Home > Uncategorized > Unsupervised Play Should be Illegal?

Unsupervised Play Should be Illegal?

August 24, 2014

The headline of a recent post from Reason.com reports on the findings of a recent survey they conducted:

Poll: Most Americans Want to Criminalize Pre-Teens Playing Unsupervised

Here are the distressing findings of their poll:

68 percent of Americans think there should be a law that prohibits kids 9 and under from playing at the park unsupervised, despite the fact that most of them no doubt grew up doing just that.

What’s more: 43 percent feel the same way about 12-year-olds. They would like to criminalize all pre-teenagers playing outside on their own (and, I guess, arrest their no-good parents).

When I read these kinds of reports I recall my adventures as a five-year old exploring construction sites and red ant hills in Salt Lake City, my adventures in the woods outside of West Chester PA when I was in early elementary school grades, my adventures walking along the railroad tracks between Lee School and my house seven blocks away in Tulsa OK in grades 4-6, the many pick up baseball, football, and basketball games I played in as a middle and high school youngster… and I feel sad that my grandchildren might not have the same kinds of experiences, especially my two grandkids in Brooklyn.

But I also recall the unsolved disappearance of a seven-year old who was walking to school in Exeter NH when I was superintendent. It sent shock waves through the community, shock waves that were dampened by cooler heads in the area. Fortunately, many parents in that community did not want to restrict their children’s ability to play without supervision or discourage their children from walking to school unaccompanied. The PTAs and Chamber of Commerce head arranged to have guest speakers come to public forums. This helped dispel the panic and encourage parents to allow their children to experience childhood…. but I am certain this episode contributed to the fears of many parents in the region and may still be used as evidence for those who want to criminalize parents for allowing their children to play without supervision and walk unaccompanied to the neighborhood store or playground. Unfortunately, as we know all to well, fear trumps love and so we find ourselves raising our children in a world where we prefer spending money on arms instead of butter.


Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Ginny
    August 26, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    We were the lucky ones, weren’t we? [age 74 years]

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