Boy, 11, Plays Basketball in Own Yard as He Awaits Delayed Parents. Cops Take Him & Brother Away for a Month

If this doesn’t convince lawmakers that they had better start revising the child neglect laws — and convince politicians that supporting Free-Range legislation would be a great, vote-getting platform — I’m not sure what will. I got this letter a week ago and was waiting for the mom’s permission to run it. Got it.  Boldface mine:

My children are not free range children.  The younger one has always had a baby sitter.  The older one who just turned 11 a couple of weeks ago always had a baby sitter as well.  This school year that changed.  The eleven year old comes home and is met by his dad who lets him in the house.  In the event dad isn’t here on time, his instructions are to wait in the backyard until I come home about 20 minutes later.

On this particular day, a little more than a month ago,  both dad and I were both running late due bad traffic and rain.  We were about and hour and a half late.  When we arrived the police had been anonymously called and we were arrested for child neglect.

We still do not have our children, we are fighting for our own freedom and due to the nature of my employment I am no longer employed.  My son was in his own yard playing basketball, not in the street or at the park.  The authorities claim he had no access to water or shelter.  We have an open shed in the back yard and 2 working sinks and 2 hoses.  They said he had no food.  He ate his snacks already.  He had no bathroom, but the responding officer found our yard good enough to relieve himself in while our son sat in a police car alone.  In his own yard,  in a state,  Florida, that has no minimum age for children to be alone.  If you have any advice for what I should do I will accept it.

The advice I gave was to contact The National Association of Parents, which fights for the rights of parents (including the Meitivs) to raise their kids without government interference, except in cases of clear and convincing evidence of actual or imminent harm. That threshhold is a far cry from whatever horrors are visited upon  tweens playing basketball while waiting for their parents to get home. (To support the Association of Parents with a donation, go here.)

Then on Friday, the mom wrote back:

I just wanted to give you an update.  Our sons were returned to us on Tuesday/Wednesday in the children’s court/DCF  with adjudication withheld.  However the criminal prosecutor is not dropping the charges as of today.  We have to appear in the criminal court on June 11th to put in our plea.  I would love to speak to someone however due to my job (which is still on the line)  I don’t know if it will make it better or worse.  I am a state and county employee with the school system and I was made to sign a paper stating I would not speak with teachers parents or students regarding the matter.

That being said, it is possible this mom will never talk publicly about this case. Even so, WE should talk about it. It is time to rein in the power of the state to turn parents into criminals simply because they are imperfect.

Perfection is impossible in this world, and if the government is allowed to hound a family whose plans got mildly screwed up, it can hound every single one of us.

Fight we must.

I will keep you posted if the mom tells me more, including where the kids were taken for that month. – L.


Why is it "negligence" if parents are late getting home one afternoon?

Why is it “negligence” if parents are late getting home one afternoon?


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176 Responses to Boy, 11, Plays Basketball in Own Yard as He Awaits Delayed Parents. Cops Take Him & Brother Away for a Month

  1. hineata June 9, 2015 at 12:24 am #

    So, this is the state where it is legal to shoot unarmed black teens walking down the street, and yet it is illegal to allow your almost teen kids to stay playing in their own backyard?!

    I wish too that the 11 year old had thought to video the cop peeing in the backyard. …aren’t there sex offender registries for that kind of thing.?

  2. Scott June 9, 2015 at 12:31 am #

    Lenore, not to take away anything from this Kafkaesque situation, but I’m curious: Why didn’t they just give them a key to the house? Latchkey kids?

    I do hope everything works out for them. I really hope the judge not just asks the prosecutor why they’re there, but thoroughly berates him/her for taking it so far.

  3. Michelle June 9, 2015 at 1:01 am #

    Scott, I’m guessing the kid didn’t have keys because – as the mom said – he wasn’t “a free range kid.” The parents intended to take care of things for the kids, so probably never thought to give them the tools to take care of themselves. Ironic, considering the results.

