Parents Arrested for Leaving 11-Year-Old in His Own Yard Alone

boy in yard

A boy playing in his own yard: sounds harmless, right? Yet recently when an 11-year-old boy in Florida shot some hoops for 90 minutes waiting for his mom and dad to arrive home late, the cops were notified, and arrested the parents for neglect.


The distressed parents -- who remain anonymous -- told their story to free-range parenting advocate Lenore Skenazy, and it gets worse the more you hear.

For one: the parents were handcuffed, strip searched, and held overnight in jail. Meanwhile their 11-year-old as well as his 4-year-old brother spent the month bouncing between foster care (where they ate nothing but cereal for a few days) and a dubious relative who decided to put them back in state custody without notifying the parents.

Finally, at the court hearing, the 11-year-old convinced the judge to allow him and his brother to head home. Phew. Still, though, what a terrifying month for those two kids!

More from The Stir: Leaving Your Kids Home Alone: What Age Is the Right Age?

Now, in my mind, even if the parents' treatment was technically "neglect" -- and that's a big "if" -- the treatment these kids were put through as a result seems much more neglectful. Seriously, what kind of foster care feeds kids just cereal for days? And what kind of relative foists the kids back into that nasty foster care without telling the parents?

Unfortunately, that's what can happen to kids whose parents make minor mistakes these days: They can get ripped away from their families and thrown into far worse circumstances. And this case is hardly an isolated incident.

Last December, Danielle and Alexander Meitiv made national headlines for being charged with neglect for letting their 10- and 6-year-old kids walk home from the playground unattended. They were picked up by the cops; Danielle says her kids are now scared of cops.

Or what about Kim Brooks? In June 2014, this mom was arrested for leaving her 4-year-old son in the car for five minutes on an overcast day -- doors locked, windows cracked open -- to grab a new set of headphones. Afterwards, her son started freaking out that someone might try to take him away from her every time she, say, popped out of the car to put change in the meter.

Meanwhile just this June, a Chicago mom let her three kids play in a park across the street, peeking out at them every ten minutes. She was found guilty of neglect -- and as a result lost her job. We doubt this loss of income was good for her kids' long-term well-being, either.

What galls me about all these cases is that they supposedly happened to help these kids ... only to me, it seems painfully clear that they're worse off afterwards than they were before. I hope more cops and "Samaritans" reporting "neglectful" parents keep this big picture in mind before they needlessly scare more kids.

Would you let an 11-year-old play alone in your own yard?


Image via Suzanne Tucker/shutterstock

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