Music with obscene verbiage loudly played outdoors.

Visitor Question: My next door neighbor allows unsupervised pool parties while at work for their adolescent children (age 11 and 12). I believe the guests are older (12-14). There usually are 6-7 boys, and there is wild horseplay, ball throwing, screaming.....and loud music with obscene verbiage, to say the least. The parent claims this is totally OK because it is early enough in the day, and it is not a disturbance due to the time of day. I believe this is a disruption of quality of life. Please advise.

Editors Respond: This may well be a negative in your quality of life, and we sympathize. However, we have to say that from a code enforcement perspective, or overall neighborhood quality standpoint, this sort of thing is not actionable, especially since the parent apparently is happy enough about the situation.

Unless your city or town has a noise ordinance that is being violated, there is nothing that can be done about this circumstance, other than talking with the parent as you have already. It seems quite unlikely that children or pre-teens yelling and screaming would exceed the noise threhold even if your town has such an ordinance and you could talk the code enforcement officer or police officer into hanging around in the neighborhood long enough to measure the decibel level.

It seems to us that these pre-teens are acting like normal adolescents would if the parent allows visits from several other young people when the parent is not at home. You are unlikely to get far with the parent, or even with some of your neighbors, with the argument that the music is obscene; most of it is pretty racey if you listen to the lyrics, but then that's been true for 50 or 60 years. Before that, the lyrics just weren't as explicit but often the meaning was the same.

Your best argument with your neighbor may be that it is unwise to allow one's own children to be outnumbered by visitors when there is no adult in the home. Yes, this is true because of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, but also simply because really harmless horseplay could lead to an out-of-control situation in which someone is injured or in which poor decisions suddenly seem like the right thing to do in the face of peer pressure. But this is a persuasion situation and not something that the community at large will be likely to organize itself around. Patience and dialogue are the best approaches here; as you no doubt have considered, if you object too strongly to the parent, you are implicitly criticizing their parenting and therefore making the parent dig in their heels and insist that they are right. Just watch for opportunities to bring this up in a helpful or lighthearted way.

Certainly if you have other neighbors who are bothered by this, talk with them in hopes you can agree on dividing up the persuasion tasks.

As one last task relying on your social skills, invest some effort in building relationships with the children themselves. In time you just might influence them toward your perspective on appropriate behavior. More realistically, you can help build a future responsible adult once the pull of adolescent priorities, attitudes, and pastimes subsides.

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