Won’t You Be My Neighbour?

I’ve been quite disturbed by a trend I’ve seen lately. The trend is a child playing out without the adult right there beside him, and then a neighbour phoning the police and/or CPS/DCF on the parent(s). The parent is then investigated and maybe even charged with child neglect.

I wonder how much of this is because we don’t tend to know our neighbours that well. I’m sure that can’t explain all of it, since in the latter case I linked it wasn’t neighbours who phoned, but someone at a public pool.

In some of the cases, though, I wonder how it would’ve turned out had the neighbours actually known the family. I had a neighbour bring Kieran to the door and tell me she wasn’t sure he was old enough to be out without me (for the record, he was supervised by older children and I could see him from the window), but she knew me quite well and certainly didn’t jump to the conclusion that I was neglecting him. I can see how that could’ve played out quite differently had we not known each other.

I wish I had a solution. I want to be able to let my kids have the freedom I had. I was constantly outside without my parents. I knew the rules, so as long as I told them I was going to the playground or a friend’s house or whatnot, all was well. I wish I could let my kids do that now, but I’m honestly afraid of someone calling DCF if I do. Yes, that’s likely an irrational fear, but it’s there, nonetheless.

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