Personal Debate - Letting Kids Play Outside (Child Death ment.)
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Thread: Personal Debate - Letting Kids Play Outside (Child Death ment.)

  1. #1
    Community Host Alissa_Sal's Avatar
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    Jun 2006
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    Default Personal Debate - Letting Kids Play Outside (Child Death ment.)

    A week ago, a little girl went missing in Westminster CO (a northern suburb of Denver), and then on Friday they found her body. She was walking to school when she disappeared, and obviously someone took her and killed her.

    Emotions pour out over Jessica's death - The Denver Post

    We live in a southern suburb of Denver. As you can imagine, the entire Denver community has been rocked by this. I just can't even imagine the pain that family is going through.

    In the meantime, I have to admit that the whole thing has put me on edge about letting T play outside by himself. Usually I have no problem letting him play in our fenced in backyard by himself. I leave the back door open, and check on him from time to time, and let him play. You can't even see our backyard from the road, so it's not like someone driving by could see him back there. And it's not like the disappearance even happened on my end of town. But I can't stop thinking about how I would feel and what I would do if T disappeared like that poor poor little girl, and it's making me feel crazy anxious. I know that statistically the odds are very good that nothing bad will happen, even in my community where there is definitely a nut out there somewhere, but suddenly statistics aren't super comforting. On the other hand I value letting kids have age appropriate freedom and independence, even when that is scary for me as a parent.

    So, do you let your kids play outside (relatively) unsupervised? By "unsupervised", I mean that he is outside, and I am in the house with the window/door open so I can hear him, and stepping out to check on him every once in a while.

    If you do, would a recent abduction/murder change the way you do it, or at least the way you feel about it?

    For reference, he is 4, and again, the yard is a fenced in backyard with a privacy fence and cannot be seen at all from the road.
    -Alissa, mom to Tristan (5) and Reid (the baby!)

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  2. #2
    Community Host wlillie's Avatar
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    Sep 2007


    My dh and I go round and round about this very thing. His concern is snakes but my only one is really the next door neighbor's cut loops in the top of the privacy fence so they can see into our yard and I can't hear him. We'll be dealing with it again as winter approaches and it's finally cool enough to let him stay out there. I think if a child is responsible enough to wipe their own ***, they are responsible enough to be taught to scream if someone enters their backyard or approaches them.
    Sapphire Sunsets likes this.

  3. #3
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    Mar 2003


    I let my kids (8 and 5) play outside in our back yard a lot, unsupervised in the way that you describe. We also live less than half a block from the local police station, which gives me a pretty good sense of security. I think if there was an abduction nearby, it would probably affect my decision, at least for a while. I'd like to think it wouldn't, but I think it probably would.

    We have taught both kids, though, that if someone messes with them, they should scream like they're on fire. We ask them to recite this back to us sometimes, I make my son repeat it before he uses the men's room by himself if we're out without my husband.

    But this is a tough one. I would go with your gut. Or maybe ask local friends for their opinions.
    Laurie, mom to:
    Nathaniel ( 10 ) and Juliet ( 7 )

    Baking Adventures In A Messy Kitchen (blog)

  4. #4
    Mega Poster mom3girls's Avatar
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    Jan 2007


    Our backyard backs up to our local high school baseball field, so a lot of people can and do see into our yard. We also have a gate (it is locked at all times) that people could get into. I am hesitant to let them play out back by themselves because of this (just the 2 young ones) I usually send them out back only if I can be in our family room that has windows that overlook the back yard and I make them stay in the front part of the yard.
    The front yard is very different, the guy that lives across the street gives me the total heepy jeebies, he gets a lawn chair out and watches the kids whenever they play out front. So needless to say we spend way more time out back
    Molly, Morgan, Mia and Carson

  5. #5
    Posting Addict
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    Apr 2003


    It's very hard...

    At some point, your children have to out and face the world. Alone. DD1 is 16. I let her do a lot of stuff that scares me because so many things could happen. But like it or not, in a few short years, she could get a passport and hitchhike across Europe. I really hope she never does.

    DD2 is 2 months away from 9. I worry so much about her. Two weeks ago she got done with her after-school journalism club early. She waited on the grass outside the school for 20 minutes. When I got there, she was alone. The other kids had just been picked up so only for a few minutes. That's all it take. I told her next time to wait in the office.

    When I read about cases like Shasta Greone (?) and those who were watched first, I realize there is just nothing you can do.

    With my 8 YO I am very protective and don't usually let her go in the backyard by herself. And never the front yard. Yesterday we were at my parents' house and she walked to the car parked in the driveway to get something. She went that distance out of view and I was nervous the entire 2 minutes.

    Just so very sad. That girl was so adorable.

  6. #6
    Posting Addict ange84's Avatar
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    Dec 2009
    Queensland, Australia


    It will probably be a long time before DS is allowed to play in the yard alone. We don't have a fence (it's on the list of things we are saving for), our house is quite large and unless I am in the nursery or his room I can not see the back yard if I am at the front of the house I wouldn't hear him, actually from most of the house I wouldn't hear him. I am lucky we have a large space under the house that I can fold washing or something down there and watch him but it makes it hard for him to play outside when we get home each day because I need to cook tea and the kitchen is at the front of the house.

  7. #7
    Community Host Sapphire Sunsets's Avatar
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    May 2002
    Northeast, USA


    Yes, they play unsupervised. They are kids, they do need to learn to be able to care for themselves when they become adults. I trust my kids completely, they know what to do if someone they don't know comes up to them and they aren't afraid to make it known that someone had bothered/hurt them.
    ~ Sara -

    ~ DH - Jim -

    ~ Zachary - 4/19/95 ~ stillborn @ 33 wks

    ~ *J* - 16yr old

    ~ *M* 11yr old

  8. #8
    Prolific Poster
    Join Date
    Aug 2004


    Mine are only 4 and 2 and they don't. We don't have a fenced in yard and dd1 likes to just run across the street when my neighbor comes out so someone is always with them. I'm not sure what I would do in a few years. If she stopped bolting I may consider it. We live in a quiet town and I can hear them with the door open.

  9. #9
    Community Host
    Join Date
    Aug 2006


    My children do not play outside alone. We do not live on the best area. If it was just my 7yo she could, but she is rarely with out my 3yo who I do not want out alone.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2012


    Hi, new here. Just wanted to say hi before I jump in.

    I used to live in that very community! This story chills me right to the bone and seeing her sweet face breaks my heart.

    I do however let my girls play outside in our backyard without me out there the entire time. They are almost 3 and 18 months. If the baby is out there I tend to stay out there the whole time as her sister can be too rough at times, but I leave my older one out there alone while I cook supper, but I keep the door open and the windows open and walk out to check on her frequently. I think it is perfectly reasonable for a toddler to navigate a fenced back yard by themselves and I believe it helps build confidence and independence. If I were still in Westminster I would be thinking twice about doing so.

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