As If TV Didn’t Scare Parents Enough…

Hi Readers — Just watching the Take Our Kids to the Park Day story on WABC, one of my four TV appearances today (WCBS, WABC, WPIX and WNBC) and find it amazing that the famous lawyer interviewed, Ron Kuby, warns parents that letting your kids have some unsupervised time at the park is illegal.

Actually, it is not illegal, according to New York City’s  Administration for Children’s  Services, which says there is no specified age at which a kid can be outside (or inside, for that matter), unsupervised. I think all of us agree that we wouldn’t want to leave any child on his or her own (with or without other kids) before we felt they were ready, and aware, and mature enough to handle themselves well. But Kuby says soon any parent not directly overseeing their school age children at all times will be posting bail. That’s false and yet another reason parents are afraid to let their kids do anything at all, even babysit.

It is hard for me to look at the next three videos, but I will. And tomorrow, check out CNN at 11:30 a.m., Eastern Time. I’m psyched about that one. The anchor actually asked to see some Bureau of Justice crime statistics. These, of course, show crime going down. Let’s hope for the best! – Lenore

45 Responses

  1. Even the hosts of the show didn’t think letting your kids play alone at the park is a good idea. I have never been the “helicopter” type parent and the idea of free range parenting was naturally in practice before I heard about your book. I am about half way through your book now and I am beginning to see how paranoid all the other parents are around me.

    The other day one parent (after her child walked through the kindergarten gate to get in line for class) was worried because she couldn’t see her child in line. the same day,
    the teacher forgot to close and lock the kindergarten playground gate. One parent feared her child would be abducted (right off the kinder playground I suppose) and the other feared the children walking right out of school. I was shocked and found their fears silly but they were very serious about their fears. They could not hear me when I said the world is not that bad. I could only chuckle as I left.

  2. Most parents are probably more afraid of having to deal with the “authorities” (or busybodies) should they give their kids freedom, than they are of kids being kidnapped or assaulted.

  3. Here is an interesting article about the importance of children learning to take risks, and balancing risks, using the example of a 16-year-old’s sailing trip around the world. The comments are worth reading too!

  4. Lenore, this WABC report is why you must host your own TV show so YOU will be the one calling the shots.
    I suggested this before, but I hope you already have something in the works. The topic is so polarizing, a show like that couldn’t help but get a lot of viewers.

  5. Wow, what a psychopath! Isn’t a lawyer spouting off plainly false things about the law malpractice? Who can he be reported to?

  6. OK, I just watched that damn video. That really ticks my off! They start and end with claims that Lenore is promoting criminal activity and that any parent participating can and should be arrested, and presumably sent to prison. It’s an utterly outrageous claim, despite what the gleeful lawyer claims: “Legally it constitutes child endangerment and that’s even if nothing happens.” (which is 1 year in prison in New York) Oh yeah? No it doesn’t!

    Really this segment shows that the media is hellbent on promoting fear and hysteria in order to promote more useless freedom restricting laws and control over our lives and make us a nation of helpless compliant sheeple.

  7. Wow. Great to see a lawyer providing false information. Really. Great way to make parents even more paranoid about their children’s safety than many are already.

    If it were really illegal to let your school age kids be unsupervised at the park, what a sad world that would be. And what does it mean to supervise them at all times anyhow? Everywhere? For the entire time that they’re school age? Yikes!

  8. Keep fighting the good fight Lenore, you have our support!

  9. And once again from Germany I wonder what all the fuss is about: Our children do this all the time.
    Hang in there Leonore

  10. OK, the New York child endangerment law says it’s child endangerment if a guardian “knowingly acts in a manner likely to be injurious to the physical, mental or moral welfare of a child less than seventeen years old”.

    Key phrase here is “LIKELY TO BE INJURIOUS”.

    I’m going to make a call here and define likely as meaning “something that happens more often than it doesn’t”, or greater than 50% chance.

    I’m also going to say that even if someone disagrees with that cut off point, there is no way that it means things that have a 1 in 50 million chance of happening, such as the chance that a child will be abducted by a stranger from a playground on any given day.

