Social Question

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Is there anything that I can do about my neighbor's kid? (details inside)

Asked by ANef_is_Enuf (25301points) September 24th, 2010

I try to be a very patient and understanding person.
There is this little girl that lives somewhere in my neighborhood, and every single day without fail she is outside of my house screaming bloody murder while playing with the other neighborhood kids. Literally this high pitched, blood curdling, long, drawn out screaming.

I’m losing my patience. That screaming every day is driving me crazy. I’m pretty sure I’m developing a twitchy eyelid, too.
I don’t feel like it would be right to talk to the child, I certainly don’t want to scold someone else’s kid. I have no idea who her parents are, where she lives, or even which girl it is specifically. How would you deal with this? Am I overreacting?

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25 Answers

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Maybe you could just try asking her nicely to not scream so loud or else ;)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

You have to talk to her caregivers who, all things considered, can ignore your request – I don’t think you’re overreacting because you have a right to live in your home without wanting to chuck a couch at a kid who won’t shut the hell up.

iamthemob's avatar

Is this happening on your property? Or is it near your property…

I’ll assume near, as it leads to a response that is reasonable in both situations…

(1) see if you know any of the other neighborhood children.

(2) If you know one of them, talk to them as a group. Not scold, talk, and ask that they behave themselves.

(3) If it continues, talk to THAT child’s parent. Talk, don’t scold. If this is the child who is screaming, then you can just tell them what’s happening and ask if the parent can do anything about it.

(4) If it’s not, say that the child is part of a group, and see if there’s anything that parent can do to talk to the other child’s parents.

Since you haven’t done anything, these are probably the first steps to take. Realize of course, the one thing a parent probably hates to hear is that you parented their child in some manner, or how you think they should parent their child. Say what’s happening, and let them handle it.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Open your door, and scream back. It should scare the crap out of her.

Or, you could talk to the parents and ask them how they cope with it. Pick a moment when the child is not screaming, and take a cake or some garden produce so you’re not perceived as being hostile. A neighbor child did this years ago, and it stopped after someone called the police and reported that a child was screaming as if they were being abused. The police came, child protective services came, we never heard the kid scream again. The mother was a little ticked off, but never found out who it was that called. The child is now a lovely young woman.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I love kids, by the way. You aren’t far off base about the couch thing, this girl makes me feel very grouchy. :\

@iamthemob of course, that is what I’m afraid of. I hate to stir up a neighborly feud of any sort, but I am getting to the point where I just can not listen to that anymore. It is not on my property, it is at the edge of my property line, basically.

@BarnacleBill honestly, I almost did call the police when she first started doing it. I genuinely thought that something was wrong, and now that I know it is just a habit.. I think that only fuels my frustration.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@TheOnlyNeffie I love kids too, even my own~ but that doesn’t prevent me from wanting kids to go insane but in an organized fashion.

YARNLADY's avatar

I would definitely call the police and report a screaming child. You don’t know what might be going on with her, it sounds like she could use help.

By the way, my Daughter in Law (age21) screams “help” and other misc screaming every time she goes into our pool. I have to ask her over and over to keep her voice down.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@YARNLADY but I know they are playing, I can see them outside all the time. I don’t know which child is screaming, I just never happen to be looking when it happens. Do you think it would be irresponsible for me to call the police when I really have every reason to think that they are just playing?
Or are you suggesting there is something else going on that is causing this, er, vocal(?) behaviour?

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Having been a kid, a teen and now an adult then I don’t think much would come of finding the girl’s parents and talking to them other than them feeling embarassed and then uncomfortable and angry about you. I like @BarnacleBill‘s suggestion.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Neizvestnaya I thought about that, too. I figured the kids would just do the whole “Oh, there is that mean lady that told on me to my mom!” thing, and not really care much about it.

There it is again! Ugggh.

Thanks for the advice, everyone. Hopefully I won’t have to deal with this for much longer.

