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Let the kids play? Here’s what readers said about neighborhood street games.

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The Rocky Mountain Recycling plant sits across the street from the park where Hannah Molina, 14, center, and the kids in her neighborhood play in Commerce City, Colo., on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. (Rachel Ellis/The Denver Post via AP)
Kids play in Commerce City, Colo., on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020. Should children play only in yards and on playgrounds? Rachel Ellis/The Denver Post via AP

Neighborhoods may seem a little quieter this week with school back in session, but readers are practically taking to the streets over a dispute on the other side of the country.

In Colorado Springs, police recently shut down a weekly kickball game on a dead-end street following complaints from residents in the neighborhood. The Tribune newspaper reported last month that the city required the parents to file a special event permit, which it later denied. Police ticketed the organizers and threatened to file child abuse charges.

We asked readers what they thought about the situation in Colorado and whether they had an opinion on neighborhood street games closer to home.

Readers received the news with anger and disbelief. Tom from Winchester wrote, “Adults need to chill the [****] out and let kids be kids.” Another reader responded in disbelief: “Is this a joke?!”

Most of the nearly 100 readers who responded to our survey seem to agree: Sixty-five percent expressed their full-blown support for neighborhood street games. “They get kids outside and get neighbors to know each other,” one reader wrote.

Meanwhile, 29 percent didn’t mind general street play. Johanna Harvel of Quincy (formerly West Roxbury) said, “Let kids go outside and play!” And a sliver of respondents — 6 percent — sided with those wanting to move the games to parks, citing kids’ safety.

Many readers were nostalgic for their own childhoods growing up in New England, whether it was remembering an era of friendlier neighbors or less traffic. Here’s a sampling of reader comments:

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

‘I love them!’ — ANONYMOUS

“Street games help kids learn to get along. However, they need to respect their neighbors and their property. The neighbors need to help to make this doable by moving their cars if possible, at least trying to work with the kids. Unfortunately, neighbors aren’t as friendly as they used to be.” — ANONYMOUS

“Playgrounds didn’t look like this when I was a child. The street was safer than the schoolyard (covered in broken glass and other debris). Of course, there seemed to be less traffic [back] then where we chose to play our street games.” — DON, Revere

“Contributing to the delinquency of minors for allowing them to play kickball?!?! Come on?! I’d much rather have my kids playing kickball in the neighborhood with people we know/trust than inside playing video games or wandering outside of our neighborhood interacting with God knows who! Let the kids be kids!” — KATE, Warwick, R.I.

‘I don’t mind it.’ — ANONYMOUS

“Kids having fun. Learning how to cooperate with each other without a controlled environment of adults watching over them. Also learning social skills and deepening friendships. So many memories of the fun times in my childhood of playing baseball, football, [and] hide-and-seek with all of the neighborhood kids. [I] would rather see the kids outside instead of being glued to their electronic devices and being socially isolated. As for the complaining adults, maybe take a few minutes and join in with them and remember what it was like to be a kid. Don’t be such a curmudgeon!!!” — CHERYL, Plymouth

“I’d be pissed if my car was getting hit by balls, but otherwise go for it.” — ANONYMOUS

“I do worry about safety; all drivers don’t obey speed limits. Yet, to my knowledge, no one has been hurt by a car playing street games in my suburban neighborhood.” — ANABEL, Lexington

‘A total nuisance.’

“There are parks and rec centers for games and play that is safe. Children playing in the streets isn’t safe; they could be hit by a car or even worse. These children are never supervised and overly loud. Go to the park and play!” — STEVE, Haverhill

“Inconsiderate parents and spoiled children.” — ANONYMOUS

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