As a Georgia parent, one of your primary concerns is the health, safety and welfare of your children. Still, you cannot be a helicopter parent, hovering around your kids 24 hours a day to make sure they do not hurt themselves. Kids are curious by nature and they crave freedom from parental control and excessive oversight. As they get older and want to spend ever more time with their friends and ever less time with you, however, you would do well to scout out your neighborhood to make sure that your neighbors have no attractive nuisances on their respective properties.
If you have never heard of an attractive nuisance, this term refers to anything on someone’s property that stands a good chance of luring curious kids in to explore or investigate, during which they could suffer a serious injury. An unguarded and unsecured swimming pool is the classic example of an attractive nuisance.
While private swimming pools, both above-ground and in-ground, are by far the most notorious attractive nuisances, many other things also qualify, including the following:
- Unlocked vehicles
- Lawnmowers and other machinery
- Paths and stairs
- Dangerous animals
In general, the laws of Georgia and all other states hold property owners to a higher standard when it comes to protecting children from harm. The law assumes that by virtue of their age and inexperience, kids are not competent to assess and understand the many dangers they can face. Consequently, the law shifts child safety responsibility to property owners. If they know or should know that something on their property reasonably may entice kids to come in, it is their responsibility to make reasonable efforts to abate that danger. If they do not and a child suffers an injury, the child’s parent(s) or legal guardian(s) can sue the property owner.
Simply putting up a sign, such as “Beware of dog,” is insufficient. Most kids love dogs and many kids do not necessarily read or understand the significance of a sign telling them not to approach one. In addition, some kids do not have the ability to read the sign because of their age or their inability to read and understand English.
Should you find attractive nuisances in your neighborhood, be sure to bring them to the attention of the “guilty” property owners. You need not be hostile in terms of your attitude. Simply express your concern that there are children in the neighborhood who might come onto the property and injure themselves, and ask your neighbor to please remove or secure the nuisance. It goes without saying that you also should warn your kids about staying away from these properties and why.