Thursday, April 30, 2009

Our Neighborhood

I've been watching (and participating a little bit) in a discussion on a homeschooling message board in which some of the parents believe in "free range" kids. These parents believe that those who practice "fear-based parenting" over being overprotective and are causing their children to form insecurities, over-dependency, timidity, and fearfulness that is out of proportion to the situation. They believe that the risks to a child playing alone outside, even elsewhere in the neighborhood, are so small that it is a non-issue.

I'm one of those overprotective parents but I see where it has come from. I was sexually molested for six years as a child by a neighbor so I'm very cautious about who I let the kids visit without my direct supervision and even more cautious about who I let the kids spend the night with. It's a very small number for both. Further, I've lived in my current neighborhood for 10 years now and the things I've seen and heard about within blocks of my house has caused me to become even more cautious with my kids (ie. no playing in the front yard without supervision). I believe I wouldn't be so careful if I lived somewhere else.

Here's why:

In the 10 years, I've lived here I've seen or heard about...
-- Saw 2 gang members beating the crud out of another gang member in front of my house. Turned out the house on the corner was a known gang hangout.
-- Saw a drive by shooting one block away
-- Twelve year old Zina Linnik was kidnapped from her yard 1 mile away and murdered
-- A meth house was closed down around the corner (I can see their garage from my house)
-- A drug house was closed down around a different corner (an odd guy used to hang out on my street and visit that house often)
-- Our local elementary locks up its playground after hours due to drug and alcohol problems.
-- Saw many drug deals in our local grocery store parking lot.
-- My neighbor was shoved to the ground and had her purse snatched 1/2 block from our house.
-- The neighbor behind me had his garage broken into.
-- The neighbor next to me had their house broken into.
-- Our car has been broken into twice.
-- Our car has been totaled by a drunk driver and damaged in a different hit and run drunk driving incident while parked on the street in front of our house.
-- We've had windows smashed out of our cars on a few occasions.
-- We've seen car accidents end up in neighbor's yards due to excessive speed and failure to obey stop signs. Thankfully, their kids were not in their yards at the time.

But, I think I've posted about this before. This time, I also found some crime stats for you. The listed crimes occurred within a 1/2 mile radius of my home within the last 12 months:

Child luring - 1
Aggravated Assault - 17
Non-aggravated Assault - 54
Robbery -25
Arson -1
Motor Vehicle Theft - 80
Theft - 249 (this is broken down into categories)
Burglary - 110 (include residential and nonresidential)
Vandalism - 228
Drug Possession of Meth - 7
Drug Sale/Manufacturing of Meth - 2
Drug Possession Other - 50
*Drug Sale/Manufacturing - 9
Weapons Violations - 21
Warrant Arrests - 166
Fraud/Forgery - 43
Criminal Traffic - 257
Liquor Law Violations - 9
Telephone Harassment - 8
Intimidation - 42
Possession of Stolen Property - 15
All other crimes - 23 (includes failure to register sex offender)
Total crimes within 1/2 mile of my house within the last 12 months - 1,417...and these are only the reported ones.

*Concerning the drug sales, they must not be looking in the right place because my husband and I have witnessed more sales than this in just our grocery store's parking lot alone.

There are also two level 3 sex offenders living within 1-2 blocks of my house. One broke into a house and raped the woman, threatening to kill her and her 3 year old son. That wasn't his first offense. He also has a long history of other, non-sexual crimes. The other was convicted of indecent liberties with a 9 year old girl. Previously, he was convicted of child molestation of 4 and 7 year old boys. He has other crimes on his record as well.

In addition to the level 3 offenders, there are three level 2 offenders within 1/2 a mile of my house. The information doesn't give a closer estimate as to where they live. Their convictions include child molestation 1 and 2 and attempted rape.

In addition to the level 2 and 3 offenders, there are 39 level 1 offenders within 1/2 a mile of my house. Again, the information doesn't give a closer estimate of their address. Their convictions include child molestation 1 and 2, sexual abuse of a minor, rape of a child (1,2, and 3), indecent liberties, child pornography, assault with sexual motivation, statutory rape, lewd conduct with a minor, etc.

We have become more lenient in the past year. The 9 and 7 year old can go outside (on our side of our short block) together without a parent...but I watch them pretty closely from the window. I also let them go to the car get something completely alone...but I'm pretty stressed if they take too long. I've let my 9 year old walk to a friend's house 2 blocks away while I watched from the corner and they watched from their end.

So, I ask you...am I being too overprotective considering where we live? What limits or freedoms would you allow given these stats?

And, does anyone have a house in the country that's in decent shape that they are willing to just give to us outright? LOL

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5 Comments:

Jennifer said...

OMG! No! I would never let my kids outside if I lived in your neighboorhood. I will pray that you find the means to move. My neighboorhood isn't like that right now, but I think it is going in that direction. :(

Anonymous said...

Obviously in this economy its just not realistic to up and move but I wish you could!
I think you are acting appropriatly given the conditions. I have no reason to worry about my particular neighborhood but I still don't allow my children to play out front without me. I don't know my neighbors well so who knows. We also live on a street that has a lot of foot traffic and we do not have a fence. I am from the generation that played outside and at neighbors houses without a thought or care BUT all the terrible things WERE happening then, we just weren't as educated about it.

Too Many Hats said...

Ummm...do you have a bomb shelter you could lock them up in. Seriously, you are being a diligent and loving parent by properly supervising your kids. Yes, I wish we could all let our kids run free over the hills and dales communing with nature and breathing the fresh air and not coming home until the street lights go on, but for most of us that is a fairy tale - one we may have lived as a kid, but no longer a reality in most urban and even suburban areas.

You keep on protecting those kidlets.

BTW, I am called overprotective just because I homeschool, so I lose from the get go in those types of conversations.

Suswan said...

I've read about Mom's in inner city neighborhoods who literally NEVER let their kids out of the house. Their kids turned out successful, stayed out of trouble, did well in school and were alive to enjoy their adulthood. Really, it's a very different world these days. I think you would be irresponsible not to teach your kids to be cautious.

Rebecca Kvenvolden said...

WOW! yikes! I totally think you are spot on in your dilligence in watching your children. Our kiddos are allowed to play outside, but we live on a quiet cul-de-sak, and i can still watch them from the window by the computer! We rent, and chose our house largely based on the neighborhood, it has other problems, namely that we RENT it, but also the walls are THIN and we pay a mint in electricity/gas, but with 5 almost 7 kiddos, being able to let them play outside is a BIG deal for ME! However, i don't say any of that to undermine YOUR choices, i think you hit it on the nail.
rebecca