    I don’t mean that to sound like I’m blaming them. Plenty of times I’ve made similar mistakes, not realizing right away that my kid needed some particular skill or information or whatnot. It’s ridiculous for that to result in state involvement like this! If the kid was ok, leave him alone! If he was worried or needed a bathroom, is it so hard to lend a hand? Sure, suggest that giving the kid a key could help in the future. But calling the cops? Beyond insane.

  4. sexhysteria June 9, 2015 at 2:01 am #

    Sue the city. This is outrageous! The government is out of control.

  5. hineata June 9, 2015 at 2:14 am #

    Doesn’t Florida have very lenient ‘self defence’ laws? Maybe time this kid learned to handle a pistol.

    The whole situation is so ridiculous, a little bit of gun play wouldn’t be out of place.

  6. Mike in Canada June 9, 2015 at 4:13 am #

    Completely ridiculous. By their own logic, the powers that be would have to pick up every single kid playing basketball or baseball or flying a kite without parents in the vicinity. My son is 8 and he regularly goes to the local park with his friends and we have never had a complaint. Funny how laws and attitudes vary from one region to the next. Wish these parents the best and hope that this never happens again.

  7. John June 9, 2015 at 6:18 am #

    Goodness, the kid had no access to food or water? So what? Was he gonna starve to death? It’s not like he was locked outside for 5 days! When it comes to kids we lose so much perspective in this country.

  8. Retro June 9, 2015 at 6:21 am #

    A passersby would not have known that no adult was home. Had to be a neighbor who called the police. A mean and spiteful one who hated the sound of basketball that they probably heard every afternoon and evening.

  9. Bee June 9, 2015 at 6:42 am #

    if I were going to be late I would have called a neighbour or family member. That is way too long to leave a child in the backyard. Not going to comment if they should have been arrested, but they as parents needed to draw the line somewhere…

  10. Jersey_Mom June 9, 2015 at 7:03 am #

    Ah Bee, are you for real? Parents stuck in traffic– can’t call while driving (not everyone has a hands-free device– I don’t). Traffic means you can’t pull over to call. No family near by (mine is 3000 miles away). Neighbors work too. In other words, the parents did not have to call anyone that they’d be late because they gave their kid instructions as to what to do in case they ever were late.

    Kid could have had a key and lost it that day, too.

    Point is, a kid can play in his/her backyard for a bit while waiting for parents without it becoming a child neglect case. This is outrageous.

  11. Anna June 9, 2015 at 7:15 am #

    The thing here is that the parents didn’t give the child the tools to care for himself. Free range is an excellent way to raise kids because it does precisely that.

    Personally, I think it’s a bad idea to make your kid — who is responsible enough to walk home alone — wait outside for an adult to let him in. I just can’t see why that made sense to them. That doesn’t mean the parents ought to have been arrested, of course.

  12. Emily June 9, 2015 at 7:17 am #

    I don’t think this was really “child neglect,” especially if the boy wasn’t bothered, but I also think it might be time to get him a house key, or tell him the door code/garage code if the house has an electronic locking system. I started coming home after school, and being left home alone by myself at other times, when I was twelve (grade seven), but I wasn’t expected to wait outside after school until my parents got home; I had a key.

  13. Donna June 9, 2015 at 7:20 am #

    While I don’t think anyone should have been arrested or CPS involved, I do echo the thoughts that the parents should have provided a key (given one to the child or left one hidden for him). I don’t understand the thinking that it is okay for a child to hang out outside alone for 20 minutes, but not okay for him to hang out inside the house alone for 20 minutes.

  14. Michelle June 9, 2015 at 7:41 am #

    And it took us about seven minutes to come up with a reasonable solution to a minor problem, without calling the police or CPS, taking anyone’s kids away, or trying to put someone in jail. So how come none of the busy bodies and “experts” involved here thought, “I could make a friendly suggestion to these good parents, and the whole problem goes away”?

  15. kate June 9, 2015 at 7:49 am #

    As I write this, I can see my 10 year old neighbor and younger 4 year old brother outside in the driveway shooting hoops while they wait for Mom. Perfectly normal behavior around here. I wish you could prove that the officer urinated in the yard in sight or your son so that you can get him listed on the sex offender registry.

