​Moms Get Arrested for Letting Kids Play at the Park

If we're going to live in a nanny state, can we at least hire one who has more common sense than this? Two moms in two separate states have recently been arrested and charged with child neglect for nearly the same reason -- both allowed their children to play at a park unsupervised.

South Carolina mom Debra Harrell temporarily lost custody of her 9-year-old daughter and still faces 10 years in prison for reportedly letting her play in a park alone. Nicole Gainey was accused of child neglect after giving her 7-year-old son permission to walk to the park by himself. In both cases, the authorities acted without thinking, and these two stories are indicative of a larger issue: at what point do parents lose the right to parent as they see fit?


Harrell is a single mom who works long hours at McDonald's in order to support her child. When her daughter, Regina, asked if she could play at a nearby park -- which the mom says is packed with latchkey kids who can cool off in the splash pad and are provided with free meals at the park thanks to a local program -- she said "yes." She assumed it would be a healthier alternative to what she made her do before that: accompany her to work and let her play on a laptop all day long.

While at the park, Regina was allegedly approached by a stranger who had noticed she was there for hours unsupervised. The girl admitted that she was allowed to play there alone, which led the woman to call police. Harell was arrested shortly thereafter.

Like Harrell, Gainey didn't think there was anything criminal about using her own judgment to determine whether her son was old enough to walk by himself to the park, which is located half a mile from his home. She said she provides her child with a cellphone and keeps in constant contact with him. When the boy walked by a public pool on his way to the playground and was asked by lifeguards where his mother was, he says he got scared and ran off.

Police found him at the park and escorted him home, where they placed Gainey under arrest.

If these rules had existed 25 years ago, many parents -- including mine -- would have seen the inside of a jail cell on a daily basis. People like to say that things have changed. That times aren't the way they were and you can't allow kids to have these kinds of freedoms because it's a far more dangerous world out there.

More from The Stir3-Year-Old Dies After His Mother Leaves Him Home Alone for 20 Hours

Are we suggesting it's better to keep kids indoors all of the time while we work our butts off to make a living? Is it healthier for them to play video games all day long? These moms shouldn't have been arrested for parenting the way they see fit. We've gone so far in one direction believing we have the right to tell everyone else what to do -- yet we still lack empathy when it comes to working moms and trying to support their efforts to both bring in money AND allow their children to have a childhood.

Do you think these moms deserved to be arrested for letting their children play in the park alone?


Image ©iStock.com/cveltri

Read More >