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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Claire Storey

I lived on a quiet street (which this one sounds like) in San Diego until I was 8 when my family moved to the country. I can remember being 3 years old and running around up and down the street.  I'd be suing the neighbor (right to know my accuser) and the police department if they tried this with me.

Melissa Owsiany Reineke

Someone called the police on me because they said I left my baby outside alone in the stroller.  The stroller was EMPTY when it was outside alone, but by the time the police showed up, I was pushing it down the street with my 2 year old in it.  I'm not sure that the police believed me, but they didn't push farther.  I was so pissed!

Nicole Cressey

i think the kids are too young to play outside alone, but the mom was out there with them so i see nothing wrong here. I think that the world is too dangerous to let young children play outside alone. There are people out there that abduct children all the time. The nine year old may have been ok out there along but not the 6 yo. but that mom has every right to be pissy. The cops should have looked into the accusation before arresting her.

chame... chamelinmom

i wouldnt let my kids near a main road but still, that is rediculous. i know people who let their kids ride bike and not outside at all that are younger than i wouldnt let my kids do that but i let my kids play in the yard without me out there(i live in a back road, no road around us and a flat acer around us with woods as barrier) but then again i wouldnt let them ride motorized vehical without me either until they are a lot older than that. if they were distroying thing, i can see it. but wth america. are we getting that stuplified

Kaytlynne Weigold

parents do way worse and never once are questioned. I called the authorities one time on a kid who was smoking pot in front of his 3 month old and was told they couldn't do anything until the child was harmed... ok so why is that not illegal but smoking in a car with children is?

Jessica Reeves

WTF???!!! When I was little we had to play outside, get exercise and be in when the street lights turned whether it was dark or not. Nowadays children are obese sitting inside watching TV and playing video games (violent ones at that).

If I were this mother, I would also sue the neighbor for defamation of character!!


Mommy... Mommy4Boys1987

Mine play out in the backyard by themselves only due to the fact that it is enclosed. But when they go out front somepne is with them 

nonmember avatar Stacey

There has to be more to this story. No one gets arrested for letting you kids play outside, supervised. Somethings missing here...

Dani Garn Sample

I'm only 20 years old, and when I was that age me and my friends/cousins were all over the place!!! We could be found at a park on the other side of town for hours!! My parents almost always knew where we were... but often times, we were too busy to let them know EXACTLY.. we always came home on time and there was rarely a problem. When you trust your kids to obey you, that is the time they are old enough to play alone. My parents weren't the best parents, but I lived.

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