    If the neighbor thought the child was being neglected, s/he could joined him or brought him home to use the bathroom. When did we get the idea that a child cannot go an hour and a half without eating? First world problems? Access to water and shelter? He’s not in a jungle and not likely to freeze to death in Florida.


  16. Donna June 9, 2015 at 7:52 am #

    I also wonder what kind of weather it was at the time. If the parents were 1.5 hours late due to rain, it must have been one hell of a storm.

    Right now it is pouring with thunder and lightening crashing all around. If I saw some kid playing basketball outside in this for an hour and a half with no parent home, I might call the police. I might first offer to let him come into my house or try to encourage him to go into one of the sheds, but ultimately I might call the police for actual safety reasons.

    And before anyone says “surely the child would not be out playing basketball in that weather,” these parents aren’t free range and didn’t give their child the tools necessary to stay home alone. I don’t know that they told him to go in the shed if it storms. They seemed to not think through all the possibilities before coming up with the plan.

    Again, not something that I think that they should be arrested for or had their kids taken away, but maybe the caller was not just being a busybody in this case.

  17. K June 9, 2015 at 8:01 am #

    Bee, are you even serious? My ten year old was outdoors playing-by himself- for three hours yesterday. He checked in every hour as per our rules.

    I agree with others that this particular kid should have a key, but maybe because he’s not a FRK, they didn’t trust him to not lose it?

    The part that makes me most angry about is is the anonymous caller. If you’re THAT concerned, have the balls to stand behind your accusations. Or better yet, stick your head out the door and just ASK the kid if he needs anything. Police are for emergencies. A kid waiting for his parents in his own yard is not an emergency.

    I just remembered something. When I was a tenth grader, I took the PSAT test at school one Saturday morning and the test ended a lot earlier than expected. My mom wasn’t at home, she was out shopping or something, and this was pre-cell phone, so I had to wait for her for over an hour. And other than being bored, I didn’t keel over from heat stroke or get snatched or abducted by aliens.

  18. K June 9, 2015 at 8:06 am #

    Donna, it might not have been a bad storm. A little bit of drizzle is usually enough to snarl traffic where I live on a frequent basis. Usually by people who drive too fast, cause an accident and then block the highways. A couple of weeks ago it took me 35 minutes to go two miles because of traffic, construction work and a minor fender bender, and that was on a dry day.

  19. MichaelF June 9, 2015 at 8:15 am #

    This is why we have keyless locks on the doors, I like it because I never have to dig for keys when my hands are full and the kids (even my youngest at 4) knew the code to unlock the door and come in. At 11, even if not Free Range, even if you are meeting your kids at home then leaving having an emergency plan to come in the house and wait is not a bad idea.

    That said, the rest of this is just ridiculous! Been said many times, and said over and over again, this overreach for the government to “protect our kids” just makes them more vulnerable by pulling them into overworked social services. I doubt much of this will change, until attitudes change. Talking with some parents of my son’s pre-school over the weekend one mom said she was unsure about letting their kid walk the one block from the MIDDLE SCHOOL (grades 6-8) back home, because even in one block something can happen and the kid could be kidnapped. Even when I sort of laughed it off saying it was not that bad, she laughed me off with “oh, it must be a mom thing,” then went on her merry way.

    Until that pervasive fear is removed, little of this will change. Even politicians won’t touch it until they see the shift in culture going that way and the majority wanting this. Since the previous majority wanted the overreach we have now. Politicians don’t think for themselves, they think about the next election.

  20. Emily June 9, 2015 at 8:29 am #

    >>I agree with others that this particular kid should have a key, but maybe because he’s not a FRK, they didn’t trust him to not lose it?<<

