10/12/2010

Who's Your Neighbor?

A few years back, I came home one day to see my neighborhood FULL of cops and CSI agents (btw- CSI do NOT wear high heels and low cut shirts. In fact they wear full suits, like surgeons, and head coverings. just saying.). There were uniforms and suits, marked and unmarked cars, lining the entire street. When I ventured over to ask what was going on, I was told a dead body had been discovered (RIGHT NEXT DOOR). I watched them remove the body bag from my dining room window. I was so close I could smell it.
I'd seen the guy before. I knew what he looked like. But, I don't know his name.

I heard a story of a friend who found herself invited to a swinging dinner party. The house was a large, beautiful house in a affluent area. By day, the couple were businessmen/women and by night they hosted swinging parties.

Another friend was telling me how they were awakened in the early morning by the DEA storming their neighbors' house. The watched as they carried out computers and tvs and seized their cars. This same friend also shares a fence with a level 3 sex offender. You are probably thinking she lives in Scuzville, but actually she lives in a very average, relatively safe suburb.

We moved into a new house about a year ago. Since then, I've tried to get to know my new neighbors, but in this fast paced, digital society people don't venture out as much to get to know their neighbors.

When I was growing up, we knew our neighbors. We knew their names, where they worked, what the inside of their homes looked like. I could go into any of their houses for a play date, glass of lemonade or to get a band aid for my scrape. But, today, being friends with your neighbors is not as common of a thing and therefore, we are quite caught off guard when we find out there has been a meth lab next door for 5 years.

Although I have gotten to know the neighbors to one side of us; they have 3 boys too and our kids play well together, I barely know our other neighbors. I would recognize (some of) their faces in a crowd, but I couldn't tell you very many of their names. I don't know what their jobs are (although I do know which men work from home, someone has to help me move the dresser or lend me a drill when my battery dies...) Other than that, our paths just don't cross and other than a plate of cookies at Christmas, we don't try to cross them. I may not know their names, but I do expect them to watch for my kids playing outside when they drive into the culdesac....

Chances are my kids would be safer riding their bikes in the culdesac if they were surrounded by people who knew and loved them and were aware of them. Neighbors who actually knew the name of the child they were smiling and waving at. And that relationship is my job to establish, because if I do, I have more control of it. If I first establish a relationship with the neighbor, then I can use my judgement as to whether or not it is a good relationship for my kids to develop. If I know who my neighbors are then I can watch them interact with my kids. How they talk to them, how my children respond to them and even be there to catch the socially unacceptable. How are we to find out if the neighbor next door is a level 3 sex offender who hasn't registered or even something worst... if we haven't even tried to get to know them.

Jaycee Dugard was held captive for 18 years in the same home. Her neighbor spoke to her through the fence. People in town saw her. And for 18 years, no one noticed.

So, for the sake of our kids, all of our kids, hold a neighborhood barbeque, Easter egg hunt or Fall picnic. Get to know your hair dresser, your banker, your school bus driver, your mailman or your garbage man. Meet your kids' school friends' parents and ask their teachers and coaches personal questions (and tell them personal answers.) If you want to keep your kids safe, get to know your neighbors and scope out your community. Most people are great, awesome people, but you'll never find the ones who aren't, if you aren't looking.

And if you want to find registered sex offenders in your area, search here

Whaddya think?

1 comment:

  1. A bear and a dead body all in just a week or so. Craziness.

    I am not good about making friends with the neighbors. The hubs is usually the one that takes the time to be friendly. I see your point, so I will do better in our next home. Promise.

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