  11. Likely to be injurious? How about helicoptering – that surely has to be injurious to their mental health 🙂

    Doesn’t apply here thankfully – I do find it fascinating to read what you peeps have to put up with. I might say that even our kindergarten 3 year olds know how to use a knife and yes, they are provided with them to cut fruit for morning break if they want, under teacher supervision. (complete with a child sized chopping board)

    viv in nz

  12. Hi, folks. I am a founding grandmother of the HOME Club out of Boston, which is for all races, religions, and people who stay HOME, hung together with just an occasional newsletter to state what some are doing, and where and when. When we founded that club in 1987, we put up with exactly the same protests, accusation, ignorance, and power plays that you are putting up with. My next door neighbor, who was an old woman and had never had children, hung over the back fence to talk to me and burst into tears because we were being so isolationist. I had to run into my house and get the calendar and show her my daughter’s busy schedule before she calmed herself. Fear of the unknown. We were right in the city proper, Roslindale… same mayor, same trash removers, same laws and rights and misunderstandings as the rest of Boston and same disfunctional school system with bars on the windows and locked doors. One day, a full grown woman who was visiting a local store (owned by her brother – she was hanging out with him) and I was in the store. She said, “That’s Against The Law. I Have Been A Teacher For Years And I Know.” Believe me, I almost said, “Honey, that’s why our children are not in your schools.” Homeschooling has never been against the law, but some of the families had to move across town lines in order to spare themselves the discrimination and negative attacks. Now our children are all grown and totally happy, totally involved, living away from home but totally involved with their parents, too – all because we did not enable them to be dependent upon us for gut reactions. How can anyone take care of themselves if they do not take care of themselves? !!!

  13. Your interview on the New York Fox station was one of the best and fairest in a long time.

  14. Just fyi… I called the SC DSS to ask what the minimum age was at which a child could be left unsupervised in the state of South Carolina. The answer – there is none. This is very encouraging for me as I’m trying to become more free range – but honestly my biggest fear is the unwarranted intervention of “well meaning” neighbors calling the police. Armed with this information, I feel more confident to make my case should ever I need to.

  15. Oh my goodness…it is hard watching these videos and people’s fears and ignorance. I agree with Steve that it would be nice to have your own show to control what is be given to to the public. Too much garbage is spoon fed to us like we are bumbling infants!
    Lenore – Thank you for doing what you do. I imagine it can be tough at times dealing with all the criticism….you are handling it quite well and fighting back….good for you!

  16. I am sorry but I disagree with you all. I have never been one to be pressured into keeping my mouth shut by having a different opinion though so here it is. I used to be like you; just be in by dark. I was raised that way and it seemed to be enough protection. However there are more people today and the mentality of people have changed. I have no problem with letting my daughter play in the playground and I set back and give her space, but every time there are situations when she needs my protection. Another child or even another parent will be acting aggressively or she will be making a bad choice. I am sorry. At the end of the day if your child has a horrible accident and dies they still go home with their child. Their home is intact. They will not stop your child from going into the street or off with a stranger. The incidence of drug use and teen sex is proportionally raised with the availability of unsupervised free time. This is where the idea of supervision afterschool came from. Remember? Other countries are not the same as the USA. Other societies are different and one size fits all never really works – not even with shirts and shoes. No I do not agree that we should be taking our 9 year old children to the park, leaving them there and driving off. We should be taking them to the park but we need to be there. What happens to the child there alone who does fall and break his or her arm, leg or head falling? He must wait for mom to return hours later? Also I have been to websites which show you where all the pedophiles live in any area you type in. There are many living around every address I lived at. Down the block; around the corner. There have been multiple abduction attempts around where I live too. If you tell parents (not all are good parents you know) it is ok to leave their child, some will take it to the extreme. Predators often are opportunistic, meaning they see a child alone and take the chance to grab her – or him. By telling parents everywhere go ahead! Leave your child alone in the park! They will be safe! You are opening up so many opportunities for these sick individuals, putting these children at risk, and it is unconscionable. The U.S. Department of Justice reports

    797,500 children (younger than 18) were reported missing in a one-year period of time studied resulting in an average of 2,185 children being reported missing each day.
    203,900 children were the victims of family abductions.
    58,200 children were the victims of non-family abductions.
    115 children were the victims of “stereotypical” kidnapping. (These crimes involve someone the child does not know or someone of slight acquaintance, who holds the child overnight, transports the child 50 miles or more, kills the child, demands ransom, or intends to keep the child permanently.)
    [Andrea J. Sedlak, David Finkelhor, Heather Hammer, and Dana J. Schultz. U.S. Department of Justice. “National Estimates of Missing Children: An Overview” in National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children. Washington, DC: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, October 2002, page 5.]

