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  1. #1
    6enny is offline Senior Member
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    Default Where do city kids play?

    This might seem like a dumb question, but I'm from the country. I grew up playing unsupervised with children my age in my and their yards from age 4 on.

    My question is, how and where do kids aged 4-10 play in the city?

    My theories are:
    • Unsupervised inside their/a friend's house
    • Supervised in a park/playground
    • Unsupervised on their/a friend's street (sidewalk) with strict rules as to where they can/cannot go.

    Is there anything I'm missing, or something I'm saying that is unacceptable?

    I swear I looked for a post similar to this but couldn't find anything.

  2. #2
    CHIOSSO's Avatar
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    in the street.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by CHIOSSO View Post
    in the street.
    I suppose it depends on the neighborhood.

    We grew up mostly in the NE, and at first were in a house with a common drive in the back, and then moved to a single with a large yard. So we were always outside, and sometimes in the street. But not often.

    My own daughter and I lived in a house with a common drive in the rear and she too played in the driveway with the driveway kids.
    I am not the Jackass Whisperer.

  4. #4
    ShoshTrvls's Avatar
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    It is very block-dependent, but one of the options I didn't see on your list was "unsupervised in a park/playground." Once my daughter learned how to get herself 1/2 block away to either of the local parks (Mario Lanza and Weccacoe), that's where she would go -- often with me or her babysitter nearby, but as she got older, more and more by herself.

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    6enny is offline Senior Member
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    I understand that it depends on the child and the parent, but at what age would you trust your child to walk 2-4 blocks through a decent neighborhood to play, unsupervised, in a park?

    I'm getting way ahead of myself, but I'm thinking back to my own parents and can't imagine the sentence, "You're driving me crazy! Go play outside!" being followed up by "... I'll stop what I'm doing and come with you!"

    Talked to a co-worker of mine, who is probably over protective, and he says that his 7 year old still has to be watched through a window when playing in their very small, quiet, South Philly street.

  6. #6
    fifi le pew's Avatar
    fifi le pew is offline Senior Member
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    You pretty much have it right. I have an 9 and 7 yr old. We have lots of kids on our block and it's considered a very "safe" block in CC, only one block from a park.

    My kids often play in our house with neighbors or in a neighbor's house. Sometimes they go from one house to another, and as long as they tell me where they are going, I'm OK with that. That play is generally pretty unsupervised.

    Most nice days there are lots of kids playing on the sidewalk or riding bikes/scooters in the street. However, I generally like to have one adult out there. There's at least 7 or 8 families with children, so we sort of share that burden and often times sit out on the steps and have a cold one or two. If I'm in my kitchen, which looks right out on the street, I do let my kids play by themselves in front of the rowhouse, and peek out every so often.

    As for the park, our block sort of has the same rule. Often times one parent will take all the kids. If I'm the parent, I usually just sit and read and occasionally look up. My kids are getting to the age where I would trust them to walk to and from the park, but my oldest has no desire to do that and so I dont' want to push her if it would make her uncomfortable.

  7. #7
    ShoshTrvls's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 6enny View Post
    I understand that it depends on the child and the parent, but at what age would you trust your child to walk 2-4 blocks through a decent neighborhood to play, unsupervised, in a park?
    It's hard for me to remember, but I think Ellery started going to Mario Lanza when she was about 7 -- usually with our dog. (he's no attack dog, but there was some additional comfort knowing that she wasn't "alone."). And I'm not even sure I'd say ML was for "play" since 3/4 of the time they have the grass area roped off so there aren't a lot of kids generally hanging out there. Weccacoe is different, though -- it is a real playground. Since she had to cross 4th Street, with its ocassional questionable characters dealing drugs on the corner, to get there, it was probably another year or two before I sent her off there alone.

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    Queen Villager is offline Senior Member
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    I think the OP's list is about right, although we're not on one of those kid-oriented blocks where they're outside together on the sidewalk. I wouldn't let my single-digit-age child play unsupervised at a playground or walk or play anywhere in the city alone at this point. I'd feel the same if we lived outside the city. At least one parent (or a friend's parent) is at the playground, and we have get-togethers at our home or playmates' houses. Those are not really unsupervised, because a parent needs to be home with kids this young anyway, but they're unsupervised in the sense the kids can play by themselves without constant monitoring.

    I know there are places in the city and the 'burbs where kids do play somewhat unsupervised, but I think times have changed and it's too dangerous, unfortunately, for kids to be as free-range now as we were decades ago. Even then, it was more dangerous than people realized. I was playing unsupervised outside my house in a safe neighborhood eons ago when a stranger in a car drove up and started talking to me. I don't want to think what might have happened if not for the intervention of a neighbor who saw what was happening.

