7 Missing Children Story Has the Happiest Possible Outcome But Leaves Many Questions

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7 missing children FresnoThe seven children who went missing last Saturday in Fresno, California have been found alive and well with their father in Sacramento. The children are unharmed and had left the home voluntarily, it would appear, with the father they hadn't seen in three years while the mother and stepfather had left them alone to go grocery shopping. 

The children ranged in age from 12 to 5 so while, at first glance, one might question why the mother left them alone, knowing there was a 12-year-old present changes things. Or does it? 

Police actually never believed the children were in danger given the fact that their belongings were missing as well and there was no sign of a struggle. It seems possible that the father was suspected all along.

I don't have a 12-year-old. But I did start babysitting at that age for one little girl who lived on my block. She was 7. At the time, I felt more than old enough to make her macaroni and cheese and play Uno and then help her go to bed. But was I?

Looking at my own children at 4.5 and 6 years old, it's hard to imagine a time when they will be old enough to stay alone. But that doesn't mean they don't ask. My son often wants to stay alone while we run my daughter to school. It's just a four-minute walk and sometimes it IS tempting. But I don't. And this is why.

Even if he would be fine, at 6 and 4.5, there is no judgement. They couldn't make sound decisions if anything crept up, even a non-emergency. So when does that awareness begin? Eight? Ten? Fifteen?

The fact that a 12-year-old was willing to let all his siblings leave the home before their mom came home calls this into question. Now, obviously, there could be a whole lot about this story we don't know. Maybe the children weren't happy with their mother and wanted to go with the dad. Maybe they had been corresponding with him and planned this (the older ones, at least). It's hard to know and the short news articles aren't revealing such details.

We can never know what really goes on behind closed doors in someone else's family. But something about this just doesn't sit right. Why would a 12-year-old willingly go with a father he or she hadn't seen in years? Why would he or she worry his mother so deeply? There is more here.

As of now, though, let's just be thankful that all seven of the children are safe and unharmed. This could have been so much worse.

Do you leave a 12-year-old alone with other children?


Image via Fresno Police

child custody, family


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nonmember avatar Shannon

Would depend on the 12 year old, the age of the other kids, and how long I would be gone. It seems reasonable to me for the parents to leave them to go grocery shopping. Food for 9 people is a lot for one person to handle (hence both parents) and trying to shop with 7 kids? Good luck. I may have done the same. You don't know what the father told his kids, but don't underestimate the sheer power of the biological connection. Maybe the kids simply missed their Dad?

nonmember avatar Helena

I believe you overthink it. I do believe that kids maybe to young to babysit. Still it is a parents responsibility to develop the responsability of their kids, one never knows when the need arises, specially in an emergency in which you might be impaired or a normal situation where having the kids around is unsafe.

It is bit by bit setting limits clearly, obviously. You would have to prep your kids. Besides we are not there for ever:)

nonmember avatar endlessfire

I read on a several other news sites that the FBI task force for children left the children in the fathers custody, which means there is more going on than just leaving a 12 year old to babysit 6 younger kids. That was what bothered me, I leave my 11 and 9 year old's alone when I'm going to the grocery store, but I don't think a 12 year old should be responsible for more than one or two younger children.

moons... moonshooby

It certainly depends on the maturity of the older child and how the younger one(s) behave. We left our daughter who was 10 at the time home with a 7 yr old and newborn for short outings. She was very responsible then and now, also the grandparents live next door, so not a whole lot of worrying there. They are much older now, 17,14 and 7 but I would not leave the 14 yr old alone with the 7 yr old because she is not reponsible at all and they don't get along well.

the4m... the4mutts

I leave my 9 & 6yo home alone if im running to the store real quick, and they dont want to go. The 5 & 3y/o have no say in the matter, they have to come with me.

That being said, mine would leave with their dad in. Heartbeat, if he said "no dont call mom, she said it was okay" its their DAD. In my kids' case, he's not abusive, they trust him, and see him frequently.

Anyone else, I trus my kids would not even open the door for. They dont even accept rides from my best friend in the world, because "no, mom said that today we're walking"

the4m... the4mutts

That being said, the house rule is to not open the door for anyone, even daddy, and to call me if anyone even knocks on the door

handy... handy0318

When I was 12, I had my first full time babysitting job. I took care of a 5 year old and 3 year old from 6:00am to 3:30 pm M-F during the summer. Looking back, one aspect that was a lot different was that then, more than half of the other houses in the neighborhood, including both next door houses, had a mom home all day, so if any serious issue arose, all I would need to do would be to open the door and yell.  But, I don't think it's an issue to have a responsible 12 year old watching younger siblings for a couple of hours.

I started allowing my daughter and son to be home by themselves when my daughter was 12.5 and my son was 10...as long as their grandparents were home (they live next to us).  

nonmember avatar anonymous

It was their DAD. He probably told them their Mom knew about it. I was babysitting at 12 and was a very responsible child. Also-this 12 year old was babysitting his siblings-very different than watching strangers kids. I wouldn't let one 12 year old watch six other kids that were strangers, but he would know his siblings pretty well and know how to handle them for a few hours. What I wonder about is how the dad planned to hide 7 kids! With cameras everywhere today and computers sharing into so fast.....it would be incredibly difficult to hide!

zonie... zoniechick

There was a 12, 11, and 10 yr old also present for the younger children, yes I would leave them home alone. I do not see a problem with it. Much different with siblings than it is watching other ppls kids. Heck at 11 I was working at my families motel and watching my sister and two younger cousins.

nonmember avatar Annanymous

At 11 I had several regular babysitting jobs, ranging from infants up to age 6, and in groups ranging from 1-6 at a time. At 11, my son was not mature enough to be left in charge. He knew not to answer the door for anyone, and knew even at 6 not to get in anyone else's car (he wouldn't even get in the car of a friend's mom when I was late meeting the bus). Had his daddy shown up, however, (and my kid doesn't see his daddy much either)- I'm sure he would have left with him. I never give him reason not to trust daddy. I would hope he'd leave a note or call though. There's more to this story than what we're getting, since the kids are staying with dad now.

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