    You can find this information at

    I have said what I wanted to say. I do not agree with you. I am not a crazy, hovering oppressing mother. I let my daughter make many decisions and she has no problem with this or setting boundaries. I allow her to deal with all types of situations and individuals because I know she needs these experiences to grow. I am however never tooo far away and have the ability to jump in and support and protect her if she needs me to. I am not allowing her to be attacked physically or verbally. I am not throwing her to the wolves. I am not smothering her opportunities to learn and grow. What I am saying is there is a healthy medium somewhere in between smothering and absence. Maybe this is the right place to try to be. Look at all the children who are abducted each year WHILE we are being this hovering overprotective society which you are saying we are. What happens when – IF we remove the protections which necessity has caused us to put into place? One last thought. It is not just adults that we must protect our children from on the playground. Other children are there making bad choices too. I had to stop a child from throwing fireworks in the crowd of children running and playing at the park. I have had to stop fights. Children can act in pack mentality very easily. As one who has worked in the classroom, I can say with certainty that children are good, need the chance to make good decisions and interact, but are capable of making some very wrong decisions and need protective supervision. If something happens it is too late to say “Oh I should have..” or “Oh I wish I had….” and this is a situation you do not want to be in.

  17. “I am however never tooo far away and have the ability to jump in and support and protect her if she needs me to.”

    Which in my opinion is the problem. If you are ALWAYS there at the ready to jump in, then your child is not truly figuring things out for herself. I want my child to occasionally have to deal with situations where she cannot count on me to be there to jump in. She needs to figure out how to settle a conflict with a bully herself. If I interfere to “protect” her, she’s learned nothing. She needs to test her fortitude to make a good decision in the face of bad ones. If I’m always there to make sure she makes the right decisions, she doesn’t learn self discipline. She needs to be able to try to come up with a solution to a problem for herself. Because at 18 she will go off to college and I won’t be there to jump in when needed.

    I want my child to be able to go out and see the world beyond the borders of the US – and not through the sterilized eyes of a tour group. I would be the worst mother ever if I sent her backpacking through Europe after a life of me being “never tooo far away and have the ability to jump in and support and protect her if she needs me to.” Heck, I’d suck as a parent if I sent her to college that way.

    “115 children were the victims of “stereotypical” kidnapping. (These crimes involve someone the child does not know or someone of slight acquaintance, who holds the child overnight, transports the child 50 miles or more, kills the child, demands ransom, or intends to keep the child permanently.)”

    This statistic PROVES that this is NOT a large scale problem. Only 115 children were the victims of stranger kidnapping. 115 IN ONE YEAR. That is awful for those 115 families but it PROVES that kids are not flying out of parks into the hands of strangers!!! Further, it doesn’t indicate how many of those children were taken from safe places – their own beds, school, within close proximity of their parents or other responsible adult. If you figure in those conditions, I believe that the figure of kids kidnapped while outside adult supervision is very much less than the already puny 115 per year.

  18. Michelle-if you look at the Sexual Predator list which shows where registered sex offenders live, if you looked closely at the details of the crime and the ages, the majority of those listed are there because they were 17 and had sex with their 16 yr old girl/boy friend. I’ve looked at the list of those in my small town and I don’t think a single one was an old purvy man who molested little kids.

    After 9/11 I made a promise to myself: I would not live in fear. The chances that something MIGHT happen doesn’t mean that it WILL happen.

  19. Michelle,

    “The incidence of drug use and teen sex is proportionally raised with the availability of unsupervised free time”

    I read reading the book, Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman and there is a reason for that stat. Teens do drugs because they’re bored. Organized activities don’t work, because they never learn to preoccupy themselves with their free time. Children aren’t allowed to have free-time, because it isn’t safe.

    I was speaking to a friend being critical regarding teen centers in our urban area, that there is so much supervised organized basketball an 18 year old can do to keep him off the streets eventually he’ll want to do something for himself. If there isn’t vocational training and a full time job, he’ll just end up dealing drugs/committing crimes because well it’s the only independent thing he can do.

