Out here where we live there are several lakes. Most are good for fishing but one, the biggest one, is the neighborhood gathering place. Especially for kids. They go swimming, they hang out, they have fun. Not a bad thing really, especially for the older ones who can swim and look out for themselves.
The problem comes in when it's 4-8 year olds there with no supervision OR older kids who are supervising smaller ones when they need supervision themselves.
2 cases in point.
A few days ago I went fishing over at the lake and watched as 2 young boys walked down the road alone. I couldn't see the house they came from as it was around a bend, which tells you there's no way the children's mother could have seen them either. They were approximately 4 to 5 years old and they were dressed to go swimming. At first I wondered if they'd snuck down to the lake without permission but they're conversation left little doubt that they had permission to be in the water as long as they didn't go over their heads. Gee.......nothing like a boundary there Mom, especially when another statement made right after that scared the living hell out of me. The same boy said "when we learn to swim we can go as far as we want". Sooooooooo, instead of fishing, i was constantly trying to keep an eye on these 2 little guys, terrified that something could happen to them. This is a LAKE, there are no markers that say "over your head". There are drop offs near the shore........i mean seriously this could be dangerous! They finally left over an hour later and I breathed easier but i couldn't help but think this mother was extremely irresponsible in letting these babies go alone.
Then.........a few days later i went fishing again and this time there was a group of kids there already. they ranged between the ages of 6 to about 14. The 14 year old was a boy who obviously had some control issues and quite frankly needed a time out himself. He was throwing mud and rocks at the youngest boy, the youngest boy got mad when he was hit in the face and called the older boy a jerk. The older boy, who we'll call Bully, then instructed the boy to get out of the water "until he lost his attitude". Now i don't know about you but if someone was throwing mud and rocks in my face i'd have an attitude too. It didn't matter apparently that Bully started this, he just kept screaming at the boy to get out of the water. The little guy's older brother who was about 10 finally had enough and decided that he was going to get their Dad so that he could take care of the issue. Bully then began screaming that he didn't care what these boys' father had to say because he was "in charge" and then he began threatening the boys that if they told on him they wouldn't be able to come swimming anymore because they only get to come to the lake because the parents trust him to make the kids behave.
Considering he was throwing rocks and mud at a child I'm not sure these parents don't need mental help if he's the one left in charge of these kids. Anyway, when Bully saw that the other boy wasn't worried about his threats, bully said he was sorry to the older boy but kept yelling at the younger kid to get out of the water. When the kid still refused, the bully picked the boy up out of the water violently and threw him on the bank.
By that point I was pretty much beyond pissed. I don't care who's doing the abusing, child abuse is wrong, period. So being upset i gave up fishing and walked up there where the kids were and sat and watched Tyler swim for a bit. I had decided by that point to wait for a parent to hopefully show up or at least wait and see where these kids went to so i could talk to a parent about the matter.
It was almost dark by the time an adult finally showed up to check on all the kids and they were walking down the road by then. The 2 youngest kids had walked home long ago by themselves with Bully screaming threats and cuss words at them as they walked down the street.
When the parent showed up I told her what had happened and that if I saw it happen again, i'd not bother telling anyone but the cops. She was a little miffed with what I had to say and I didn't bother asking whose Mother she was. She could have been Bully's mom for all I know. It makes no difference really, the fact is that the kids should be supervised.
It makes me wonder if parents just figure that there are other people there and they will watch their kids for them. I don't know about you all, but i'm rather selective about who i choose to watch over my kids. Regardless of what kind of persons may be at the lake, what if a really good person just can't swim and a child is in danger?
Sadly there's not just the danger of drowning or other creepy children to be worried about, there's also the fact that there are truly bad people out there. A search revealed that there are 25 sex offenders within a 3 mile radius of my home, 3 are high risk, the rest are mostly moderate risk with a few being a low or unknown risk. And these people are just sending their kids out? I let Daniel take Ashley and Tyler swimming but i go up there often to check things out and Ash and Ty aren't allowed to go alone, plus we are less than 100 yards from the lake. It turned out that the kids with Bully were walking 5 streets over. I just can't imagine what the hell these parents are thinking........or if they even are thinking at all. My thinking is that they need to be actual parents and watch their children.
In their defense, since I reported the Bully to the other parent i haven't seen any of those kids at the lake again so it's possible he was grounded or something. However, before this the kids were almost always there so it seems like all are being punished for the bully's bad behavior.
Regardless........I really wish parents would realize how fast a bad thing can happen. I pray none of them learn the lesson the hard way.