  9. #9
    3rd&Brown is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Queen Villager
    I know there are places in the city and the 'burbs where kids do play somewhat unsupervised, but I think times have changed and it's too dangerous, unfortunately, for kids to be as free-range now as we were decades ago. Even then, it was more dangerous than people realized. I was playing unsupervised outside my house in a safe neighborhood eons ago when a stranger in a car drove up and started talking to me. I don't want to think what might have happened if not for the intervention of a neighbor who saw what was happening.
    The irony, of course, is that cities are safer than they've been in decades. I have friends who grew up in Philadelphia during the crack-cocaine epidemic (500 murders a year), in places like Queen Village, that were much worse then than they are now, and played (including wandering around their neighborhoods endlessly...I was always envious of their tales) completely unsupervised once they hit a certain age...from the stories, my guess is about 10-ish? A number of these friends are people I met when I went to Cornell, so obviously, they lived to tell the stories.

    The term "helicopter parent" isn't new to our lexicon for no reason. Parents are more involved and invade/have access to more aspects of their children's lives than they ever have.

    I don't have children, so it's easy to critique, but I can't imagine I'd ever be one of those parents. I'm fiercely independent, and I think, confident...and I think it is largely bc of the fact that I was given so much independence as a child. Granted, I grew up in the burbs, but my parents were not nearly as involved in any aspect of my life as parents seem to be today. Even where they live today, on a perfectly safe secluded street that has been repopulated with young families, I rarely see those kids playing outside.

    When I was a kid, nearly the entire block was outside (in the street, in people's yards, in the woods which completely surrounds my parent's block) playing unsupervised every day after school and on the weekends, when weather permitted.
    Last edited by 3rd&Brown; 03-09-2012 at 01:35 AM. Reason: typos

  10. #10
    macdaire is offline Senior Member
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    This is a tough one for me. I grew up in a different country and once we were 10 or 11 we were sort of given free range to go where we wanted. I have a 9, 6 and 3 year old. Although I would be fine with the 9 and 6 yo being outside on the street, I am not okay with the 3 yo being outside, even with the others watching. Essentially this means they tend to play in our small back yard or in the park (with me), which is too far for them to walk to on their own. I am imagining my mental shift will have to happen soon with the 9yo but convincing his dad that he needs this independence is another story!

  11. #11
    kimlet is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Queen Villager View Post
    I think the OP's list is about right, although we're not on one of those kid-oriented blocks where they're outside together on the sidewalk. I wouldn't let my single-digit-age child play unsupervised at a playground or walk or play anywhere in the city alone at this point. I'd feel the same if we lived outside the city. At least one parent (or a friend's parent) is at the playground, and we have get-togethers at our home or playmates' houses. Those are not really unsupervised, because a parent needs to be home with kids this young anyway, but they're unsupervised in the sense the kids can play by themselves without constant monitoring.

    I know there are places in the city and the 'burbs where kids do play somewhat unsupervised, but I think times have changed and it's too dangerous, unfortunately, for kids to be as free-range now as we were decades ago. Even then, it was more dangerous than people realized. I was playing unsupervised outside my house in a safe neighborhood eons ago when a stranger in a car drove up and started talking to me. I don't want to think what might have happened if not for the intervention of a neighbor who saw what was happening.
    I completely agree. When I was a kid I did have more independence but that was 30++ years ago and I grew up in a very small town. Today, I would never let my 7 year old walk to the park and play by himself. Even without taking into account the issues of violence and strangers, getting to our nearest park involves crossing Henry Avenue and I'm not sure if I'll let him cross Henry himself until he's a teenager. Even the street we live on gets cars flying down the street way over the speed limit and frequent accidents. It's not that I don't trust my child to use his common sense, it's more that I don't trust other people to act reasonably.

  12. #12
    mixiboi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kimlet View Post
    When I was a kid I did have more independence but that was 30++ years ago and I grew up in a very small town.
    Yes, because no kids were hurt, killed, or stolen 30 years ago from small towns...
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  13. #13
    Queen Villager is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by kimlet View Post
    I completely agree. When I was a kid I did have more independence but that was 30++ years ago and I grew up in a very small town. Today, I would never let my 7 year old walk to the park and play by himself. Even without taking into account the issues of violence and strangers, getting to our nearest park involves crossing Henry Avenue and I'm not sure if I'll let him cross Henry himself until he's a teenager. Even the street we live on gets cars flying down the street way over the speed limit and frequent accidents. It's not that I don't trust my child to use his common sense, it's more that I don't trust other people to act reasonably.
    Right, and people with or without kids can call me a helicopter parent, I don't care. Even a 7-year-old with good common sense and the right intentions is a 7-year-old nonetheless, with a young, developing brain that's not necessarily ready for handling stranger encounters, and small enough to be overpowered. There are enough mentally unbalanced and otherwise worrisome people walking around -- people whom I myself try to steer clear of -- whom I don't think little kids are necessarily equipped to handle. I was actually approached in QV a few years ago by a stranger in a car offering me a ride. Really! My feeling is this: If a child is too young to be left home alone without adult or near-adult supervision, the child is too young to be wandering the city without adult supervision.

