let’s save the police for actually crimes.

    • CupKat

      And CPS for actual cases of child abuse.

    • Another Steph

      Sadly, I have had to call the police because a child was on the median strip of an aterial road :(

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Carmen-Finnigan/841528248 Carmen Finnigan

      Honestly so did I. It was the second biggest artery in the city.

  • Fi

    Did I truly just read that? Someone is concerned, to the point of calling CPS, because some kids are out having fun playing in a front yard? Surely this must be the tipping point when we officially begin de-evolving into humanoid lumps with playstation controls for hands and purell glands in our pits and groins.

    • http://fairlyodd.net Frances Bean

      Did no one else read the part about them frequently running into the street? I don’t think there is anything wrong with young kids playing in their own yards and I definitely don’t agree with what she said about needing to be out of grade school to be alone outside but yeah, the parents of the kids who run out into a busy street are not doing their jobs. Not because they aren’t being a helicopter but because the didn’t train their kids from an early age not to ever run into the street.

      If the author had to slow down every time she went by that means it happened too often. My 4 year old knows better than that and I have no problem letting my 8 year old outside unattended for a bit because I know that would never happen.

    • Skeptical

      The author seems a tad hysterical. My bet is “frequently” running into the street happened probably once.

    • http://fairlyodd.net Frances Bean

      Perhaps, but I had neighbors in my old neighborhood whose children did actually do this. I don’t own a car because this is NYC but there is plenty of traffic and I said something to the kids and their grandmother who they lived with, in a friendly way, more than a few times. I never considered calling CPS though because they were older than the kids in this story, maybe 10 or 11,but I worried about them being hit. The grandma in that case did keep a pretty good eye on the boys though.

  • http://twitter.com/DuchessCadbury The Right Honourable

    I don’t see anything wrong with those kids playing outside. My cousin and I (he’s 4 years older than I am) was responsible for me and we played outside during the summer. Skating boarding and riding our bikes up the down the street. If a car came, we had enough common sense to move out of the way. I guess that is missing from today’s society, parents teaching their kids common sense. Instead of hovering and calling the cops because are kids outside (getting fresh air and exercise) we should be teaching them how to handle themselves outside and away from their parents. I’m known middle-school age kids who don’t know their home addresses or what they’d do if they were to get lost.

  • LiteBrite

    ” I still wish that I would’ve called CPS to at least file a report and make them aware of the situation.”

    Seriously Lindsay? You would really call CPS because children are – gasp! – playing in their front yard? Can I just tell you how very glad I am that you don’t live anywhere near me?

    Look, I get that Mommyish writers seem to have some unresolved beef with Lenore Skenazy and free-range parenting in general. But I honestly can’t read this article and take it seriously when you admit that you would be willing to call CPS because children are playing in their front yard unattended. If you had a concern about them running in the road, fine. That’s a valid concern. Then TALK TO THE PARENTS (i.e. don’t “imagine” it). Or, better yet, talk to the kids. I remember many a neighbor telling us to watch our backs.

    Usually when I comment I try to be open-minded, but it just really blows my mind that someone would honestly encourage wasting CPS’ time on something like this.

    • http://fairlyodd.net Frances Bean

      Well, she did mention that the kids frequently ran into the street and she knew to slow down significantly in order to not hit them. I saw my cousin get hit by a car years ago, and she was 16, not 6. She had significant brain damage and will need care for the rest of her life. Obviously people should lighten up about kids playing in their own yard, but running into a busy street is too much.

      I do think it’s ridiculous to insinuate that a kid shouldn’t be allowed out alone unless they are out of elementary school. I was allowed to be out and about in 4th, 5th and 6th grades. By then I was smart and informed enough to know how to stay safe. I was perfectly fine walking home from school and riding my bike around the old neighborhood. And crime was worse overall when I was little.

    • LiteBrite

      Yes, I did read the part about the kids repeatedly running into the road. And yes, I understand that is a danger. In fact, I even agreed with her that it’s a valid concern.

      But it’s not one that I think is CPS worthy. Speak to the parents. Speak to the kids. But really? Call CPS?

