Photo credit: @julesdwit.
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Sumathi Reddy, Wall Street Journal reporter for Greater New York, talks about her recent article "Playground Policing" and the consequences for adults unattended by children in playgrounds.
Let's get real...you have access to scientists who can informatively assess this situation, get them on the air!!!!
FYI -- The Easthampton garbage dump (an above ground dump) is leaching contaminated ground water in a flow moving east, that has been polluting water wells in Easthampton and Amagansett at the rate of two feet per year for several years now...fracking will cause similar problems......more SCIENCE please...
UWS No Kids--exactly where I was coming from. the swings near the pinetarium are "big kid"/adult swings--no restraints for small children or infants, and no fence designating a specific area around them--just the big swings. as far as i'm concerned, that's not a "playground" the way people like them these days--fenced in and with a rubber surface.
A profile of a park in my neigborhood:
A line of benches where elderly sit under the shade catching the breeze. Across the basketball courts, (used mostly by large guys, teenagers or adults), is a guitar player, with no kids. Upon a ledge are handball courts occupied by teens and adults playing tennis. Beside that are sprinklers, swings and jungle gym busy with kids and sari-wearing moms. The park is a melting pot of ages and races. Keep it that way. If any yuppie parents don't like it, move to Kansas.
To The Truth from Becky: Thanks for responding. About my analogy of civil rights: it would not make sense to use women as a comparison. Women are 50% of the "childless adults". I would be comparing women to women and the analogy would fail. As Brian said, why is there an assumption that an adult with a child is less harmful than any one else.
Most child abuse occurs in homes by relatives.
Of all subjects on this site this playground thing causes most hysteria? Not water boarding, not bankers wrecking the world economy, american children living in poverty, no, but such shocking things as a guy cooling of in a playground after a game of baseball.
I thought new yorkers where a bit more cool and that they could deal with situations like this when they occured. Thats how I remember new yorkers, at least brooklynites, but I was just a tourist.
Hysterical parents might damage their kids in a major way. Parents should "learn" their kids that the world is a fun and wonderful place, interesting, full of surprises and opportunities. If parents are cool and kind to their kids and kind to strangers while with their kids everything will be just fine. The rest will follow.
I play softball in Central Park & on very hot humid days have been known to enter the playground near the exit from the park I use to douse my sweaty head under the water sprinkler. I'm angered to learn this is not technically allowed, but I do not think this knowledge will change my behavior.
Are the swings in the Arthur Ross Pinetum just west of the Great Lawn considered a playground even though there is no fence surrounding them? I see adults swinging on those swings more often than children.
Indeed, the children's playground would not exist except for it's intended use. Should childless adults be allowed to use designated kiddie pools? Should cat or ferret owners be allowed to bring their pets to dog runs? Should I be allowed to play touch football in the middle of a public golf course, or a food vendor slowly transport his cart along a designated bike lane in Central Park? Without basic rules, you could ask a creepy adult or troublemaking teens to leave a playground, but they could refuse with the law on their side. This rule is useful in precisely those situations which are threatening.
Many public spaces have a dedicated purpose and people can be excluded from those spaces if they aren't using them for those purposes. Playground equipment is for children. The benches in a playground are for adults supervising children. Even if the space is empty, a lone adult is not using the space as it's designated.
Also, keep in mind, people have to *pay* to use public tennis courts or ball fields *for* their designated purposes. Public doesn't mean unrestricted or free. If no one was using a basketball court, could someone set up their picnic blanket in the middle of the court and proceed to enjoy their lunch? Should that person be outraged if a police officer told them that they had to move along?
Can't but believe this discussion still going on but I am glad it is because I just read Elizabeth's comments and she is one of those confused persons who wants to align any type of discrimination with "being Black" and also Elizabeth if you are still reading it is NOT the same, next time maybe use women in in your example even though it is not the same parallel either.JM - yes it is creepy for you to want to dash through the sprinklers in a children's play area without the company of a child! There ARE other places for you to cool off and to your point would adults react withhout the benefit of the law behind them, some yes and some no, mostly no because most of the people are non confrontational BUT they do (have the law on their side) so they do or will ask an unaccompanied, teen or creepy adult to leave.
