We live in a safe neighborhood with lots of families and my kids play with the neighbor kids at the end of our cul-de-sac almost every day. I have trained my kids to always walk on the sidewalk and carefully look both ways before crossing the street. I sent my 5-year-old about 10 houses down to a friend's house to fetch something, and her 2 year old brother walked on the sidewalk with her, holding her hand. A city worker called the police. Is this illegal?
There are no specific laws about what kind of behavior constitutes child endangerment. It's an open decision based on the circumstances. When I was 5, I would walk about a mile to go meet my dad on his way home from work at the end of the day. But that was 1970 and we lived on a fairly safe (I assume) military post. Your description of where your kids are going sounds safe to me and it sounds reasonable for them to be doing that. However, all it takes is one bad guy to pull up in a car and then you've got a problem. Our society as a whole has gotten very squeamish about giving kids independence and letting them play unsupervised.
What happened when the city worker called the police? There's the real answer to your question. If your local police tell you that what you're doing is unsafe, then I guess you need to heed their directions.
Be aware that this response does not create an attorney/client relationship. I live and work in Massachusetts and may or may not know the local laws where you live. I hope people find my responses not only helpful but somewhat entertaining as well. If you rely on this as legal advice, remember the old saying, "You get what you pay for."
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