    • http://fairlyodd.net Frances Bean

      Oh no, I agree with that part 100%. I would definitely stop and have a talk with whoever was watching those kids. My point was that she wasn’t just worried about kids playing in their backyard safely, she was worried about kids who were putting themselves in danger repeatedly. If the parents told me gfys and I kept seeing the kids putting themselves in danger then I might consider calling cps, but only after trying to start a dialogue with the neighbors.

    • LiteBrite

      @ Frances Bean, I admit that I probably overreacted a bit when I read the article. (In my defense, I’m suffering from a mild concussion after being hit in the head with a refrigerator door. Don’t ask.)

      In the article, Lindsay said we don’t have a sense of community anymore. However, right before that she admitted she “imagined” talking to the parents about kids playing in the road but “wished” she had called CPS. That right there explains why we don’t have a sense of community, when people actually wish they had spoken to a faceless institution rather than their actual neighbors. Concussion or not, I just can’t wrap my head around that.

    • http://fairlyodd.net Frances Bean

      I think the title of this piece is also a bit misleading. She’s not technically the concerned neighbor who calls CPS, she’s just the concerned neighbor thinking about calling CPS. I think CPS is extreme. Also, sorry about the concussion, I was in an accident a few years ago and had a severe one on top of other crappy injuries so you have my sympathy!

    • kellymitch

      SO which is it? You don’t think they should be allowed out alone unless they are out of elementary school? But you were ok in 4th 5th and 6th grade? And, an 8 year old (3rd grade) can’t play outside in the yard? Really?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1489789938 Sherylita Maison Cruise

    Wow, imagine that kids playing in the street and not watching tv or playing video games. What is this world coming to?

  • Steph

    Are you out of your mind? What on god’s green earth is the world coming to if kids can’t play on the cul de sac in front of their house in peace. And you’re seriously siding with the neighbor in this situation? How are kids supposed to learn self-sufficiency if they’re never allowed out of the hovering gaze of their parents? I’m just aghast at this article. You are so misguided, and so out of line to say you would call CPS on children playing in their own yard. mind your own business lady. You raise your hothouse flower of a kid who won’t be able to survive without you to tend her, and I’ll raise my weed who will thrive anywhere she’s planted.

  • bio1adopt2mom

    you are a pansy-mom.. its a cul-de-sac for crying out loud… seriously?? we talk about ((and here i see it often)) allowing our children to be children and to be able to play outside as a 6 & 9 yr old without their mommy standing there screaming that they MIGHT fall or MIGHT get hurt or MIGHT get snatched up and killed…they deserve a littttle leeway in the ‘freedom’ dept, it isnt as though mom was not home at all!!! she was there.. that dang nosy neighbor should have talked with mom first.. i’ve done it.. ive done it at home and ive done it at a park, at a store… its not so damned bad to walk up to a stranger and strike up a conversation!! geez….

  • http://fairlyodd.net Frances Bean

    Reading and commenting on many of the other comments got me thinking one thing. Please read her entire article. I disagree with the idea of calling CPS or the cops too but she wasn’t siding with the neighbor.

    I do think the idea that kids shouldn’t be unattended until out of grade school is way too much. I had that freedom from age 9 and I was fine, and crime was actually much worse than it is now at the time. Obviously I had boundaries but I was educated enough at that point to know them. I knew my address and phone number, I stayed a reasonable distance from my house (in my suburban neighborhood in a quiet residential street) and I knew not to run out into the street or talk to strangers.

    I agree with Skenazy that people are nuts about things that will most likely (less of a chance than a shark attack) never happen.

    • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

      Word. I don’t get why people don’t read fully before name calling and it suckseople are being rude to Lindsay when she makes very valid points.

    • Tinyfaeri

      Really, no name caling in general would best, even if you really, really, really don’t like what the person has to say or didn’t make a valid point at all. Can you imagine an internet without name calling?? Freaky-weird.

  • Michelle

    Wow talk about over reaction.
    I don’t think any of the kids in my neighborhood have a parent that is out specifically watching them. They vary in ages but none younger than 6-7. You know what I do when one runs into the street and I’m driving by? I stop the car and I tell the kid hey that is really unsafe and I could have hit you with the car, if it happens again I will tell your mom. I don’t call the cops and I certainly don’t call CPS.