    Well then, in my mind, the logical course of action would be to either hide the key somewhere, if the boy can be trusted to put it back after letting himself in, or simply say that, if he can't be trusted not to lose his house key, he's not yet ready to come home alone. I mean, okay, everyone loses their keys once in a while, but if this boy loses things often, and would be likely to lose his house key if he had one, then maybe he's not yet ready to come home alone after school. So, I think it should be one or the other–Boy goes to an after-school program or a safe adult's house after school (the term "babysitter" sounds infantilizing for an eleven-year-old), OR Boy comes home alone after school, and lets himself in. The hybrid of Boy comes home after school, but waits outside for a parent to let him in, seems problematic. Besides the issue of having to stay outside in the rain, and the other issue of no food, water, or bathroom access (Boy had snacks with him that day, but he might not always), there's a very real chance that some busybody is going to see a child in the yard, but no car in the driveway, and automatically jump to "child neglect," and call the police. This is especially likely if the boy looks younger than eleven. I know that, while I was allowed to come home alone after school/stay home alone at other times beginning when I was twelve, for the first few years, while I still looked noticeably not-adult, I wasn't allowed to be outside when my parents weren't home; not because it wasn't safe, but because my parents didn't want me "advertising" that I was home alone, for fear that someone would cry "Bad Parents!!!" and involve the police or the Children's Aid Society (Canadian equivalent of CPS). Now, I was a fairly early bloomer (at least on the outside), so that rule didn't last long, but I remember that it existed at least for a little while.

  21. Heather Head June 9, 2015 at 8:35 am #

    I was babysitting toddlers at age eleven. :/

  22. E June 9, 2015 at 8:39 am #

    I realize the parent is reluctant to share details publicly, but this does sound confusing. Is there any explanation as to why they were held from the parents for an entire month? I don’t think the small toddlers were held from their parents more than a few days when they left them in the car in freezing weather to go to a wine tasting.

    I did wonder about the contingency plan for bed weather days (as it appears it was) and not having access to the house under any circumstances.

    The situation sounds awful and I feel for the parents.

  23. Jill June 9, 2015 at 8:40 am #

    Complaints about not having access to food and water usually involve dogs, not eleven-year-old boys. Did the cops mistake this kid for a golden retriever?
    I’m curious as to where the younger child was when all this went down. Was he with the parents, or with a babysitter? It seems he wasn’t outside with his brother, so at which point did CPS decide to take possession of him, too?
    I usually abhor using shaming to make a point, but it seems the time may be right for some kind of PSA against nosy neighbors who call 911 to report kids for simply being outdoors, unattended by adults. It wastes valuable police time and takes officers and social workers away from what they should be doing. A commercial featuring a grumpy lady peering out of her window and saying to herself, “Look at that! Those children are walking down the street all by themselves with no adult in sight! I’m going to call the police!” The next scene would be a police officer standing on her front porch, giving the woman a stern lecture about minding her own business unless there’s a real crime or clear danger involved.
    Last but not least, it’s easy to second-guess the parents in this situation and say that they should have given the boy a key to the house. Maybe they had a good reason not to. It should be their call. I suppose it’s human nature for people to be armchair quarterbacks when something bad happens to someone else, but it does no good after the fact and only serves to dismiss the people involved as being careless or stupid.

  24. E June 9, 2015 at 8:42 am #

    Also – it’s unclear did this situation result in:

    ” due to the nature of my employment I am no longer employed”


    “my job (which is still on the line)”

    I’m not trying to point the finger back at the parents, or suggest they should have been charged and children taken away. It’s just hard to understand w/o specifics.

  25. Rick June 9, 2015 at 8:54 am #

    Besides the fact the kid should have been given the responsibility to have a key to his house (which has already been brought up) it also highlights the fact that the family wasn’t on door-knocking terms with their neighbors. Back when I, as a 4 year old, was allowed to walk alone in the neighborhood, knocking on doors was routine if there was a friend to find.

  26. caiti June 9, 2015 at 8:59 am #

    I don’t understand how she can be sworn to secrecy. I mean, I believe it, but I can’t see how that’s not a very clear violation of her rights. Just because the employer doesn’t want to take the heat for having a teacher or staff member who is possibly on a child abuse registry, I don’t think that’s okay. I can’t imagine the terror of going through this without being able to talk to my best friendsabout it.

  27. Uly June 9, 2015 at 9:34 am #

    Donna, it might not have been a bad storm. A little bit of drizzle is usually enough to snarl traffic where I live on a frequent basis

    But in Florida?

