Keep an eye on your kids, please!

(I’d intended this to go in the mini-rants thread, but this is more of a concern, and turned out a lot longer than I’d planned.)

Dear Residents: Where were you?!

Look, it’s bad enough that I have to clean up their trash and clothing from the playground because you don’t watch them, but really you’re damn lucky they haven’t been snatched.

I was walking the property at work this morning, picking up trash, when I went over to the playground. There were 5 kids there with no adults nearby. Five! While there, 4 of them decide they want to help me pick up garbage, which is nice (I tried to stop them, especially since they don’t have gloves like I do, but they didn’t listen), but very dirty.

One of the littler ones wandered away and his older sister begged me to go catch him, since he wasn’t allowed to leave the playground area. She was really worried about him, so I follow him, talk to him for a minute, and he agrees to go back to his sister. On the way back his dad (or babysitter or whoever he was) starts yelling at them from a third-floor balcony. Dude… it’s great that you’re at least somewhat watching them, but why the hell are you up there? Your kid was off walking around, roaming up to other peoples’ doors, trying to open them, and you’re nowhere close enough to really keep an eye on him.

So those two go home to get yelled at, but the other two tots are still hanging about, pointing out trash for me to pick up. They follow me around as I finish cleaning up the playground and head on out to the rest of the property. On the way, we run into a young woman (maybe mid-20s, I’m guessing) and she asks if they’re in my way. They’re nice kids and aren’t bugging me, so I say no. She says “Ok, let me know if they bother you!” and leaves.

Ok, I guess. I continue on, with the two of them helping me out and I take them into the leasing office so we can maybe figure out who their parents are and get in touch with them.

Now, here’s my problem: I’m a nice gal and I know I won’t hurt any kids or kidnap them or anything. A complete stranger does not know that about me. If you saw your small children (they were 6 and 3) chatting with a stranger, wouldn’t you at least check that out? I’m hoping you wouldn’t just walk off and leave them there, and can’t figure out why she did. Maybe she saw that I worked there and figured I must be okay. The scary thing is the 6 year old was her kid, but the 3 year old wasn’t. I haven’t a clue who his parents are or where they were.

I realized later that I should have just asked her to take them with her, but I didn’t think of it at the time. All I thought was “well, no they aren’t bothering me
at all.”

So I’m asking you all to please watch your children. Make sure they aren’t destroying a playground or other property, and please please keep an eye on any strangers they talk to. I’m kind to children, but not everyone is.

And kindly don’t let your unsupervised 18 month old stray into my driveway - not once, but on several occasions. Next time it happens I’m calling the cops, because I really don’t want to scrape bits of squashed toddler off my tyres with a fork - it’ll bugger up my insurance, not to mention my tender conscience. I’m always careful that my own kid isn’t behind the car, so I get out and check before going anywhere, but you don’t know that.

At a mall, I once picked up a small child that had wandered MUCH too close to an escalator. No one else was around, so I stood holding this youngster, who didn’t much like being held by a stranger, while I looked around frantically for someone who looked like they might belong to this kid. It was more than a minute or two when two women came out of a shop chatting to one another, one pushing an empty stroller. I said, “Excuse me, is this your little boy?” The stroller woman said, “Yeah, I was just coming to get him.” I said, “He almost went down the escalator.”

She told me to mind my own business.

My neighbors’ kids used to think it was so fun to run around the street and try to get as close as they could to the forks of the garbage truck when it came down to get the garbage can. There were no adults supervising. . . as there never were. The guy in the garbage truck actually had to stop and tell the kids to stop doing that.

Why do parents complain when their kids get hurt or assaulted when they don’t ever watch them? What are they expecting to happen?

Stories like thede just solidify my philosophy that some people should not ever be allowed to have children… :rolleyes:

I’m of two minds here.

First, yes, unsupervised kids make me look twice nowadays, much like dogs roaming the streets: it’s virtually unheard of so when you DO see kids alone it makes you nervous.

But then I reflect back on my own childhood when kids alone or in groups was the norm. You never went to the park or the beach with your PARENTS for goodness sakes, that was unheard of. You’d walk to school (or bike it if you lived further than 2km or so) and we kids soon learned to be street-savvy.

