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My aunt lives in a small estate in a west Limerick town.
She is terrified of children as young as four and up to about 12 roaring around the estate, well out of sight of their own homes, and without any adult supervision.
They climb six foot walls, throw stones at the roofs of bungalows in an effort to break the slates, they throw planks with nails on them into her garden, kick balls on the roadway, and go around ringing bells and shouting at her.
They urinate on the main green in full view of all the homes.
My aunt is 69 and feels vulnerable, but is well capable of living on her own. I feel she is being deprived of a stress free and safe existence in her home.
Uncertainty from day to day and just living on a knife edge in fear that these children will cause damage is having a severe impact on her health.
She worries so much about the risk of increased insurance premiums should any of these children have an accident while trespassing on her property, or if they jump in front of and get hit by her car.
She enquired about increasing the height of the six foot walls, but county council regulations will not allow this.
The solution: a proactive approach to this behaviour to compel parental/adult supervision of play.
These children need an adult to tell them they cannot trespass on other neighbours’ property; they cannot climb walls because they could fall off and hurt themselves, and to remind them of the risk of a traffic accident.
A combined educational approach targeting parents, children, schools, residents’ associations, gardaí and all residents should ensure there are rules, a code of practice, a protocol or a booklet highlighting this problem. Parents should be earnestly requested to have at least one or two adults supervising children at play — to protect other adults and to ensure the children’s personal safety.
I stay with my aunt as often as possible for moral support, but my presence does not make much of a difference.
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