Mom Arrested & Sent to Jail for Letting Her Kids Play Outside

balloonsThis case flat out blows me away. It's such an extreme example of overreaction, overprotection of our kids, and over-the-top ridiculousness, I have a hard time believing it happened. But it did -- to Tammy Cooper, a stay-at-home mom who lives in La Porte, Texas.

According to Cooper she was sitting outside of her home in a lawn chair watching her children, ages 6 and 9, ride their motorized scooters in their cul-de-sac. The next she knew, police were there, handcuffing her, and taking her jail where she was forced to spend the night. Why? Because she was apparently endangering her children.

She told Click2Houston she was out there watching them  the entire time, but police didn't want to hear it. Apparently they had received a call from a neighbor that the kids were out there unsupervised, and it was an orange jumpsuit for her.

The thing that kills me is that even if she was inside, there shouldn't have been a problem. These kids are 6 and 9, and they were in a cul de sac in front of their home. All children may not be old enough to handle such a situation, but some definitely are, and it should be a parent's right to decide if they are. My neighborhood is filled with children who do the exact same thing alone regularly.

And why take a neighbor's word over a mother's? Who knows what the neighbor's motives were. It's great when others look out for children, but parents shouldn't automatically be presumed guilty.

Eventually the charges against Cooper were dropped, thank goodness, but she says that's not good enough to make up for the humiliating and terrifying ordeal. She told the station, "My daughter had him (the police officer) around the leg saying, 'Please, please don't take my mom to jail. Please, she didn't do anything wrong.'" So she's suing the police department, and I hope she gets some justice.

I tend to be on the cautious side rather free-range side with my kids, but cases like this still make my blood boil. It's such a sad testament to how different our children's childhoods are from the carefree ones without strict boundaries and ever-fearful parents that most of us experienced.

Do you let your children play outside alone? How young is too young?


Image via alibree/Flickr

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nonmember avatar matt Henson

first.."moterized scooters" driving on a public road fully authorized by an adult. I don't really know if they are lico ensed but with the ages i suspect not.
Second. No mentions of the discussion between the mother and the police...I'm sure it was not.Is that your kids?...put your hands behind your back.
Third. The reporter seemed to do no investigative work just ran with the mothers side of the story.

ms.meg ms.meg

I think that letting kids play outside is the place they should be. I live in a three floor building and everyone lets their kids out, I monitor my boys EVERY 30 mins they are not allowed out alone, I have a buddy system rule, I have three boys so as long as 2 go out, they are allowed.. I constantly call them from the balcony to check on them as well!

If I lived in a Clu De Sac, you bet your behind they would BE OUTSIDE playing!! blank stare

GirlN... GirlNamedBillie

I would not leave a 6yr old outside alone, but like it says the mother was out there with the children. If the mother was out there when the police arrived they had no right to arrest her. I do think it's endangering the children when you allow them to play in the street no matter where you are, it's meant for driving on, not playing.

But I do support her decision to sue them, that could prove to be very traumatizing to her children, seeing her get arrested for something that didn't happen. I would never wish my kids to see that happen to me or their dad.


I would sue the neighbor for slander, and defamation of character. I think the police, would have to release the information to a lawer.

Yea, 6 and 9 is old enough to play in the culdesac with or without  their mother. I was doing it at my grandmother's much younger. It was myself, my little sister, and out cousin. I was the oldest. As long as we didn't leave the culdesac we were fine.

LB Shoemaker

i don't let my kids play outside alone, but they're only 2 and 4 right now to be fair. i still don't know if i'd let my 6 and 9 year old out alone honestly. which is kind of irrelevant because they weren't out alone. if she was sitting there watching them and they weren't just out playing in the road i don't understand what the problem is. i'd be over talking to that neighbor if i was her. what on earth.

nonmember avatar Angie

Honestly. I was outside playing on my front lawn when I was five years old, my sister was out there with me at 4 years old. I guess times are changing when our children can't play outside, whether or not an adult is watching or not. Personally, my children are four years old and one year old. Both play outside. Sometimes my four year old will play outside alone but I can always see him and I'm watching out the window cooking. Children need to be outside. That's a necessity. Put your kids outside!

nonmember avatar Hannah

I'd be suing the neighbour too!

Lynna... Lynnaloch

I started letting my son play outside alone when he was 4. It was in the playground in front of our building with a bunch of other kids, I was very clear about not going out of my line of vision, and I peeked out at him every 10 minutes or so. He was the kind of kid that would stay where he was supposed to and not go off with strangers and I felt 100% ok with him being outside.

He's now 7 and plays outside often. I even let him walk his 1.5yo sister around the block in her stroller (our block is so small you can see pretty much all of it from our porch). Next year I'll probably let him go to the playground on the next block by himself as long as he checks in every hour or so and he'll be able to walk the three blocks to and from school alone.

Playing outside is such a vital part of childhood. So many kids now spend all their time in front of a TV screen and it's really sad. My favorite childhood memories are from running wild in the woods for hours in the summer, playing in the creek, digging holes, building forts, being a KID.

nonmember avatar WENDY

Yeah she's suing - and the nieghbor lied and said she hit one of the kids with her car and the cop didnt even check the child for injuries -

diyda... diydanielle

I doubt that this is all there is to the story. I did my internship with CPS in Texas- they're not that strict. Also, this sort of thing would generally result in CPS investigations, not in police involvement. Police don't even always arrest for child abuse, from what I've noticed. This would fall under neglect, rather than abuse.

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