  14. #14
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    And for those with the faint of heart, skip this story:


    9-Year-Old Braves the Subway System Alone: Gothamist

    Justice Department data actually show the number of children abducted by strangers has been going down over the years,"
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  15. #15
    3rd&Brown is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by mixiboi
    And for those with the faint of heart, skip this story:


    9-Year-Old Braves the Subway System Alone: Gothamist
    I heard this woman on NPR after this story was published a while back. What I found amazing was the fervor of people's responses. I would have thought most would have said, "well enough, but not for me". Instead, people skewered her.

    Not only have abductions gone down, but the population has gone up dramatically. So the chances of something like this happening relative to the past are actually much lower. Add to that, I'd argue that most true abductions are probably likely between known parties...i.e. an estranged father kidnapping a child, for example.

    Anyways...that's my two cents. And again, I'd be the first person to admit I'd probably feel differently if I had my own children, which I don't. I just wanted to put the fact out there because often our perceptions (about our environment) are far from reality, especially in comparison to the lore of yester-year, which is usually a fabrication.

    In Northern Liberties, as the neighborhood becomes increasingly re-populated by families, I've noticed that most take their kids to the park for play dates. But it's not uncommon for me to see 2 or 3 kids of elementary school age wandering the neighborhood, just chatting, and generally exploring, I assume. Those were my favorite memories as a child...the self discovery...and I am somewhat envious of those kids when I see them, as what they have to explore is so much more interesting than anything I ever had to explore. Then again, our connection to the core isn't as seamless as other close in neighborhoods, so we're generally well insulated from the wandering crazies. I think I've seen maybe 1 beggar/homeless guy here in Northern Liberties in the past 5 years.

  16. #16
    ShoshTrvls's Avatar
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    Ellery was taking SEPTA around town at age 9 without incident and from the time she was 12 (don't tell Amtrak), she has regularly been going on SEPTA from home to 30th Street Station and then on AMTRAK to Penn Station in NYC to spend the weekend with my father, on her own and without incident. I understand that this may be a bit much for other parents/kids, but personally I'm quite pleased that I've raised a street-smart, savvy city kid.

  17. #17
    thoth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Queen Villager View Post
    Right, and people with or without kids can call me a helicopter parent, I don't care. Even a 7-year-old with good common sense and the right intentions is a 7-year-old nonetheless, with a young, developing brain that's not necessarily ready for handling stranger encounters, and small enough to be overpowered. There are enough mentally unbalanced and otherwise worrisome people walking around -- people whom I myself try to steer clear of -- whom I don't think little kids are necessarily equipped to handle. I was actually approached in QV a few years ago by a stranger in a car offering me a ride. Really! My feeling is this: If a child is too young to be left home alone without adult or near-adult supervision, the child is too young to be wandering the city without adult supervision.
    I don't know, by the time I was in middle school, I'm pretty sure I was clever enough to know to tell a creepy guy in a car to fuk himself. My town was way more rednecky when I grew up, we had a couple of rural homeless dudes, couple of sex offenders (I found out later on) and three superfund sites. Not to mention you could get beaten up by kids if you went over to jersey. And this is a pretty bucolic town.

    But I never remember my parents telling me I couldn't go play with my friends. I just had to be back before dark. We stuck together and you knew people around town, I don't think of it as being that dangerous. Nowadays with cell phones and generally lower crime rates, it's probably way safer than when I was a kid. I don't seem to remember anyone getting raped or abducted back then. I do remember being able to get out of my house and playing with neighborhood kids as being a big part of my childhood, as opposed to all the time I spent inside playing video games (as much as I could get past my parents)

  18. #18
    Queen Villager is offline Senior Member
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    Thoth: I don't know what age I consider old enough, but there's a difference between ages 5, 6, 7, 8 and middle school, ages 10-13.

    Editing to add: And then again, from tonight's Action News and the suburbs:

    http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?se...cal&id=8576051

    >>"I heard footsteps running up and he grabbed me and my friend's necks, and he said you're coming with me," ... The (8- and 9-year-old) girls broke free and ran to a nearby mailman. ... After the attempted kidnapping, investigators got another report of Lopez following a 14 year old girl on Jefferson Avenue near the ball park.<<
    Last edited by Queen Villager; 03-09-2012 at 11:18 PM.

  19. #19
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    And they did what they were suppose to do and he was arrested.
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  20. #20
    Queen Villager is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by mixiboi View Post
    And they did what they were suppose to do and he was arrested.
    Right, it worked out as well as it could have for these girls, thank goodness, and I'm not suggesting their parents shouldn't have let them walk home from school. The fact that the two girls were together, rather than alone, may have helped. The story, however, illustrates the dangers to children even in "safe" areas. Are you suggesting it works out well every time and parents shouldn't be concerned about young children walking around without adults, especially alone?

 

 

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