A reader steams:
If we’re going to lock this woman up for an unsupervised visit to the park, why not lock up all the middle- and upper-class parents for the supervised abuse of team sports like football and soccer, where head trauma occurs at such an alarming rate? But of course, no one would dream of that. We only lock up poor black women trying their best to earn a living and have few options for childcare.
By that logic, my parents should both be rotting in jail! I grew up in California in the late ’80s, and was only really limited by how far I could ride my bike. My days were spent exploring the creeks and hills of south San Jose, swimming at the lake, rollerblading (ugh) to the comic store, and hanging at the 7/11 playing Street Fighter II. All on my own, with no adult supervision, and the understanding I’d be home for dinner. I wouldn’t trade my childhood for anything, and I’m saddened that letting your kids loose is now criminalized.
But another dissents:
Are these bloggers for real? It’s my understanding that the arrested mother left her kid at a park – far enough from her home that the kid was effectively stranded – for the entirety of her work shift. If they think this is comparable to someone allowing their child to visit a park on their street corner for a couple of hours unattended, they need to get their heads examined.
Another adds some more context: “Let’s juxtapose South Carolina law enforcement’s decision to arrest a mother for permitting her 9-year-old daughter to play alone at a park with the fact that the Palmetto State currently has no law requiring firearm owners to prevent children from gaining access to firearms.” A parent is on the same page:
As a cautious and earnest parent, when I hear about a new initiative to “protect kids from harm,” a moment of fear strikes when I consider the possibility of being held criminally responsible for an accident. Especially when the decision is made by someone that doesn’t know me or my kids, or what our kids are capable of. We all take chances sometimes, and it’s up to us as adults to figure out our boundaries and to listen when our kids communicate their boundaries.
Even so, I am frequently outraged by news stories articles that describe tragic incidents when a kid picks up Dad’s (or Mom’s) loaded gun from a table and shoots a sibling or a friend to death. Inevitably, police deem it as an “accidental shooting” and that’s the end of the story. Criminal neglect? No. Second-amendment rights.
I think these cases should be treated as felony criminal neglect. I am sensitive to the argument that the parent has “suffered enough loss” and locking them up is unnecessarily costly to society. However, in every jurisdiction that I know of, the felony conviction carries with it the appropriate corrective action: the offending parent forfeits the right to own a firearm.
Circling back to the issue of letting kids play unattended, a reader shares a harrowing story:
Last summer, as I was sitting in my living room on a very hot day, our 6-year-old went out to play and had been out for about five minutes, 10 max. She was allowed to go outside if she stayed on our side of the street and didn’t go past the corners. We live in a residential neighborhood, know our neighbors, and it’s a short block.
As I was sitting there, our daughter walked in, distraught. I asked, “What is the problem sweetie?” She said pouting: “A woman just made me come inside.”
I asked her if she knew who the woman was (“No”) and why (“I don’t know, I was just playing on the corner”). Just then a middle-aged woman came up to our door and pounded on it. Since I was in a T-shirt and boxers (did I say it was boiling hot?), I opened the door to shield myself. She just started laying into me: How dare you let your child out there alone? She could have been snatched off the street! You should be ashamed! and more
I was a taken aback, to say the least. I asked her where she saw her (on the corner) and then explained to her that it was a safe neighborhood and that we knew the neighbors. She’d have none of it. She just kept yelling at me and said, I’m calling the police! I was shocked. I told her to go ahead, that I had had enough and shut the door. She stood on the porch for a long time, until I went to the door again and told her to get off our property. She went to the street and talked on her phone. Just then my husband and our 10-year-old came home. I explained who the woman was.
That night, just as our daughters were going to bed, a policewoman came by. I told her the story. She said she got a call and had to check. Before she walked away she asked one more question: “Were you in your underwear? The woman was concerned you were in your underwear.”
“Yes,” I said, “I was in my boxers, it was freaking hot today and the air conditioner was not working.” She gave a knowing smile and walked away.
That was quite an experience. Frankly, I was more concerned that woman would return and snatch her away than I would ever be of someone else. She was just nutty enough to do it.
More Dish on the subject here.