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 DaveInTokyo

We live in Tokyo and our children attend the local public school. They are required to walk to school by themselves (parents are NOT allowed to escort them) from the time they start first grade. We send the kids over to play in the local park by themselves regularly. Even though we live in a big city (the biggest according to some) we do watch out for each others' kids. My son, 9, is now taking the subway by himself, though I have seen much younger children commuting by themselves to private schools.

It's sad that America has become such a paranoid place. I grew up in San Francisco and took the city bus by myself from when I was eight.

Linda Ory King

I agree that there is probably more to the story and there are always two sides to every story. It may have been illegal for them to be riding motorized scooters on a public street.

Aundria Cooper Premo

My youngest boys are 8 and 5, and they play in OUR YARD alone all the time. They aren't allowed in the street, but we have a HUGE yard, so it's not necessary. This is freaking ridiculous!! Damn right, I WOULD SUE TOO!! Imagine those poor kids, seeing mom ARRESTED like that?!? Hell no!

Allicyn Luckie

I just have to say that KIDS walk home those ages UNSUPERVISED from school for blocks! But I guess then its ok?! I would have blown a nut for getting arrested for that!!

Jaime Swift Sundin

Great now its illegal for kids to play outside no wonder there is an epidemic with Heavy children cause there not allowed to go outside and run.  We lived in the twin cities as kids we played outside all of the time.  We rode our bikes every where, then when we moved we moved into the country and we still played outside as well.  At age Nine your responsible enough to know right from wrong and what to do and not do.  Unless the parents havent taught their children not to talk to strangers then i guess i would be worried.

Benja... Benjamins-mama

I was outside playing with friends with no adult supervision at 7.  and @Sleeping Beautee    the mom was outside watching them from her porch.   not all parents have to be right beside their kids to make sure they stay safe

LovemyQ LovemyQ

They were probably riding IN THE STREET - that would warrant endangerment. Has this already been said?

Melissa Brannam

WOW!! My 9yo is allowed to be outside alone, but only if he is in front of my apt. 

nonmember avatar Danni

While I do believe this mom should habve been arrested because it seems extreme - I would not let my 7 and 4 year olds play outside without my supervision. I live on a cul-de-sac in a very nice neighborhood. It's not my children getting scrapes or bruises I am worried about - its the crazy people in this world that would be driving around and try to take one or both of them. You never know who is out there waiting for their chance to snag a child. Even if they only got one, I doubt the other would get to me in time to help, or be mature enough to get a license plate number/car model. It is every parent's right to do what they please, but my children will be supervised until I feel they are mature enough to react to a potential life-threatening situation.

nonmember avatar Yeslin

Thats insane. Neighbor must of have something against her and took that lame chance and cops fall for it. its dissapointimg too that cops did tgis w/out questioning the matter. My 3 kids play outside, I supervise them thru window. They are old enough to be outside and be precautious. They r 7 &7 & 5. I have rules tgat they know better to follow them : dont go onto the st. Dont go off on your own. Play together nice. NO FIGHTING!

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