  20. Michele – your kids are going to make bad decisions every day, the moment you turn your back. They will make bad decisions all of their lives. As for bullies and so called “aggressive” people…your child needs to learn to stand up for themselves. The other day my friends 7 year old girl was complaining to me that the boys were chasing her and threatening to poke her eyeball out. The “boys” in question were my boyfriends 2 sons and another friends son. I suggested that she pull their shirt over their heads and punch them or at least tell them to “F*ck off”. Why? Because life is long and tough so it’s time to learn to not let people roll over you (she chose to disengage from the problem, which works too). I am 38 and work with a bully at the office. My mommy isn’t going to come in to give him a good talking to. I can deal with him because I learned to deal with those types LOOOOONG ago. And I certainly didn’t learn to deal with them because my mommy did it all for me.

    My boyfriend sends his kids to the park, ALONE, all of the time. They have come home with cuts and scrapes but no worse for wear. Yet his 6 year old recently slammed his thumb in the car door, nearly breaking it. Right there, under parental supervision!!!! Does this mean that a 6 year old shouldn’t be allowed to open or close a car door anymore? You know…just in case something like this happens to other kids out there? You never know when a 6 year old could lose a finger over this!!

    Contrary to what Michele thinks, necessity hasn’t caused us to put ALL of these protections into place. Being control freaks is what makes parents feel that if they just control EVERYTHING the child does then nothing bad will ever happen. It’s not true. The other day I watched a 5 year old girl ride her little 2 wheel bike in the street, overseen by her siblings of 10. Mom and Dad were not there. She did very well, careful of cars the whole thing. She had been taught well and I was very impressed. My boyfriend, who falls victim to that strange controlling mentality sometimes, refuses to let his 6 and 7 year old play in the street. Consequently they are dumb as posts about how to pay attention to the cars on the street. They play in the driveway but kick the ball into the street without checking for cars, don’t look before going to get the ball. This is because their Dad usually blocks the driveway off “for their protection” so the ball can’t go in the street (usually putting his CAR in the way so the ball hits his car!?!?). They have learned to go to the park on their own but can’t manage to play in the driveway. It’s sad. And this 5 year old little girl rides her bike around with no problems…all because her parents taught her well. You go girl!!

  21. And how much of that incidence of drug use and casual sex will just increase when this generation hits college? This generation of kids have been so structured, supervised and pushed that the FIRST possibility that they have for free time is college. And then they have ALOT of free time. I simply cannot imagine how this generation will survive with nobody to wake them up for class (and professors who don’t care if they come) and make sure they do their homework (and professors who don’t care if they do it) and 20 hours a day of completely unstructured time (figuring maybe 4 hours of class a day at max).

  22. Michelle, it’s impossible to reply to everything in your post but…..we are talking about kids who can talk, right? And I’m betting some if not all of these kids at the park will have a cell phone. If a kid falls and breaks a limb, certainly some other kid at the park can make a call and get an adult over there. Or even call 911. The perception that a kid will get seriously hurt (and I’m not talking about a scrape) and there will be no help anywhere ever is just ridiculous.

  23. Donna, just to note – most of those stereotypical kidnappings, those stranger abductions, are of teenagers. Not of young children. Your kid NEEDS to be able to function BEFORE they’re in that danger zone.

  24. Lenore Skenazy will be a guest on The Bob Rivers Show today, May 20th at 9:05 a.m. She will be talking about making May 22nd national “Take Our Kids to the Park…And Leave Them There Day.” Tune into KZOK 102.5 FM Seattle or stream audio and video at http:/

  25. I’m sorry you’re getting such backlash. You seem to be taking it very well and shows the strength of your character. Don’t let them bully you down.

  26. Oh Michele… just your post shows me you haven’t been on this site, don’t understand what free-range is all about, and most detrimentally, cannot make the connections – even when you have the numbers right there in your hand.

    I’m going to spout exactly what I’ve been spouting – beginning with YOUR stat that you seem to think reflects something major:

    Children are kidnapped stereotypically 115 times a year.
    There are 400 lightning strikes a year in the US.

    Question: Do you avoid the rain if you have an errand you need to run?
    Answer: Of course not.