Of course, any parent that didn't confront a person in the playground may have judged, to no harm, that a confrontation was not needed.
More questions that may demonstrate my point. Would any of these parents have confronted people who didn't seem to them to "belong" to their particular playground environment without this rule? Would they have had the strength of their own convictions and judgements to make such a confrontation? Or would they have sunk away in fear of any just retort?
Are they making more confrontations now that they have a rule behind them? Does that show strength of individual or collective conviction and judgement? What about all these poor people who just want to sit and rest, have a bite to eat and have a coffee? Who cares about them? Do they not deserve any consideration above this rule?
I'm suggesting that we get ALL of our social rules from each other, from our social groups, from collective society. We're all more alike than different in terms of acceptable behavior. People who are afraid of that idea build "bubbles" around them...bubbles of walls, fences, laws, weapons, armies armed either with guns or baby strollers.....
"There is something enchanting about watching children at play, and why should anyone be denied that?"
It seems like the same parents who want to ban adults from playgrounds are also the ones who will demand that child-free people accept their children in any public place, at THEIR call. (Disclaimer: I know full well that children are supposed to be tired, cranky, energetic, etc. and this is meant for parents with questionable judgment).
Sorry, dj, but I'm afraid I don't get your point. Are you suggesting that we do away with all societal rules and each establish our own? That doesn't sound like such a great idea to me.
I might add another question: What is best to teach our children? That it's easier, and better, to regulate others' behavior from above for your own sake? Or to establish your own rules, judgement and patterns about how to behave around others?
Do parents teach the former because they are incapable, or worse lazy, to teach the latter?
Does one need a rule behind them to be able to confront somebody? Is it more empowering to have a rule that allows one to restrict others' behavior, or to live by and communicate one's own behavioral standards?
Yes, it is most certainly more empowering to have a rule in place. Isn't that self-explanatory?
Three final points:
(1) To gary in brooklyn - yes, I have an eight-year-old son and the rule has been in effect at least as long as he has been on the planet - can an eight-year-old rule be called "novel"?
(2) Some of the vitriol being directed at children (and their parents) is disturbing.
(3) As (almost) always, the answer seems to be everything in moderation, nothing in excess - I doubt anyone will bother you if you're sitting on a bench minding your own business, but it's a valuable and empowering tool if you really feel you need to ask someone to leave.
I've read comments that confirm that child abduction is an unreasonable fear, and comments that verify that the threat of child abduction is very real and constant. How can we know for sure which is the correct view?
My opinion on the playground law and other such rules is that it is another victory for the tyranny of the parent; that is, that people use their status as parents to control the rest of society. Is that all their children are good for? Are people so disenfranchised and suspicious of others that they'll use their own babies to gain some power and influence?
Re playgrounds: I am familiar with a playground in Yonkers that was re-designed a few years ago. There is an area with swings and monkey bars that is gated so small children won't wander out into the traffic. There is a half court basketball court, and there is an area with shade, benches and one or two tables where adults gather, socialize or play cards. While the local adults are using the area it won't become a place of business for drug dealers or gangs. The landscaping is attractive, but transparent. No place to hide illegal activities. Planning a space can provide safe outdoor area for all the residents. Planning may be better than fines and legal sanctions.
"I am the mother of a daughter. The threat of predation of children is significant in public spaces in NYC."
No it isn't.
Why are we so paranoid?
I have children and do not want to bring them up thinking a predator is around every corner. Nor do I want to perpetuate the idea that all men are dangerous. This rule and its enforcement is an awful thing.
There is something enchanting about watching children at play, and why should anyone be denied that?
And who on earth decided that just because someone has children of their own, that makes them safe?! This rule is ridiculous.
i don't go for hanging around in enclosed playgrounds, but when I lived in the west 80s, steps from central park, i was fond of taking my niece to some "big kid" swings mid-park, south of the 86th st. transverse. they weren't for infants or toddlers, nor were they fenced in at all. after she moved out of the country, i used to go and swing by myself once in a while to remember our lovely afternoons there. this shouldn't violate any laws.
