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Arresting Parents Who Let Kids Play Outside
September 19, 2014 permalink
The Onion parodies arresting parents for letting their children play outside. But following the enclosed spoof are two real cases from Texas and Florida.
Should Parents Who Let Kids Play Outside Unsupervised Be Arrested?
Yes, it’s completely irresponsible for parents to encourage their kids to be independent. No, but maybe the police could abduct their kid for a couple days just to scare them straight. Yes, if only for the look on the kids’ faces. Absolutely not. I only support it when people get arrested for things that could never happen to me. Yes, it’s much more responsible to leave your children unsupervised at home. No way. When I was a kid, we played outside by ourselves and everyone except Brian came home just fine. Of course. You can never have too many reasons to arrest people who can’t afford child care.
Source: The Onion
Child Services to Mom Who Did Nothing Wrong: 'Just Don't Let Your Kids Play Outside'
Children's book author Kari Anne Roy was recently visited by the Austin police and Child Protective Services for allowing her son Isaac, age 6, to do the unthinkable: Play outside, up her street, unsupervised.
He'd been out there for about 10 minutes when Roy's doorbell rang. She opened it to find her son —and a woman she didn't know. As Roy wrote on her blog HaikuMama last week, the mystery woman asked: "Is this your son?"
I nodded, still trying to figure out what was happening.
"He said this was his house. I brought him home." She was wearing dark glasses. I couldn't see her eyes, couldn't gauge her expression.
"Yes. He was all the way down there, with no adult." She motioned to a park bench about 150 yards from my house. A bench that is visible from my front porch. A bench where he had been playing with my 8-year-old daughter, and where he decided to stay and play when she brought our dog home from the walk they'd gone on.
"You brought him home... from playing outside?" I continued to be baffled.
And then the woman smiled condescendingly, explained that he was OUTSIDE. And he was ALONE. And she was RETURNING HIM SAFELY. To stay INSIDE. With an ADULT. I thanked her for her concern, quickly shut the door and tried to figure out what just happened.
What happened? The usual. A busybody saw that rarest of sights—a child playing outside without a security detail—and wanted to teach his parents a lesson. Roy might not have given the incident a whole lot more thought except that shortly afterward, her doorbell rang again.
This time it was a policewoman. "She wanted to know if my son had been lost and how long he'd been gone," Roy told me by phone. She also took Roy's I.D. and the names of her kids.
That night Isaac cried when he went to bed and couldn't immediately fall asleep. "He thought someone was going to call the police because it was past bedtime and he was still awake."
free-range-kidsAs it turns out, he was almost right. About a week later, an investigator from Child Protective Services came to the house and interrogated each of Roy's three children separately, without their parents, about their upbringing.
"She asked my 12 year old if he had ever done drugs or alcohol. She asked my 8-year-old daughter if she had ever seen movies with people's private parts, so my daughter, who didn't know that things like that exist, does now," says Roy. "Thank you, CPS."
It was only last week, about a month after it all began, that the case was officially closed. That's when Roy felt safe enough to write about it. But safe is a relative term. In her last conversation with the CPS investigator, who actually seemed to be on her side, Roy asked, "What do I do now?"
Replied the investigator, "You just don't let them play outside."
There you have it. You are free to raise your children as you like, except if you want to actually give them a childhood. Fail to incarcerate your child and you could face incarceration yourself.
Lenore Skenazy is a public speaker and creator of the book and blog Free-Range Kids.
On The Front Lines
VICTORY: Florida Officials Drop Prosecution of Mom Arrested, Handcuffed, Searched & Jailed for Allowing Her 7-Year-Old Son to Visit Playground Alone
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. —Florida officials have agreed not to pursue the prosecution of a Florida mother who was arrested and charged with child neglect for allowing her 7-year-old son to visit a neighborhood playground located a half mile from their house. In doing so, the state has effectively put an end to the criminal case against Nicole Gainey. Attorneys for The Rutherford Institute, along with Miami-based criminal defense lawyer Brian H. Bieber, a partner at GrayRobinson, P.A., worked with state prosecutors to achieve a mutually agreeable resolution of the matter that resulted in the charges against Gainey being dropped. In addition to being charged with a third-degree criminal felony charge that carries with it a fine of up to $5,000 and 5 years in jail, Gainey was interrogated, arrested and handcuffed in front of her son, and transported to the local jail where she was physically searched, fingerprinted, photographed and held for seven hours.