  • Sara

    Uh, what? I had to reread this because I’m still not sure what the issue is. I see kids playing out on our cul de sac all the time, it’s never once occured to me that I should be worried about their welfare or that their parents should be out watching them. Yeah, I get a toddler being alone, but a nine year old and his younger brother?? Really??

    Is this some kind of recent phenomenon where it’s become a no no to allow kids to play out in the front garden? I’m still trying to figure out what the irresponsible part of that is.

    And seriously, anybody that would call CPS to report children playing outside of their house should be ashamed of themselves. Firstly for wasting the agencies time with trivial phone calls but mostly for potentially causing a family distress because of your own weird parenting hang ups.

  • Rachael

    “Some teen” will run over those kids? Wow, stereotype much? And I agree, you should assess the situation first before ever taking as drastic a step as calling the police (except in cases of obvious violence).

    • ipsedixit010

      Don’t you know? Teens are the only unsafe drivers out there! That is, until Lindsay’s kids turn into teens. Then she can write a column on how all teens are just misunderstood!

  • joanne

    When I lived in CA, the little 5 year old neighbor boy used to play outside. He was my buddy and loved to greet me as I was coming home. I drove a bronco 2 with large wheels. One day when he ran out near me, I called him over into the front driveway where I parked. I TALKED to him about the dangers of running out in front of my car. I showed him that my tires were as tall as he was and we chatted about what would happen if he ran out and I couldn’t see him. We talked about how he’d be flat like a pancake and his mom would be sad. Yes his parents probably should have had this conversation a long time ago (and possibly they did) and yes at 5 he probably shouldn’t have been in our quiet little cul-de-sac alone but he never ran out in front of my car again.

    • MommyK

      Now that seems like a very reasonable way to handle the situation!

  • LinZoo

    I understand your point, but I think in the Fuller situation, it was a cul de sac and that makes a lot of difference in whether or not it’s safe for kids to ride their scooters on the road outside the house.

  • kathleen

    A. Why is calling CPS your go-to option? Why not talk to the parent first?
    B. Children under 10 playing in their yard unattended? How much under 10? Because if you mean they are 4 and 5 I can see a problem, but 8 and 9….not so much. Especially when they are in their front yard.
    C. When I see a group of children playing in my neighborhood (and I can guarantee you that for every 12 times I see a group playing, there is a parent in sight maybe once or twice. And you know what? The children are not being snatched, molested, or run over. And that last is usually because many drivers, when they see children on the block, slow down and assume unpredictable behavior.
    D. No one should be arrested because her children are playing in a cul-de-sac. That is never the right decision.

  • Canadian

    The author is a complete moron, as was the neighbor in the case presented.

    Some neighbors are not good neighbors. Yes, you can be “too nosey”, and frankly, unless you see me beat my kids, you better stay the hell out of my life.

    I’ve met “those” type of people. The type that make anonymous phone calls to Child Protection Services to get back at their neighbour. The type who don’t like how someone else looks after their own kids. The busy bodies.

    The woman who wrote this article should mind her own business.

  • mm

    I was born in 1991 in California, so I obviously grew up in the 90s. I don’t know if things have changed, since obviously I wasn’t exactly aware of parenting trends as a kid, but my friends and I always played outside. We lived in the Bay Area, in upscale neighborhoods (private school, so we were from all over the place) but upscale in the Bay Area isn’t suburbs. I happened to live on a very busy street, and I played outside on my scooter all the time. My mom just made it clear to me that the street was busy and I was not to leave the sidewalk without supervision. When I got to about 10 I went in the street and used my brain, eyes, and ears. You know, I left the street when cars came. What’s with all the uptight parents? This is why kids are fat, and this is why they need mommy and daddy to call companies for job interviews. Kids need to learn independence and common sense, you’re setting them up to be scared of the world when they need to know how to handle it. Set ground rules, punish them if they don’t follow your rules. Don’t follow them around 24/7 worrying. I thought my mom was intense, I feel bad for kids now.