One thing that has not been mentioned is the Park in BK. That particular area has been hit hard by violence, and the stricter enforcement may be in response to that spike. By clearing the park and playground the PD is able to discourage large groups from forming, and in turn may prevent future violence. While these women may not "fit the profile", when a zero tolerance plocy is enacted there can be no discretion on the part of the officers.
More nanny state idiocy. I suggest a protest--all childless adults convene in the playgroung and smoke.
So is it OK to walk through a playground if you don't sit down or stop at all? Or do adults w/no children have to go around them? Sorry, but either way, it sounds ridiculous to me.
We live in a police State. I was ask to live a book store becouse I did not have a kid .I was buy a book for a friends kid . a cop ask me to take off. I was think of sueing but didn't
Dear "MP from Brooklyn"
Sorry but you're wrong. It IS novel. Certainly at least to those who have no children. I'm guessing you have children.
The simple fact that Brian is showcasing this story is proof that most people are unaware of this law.
forest hills only has fenced in playgrounds!?!? FOREST PARK!!?!? HELLOOOOO!!!!
Several playgrounds in Bed-Stuy, Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, and Prospect Heights are not policed as regularly as they should be with homeless individuals sleeping on benches or drunks/drug users being loud and belligerent.
BTW, it is my understanding that it is also illegal to take ANY photographs within the city's playgrounds. Can someone verify this?
I am the mother of a daughter. The threat of predation of children is significant in public spaces in NYC. The law allows the police to set a boundary which allows the park users as well as the police to identify or approach someone who may be a risk to a child's well being. I have asked single leering men to leave playgrounds.
At least creepers are watching your kids. Put down the phones ladies.
I can understand wanting to protect against predators, but open space is rare in some neighborhoods. Sharon from Harlem is absolutely correct with her list.
What if the playground is attached to another type of park? Do you draw a border as far as exactly which benches are OK for everyone? I am more than delighted to share my public space with parents, but they need to use some common sense in turn. If we're supposed to love your children, maybe allowing us (as the last caller just mentioned) to get a feel of the ambiance would make us less likely to complain during other trying scenarios involving kids in public?
This is a no brainer! Those of you who are fighting for your right to hang out in a kids park need psychiatric evaluation....go sit in starbucks or central park you weirdo!
hate to think that this is going on, I am without kids or cats, love to use the swings occasionally, am 52 but for god sakes I would never keep a 6 year old waiting. sometimes see friends with their kids and join them in the playground, I hope I can continue to do this
At least predators are watching the kids! Put down the phone ladies. It doesn't count.
Brian - ask the question: "Why do we discount the idea that an adult with a child on a playground TOO could be a perp?
The Truth from Becky: no, this is not true in every neighborhood. I was walking around Astoria on a hot day recently, and saw an inviting sprinkler in a kids playground. Although I didn't know until recently I wasn't allowed here, I suspected this might be the case. I still risked a ticket by walking through the park so I could get a nice blast of the sprinkler. Sue me.
There are no benches in the park near my building except for the area where adults are not allowed. That is the problem.
When I am elderly and alone, I hope I can go to a playground and watch children play.
Didn't anyone hear the Freakonomics show wherein it was revealed that child kidnapping was very rare?
Also, I believe the more rules regulating behavior, the more people will attempt to violate those rules. Hence the behavior noted of teenagers abusing the playgrounds. If there wasn't a rule regulating who used the playgrounds, I believe that individual conscience will come into play.
The rubber matting that protects kids from falls in the park adjacent to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden was set on fire by some teens.
I have no problem with the law going to some lengths to protect my kids.
There is no spying going on. It sounds like cops typically start by asking unaccompanied teens or adults to leave. There are other park areas. Small children cannot protect themselves.
Do we need to recall Etan Patz?
I find kids incredibly amusing and would love to sit in a playground and enjoy their antics, it would be a nice break from work and stress. But I can definitely see how parents would get a little concerned by unaccompanied adults hanging out at the playground. I'd defer to them, especially since there are also dog runs for free amusement.
Are playgrounds within parks demarcated well enough? Sometimes a whole (small) park seems to be a playground, sometimes it's only part of it.
And parents can also abuse children, so keeping people w/out kids out of playgrounds doesn't solve the problem.