“What this incident shows is that keeping young people safe and a parent’s ability to know what’s appropriate for their children are not mutually exclusive goals,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State. “All is not lost as long as there are government officials willing to work through issues in a reasonable manner, exhibiting compassion and common sense and recognizing that there are better ways to deal with concerns about child safety than criminalizing parents. When all is said and done, however, what we really need is for the government to stop acting as if it can do a better job of managing our lives than we can, and that holds true whether you’re talking about child rearing, health care or the surveillance state.”
Nicole Gainey, a resident of Port St. Lucie, Fla., was arrested on Saturday, July 26, 2014, after allowing her 7-year-old son Dominic to walk by himself from their house to a popular neighborhood playground located a half mile away. According to Gainey, Dominic normally rides his bike (which was out of commission that day due to a flat tire) to Sportsmans’ Park, which is located along the same stretch of road as a fire station, community pool, library, church and a daycare. Dominic also rides his bike along that same route when going to school, which is two miles away, without anyone raising any concerns. As usual, Dominic carried a cell phone with him in order to check in with his mom. According to the 7-year-old, someone asked him where his mom was when he was walking past the pool. Police officers were called, went to the park, questioned Dominic, and then drove him home in their car, without alerting his mother that there was a concern or that they had picked up her son. Upon arriving at Gainey’s home, officers questioned the single mother about her son’s whereabouts, without informing her that they had picked him up. The police then arrested Gainey, charged her with neglect, and took her to the local jail, where she was physically searched, fingerprinted, photographed and held for seven hours and then forced to pay almost $4000 in bond in order to return to her family. Gainey’s son was allowed to stay with her boyfriend in lieu of going to foster care.
In coming to Gainey’s defense, Rutherford Institute attorneys argued that parents have every right to make their own determinations about when their children are mature enough and responsible enough to be permitted to safely play outside by themselves, wait in the car by themselves or walk to a neighborhood park unsupervised. Affiliate attorneys Brian H. Bieber of GrayRobinson, P.A., and Robert A. McGlynn, Jr., P.A. assisted The Rutherford Institute in its defense of Gainey.
Source: Rutherford Institute
Addendum: Mother Nicole Gainey told Lenore Skenazy what the invervention did to her son.
Dear Lenore: I am the mother that got arrested July 26 for letting my son son walk to the park that is closer than his school by himself, and since my arrest our lives have changed for the worse.
My son was 7 at the time, now he’s 8. He walked to our neighborhood park half mile from my home on a Saturday afternoon about 4 p m for an hour. He had his own cell phone, he had been going there all that summer, and some nosy busybody at the community pool that’s on the way called the cops, due to him looking too young to be by himself.
So then the police picked up my son at the playground and placed him in the cop car while they went to talk to the people at the pool. Then they came to my home and never told me he was in back of the car, and arrested me. It wasn’t until they were putting me in the back of the car that I found out that my son was in there this whole time, like he was a criminal.
As he got out & walked past me he tells me, “I’m sorry mommy. I wanted to go play at the park” — thinking it was his fault. Since then, the charge was not filed but I can not get a job anywhere, I think due to this, and I am struggling very bad. Also my son used to be a carefree outgoing little boy. Everything has changed.
Thank you for sharing my story when it happened. A lot of readers were on my side. Well, I was wondering if you will put my Go Fund Me link on your page. If anyone can help even a small bit, my children and I will be very grateful. Please tap to donate. – Nicole
Source: Free Range Kids