Neighborhood safety programs in AskMe? October 18, 2010 5:28 PM   Subscribe

Was there an AskMe about an old neighborhood safety program in which one would put a sign in one's window if it was ok for neighborhood kids to take refuge from bullies there? I SWEAR that's where I heard about this. Any ideas? Search is not helping me.
posted by liketitanic to MetaFilter-Related at 5:28 PM (24 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: Poster's Request -- frimble

Don't know about AskMe, but these are known as Block Parents.
posted by yellowbinder at 5:30 PM on October 18, 2010

Yes there was. I remember it!
posted by mollymayhem at 5:32 PM on October 18, 2010

Think it was this...?
posted by routergirl at 5:33 PM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

Block Parents. My parents were Block Parents. If you ever got into any sort of problem where you needed an adult, you were to look for a Block Parent sign. The Parents were to only have the sign in the window when they were home.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 5:36 PM on October 18, 2010

Has the Block Parent program been discontinued? I was talking about this the other day with my family. I've never seen it here in BC, but it was everywhere in Ontario where I grew up. A few of my friends' Moms were Block Parents. But I've never seen the signs or stickers here in BC and in recent trips to Ontario, I haven't seen them either. Maybe it was a liability issue so they discontinued the program?
posted by 1000monkeys at 5:44 PM on October 18, 2010

Late 2004 I was in J-School in Ottawa and did a video story on the Block Parents. I passed an old beat up Block Parent Neighborhood street sign and started digging.

The program (in Ottawa at least) was essentially in hibernation, there were a very few die hard people out there who still did it in their communities, but it wasn't publicized and there was no mention of it in schools to children or parents.

Part of the reason is of course the fear of stranger danger, and screening is (rightfully) intense. One woman we talked to said it was easier to get into CSIS than become a Block Parent. Yeah she was exaggerating, but probably not by much.
posted by yellowbinder at 5:52 PM on October 18, 2010

(Also, routergirl almost certainly has the thread you're thinking of, which shows that there are/were many different organizations that did the same thing under different names, so Block Parent is just a Canadian thing)
posted by yellowbinder at 5:55 PM on October 18, 2010

in 70s Ann Arbor it was a red or orange circle or ball. google-fu will find something. the 80s' it was a blue hand at least in mid-michigan.

Helping Hand safety program red ball ann arbor 1970s

i googled that and third down was bill ayers
posted by clavdivs at 6:21 PM on October 18, 2010

Here's the AskMe thread
posted by Jeanne at 6:49 PM on October 18, 2010

when i was a kid growing up in BC (early 90's) we had block parents. i also vaguely remember an episode of mr. dressup where he talked about being a block parent. that was how i learned about it - not from my parents, but from tv.
posted by janepanic at 7:05 PM on October 18, 2010

Has the Block Parent program been discontinued?

It's still around, and we're even coming up to national Block Parent Week (Oct.24 - Oct 30).

My parents were (still are, I believe) holdouts after the other signs petered out (though also heading up neighbourhood watch, and being well known ex-RCMP probably put them in a different situation than most wrt trust). Kinda sad. It was a nice thing to see, as a kid and as an adult.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:54 PM on October 18, 2010

In my home state of Victoria, Australia, the program was called "Safety House". I don't know if it's still around, but I occasionally see cartoonish smiling-house logo for houses that were part of the program.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:31 PM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Looks like Victoria's safety house program is still going, but other states have quit. This blog post discusses the factors involved.
During the 2000’s we have seen a decline in the number of safety House Programs throughout Australia. … Currently the Safety House programs in New South Wales, South Australia and most recently Tasmania have closed.
posted by zamboni at 9:24 PM on October 18, 2010

In 1970's Chicago these symbols were placed in many neighborhood windows: It was a school-bus-yellow square with a basic black house-shape in the middle. It meant that if anyone was bothering you, you could ring their doorbell and they would help you.
posted by marimeko at 9:47 PM on October 18, 2010

That would be all well and good if the block parent wasn't the parent of one of the bullies. Sure I got rocks thrown at me while I was riding my bike... oh but their precious angel would never do anything like that!
posted by IndigoRain at 11:33 PM on October 18, 2010

I grew up in BC, there's still a sign by my grocery store today

Seeing it reminded me of that thread the other day, actually.
posted by addelburgh at 12:07 AM on October 19, 2010

The Block Parent Sign was sooo cool when I was little. I used to wish there was a Block Parent House near us so I could go there and watch their TV and eat their food, or better yet, that we were a Block Parent House. Think of the prestige! The power! The sign! THE SIGN!

Unfortunately, the fact that our house was the only one on a mile square section of land that was otherwise wheat fields made it highly unlikely that beleaguered neighborhood children would be frantically knocking on our door seeking to shelter with us any time soon.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:27 AM on October 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Was coming in to mention the Helping Hand program in Michigan. Started in 1980 or so.
posted by bardophile at 1:59 AM on October 19, 2010

Out of interest and off topic, is there a better forum for these sorts of MeTa questions? I've had a bunch of them but they never seemed worth a post.

I think if the question is "There was an AskMe/Mefi/other Mefi subsite post a while ago about x, but now I can't find it - can someone show me where it is?" then generally MeTa is the right place since you are asking about a specific thing that was on Mefi somewhere. If the question was "there was a (non-Mefi) web page about x a while ago..." then it should go in AskMe (since it's not related to Mefi at all).

However if you have a bunch of "Where is that Mefi post about...." questions, probably best not to spam MeTa with them and maybe instead work on improving your Mefi search skills (e.g. using different search methods: inbuilt search, Google, tags, etc). I think there are a bunch of Mefi search tips around somewhere (in the FAQ or past MeTa threads), you'll have to search for them though (this is your first test ;).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:10 AM on October 19, 2010

This sounds like a very cool idea, I must say. But I'd hope and expect there's some sort of assessment/evaluation process would-be block parents have to go through? For the obvious reason.
posted by Decani at 4:28 AM on October 19, 2010

Jesus, that program sounds like a pedophile's dream! "Oh, no I'm being harrassed and beaten up, now I'm a vulnerable boy looking for a big strong grownup in whom I can confide in the comfort of their safe home!"
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:29 AM on October 19, 2010

I remember worrying about that even as a kindergartener, i.e. "but how do I know one of the people putting up the helping hand isn't one of the "bad guys"?
posted by bardophile at 7:18 AM on October 19, 2010

Jesus, that program sounds like a pedophile's dream!

The reason my home province no longer has block parents is because they couldn't recruit an executive director to oversee the police screenings that need to be done every two years.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:38 AM on October 19, 2010

In NYC, we had (still have, I think) a program called Safe Haven:
Merchants and residential buildings who join the program are asked to put a decal on their doors or windows which says SAFE HAVEN in black letters on bright yellow background. This decal means they have agreed to let a child who is in trouble come and get assistance. This can be as simple as allowing the child to wait a few minutes until the perceived danger is past, or making a call home or to the police. Participants are not asked to get directly involved in crime situations.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 10:44 PM on October 20, 2010

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