    Children are more likely to be killed in a car accident – that is the largest killer of children under the age of 18.

    Question: Do you avoid driving your child around in a car because you are blatantly putting her in danger of the number one killer of people her age?
    Answer: Of course not.

    The majority of sex offenders are people who are 18 and had sex with their 15-17 year old partners or are caught peeing on buildings after a night of drinking.

    Question: Do you fudge the reasons in order to say they’re all pedophiles?
    Answer: Of course not.

    More food for thought:

    58,200 children are victims of non-family abductions, yet 115 are legitimate kidnappings. Let me posit something for you and see if you can rationally think through the implications.

    You are a mother (lets say) of a 16-year-old daughter who decides she is going to run away with her boyfriend and his friends. You don’t know this. You report her absence to the police. Where do they file it? Ahhhhh – when all is said and done – non-family abductions.

    I’m not even going to bat an eyelash **IF** this number is on the rise – why? Because of people like yourself and people worse than yourself (super-helicopters) who think the worst at the instant you can’t see your child. See – the two numbers do NOT go together. If 115 are legitimate kidnappings, that means 58,085 are something else. After all, abduction and kidnapping mean the same thing where I come from. What that tells me is that 58k is a very inflated number that doesn’t tell you squat about what is actually going on. The only one that seems to have a flat out, bold definition is the 115.

    This is a free country. You are within your total rights to disagree with anything you feel fit to disagree with. My hope for you and my fellow countrymen, however, is that you disagree based on an intelligent, thought-out, proven train of thought and not one based on fear, television, inflated numbers with no real meaning, fear-mongering newspaper reports, gossip from “well-meaning” people around you, and worst-case scenarios brought to you by the letter “I” for “Imagination.”

  27. I admire you so much Lenore for sticking your neck out there and putting up with these lying bullies.

    Unfortunately my boys have a swim meet in the morning and a birthday party in the afternoon on Saturday. So we are doing it on Sunday. They are super excited!

  28. I also hated how all of the kids in the TV piece were not even school-aged yet. They gave the impression that you were trying to get people to leave their pre-schoolers by themselves at the park.

    Michele- If you legitimately have to “help” your dd every single time you go to the park, then perhaps it isn’t the best idea for you to leave her at that park alone. I take my three children (5, 6, and 8) to parks all of the time and I almost never have to interfere with them. Maybe a good first step for you would be to make sure whenever you “help” her, she really needs the help.

  29. Aaaaah. Today is a great day for me. Lenore, I read your column years ago (I think it was reprinted in the LA Times) about letting your child go on the subway alone. I’ve been citing it ever since, but I never caught your name or followed up with who you were – because I had three little girls who were keeping me crazy busy. I’ve struggled with this topic since they were born. This morning, I stumbled upon Darell Hammond’s article at HuffPost,, which sent me over here. I feel like I’ve found a long lost friend. I am so on your side, with much too much to say here.

    Common sense parenting: my ten-year-old can now walk places with a friend. She’s practically beaming with self confidence. Thanks for having the guts to get your ideas out there. I’ll go check out your book.

    And I’ll be back.

  30. Thought you were excellent on CNN today and that the anchor was a dick.

    Thought you’d be interested in this essay by pulitzer prize winning Kavalier and Clay author Chabon:

  31. Michele — I won’t beat a dead horse regarding the very stats you’ve cited, since others have already beaten me to it, though I would like to point out that a couple of the most well-known cases of the stereotypical kidnappings were from right under the parents and in one of the cases, the girl was taken from her house, with the parents in the other bedroom. The point here is that things can happen, even when a parent is in arm’s reach, which means constantly being there isn’t going to do any good against someone who really wants to do harm to your child. For everything else, teaching your child how to deal with the risks will go a lot farther in the long run than constantly keeping them at arm’s reach.

    Regarding the decision making — How do you expect your child to make a good decision if you don’t let her make bad ones?

    Here’s a wonderful quote to consider:
    Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.
    — Mahatma Gandhi

    You may not feel like you’re “smothering her opportunities to learn and grow,” but neither are you giving her all the opportunities she could be having, because you’re not letting her make bad decisions and you’re not letting her stand up for herself.

