Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Do You Know Where Your Child Is?

“We've got to work to save our children and do it with full respect for the fact that if we do not, no one else is going to do it.” - Dr. Dorothy Height

It was a nice day in Chicago so I decided to take a stroll. On my way home, my walk took me past a park where I noticed a large number of children playing. Due to the violence in Chicago, people spraying bullets into crowds and parks, I have been more cognizant of children playing in open areas and hoping they don't turn into targets. The kids playing in the park were about 5 to 11 years old. Under normal circumstances, this really wouldn't warrant my concern outside of the recent violence. However, what struck me was with all of the kids playing, there was not one adult.

I scanned the park three more times to make sure that I hadn't missed the one adult, possibly responsible for all the kids the result of maybe an after school program. Nope not one. Here is was 5:30 in the evening and these children were in a playground located on a busy street in a neighborhood where violence was becoming more and more prevalent. Why weren't they in the house doing homework? Granted, the children didn't have school the next day because of report card pick up day. Or they may have done their homework from 1:30pm to 5:00pm. Nevertheless, the real issue wasn't that they were outside, but they were outside alone.

When I was that age, if I wanted to go outside, my mother came with me. The playground I played in was located within the scope of the gated apartment complex I lived in, but that didn't matter to my mother. If she was well, she came outside with us and if she wasn't we didn't go outside. Now this is not to romanticize my childhood, but even when it came to walking my sister and I to catch our school bus in the morning, my mother made the trek with us. Not only that, almost every morning my dad would drive from his house to mine and wait with us for the school bus to come. When we got older, he would drive from his house and take us to school. Nowadays, I see children that look as young as 7 years old getting on CTA busses by themselves.

Yet as I looked at those children in the park by themselves, I had to wonder what conversation allowed them to be in that situation. Was it a child asking their parents for some kind of attention and their parents telling them to get out of their face and go outside? Was it a child simply asking to go to the park and their parents obliging? This seriously bothered me. I know some people may not think it a big deal, but children allowed to play without the auspices of adults become teenagers who roam the streets. They become teenagers whose parents don't care where they are at all times of the night.

Was I being dramatic? Eh, maybe. Nevertheless, I had to assess the situation now. The fact that these children are 5 to 11 in a park by themselves is just not kosher AT ALL. I don't know why I was surprised though. I see children walking light years ahead of their parent all the time. Or children pushing strollers while their parents talk on the phone. It's trifling. Parents need to accept more responsibility for their children. Parents need to know who their children are playing with at that age. Additionally, parents need to know who the parents are of the kids their child plays with on a daily basis.

They say it takes a village to raise a child and that doesn't absolve parents from their individual responsibility. If a parent doesn't care enough about their kids to take them to the park, it will eventually manifest in some way in their lives. Basically, letting your child play by themselves outside, sends a message that you don't mind the letting the streets do your job. How shameful.


  1. It's a sad state of affairs what is going on in the streets of our cities. Sometimes our good intentions are sometimes thwarted by the very people we are trying to help. When someone from the village tries to step in and lend that hand, I know you have heard it said ..." ...don't talk to my ... like that" or even worse. Keep up the writing and I look forward to reading more( please use a different font for us old guys)

  2. Yes, I have found myself in situations where I've had to check myself from talking to another person's child because of the fear of an altercation. On the other hand there are times when pride simply can't stand in the way because the child's best interest must prevail. Thanks for your comment I appreciate you!

    *Sorry about the font. Going through a blog site redesign so still tweeking some things!


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