Homeless Mom Arrested for 'Child Abuse' Is Really a Hero to Her Family​

Shanesha Taylor
Last week, Shanesha Taylor left her children, ages 2 and 6, in her Dodge Durango. The windows were cracked and the doors were locked when a passerby heard the baby crying from the backseat and reported the unsupervised little ones to the authorities. When Taylor returned, the police were waiting for her in the parking lot of the office complex she left her truck in.

She explained that she had been on a job interview and didn’t have anyone to watch her kids while she was there. The 35-year-old was arrested, charged with child abuse, and photographed in what may be the most heartbreaking mugshot I’ve seen in years.

That might seem like a tidy instance of realized justice. But if you’ve ever been in a bind—because of single motherhood, extreme brokeness, or lack of general support—you can empathize. You should empathize. Taylor and her children are homeless. A job is the catalyst to changing their circumstances, but she didn’t have childcare because she doesn’t have the job she needs to afford it. It’s an ethical catch 22.

If you’ve never suffered a life-altering hardship, congratulations. It must be an honor seemingly handed down from on high to have dodged the innumerable blindsides that are the unforeseen companions to living. That’s not me being factitious unless, of course, you’re judging her.

The effects of homelessness are far-reaching socially and culturally, but the immediate impact on families, particularly children, are deeper, more personal. The fact that parents have to make decisions like this, whether they leave them alone at home or in a locked car in a parking lot, is telling. There are organizations working on grassroots and community levels to offer support, but often, there aren’t enough resources to go around and even their best intentions leave people who need help out.

There’s also the issue of pride that—despite the availability of outside help—shrouds the need for help in secrecy. But the community is reaching out to her. A fundraiser is picking up the tab for her $9,000 bond and the movement to help her, which now stands in excess of $29,000, is blowing up thanks to Twitter and social media do-gooders. (Donations are still being accepted if you feel so led, and I kinda hope you do.)

One thing is certain: no parent should be forced to make the decision between their children’s safety and a job they need to take care of them.

Do you think Taylor should be charged with felony child abuse? 

child custody, family, in the news, safety


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Jacee... Jacee2348

I don't necessarily think one bad decision to leave her kids unattended should result in a felony charge (thus further hindering her ability to get a job), but maybe a much lesser misdemeanor charge maybe? It is so common to hear of tragedies stemming from unattended children in vehicles - yet I can certainly empathize with her situation. She was probably desperate to make the interview and had nobody to watch her children. I think she needs to be offered some serious help and assistance and possibly a bit of leniency and understanding. I know something awful could've resulted in her leaving her kids, but the law sometimes needs a little gray area - not all black and white.

nonmember avatar Amanda

I remember my mother, single mom of 4, taking us with her as she cleaned offices at night. You do what you have to do.

CLM3345 CLM3345

I can't even look at her mug shot without wanting to cry. I agree with Jacee, the world is a dangerous place and horrible things could have happened. But, I was also in the era when mom's left their kids in the car (weather providing not too hot/cold) to go grocery shopping, etc. I remember sitting in the car reading or whatever for an hour sometimes and was always safe. This mom didn't abandon them to go use drugs, go to a bar/party. This is one woman who certainly deserves some help and a break - I hope she gets it and best of luck to her in the future.

abra819 abra819

I feel for her. I do absolutely. However, in my case, I would have gone into that interview and sat my kids down and told who ever was interviewing me, ya know what? I have no childchare, I have to bring them in that should show how badly I want this job. These children need their mom. Giver her a frickin break.

Em Chappell-Root

Abra, an interviewer would see "She has no child care, she's going to be late or miss work or bringing them in with her, or distracted while working, and not a dedicated employee." It's sad, but it's true.


nonmember avatar Dee

If there's nothing else to show child abuse I think this is a case where what's needed is help, not punishment. We're sometimes too quick to punish which often doesn't remedy the real issue, in this case child safety. But drug abusers get it too, people who need help & otherwise are law abiding but get jail instead of rehab. I feel bad seeing that pic too, there's no defiance, that's 1 sad beaten down lady :(

DeeMar05 DeeMar05

She doesn't deserve to be charged! I hope some good comes from this awful situation.

Bobbie Scherzer

When a woman is homeless it is usaually due to lack of finaces, or trying to leave an abusive relationship.  Her choice to leave the kids alone was a bad one, but she had no other choices.  Even if she was in a shelter, they have strict rules aboutallowing others to watch the kids. I have been homeless before, so i can kind of relate to her.  It was before i had kids, but i have seen other resdients struggle with going on a job interview or staying with the kids.  It is not easy.  This woman doesnt need jail. She needs compassion and some help getting back on her feet.

wendy... wendywendy

Surprised she was actually charged and arrested.  I know cops receive training to give contacts for services that could help this woman and her family or to make the calls themselves.  Either the cops screwed up, or the woman has some sort of criminal background.  Either scenaro is possible.

Josie Madden

This is a heartbreaking situation but this was in Phoenix, in March. On this date the outside temperature was about 85 degrees. The car was parked in direct sunlight so the temperature inside the vehicle would have been well over 100 degrees which is deadly, especially to young children. I agree that services need to be available to women (and men) in that situation but this was a clear case of child abuse/neglect. This mother and her children are lucky that the children were discovered before they were killed by the extreme heat in her vehicle.

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