There are DOZENs of other places for adults to luxuriate OTHER than a children's play area! Yes, ejected, ticketed or arrested as needed. Unfortunately this is necessary because it is summertime, the pervs are on the loose and children are at risk in the city.
I like to use the swings. I'm 36, and I pay my taxes. But I do not have children.
The fact I have to have a kid to use a swing is just plain sad.
Has everyone lost their minds? This is the most paranoid american sex craze.Obviously Children and adults should not be legally separated. This is over-protective, beyond beyond. What kind of sociaty do you want, how SUPER SAFE do you need these kids to be. They are members of society too.
There's no political incentive to get rid of this law. Imagine the firestorm if it were lifted and then something happened that it would have theoretically prevented.
I am an illustrator too and have gone to playgrounds to draw children! Maybe parents would think I'm creepy. But I needed to practice!
As a parent of a 3 year old, I am so tired of this overprotective parents. There was an interesting article in Time last year about the backlash against this type of hyperprotective helicopter parents. The chances of a child being abducted are so slim. Maybe some of these scared parents should get of their cell phones and pay attention to their kids. Get over it people or move out of the city and buy a house in the burbs with a backyard swing so our child can grow up in a nice bubble.
Gangs used to commandeer playgrounds and lunching adults used to fill playgrounds that children need. Hence the rule was made. As a SENIOR CITIZEN I support this rule.
I hope credit will be given to The Gothamist writer who broke this story:
Mayor Bloomberg should erect Large Billboards at JFK, LaGuardia, etc. announcing that tourists will be arrested if seen in parks without kids.
Yes, I was in a playground without kids. I was there looking for my wife and kids who might have been there.
I have also been tempted to enter a playground when biking through an unfamiliar neighborhood and I see that it has a restroom facility.
This is actually fine with me... as long as the city is paying for adult-only public park spaces. Can someone direct me to these?
there are very few places for children to be safe in new york city. the playgrounds often have people drinking and smoking and random people wandering in and out. it is unnerving as a parent. it is clearly stated on the signs to stay out. people need to stay out of the playgrounds unless they are with a child. and no photographs please!
This is an absurd rule. I have also been in the playground at Mulberry and Spring St, having lunch, having coffee, AND SOMETIMES ENJOYING WATCHING YOUNGSTERS PLAYING! I am not prurient, I am a childless adult who enjoys watching children playing, move, discovering how to move and grow.
What is the problem with anyone sitting and enjoying youngsters playing?!
I used to live in Brooklyn Heights, and the only public toilets along the promenade was in the playground.
I am fine with this law, as long as there are also parks they do not allow children and dogs so I can have some peace.
I just think it's important to maintain a distinction between "playground" and "park."
It's a shame. But, there are so many crazy predators out there and this is just a way of protecting the children. I know that not everybody is a predator, but, we all have to pay the price for these crazies that are out there. We need to create areas that are safe for children. It's just a price we have to pay to protect the children.
Wow, what a regressive city.
So this applies to tourists as well?
I was in the city last June and ended up shooting hoops with some kids at one of the random downtown parks.... and this is a crime?
NYC.... what a joke.
I understand the concern but that's extreme. I've often taken a lunch break from work and sat at the nearest free place with seating and it turns out to be a playground. I enjoy the kids having fun and the screams of laughter. Crazy to think I could have been fined all this time. I sometimes go to the dog park for a lunch break as well and I don't have a dog...any problem with that???
I live in Bed-Stuy and am also childless and I don't really feel bad for these people. I grew up in NY and remember parks filled with broken glass and where drug dealers took over the playgrounds.
It's only became an issue when people who feel entitled to go wherever they'd like get up in arms about it.
This can be described as nothing short of - foul language. Playgrounds can be fun. How can the city tell me that I can't have fun unless I'm young? Parks offer green space in a big city. They're public. If parents are worried, they should keep an eye on their kids. What happened to guilty until proven innocent? Obviously being childless makes me a child molester, so I must be guilty.
Yes! It's creepy!
There are plenty of places to sit, go somewhere else!
Don't ticket 'em if they're willing to leave!!!
Sorry, but I don't think I lost my right to use the swings when I passed age 21. (I'm 59 now.)