  • CW

    What kind of horrible person calls CPS rather than talking to the neighbor in a non-abusive situation? I can understand not wanting to tip off the parent in the case of actual abuse, but that wasn’t the situation here.

  • Nikki

    This is weird. What ever happened to family neighborhoods? I used to run free with a pack of neighborhood kids and a collective of adult neighbors who all knew each other kept an eye on us. We were able to get outside and play and socialize. When we looked like we were getting into trouble, some adult would call our moms so we could be plucked home. I guess this only happens in small towns, or maybe its a relic of my childhood before mass mommy paranoia.

  • AllysonLT

    Wow. I’m glad you’re not my neighbor. My kids (9 and 11) have been playing outside on their own for years. We started slowly, letting them hang out in the yard (with me keeping an eye on them from the window) when they were little, and gradually gave them more and more freedom. I believe whole-heartedly in ensuring, as far as is reasonable, their safety. They know they need to look out for cars because drivers won’t always look out for them. They know that if their route involves a busy street they need to cross at a light (not just a crosswalk), even if it means going out of their way. They know that helmets are mandatory when they are on their bikes or scooters (or any other kid-powered transport with wheels). They walk to and from school on their own. My seventh-grader rides her bike all over, too. They go to the store, the farmers’ market, friends’ houses, the local pizza and ice cream places, all without me. They know almost everyone in our small town, and I am confident that they would have no trouble finding help if they needed it. They are proud of their ability to navigate on their own in the world. If you called CPS on me for teaching my kids to be independent, I would be seriously pissed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/courtney.wooten Courtney Lynn

    She was not a “free-range” mom. She was just a mom. And I believe one news story mentioned that she was in a lawn chair at one point watching them. Even if she wasn’t, I grew up in a cul-de-sac and it’s not the same as a thru-street. Your houses are all very accessible and you’re more tucked away. I grew up playing outside with our parents inside and if we needed anything, all we had to do was run inside. A 6 and 9-year-old do not need constant supervision to play outside. I think it’s overkill and incredibly nosy to call CPS or 911 because of children playing outside.

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  • GPMeg

    I grew up free range, I was allowed to ride my bike all over the neighborhood on my own, walk over to friends’ houses and home from school, and go play in the creekbeds behind the neighborhood. I was also taught to be very careful; my parents taught me how to politely get away from someone I didn’t know, how to know what the neighbor’s schedules were so that if I needed help and wasn’t right by the house I could get it, and how to listen and look for cars since we lived on a dead end off a main road (and man, people got mad about not being able to cut through!).

    Take the time to teach your kids how to be responsible, and let parents know if you see kids being irresponsible. You better bet that if my parents had heard I was running out to get a ball when I wasn’t supposed to, I would have been grounded for a week minimum and THAT was torture. You mention the sad fact that communities aren’t communities anymore, perhaps we can all take the initiative to introduce ourselves and make it known that no, I don’t mind you letting me know if you’re worried about me or my children.

  • slocean

    my daughter and her friends play in the front yard unattended all the time. and i don’t supervise. to be fair – we live on a dead end street with four houses…but still. she’s nine and i’ve been trusting her for the last three years we’ve lived in this neighborhood to be safe while outside.
    if someone called cps on me – i’d be sueing her too.

  • What in the world

    I am so glad you don’t live anywhere near me. The CPS is a really, really big deal, and only in the most needful of situations should they be involved. Why didn’t you slow down and knock on the door? Goodness.

  • Bubberfly

    When I was a kid of that age me and my siblings and neighbourhood kids used to play outside all the time, and no, there wasn’t always an adult around. Our parents knew we were playing outside, they knew who we were with, and they just let us roam free. Of course they would check on us occasionally – but certainly not watch us *all the time*. Who does that, anyway??

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  • H

    Before I clicked over I made the following assumptions about the author based on title alone:

    1. If she has kid(s) they are young2. AND female3. AND in daycare.
    Check, check, and check!

    Sheesh, I am so sick and tired of parents of girls judging parents of boys.

    So, you think that a child who is old enough to have mastered cursive and multiplication is not old enough to look for cars?