    Which leads me to my next point — pack mentality in school. Several of us here know better than anyone what the pack mentality is like, because many of us were on the receiving end, ourselves. It sucked, especially when we were equally (or worsely) punished for defending ourselves against such mentality. As much as it sucked, though, it helped us become more confident and better able to deal with similar situations later in life, because those experiences helped us learn how to deal with them and learn how to stop caring so much what the “popular” people thought or said about us when we couldn’t do anything about it, and we learned how to resolve the situation when we could do something about it. You’re only doing a disservice to your daughter by stepping in against an “aggressive” person that she could otherwise handle herself.

    Not only are you depriving her of the chance to learn how to deal with conflict, but you’re also sending her the message that she can’t deal with conflict herself, and that’s a mindset that will likely carry her far into adulthood unless and until she can see the effects of that mindset and work to change it (which will still take quite a bit of time of self-deprogramming).

  32. I don’t know if anyone else has this thought or not, but the problem with the fact that there is NO minimum age for your child to left alone is that the lawyers and judges and jury can decide for themselves. It would be better if there WERE a minimum age, because you would be more protected under law. That being said, I would be cautious about leaving younger children (like 7-10 year olds) at the park on this Saturday because there may be people out there who has heard of this campain and will stir trouble. If you are the type who wants to “prove a point””, that’s fine. But I would be wary, especially in more well known parks because when there’s no specific age, then it can be interpreted by whoever wants to, and I would be nervous there might be some lawyer/police officer/or parent who might decide to “turn someone in”. Does anyone else have these thoughts?

  33. @ Jennifer- I think we are better off not having laws with specific ages, because there would still be plenty of leeway about what constitutes “child endangerment” for older kids, and the age set would probably be ridiculously high. Obviously, the risk that someone will come after us is there. Part of why we want to do this is so that we can make it more normal again, and show that it’s not so dangerous. My oldest is four, so I won’t be able to leave my kids yet (although we will go to the park), but my hat is off to and my support is behind those who do, because they are helping make the world better and more interesting for all of our kids. And hey, I’ll be one of those adults to whom all of the kids who break their arms can run to for help.

  34. FWIW, my kids go to the park unsupervised rather frequently (ages 11 & 7). And just last week one of their friends (aged 7) fell off the monkey bars and cut his head pretty badly. None of the parents were there. The kids took the hurt friend to the nearest adult (the community pool lifeguards), the lifeguards bandaged him up, they called his mom, mom came and all was ok. The kids got to make a good decision ON THEIR OWN about what to do in an emergency and all were back playing the next day.

    Not that any of us WANT our kids to get hurt while playing at the park, but it’s this situation that made me glad that I wasn’t there when it happened :-).

  35. @Sandy
    Most parents are probably more afraid of having to deal with the “authorities” (or busybodies) should they give their kids freedom, than they are of kids being kidnapped or assaulted.

    I think this is very much true. And good point.

    Your story is an excellent indicator of just why we SHOULD allow our kids out and about more. Kudos to you and your children and your friends!

    Lenore, you are doing a great job swimming upstream to bring these subjects to attention. Parents here at FRK (and other places) appreciate your efforts.

  36. RE: Ron Kuby.

    If you can tell the caliber of a man by his friends, then you can also tell the caliber of a lawyer by who he defends.

    ‘Nuff said.

  37. Wow. Just wow. I love how Lenore always comes off as intelligent, rational, dare I say professional, in all of her interviews. The voice of reason! They were so condescending! Fear, fear, fear. Have to sell the fear!

    On the subject of minimum age, I agree yes, it would be beneficial instead of leaving it up for interpretation. But as a previous poster said, it would probably be ridiculously high. If there is a set age, I would prefer it to be in the 7-10 age range. Once again though, you’d have people saying “Well, he’s 7. He can be home alone.” Rather than judging on the maturity of the child. If anyone was ever brought up on child endangerment charges, I would insist on putting the child on the stand. Proving the child knows what to do in an emergency, how to get a hold of the parent, their address. Let the children speak for themselves so to say.