    This story isn’t adding up for me. Why didn’t the kid have a key if he’s coming home alone every day? And I’m with the cops on “no access to a toilet” – it might be okay to pee in the yard, but surely it isn’t acceptable for the kid to poop there.

    And while it’s true that CPS can go overboard, I find it… strange that an 11 year old would be removed for a month if this is the only thing wrong. It can happen, I suppose, but it seems unlikely.

    The situation as described might not add up to child neglect, but….

  28. Virginia June 9, 2015 at 9:40 am #

    My 13 year old doesn’t have a key on a regular basis because the apartment complex I live in only gives the leaseholders a key and they are not able to be duplicated. On days I know she will be coming home before me or my mother, she takes one of our keys. If there is a snafu in timing, she cools her heels on the patio or goes and looks up one of a few known neighbors. By the way, I’m working with the management company on the key issue—a soon to be high school freshman needs her own key to the unit, leaseholder or not.

  29. JKP June 9, 2015 at 9:55 am #

    One time my niece got home about an hour before her father. The house rule was that she was not allowed to be alone in the house with a boy (she was 14). She had brought a friend home for dinner, and they hung out on the porch until her father got home (thus proving she was responsible and following the house rules). But a neighbor called the police. Luckily nothing happened. But her father did get a “warning.” As if there is anything wrong with a couple of preteens unsupervised in their own front yard.

    There really should be some discretion in responding to 911 calls. People will call for stupid things like the guy who called because Subway screwed up his order. They obviously don’t send anyone to investigate those clearly stupid 911 calls. Dispatch should be able to ask a caller followup questions about an “unsupervised child” and if the call doesn’t need to be investigated, inform the caller that an unsupervised child is not an emergency in and of itself unless that unsupervised child is currently experiencing an actual emergency.

  30. E June 9, 2015 at 10:00 am #

    @JKP — yeah, you wonder if they could ask the callers if they’ve spoken to this “child” they are so concerned about. If you are so worried about this “child”, then you can’t really have any fear about speaking to them. In this day/age, they could walk over while still on the phone and just say “is everything ok” or whatever.

    Sitting in your own front porch….that might be the most outrageous “concern” I’ve read about so far!

  31. Surani June 9, 2015 at 10:17 am #

    I strongly believe this story is made up, though I apologize in advance to the parents if I am wrong.

    First she’s unemployed, then she’s still employed and made to sign a no-talk contract?

    Her kids are taken away for a month and the officer peed in her backyard, but there’s no news articles about this?

    Take a breath people, until such an extreme story can be verified.

  32. Hancock June 9, 2015 at 10:19 am #

    Wow. The demand for perfection is strong with this one, even with free range parents. Who says he didn’t have a key? Maybe he just lost it and parents haven’t jumped to get him a new one.

    Busy body neighbors expect perfection, the state expects perfection; but we as free rangers ought to know better than to assume a good family won’t get stuck in traffic, won’t lose keys, will know and absolutely trust all their neighbors, and will have contingency plans for every conceivable situation. This is difficult enough for free range parents to execute, but imagine how difficult it would be if you are slightly less than free range as this family is.

    Many of you are saying, essentially, “if only they were more free range, this would not have happened”. That’s as paranoid as saying, “if only they were more sheltering, this never would have happened”.

  33. Hancock June 9, 2015 at 10:21 am #

    And yes, if the facts as presented are true, and there are no other factors to consider, then the government is out of line, as was the do gooder who reported them.

  34. E June 9, 2015 at 10:25 am #

    @Hancock — I think people are just trying to give constructive feedback.

    None of us are lawyers (well some of us are, but they aren’t *her* lawyer), none of us know why the kids were taken away for that length of time.

    There’s not much to talk about other than to say it sounds like a terrible experience for her kids. The details matter though.

  35. pentamom June 9, 2015 at 10:30 am #

    Exactly so, Hancock.

    We don’t have the specifics, but the part about losing her job and being unemployable due to the nature of her job could pretty easily be explained if she’s in a career that requires background checks.