BarnacleBill's avatar

You could also go out and talk with the kids. Ask them what game they’re playing. Ask the girl if screaming is an important part of the game. Then try to redirect the play.

chyna's avatar

Why wouldn’t it be right to talk to the girl? You just walk outside, figure out which kid it is and say, please stop screaming like that. I can hear you all the way inside my house. If you call her out in front of other kids, she will stop.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@chyna I don’t know, I guess it is because a couple of years ago I asked some kids to stop riding their bikes in my yard (we had just planted grass and they were destroying it). They ignored me, and my husband, so I ultimately talked to their mother. Well it turned out that she was mad that I said something to her kids, though it isn’t like I yelled or was mean with them, so then she really didn’t appear to do anything about it. Ultimately we had to put up no trespassing signs while the grass grew in, which was just insane in my opinion. So I think that is why I am so hesitant now.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

If you can’t see them at the time, and can’t even identify which child it is doing the screaming, then whether or not you “believe” they may be just playing, it’s not out of line to call the police.

When they come, you can explain that you hear the screaming frequently, you don’t know who’s doing it or why, and it’s bothering the hell out of you. Since their primary function is “keeping the peace”, this is part of their job, whether there’s a crime being committed against the child or not. Whatever is happening, “the peace” is not being kept. (I’m sure some of your other neighbors share the same frustration, if not the parents themselves.)

All you have to do is call 911 and report “a screaming child in the neighborhood, outside my house”. You have nothing else to offer, except that it seems to be “a regular thing”.

Cruiser's avatar

I would just walk up to her with a feshly charged air horn and let loose a few blasts 2 feet away from her. Repeat as needed.

Frenchfry's avatar

I would find the kid and ask her not to scream politely. If that didn’t work find her parents.

john65pennington's avatar

Let the police handle this for you. give them a call and ask an officer to come to your home. he will take charge of this situation and locate the girls parents.

chyna's avatar

Maybe I live in a different century, but calling the police on a little kid screaming? If I were the parents of the girl, I’d be more pissed that the police were called instead of someone talking to the girl or the parents.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@chyna normally I’d agree with you, but she has already stated that she doesn’t know who is doing the screaming, and she’s “screaming bloody murder”—so it’s not out of line to think that one of those screams might be ‘for real’.

The girl needs to know to reserve “screaming” for when there’s real reason (for adults) to respond to that. Obviously no one else has explained it to her yet, and it’s not the OP’s place to be the parent. Or even to investigate who is doing this.

Blueroses's avatar

I empathize completely but I don’t know that a “regularly screaming child” constitutes a 911 emergency when it’s obviously a play situation. Police officers in these parts get very irritated when summoned to respond to situations that could be addressed by individuals.
Perhaps the threat of calling? Go outside the next time you hear them and say “When I hear one of you screaming, I worry that you are being hurt. Do you need a policeman to come?”

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Blueroses I think that is exactly what I am going to do.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@Blueroses not every call to the police has to be on 911 if you know for sure it’s a nuisance only, and not an emergency (throughout the thread that has never been established with absolute certainty, only assumed). I would still prefer to maintain anonymity if @TheOnlyNeffie doesn’t know them or their parents. (Yeah, this was all a lot easier when we older folks were kids, because everyone on our street knew everyone else, and there was no hesitation for one parent—or other adult—to discuss ‘unpleasant’ situations with any of the neighborhood kids, and only escalate that to adult-to-parent if the first talk failed to yield results. In most neighborhoods I’ve lived in for the past 25 years or so, that kind of cohesion no longer applies; people are more transient, different cultures are more common, and more single-parent families. I’m not saying that any of that is a bad thing, but it does make it more difficult to have this discussion with the kids. That’s why I wouldn’t do it if I were her.)

Blueroses's avatar

@CyanoticWasp I agree with you. I’m not all that old but in my small neighborhood it was very easy to identify everyone and if a child was causing a problem, my parents had no problem going to the other child’s parents and saying so. That did lead to some childhood infighting, but no more than the normal. “Your parents are tattlers” “yeah, well your parents don’t even care”.
If a stranger came in and said we were disrupting them… I think we all had enough respect built into our psyches. We’d be embarrassed. Might even take some teasing for a while for being told off, but we all “got it”. A grown up says you’re being obnoxious…. stop it.

jca's avatar

i would ask your neighbors if they know the girl and also if this bothers them, too. your complaint will be more effective if others feel the same way you do.

i would hesitate to call 911 if you see the girl is not in an emergency situation, if you see she is appearing to have fun and you call 911, the cops might give you a lecture about using 911 for non-emergency. what you could do is maybe the police department has a community liaison, or a youth officer. that person might be more likely to help you, and yet it would not be an emergency call.

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