  38. @Kelly: Spot on. Lenore, we really do appreciate it. Whenever you think for an instant about giving up – think about parents like me who would have hated parenting were it not for coming across this site. I know it sounds harsh – but with so much badgering from the outside, I literally was growing to resent my parenting role. Now? I feel as though my kids are normal (because I DON’T have to play with them as if they were my little friends), and that they are growing up with a sane adult role-model and not the crazy hovering lady who won’t let them do anything without modeling the behavior (thanks psychotherapists for the term). My kids have shown MUCH more independent thought and critical thinking skills – still make mistakes – still get punished and parented – but don’t have to feel as though big brother is breathing down their little necks.

    Lenore, it’s thanks to you that my two children are growing up with an actual childhood and not a jail sentence brought on by fear! Thank you!

  39. I can just absolutely not believe what I just saw and heard. Extreme? Questionable? This is _so_ ridiculous. I mean, I knew things were bad, but not that bad.

    (Plus, didn’t they notice that the parents they interviewed — OMG, my kid could get picked on! — all had younger kids?

    I’m really shocked that even news-people would take that stand and use words like extreme, questionable etc.

    So long,

  40. “The incidence of drug use and teen sex is proportionally raised with the availability of unsupervised free time.”

    ON that basis, Germany should have a far more serious problem here than the US (and we don’t) and after school you should lock up kids in a secure unit with a treadmill, and watch them on it.

    And I assume you apply the same logic to other risk such as say, driving. Don’t put your kids in a car or you’re a naughty parent…

  41. Wow, nice editorializing and judgment-passing by those anchors and reporters. I worked in news for a long time and it would mean a come-to-Jesus with the news director if our anchors decided to pass judgment like that. Report the story, don’t give your opinion. In any case, my son, who is almost 8, has been going to the park alone for a while now with nary a scary story to tell about it. He’s dealt with kids who were not nice, kids who rode his scooter for longer than he was comfortable with, and kids who were flat out mean. But he’s also made new friends in our neighborhood and gained lots of independence and decision-making skills. Bravo, Lenore, keep up the great work.

  42. I can’t believe anyone thinks Lenores ideas are crazy or dangerous. It makes me sad to hear about all this fear. I thought americans were suppose to be bold in the face of danger, not cowering in fear.

    I read this site everyday and it makes me want to stay down in Mexico, instead of moving back with my soon to be newborn son (I’m from US). The attitude towards kids is nothing like the overblown terror back home- and there are real risks to deal with here (the infrastructure alone is perilous!). The kids here are independant,AND the families are strong. And NO ONE will report me to an authority for sending my kid to a park!

    Of course, people think I’m nuts for living here in the first place, but they watch too much TV news and can’t read facts/stats for themselves.

    Keep up the good work!

  43. Since my little munchkin isn’t even a year yet he won’t get to participate in the first few years of this…and I do hope it becomes a yearly thing…not because I think there should only ever be one day a year like this, but that as long as there are helicopter parents around there NEEDS to be a day like this to stir people up and get them to decide that “Hey, maybe my kid can actually entertain himself/herself for a while without my hovering!!”

  44. […] kids have unsupervised time in NYC park not actually against the law [Free-Range Kids on "Take Your Kids to the Park, and Leave Them There Day"] Related from Lenore Skenazy: Spiked […]

  45. I will stick up for Michelle. Although I am right there IN CASE my children need me, I do allow them to interact and see what kind of decision they will make. Yes, sometimes they make bad choices. Then we talk about it, sometimes they need to be disciplined, but I don’t step in unless and until it’s actually needed. My oldest is 7, and our park is literally right behind our house. I have thought about allowing her to go by herself since I could see her from the window, but…. There are A LOT of trees nearby, and it’s quite frankly kind of scary allowing her to go there alone. She is very mature for her age and can handle herself well in many situations. But if someone were to grab her, even if I saw it, she is still a few minutes away by the time I get out the door and start running to the park. Plus, what if I happen to not be looking out the window at the moment? There’s another few minutes lost. She’d be long gone. That, in my mind as a mother, is WAY too scary to even think about! Yes, this can happen when they’re older, too, but at least they have the advantage of longer legs at that point. :-/ And maybe even some self-defense training, as well.

    There is definitely a happy medium between allowing them room to grow, learn, and make mistakes, and allowing them so much freedom that they feel you’re not there to guide them and teach them. Many surveys of teens wish their parents were MORE involved in their lives, not less. It is the same with young children.

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