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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

She watched kids play — security was called

Lenore Skenazy was walking by an elementary school in Queens, when she saw kids playing hopscotch, just as she used to do, and paused to watch.

The teacher or teacher’s aide looked over at me through a 20-foot-high chainlink fence and said: “Ma’am, you cannot stand there. You have to move.” “I can’t stand here on the public sidewalk?” I asked. “No,” she said. “You’re not allowed to watch the kids.” “I think I am,” I replied. “I’m on a public sidewalk. I’m not taking pictures and I don’t even have my phone out.”

The supervisor threatened to call security. Skenazy walked on, but then returned. A woman identifying herself as the security person told her move along.


“Because we get bad people coming by here. They expose themselves. They take pictures of the kids.” “But I’m not exposing myself or taking pictures.” “We can’t let anyone watch the kids. There’s just too much bad stuff out there. People expose themselves. These are someone else’s children and it’s our job to keep them safe!” “How many men have exposed themselves this year?” I asked, feigning curiosity, but really hoping to make a point. “This year? So far, none.”

“Our society is set on overestimating danger and underestimating kids,” writes Skenazy, the founder of Free-Range Kids and Let Grow.  “Fear has twisted its way into everyday life. It has choked off common sense.”

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