    I won’t let my children (for the record 2 boys, 1 girl) ride/walk to school without a parent even though it is less than a mile in a neighborhood I consider to be about as safe as can be, but I pass by dozens of children every day, even 1st and 2nd graders, who walk to school alone. I wonder if you would call CPS on their parents, or my son’s classmates who are 9 years old (4th grade) and walking to school all by themselves. Would you?

    While I may not let my children walk alone I do let them, heck even encourage them, to ride their bikes/play in the street of our quiet cul-de-sac while I am inside, as do ALL of the parents that we know in a 3 block radius. It was the number one reason we bought our house. Funny thing is that I am considered by many to be overprotective and paranoid because I wouldn’t let be out there unsupervised until 3rd grade and with a buddy, and I still won’t let them walk to school without an adult even in a group. But I do exactly what Cooper did nearly every day with admittedly less supervision.

    Here’s the thing: As a wahm, I have been watching my children ride in the street before a year old most days of the week. Before bikes there are trikes and plastic baby ride-ons and even a walker used as early as 5 months all in the street. It’s called exercise, and the average boy needs a lot more of it than they average girl.

    Enough with the Mommy wars.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kris-Weaver/1000416614 Kris Weaver

    Both the arresting officer, Fuller and this author ought to be locked up for life for crimes against humanity.

  • slinky

    Slobs moved in a few doors down from us. The mother lets her kids (look about ages 3 and 4) out and pays no attention to them. They ride their trikes in the street. Cars actually have to stop and wait for them to move out of the way. The kids leave their bikes in the middle of the street and go inside the house! They also leave their toys in peoples yards. They act like their kids have the right of way. I hate to tell them that cars have the right of way and one of these days somebody is going to hit one of their PRECIOUS kids!!

  • Gallan

    Grow some fucking balls and talk to the mother, you’re what’s wrong with America.

  • kellymitch

    Sooooo, you would call CPS to report children playing in the yard? Really? I mean, maybe the parents aren’t quite as paranoid as you are, but ….. really? You don’t think CPS has enough to do with all the REAL complains of abuse and neglect out there? Your concern is that kids are playing in the yard? They way they have done for generations? Yes these are different times, but are they really? There was just the same amount of danger when we were kids riding our bikes and playing ball in the streets. We just didn’t have instant access to it on the Internet and 24 hour news cycle. Get real! A parent letting their kid play in the yard or play in the street on a cul de sac and you want to call CPS????

  • Pesla

    The writer refers to her niece as a reference, does this mean the writer of a story about how to take care of your kids was written by someone with no kids? Ok….

  • reldra

    Times are different, but a quiet cul-de-sac is not different. My mother tells me that when I was 4 I would sneak out of the house in the very early morning. She had put extra locks on the front door high up, but even going to that extreme did not stop me. I would go next door. The door to that house was always unlocked. Several males lived there who often came home drunk in the early hours. I would 1) let their dogs out. 2) Turn on cartoons 3) Lock all of the doors so my mother could not get in. 4)I was often completely nude. When my mother got up at 7 or 8, she would go next door and see me peeking from behind the curtains laughing at her. I was lucky the men were normal and there would be one or 2 passed out in the living room I remember opening one eye to say ‘oh it’s Tracy” and go back to sleep. If it happened in this day and age, my mother would have been arrested, even though she had taken all precautions. The neighbors were well aware of my adventures, one of which was crossing a busy street to go to a convent 4 blocks away and attempt to speak to the Carmelite nuns who had a vow of silence. Kinds playing in the street of a cul de sac- talk to the mom if you are worried about traffic…but the police of DCS? Oh…come on LOL

  • Nobodi Raj

    You’re insane. I don’t know what else to say about this. Ridiculous. This is why our kids are fat & have no skills that allow them to make it in the world on their own when they turn 18.

    Its a normal and healthy part of childhood for those under 10 be playing unsupervised.

  • Kate Cousino

    “our communities aren’t nearly as strong as they used to be”

    And it hasn’t occurred to you that our increasing (and media-promoted) paranoia about our neighbors, as demonstrated in this post, might have something to do with that?