Sure, there were some kids who were snatched and never heard of again, but they were rare events*. Our parents would freak out for a week or two until they were sick of us hanging around the house, then they’d mellow and kick us out again…“Be home by 6.00 for dinner or else”. We learned to suss out weird folk and look after ourselves quite well.

I’m sometimes more worried that parents now are so overprotective that their kids are not allowed to be kids and explore the world on their own adventurous terms…and in the meantime we whinge about how they never leave the computer and how they’re getting fat.
*And it’s still rare now for a child to disappear by the hand of a stranger. The risk is really no greater than when I grew up in the 60’s…it’s just that the media like to sensationalise the whole child-abuse/paedophilia thing to make out that every time your child is out of your sight they are a potential victim.

You do have a point. In my case above, though, the kids were way too young to be out and about by themselves, especially the 3 year old. I also don’t work in the greatest neighborhood.

Growing up, my parents weren’t always watching me, but they were still pretty strict about wanting to know exactly where I’d be, who’d be there and when I was coming home. Luckily we lived on a very small Army base where nothing crime-wise really ever happened. Even then, it wasn’t 'til I was at least 8 or 9 that they let me venture out without much supervision.

Well, thank you anyway. That was a really nice thing to do and I hope there are other nice people looking out for that bitch’s kid, wherever he is now.

This is a wonderful illustration of the way my dad acted towards me as I grew up. I was never allowed to walk home from school (unless with friends), and until I was about 12 or so, I couldn’t go on a walk that went out of sight of the house. After this point, though, I ended up staying inside/on the computer most of the time, and as a result he would always tell me to get out more. :stuck_out_tongue:

As for the OP, I’m quite surprised that the woman trusted a stranger so quickly, but what shocks me even more is the completely absent parent(s) of the 3-year-old! A 6-year-old, at least, has usually learned that talking to strangers isn’t always a good idea–most 3-year-olds don’t understand the danger at all. What was that parent thinking, letting their child out of their sight for so long?

When I was a kid, it used to be totally normal for children to go outside and play. Amazing how quick the world changes.

Here here.

I live in a rural area. It’s a subdivision of maybe 40 houses on 2 acre plots. My kids have always been able to just go outside. They can bike around the neighbourhood, go to the park, or even (gasp!) go to a friends house, and I don’t even need to know about it.

So far they haven’t died. (They’re 8 and 9.)

6-7 year old having free range of the block? Sure. 3 year old? Keep them penned in the yard, and lock up the sharp tools.

Platypus, the mom might have figured that a woman could never! harm a child, so you didn’t ping her pervert alarms. A similar thing happened to me years ago. I was 18, and staying with my family in a motel in Santa-something in N.California. I was poolside most of the day, and 2 kids around age 10 were playing for over an hour without anyone coming to check on them. After a while one of them hollared up to their room “Mom, are you going to come down?”. ‘Mom’ hollared back “It’s OK, that lady there (meaning me) will watch you!”

Well, actually, no, because I was going in to slather Noxema on my sunburn and sit under the AC. But jeeze lady, think for a minute. This is a touristy highway motel with a parking lot full of cars from 35 differrent states and provinces. What’s stopping me from chucking your two into the back of the van and driving off to the nearest infant white slaver merchant, perfectly blending in with the rest of the Calif tourist traffic? I doubt she’d have done that if I were some 18 year old guy.

Folks who think it’s perfectly normal, no big deal, silly overprotective parents, etc…

One of these kids was three. A six year old with four other six year olds in the park of an apartment complex? That I can posssibly get behind. A six year old in charge of an unrelated three year old, plus other “littler” kids? No way. Three year olds belong in confined spaces with adult supervision; not because they might get snatched, but because they have this unrealistic idea about how immortal they are. Plus the OP states she doesn’t work in a nice neighborhood; what kind of things could the kids be accidentally getting into while they’re playing, or attempting to open other apartment doors?

