Gone are the days when people gathered in parks and chit-chatted, watched kids play, and felt safe from criminal indictments. No, that whole ball of wax is no longer legal; and we're watching you!


The Stanton Peele Addiction Website, June 10, 2011. This blog post also appeared on Stanton's Addiction in Society blog at PsychologyToday.com.

Dear Mick and Keith, You'll Get Busted Watching Children Play

I spoke with my old high-school friend Steve. We grew up in Philly, he now lives in California. Us two old fogies talked (after discussing when to take Social Security) about how the good old days are over. Steve: "We were the last generation that could expect to live better than our parents."

I was reminded about the new world we inhabit when my younger daughter sent me a blog about several people who were busted in New York for hanging around a playground. As my daughter knows (I have forced her and her boyfriend to join me) I love to watch children play (hang me before I strike again!). We head to New York City playgrounds where, perhaps surprisingly, kids are more often given their head to run around and do as they will--it's the law of the urban jungle.

Here is one woman's story from Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York, as described in the Gothanist, under the title, Doughnut Tickets: "Unaccompanied Adults In Playground" Summons.

My boyfriend and I visited Dough for breakfast on Saturday morning. We grabbed some doughnuts and coffee, and as it was a beautiful day and there was no seating in the shop, we walked across the street and settled on a bench in a park area to enjoy our meal, as the two women [fellow miscreants previously written about] had also done. There was a playground there and as we ate, we had the pleasure of watching some children play, made some small talk with their parents, etc. We even had a nice discussion about having some children of our own one day, a conversation that was generated by the chance to watch some cute kids run around on the playground.

You can see where this crime spree is going, can't you? Clearly, these people were about to kidnap and molest, under his or her parents' very eyes, one of these cute kids they were watching. Why, I've seen a million TV stories about such daily occurrences happening around the country.

And, so, the NYPD stepped in. The couple was accosted by the police, asked if they had a kid there, then summonsed with the two other women. Okay, they weren't taken to the police station to be booked, fingerprinted, and, dare I say, molested by the authorities for sipping coffee, munching doughnuts, chatting with neighbors, and (cue Dragnet music) watching children play. They were only cited with tickets, thank God! Although the parents with whom they had been chatting clucked, none spoke up on their behalf to the police.

So, you out there--the ones without small children who are driven by the evil urge to watch younguns play (you know who you are)--we're watching you!

Thank God the old days are over. Those days when you could wander around parks--as long as you minded your business and picked up after yourself--chat with people at will, admire cute kids, and do God knows what. True, we lose a sense of freedom, the natural appeal of young children, and a feeling of community. But what is all of that against guaranteeing that our children are protected, like Caylee Marie Anthony, for instance, was not.


Reference in title to Mick and Keith is to this, the song Andrew Loog Oldham locked them in a room until they wrote, recorded by Marianne Faithfull, who became a heroin addict, then a self-guilted recovery victim (since she still drinks wine).

P.S. Here is a really lyrical account of kids playing from a playground fan (who must remain anonymous to avoid apprehension).