Do the neighborhood kids have the right to play sidewalk baseball at all hours?

Question:

In our neighborhood, a number of ball-playing kids block our streets, dash in front of cars, trample gardens, and damage private property. But when neighbors or motorists complain, the parents claim their children have a "right" to play in the streets and to retrieve their toys from our yards. Is this true?

Answer:

Granted, children will be children, but no one has the right to damage another's property or to interfere with what the law quaintly calls the "quiet use and enjoyment of your home."

Your immediate problem is to force these kids' parents to take your complaints seriously. As with so many other things, there is likely to be strength in numbers. Band together with other neighbors who are disturbed by the children's rude and destructive behavior and arrange a meeting with the kids and their parents. Present your concerns calmly and rationally and work hard to come up with compromises that will work for everyone -- no ball playing after 8 p.m., for example. If the parents are unresponsive, show them a copy of your town's local noise ordinances and laws against trespass, and they may treat the problem more seriously.

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