This law needs to be challenged constitutionally.
To justify this law, the city needs to show a clear and present danger that a child will be abducted or otherwise harmed intentionally by an adult in a park. The fear is not backed up by statistics. The data on how many children are abducted or molested in a public park shows the number of incidents is far fewer than the fear suggests. As pointed out by another post, more children are harmed in their own homes.
The policeman's action in the article was extreme, but the rule, which is familiar to every parent in the city, is there as a legal backup in the case of predatory adults, aggressive gangs of young men and the like. Nobody's closing parks or benches to the populace; it's just that fenced-in children's playgrounds filled with children's toys are reserved for kids and their accompanying adults. It creates a safe zone, much like a school. Are childless adults also demanding the right to frolic in kids' swimming pools?
MP from Brooklyn, is it ok for a city sign to say, "no black people in the park" so they can selectively chose which ones may be a predator? No. It is not. The written statement is unconstitutional.
Your taxes pay for public schools, too, but you can't just wander around in one whenever you feel like it.
The law is discriminatory. If it was taken to court, it would not hold up. It's a violation of civil rights. Should we go back to banning black people from parks because we're afraid they'll hurt us? Or gays, because we're "uncomfortable" having them around our kids. Riss from Queens, being a parent does not make you more responsible or less likely than any one else to molest a child.
NO WAY!I'm a 5'3" woman - with the size of kids today, I'm probably lighter than they are.
And I love to swing. And play on the slide. And I have no children (I care about the earth too much to overpopulate it)
Why must I be denied this fun?
Parents - take responsibility for your children. Leave the adults alone.
Inquisgal says "People are perfectly capable of self-policing in this kind of situation." I agree, and I do think that this is how this rule is ideally supposed to work - "policing" by the community, who can point to the rules on the board as their authority.
My husband is retired (and a grandfather) and he loves to go to parks and sing & play his guitar to young children. They love it and he even lets them strum his guitar. He's just being grandpa. Occasionally a mother is suspicious of his motives. What a sad commentary on contemporary paranoia.
Depends-- what are the risks? If were making rules about playgrounds I'd start w no cell phones. Parents and nannies have forgotten how to be parents and nannies.
I believe in being a good citizenship and I've never been one of those people who gripes that my taxes pay for services I don't use, but the playground policing really sets me off because it defies common sense and research.
1). Most children are abused by someone known to them. Parents need to pay attention to their households and schools.
2). In a city where people lived in cramped quarters and tempers run high, it's in the public interest to allow people to relax in parks.
3). Parks are PUBLIC amenities that my taxes help pay for. If I want to get some Vitamin D by hanging out in the park, I should be allowed to do so even though I don't have children.
4). It's actually pleasurable (in a human, not a sexual sense) to be in a place with the joy and energy of children. Parents can't want us to both center public policy around children and segregate the non-reproducing population at the same time.
Sharon, you make some good points, especially about the dangers to children from their own homes and families. Almost every program and campaign that seeks to teach children and parents awareness about sexual abuse focuses on the danger from outsiders, when in reality, children are statistically safer on the streets than in their own homes!
Yes, they should be ticketed and ejected; also people with dogs-- there is enough dog waste everywhere else in NYC. We don't need any more of it in our kid's playgrounds.
Just read Ms. Reddy's piece - the situation she wrote about is just plain bizarre. As a resident of Bed-Stuy as well, I can say with certainty there's a lot more going on that the cops could be occupying themselves with. And on top of that, the number of people who hang out in our neighborhood's parks and playgrounds just to socialize or take a breather is substantial. It's laughable to think that if there was a predator in the playground, that anyone from my neighborhood would be shy about shooing that person out of the playground - especially since there are so many neighbors out about who know each other and look out for each other.
People are perfectly capable of self-policing in this kind of situation.
Does this mean they're going to create stroller and out of control kids on scooters lanes in Park Slope so they don't run down us childless adults? I think I need protection from them as much as they need protection from me. This is absurd.
To Riss - I don't care if families or children are uncomfortable. If they are uncomfortable that is their problem. They live in a society not in a bubble. I'm not there bothering anyone or much less putting a child in danger in any way. I'm there enjoying some fresh air. So if a mother is uncomfortable with my presence at a playground then she should take her children lock them up in her apartment because God forbid someone (with only their presence) should make them feel uncomfortable.