Yes, I remember the days of parents booting their kids out of the house in the morning and expecting them back home when the streetlights came on. But I don’t think even the most relaxed of parents, in the best of neighborhoods, would boot out their three year old and expect the neighborhood six year olds to keep them safe.

Thorny, call me paranoid, but I wouldn’t get into that particular situation again if I were you. You may know you’re a nice person who wouldn’t hurt them, but if something does happen, the first thing those parents will say is “The last time I saw him, he was with that employee over there…” You don’t want that on your conscience.

I remember that, until I was six or seven, I wasn’t allowed to play outside unsupervised even if I was with a friend. I could (with permission) go over to the next door neighbor’s house and ask to play with my friend there, but it wasn’t until I was about nine that I could just say “hey, I’m going to So and So’s house to play” without getting an escort. We didn’t live in the greatest neighborhood at the time, and it was near a very busy street, so that factored into it.

If the kid is under six years old, they really need to be supervised by a parent or other caretaker. If they’re not on their “home turf,” extra caution should be taken. No parents hanging out on the sixth story balcony watching their kids play poolside, even if there are other adults at the pool. They could get abducted, drown, or any number of things could happen and the parent would not be there to help or protect the kid from harm.

As some of you know, I volunteer in a museum library. Sometimes we get parents who don’t want to supervise their relatively young kids. I’ve seen kids as young as three wander about by themselves, and one five-to-nine-year-old* girl wander about on her cell phone, then proceed to touch objects that were marked “DO NOT TOUCH.” I didn’t actually see the parent of that girl at all that day, so I had to wonder if he were there until I heard her call out to him.

*The girl was pretty fat and of an odd size height-wise. Plus, I never saw her up close, so I couldn’t tell how old she was other than “somewhere in that range.”

Three is too damn young. Needs supervison. My coworker brought in his 3 YO granddaughter.

First of all, she was sick. We heard him telling her she was contagious!
Secondly, he wasn’t supervising her at all. It’s not my job to supervise your rugrat.
Thirdly, we found out later she had wandered into the boss’s office. The boss keeps a doll there to give to kids. The little girl had cut a lock of the doll’s hair off. We found out the next day, he didn’t know until we mentioned it to him. Not a big deal until you think about it and realize - this little girl had somehow gotten a hold of scissors, and he never knew. And we don’t have kiddie scissors. We have these great big honkin’ ones that could put out an eye. It makes me shiver to thik - all it would take was one second, the little girl tripping over a shoelace and…


I totally second the OP - watch your kids! 3 is still a baby!

It galls me the way some parent do seem to expect that someone else will do the work for them. Once when I was at the park with my kids I noticed that there was a little girl of about 2 playing on the playground who didn’t seem to be with anyone. After about half an hour she walked out of the playground area and headed off by herself. I kept an eye on where she went to make sure she was okay. After a good long time Dad (I presume) comes tearing off the basketball court where he’d been playing with his buddies. He had no idea where she was, and I was just mean enough to let him sweat for a few minutes before I told him.

This is something I deal a lot. I don’t mind if agents park a child or two with me for an hour while they show places.

Two weeks ago we had a ten year old in the office all day because “she’s too sick to go to school.” So her mother parks her with me. Now everyone in the office is sick. I wonder if there’s a connection?

Years ago, I used to like to sit by the local playground a sketch kids at play. (I was single and childless at the time). I never drew exact likenessess, but just forms which caught the energy of the kids at play.

One day, a woman came up and DEMANDED to know what I was doing there. (She had seen me hanging around the playground). I showed her my drawings, and told her I was an artist, pointed at my house and gave her my name (Quite freely as I could understand her concern).

2 days later, and RCMP (CDN police in small town) cruiser showed up at my house and the officers told me that a complaint had been made against me for my actions. I invited them in, showed them my drawings and asked if they felt that any action should be taken. They told me trhat “personally they felt it was purely innocent”, but that I should discontinbue such activities.

The woman in question (the one who approached me) often left her 3 yr old wander accross the street (slow suburban, not busy) to come to the park.

I mentioned this to them, and they said they would advise her that such behavoir was unwise.

Two nights later, a large rock was thrown through my front window.
Gotta love them small towns…