DEAR HARRIETTE: My neighbors down the block constantly leave their child unattended outside. This child has developmental issues but is still able-bodied. He doesn't appear to have any friends because he constantly plays outside alone. This makes me nervous -- no one is watching him!
He is 9 years old, but his developmental problems always make me uncomfortable when I see him playing a few feet away from the street. I just want him to stay safe. I know his parents condone this behavior because he is outdoors, but he is unsupervised. Is there anything I could say to his parents that wouldn't be accusing them of being neglectful? I know this child being so close to the road and unattended makes other neighbors uncomfortable. -- Too Close to the Pavement, Syracuse, NY
DEAR TOO CLOSE TO THE PAVEMENT: I have a big question for you. Is there any chance that you would be willing to hang out with this child sometimes when you are at home and notice him outside? I ask because it sounds like the family could use some support. Being a good neighbor can include lending a hand when it's obviously needed. In this case, if you offered to play in the yard with the child for a while, it could help to keep the child safe. After you get to know the parents better, you could more easily mention that you think it's unsafe for him to play so close to the road.
I recently worked on a project with State Farm. They conducted a study to learn who people think a good neighbor is today. High on the list was that a good neighbor looks out for other neighbors. In my book, your walking across the street and offering a bit of your time would make you an excellent neighbor. To learn more about this study, go to http://bit.ly/1TS7Xk9.