Let’s face it, kids today just don’t play outside freely like they used to. When my generation was growing up, we would come home from school every day, throw our backpack in the house, and take off until either dark or dinner time. This playtime with the other kids in the neighborhood usually consisted of activities like riding bikes, climbing trees, playing pickup baseball games, or exploring nearby forests. Maybe you can relate.
This all seems to be lost with this generation’s youth. This can partially be blamed on the invasion of technology and our addiction to devices. It’s also a safety issue, or at least a perceived safety issue. I say that because crimes against kids are actually at record lows right now, although it doesn’t feel like that. We asked kids’ outdoor clothing brand, Sawyer, to share some tips with us for letting kids play outside safely.
1. Create neighboorhood boundaries and have a discussion with your kids about why it’s important for them to follow these rules and stay within these imaginary lines. Make sure the other parents are onboard with this and alert you anytime they see your kids outside these boundaries unsupervised. Make a point of meeting other neighbors and introducing them to your kids and ask them to let you know if they see anything suspicious as well. A properly established neighborhood watch program is always a great idea as well.
2. Take turns with other parents watching from a distance. One of the keys to healthy playtime for kids is that should be unstructured and unsupervised, which helps develop creativity and independence. Create a playgroup with other parents and take turns watching from a distance.
3. Make certain that your kids know your last name, phone number, and address in case of an emergency. It’s good to have backup people that your kids can contact in case of emergency if for some reason you might be unavailable. Think of good friends, relatives, trusted neighbors.
4. Make sure your kids check in with you periodically so you know where they’ll be and what they’ll be doing.
5. Create safety rules with your kids and make sure they know all the rules and how to follow them. Do a refresher on these rules from time-to-time.
6. Check the sex offender registry to make sure they are no registered offenders in your neighborhood. This is a good thing to check before buying a new home as well because the last thing you want to do is move in right next to someone with this sort of a background.
7. Install speed bumps in the neighborhood because those speed limit signs rarely do much to stop someone from speeding down your street. Don’t be afraid to say something if you see someone driving too fast in your neighborhood.
Don’t forget to read our complete guide on neighborhood safety & security.