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The Reel Life: Playing outside edition

26 September 2013

Apparently, all of our parents were criminals when we were kids.

Texas mom Tammy Cooper was arrested for child endangerment last week after a neighbor complained that her six- and nine-year-old children were unsupervised. The children were riding their scooters around in the neighborhood cul de sac, and Cooper says she was watching them from a lawn chair the entire time.

Cooper spent the night in jail -- orange jump suit and all. But now, she's fighting back. Cooper is suing the La Porte Police Department, the officer and the neighbor who made the phone call.

When the Reel Life was nine years old, we didn't have to ask our parents to go play outside. We just left the house. If we fell and broke a bone or scratched our knees, it wasn't because our parents "endangered" us; it was because we were normal kids. The fact that this is even an issue today is truly remarkable -- and sad.

If it was truly illegal for children to play outside, unsupervised, then every single parent in the U.S. would be behind bars. What caused this particular neighbor to call the police is anyone's guess, but bad neighbors are going to be bad neighbors -- it's up to the police to have some common sense and not abuse their power.

Cooper likely won't win any sort of civil lawsuit. And worse, some parents who read this story might be afraid to allow their children to grow up like normal children, fearful that some morally unsound neighborhood vigilante will call the local Gestapo.

So here's the Reel Life's message to all those parents out there: Let your kids play outside. Let them get dirty and bloody and even break a bone every so often. It builds character. And if your neighbor calls the police, tell your kids to give his/her house a little extra "oomph" on Mischief Night next year.

Because that's the honorable way for neighbors to police each other.

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The Reel Life: Playing outside edition is republished from