The restriction is not novel, and many people have heard of it. If you "don't bother" to read the rules, whose fault is that? But again, I think that cops issuing summonses is absurdly excessive.
The idea of restricting a playground solely for young children (not teens) is fine and legal. You don't want teenagers hanging out there smoking pot. Or any other undesirable elements.
The only problem is that the restriction on childless adults is an invitation for law enforcement to be predatory. HOW?
Because no one who abides by the law bothers to read the long list of rules on these playground signs. If you're an old lady who just wants to sit for a moment, you know that you are not going to violate the typical restricts of no ball playing, no skating, no drug use, no alcohol, no smoking, etc etc.
But the "no child" restriction is novel. It is NOT typical, and no one has heard about it. As such, it requires a large sign that would stand apart from the typical playground rules.
Otherwise, you get citizens angry and cynical about the law. That is not what we want, regardless of your position on the adult restriction issue.
What is the grievance here?
The rule as it exists?The fact that the cop chose to selectively enforce it? (By the by, the video these people took show a respectful cop who thought he was doing his job and actually - rare as it may seem to some - did not want to be a jerk to these people).
If the proud gentrifiers of these Brooklyn neighborhoods don't want the Fuzz to pick on them, then they are essentially endorsing profiling.
The beauty of these old laws reveal that none of this is new. Living in New York - be it for the upscale hipster with their trendy donuts or for the old local yokels - is a gamble. You never know when you're in violation of something and you never know when the enforcers of the law will care. Good luck trying to change that.
I have always assumed that the rule was in place as a backup for parents (or park workers) who have reason to be suspicion of a particular adult. It gives them the authority to request that that person leave the playground. As such, I am all in favor of it. That said, I can't imagine that most people would feel the need to harass any old adult who happens to be sitting on a bench, reading a newspaper, enjoying the sun, etc.
PS - I have several times (very politely) asked adults to stop smoking on the playground (backed up by the posted rules), and my request was honored immediately - usually by the person leaving the playground, though I didn't request that they leave.
While I haven't read the piece, anyone who would try to harass or outright ban a child-free adult from sitting on a bench in a playground should start their own utopian city ruled by absurdly judgmental idealists and move there!
All these do-gooders - who seek out laws and bans on public behavior that they don't personally like - need to stop trying to control our public lives. If parents are so concerned about child molesters, they should stop talking on their cell phones or gabbing with their adult buddies and actually pay attention to their kids.
You never know why a child-free adult might be hanging out at a playground - maybe they really like kids and can't have one of their own. Maybe they're a photographer who enjoys shooting kids because of their joyful expressions. Maybe the view from the benches is great, so there's shade there. Or maybe they're doing research on a book about annoying parents....you just never know.
The rule is in place to discourage unwanted adults who are not in the playground with a child or children. This functions to protect children and families from the presence of, but not limited to vendors selling toys or foods, adults using playground equipment for exercise, and the occasional "creeper." As a responsible adult without a child it should be easy to understand why your presence may create an uncomfortable situation for children and their families.
That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. I shouldn't be able to sit at one of the benches in my local playground, enjoying a wonderful spring day because I don't have a kid? Are you crazy!!!!!! Then let me tell you something I want a refund on my tax dollars that go to that PUBLIC playground and while you are added give me a refund on my tax dollars that pay for PUBLIC SCHOOLS while your at it as well. If I can't enjoy sitting at the playground then I shouldn't have to pay for it either.
I'm reminded of the Tom Hachtman cartoon showing a dog surfboarding and with a baseball in his mouth, and he has a worried face after spotting the sign that reads, "no surfing, no ball playing, no dogs."
Imagine being caught in one of these playgrounds with a bike AND without a child, and anything else that's forbidden.
I think the clue for the reason for the law is in the article quoting the woman saying she felt like a "child molester."
Perhaps this was the only legal or practical way to keep child preditors away from the children?
Why else would government bureaucrats feel such a restriction is necessary. But then, it is the nature of government agencies to create laws that justifies their own existance.
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