​Mom Loses Custody After 2-Year-Old Wanders Out of House

toddler wanders out of house mom loses custody

If my 2-year-old managed to escape my house and make her way to a street where she faced the very real danger of being hit by a car as she meandered across the lanes, I would pray to all the deities that someone — ANYONE — would get her to safety. At that point, my greatest hope would be that she’d be returned to me, and I could spend the rest of my life adding hundreds of childproof locks to each and every window and door while sobbing to myself about the unspeakable tragedy that was so narrowly avoided. I would not, however, expect to be charged with child cruelty and lose custody of my daughter ... which is exactly what happened last month to a mom in Bamberg, South Carolina.

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On December 28, 23-year-old Shacora Washington left her toddler unattended long enough for the child to leave their apartment and make her way along Railroad Avenue by herself. A woman says she first spotted the 2-year-old wandering out of the woods along a path that led to the Villas Apartments, and she picked up the girl when she saw her trying to cross the street.

The Good Samaritan called 911 to report the little girl’s situation, at which point the police met her and the toddler at a laundromat. Investigators listened to the woman’s description of what had happened and notified the Department of Social Services. A group of people who recognized the child went to the apartment complex and brought the mother to the laundromat, and the mother met with officers and a DSS representative to discuss the incident.

Washington told the police she did not understand why DSS had been called and claimed that her toddler was capable of opening the door and getting out of the apartment on her own. No further details are available in the public reports at this time, but after interviewing Washington, DSS decided to put the child in the custody of her father.

All I can think is there must be way more to this story than what we can read about right now. There must have been something in the mom’s demeanor that led the authorities to decide the little girl wasn’t safe going back home with her, because why else would they remove her from her care? I know it’s easy to judge based on what little we know, but isn’t it awfully easy for young children to slip away from view when we’re busy at home? I’ve never personally experienced anything like this, but I can imagine it happening, especially if the household was chaotic with other children or family members.

I would hate to think that if this happened to me, my kid would be taken away. I’d much rather believe that the outcome would involve police patting me on the shoulder as I wept and cursed at myself for not being attentive enough. I think I’d be so devastated by the incident itself, having someone then whisk away my child would send me straight to the loony bin.

What do you think about this story? Do you suspect there was something more going on that hasn't been reported?


Image via donnieray/Flickr

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