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