  36. Jessica June 9, 2015 at 10:41 am #

    I’m fairly certain the writer means that while the cops were there, her own son peed in the backyard, not that the cop did, as in, the officer deemed it ok for her son to relieve himself in the backyard. Also, it sounds like she has not been officially fired, but has to wait for the outcome of the case before a decision is made as to whether or not she can return to work. That being said, I walked home all the time as a kid and lost my key all the time (or just plumb forgot it). I got pretty good at finding an unlocked window to let myself in, otherwise I would find a neighbor to hang out with or just do my own thing in the backyard. Part of it too was that my parents knew the majority of our neighbors and they knew us. so seeing one of us kids wandering about was no big deal because they knew us and our parents.

  37. Richard June 9, 2015 at 10:43 am #

    The employment situation could be that she was initially placed on some type of administrative leave (which can feel like termination when you’re scared) and permitted back to work when CPS closed the case. However, her employment could still be at risk because of the open criminal investigation. They could justify the order not to talk to parents or co-workers at the school as being disruptive, which could cause fear of saying anything to anyone in case her employer could make some link. Caveat, I don’t practice in Florida.

  38. JKP June 9, 2015 at 10:44 am #

    For everyone stuck on the inconsistency of “no longer employed” and then later “job on the line”. – If she was a state/county employee with the schools, she was likely suspended immediately, thus the first email that she was no longer employed. Then later they possibly allowed her to return to work under certain conditions like signing the agreement not to talk about it, thus in the 2nd email she’s employed again but her job is still in jeopardy.

  39. Jessica June 9, 2015 at 10:49 am #

    Never mind, I misread that. That cop totally did pee in their backyard. Gross.

  40. TyrannyOfEvilMen June 9, 2015 at 10:50 am #

    The standard for taking someone’s kids away from them and putting them into custody – even temporarily – used to be far higher than it is today.

    Either the above statement is correct or there’s more to the story that is not being revealed here.

  41. K June 9, 2015 at 11:01 am #

    Guys, the 11-year-old doesn’t have a key because he *doesn’t* come home alone every day. Dad is there. The contingency plan, if for whatever reason Dad is hung up and didn’t make it home in time, is “cool your heels, Mom will be home in 20 minutes.” Should they have had a contingency for the contingency? (What if Dad is late AND it’s raining?) Sure. But this kid didn’t need a key because the plan was that he actually wouldn’t ever show up to an empty house – and in the rare event that he did, they knew it wouldn’t kill him to just wait a few minutes.

  42. Warren June 9, 2015 at 11:19 am #

    Wow, all those here willing to condemn the story on the lady’s state of employment. Given where she works, the moment her arrest became record chances are she was immediately suspended. And will remain suspended until the case is done, at which time she would be reinstated or terminated. At least that was my take on it.

    As for the caller, well that is a whole different breed of ahole. This neighbour has been watching and waiting for their moment to get this family. In his own backyard playing. The neighbour would have to be watching closely to know they never went inside first, then came out to play. Would have to be watching the whole time to know that no one met them at home. The caller would also have to lie and say this is a regular event, for the DA to be taking it this far.

    Now for someone to put in that sort of effort and time, assuming the story is true, they must really hate kids, the sounds of kids playing, and their neighbours. Only good thing is if it goes to trial, they will find out who reported them.

  43. shdd June 9, 2015 at 11:20 am #

    When I was 8 I was home at lunch and no one answered the door. My grandfather had died in the basement that morning. I wandered the neighborhood alone (my sister was in a hospital and my parents were working or with her). I found a neighbor who gave me lunch and then asked me to walk her daughter to kindergarten. I was alone about 20 minutes no cell phone, no food, and no bathroom. I was taken in at the first house and I knew the name of the hospital my sister was at. My neighbor reached my dad and he called the police. I remembered going down the street police everywhere and my dad telling me to go to school and he would find my grandpa.

    I was not taken away from my parents and some of the police probably attended the funeral. My parents and grandfather were well known in town. Of course this was in the 1970s New Jersey suburb.

  44. E June 9, 2015 at 11:26 am #

    I was a stay at home Mom for a few years (2 stints) during my kids elementary years. I was not commuting from a job to meet them in time for the bus. I set an alarm on my watch that was 30 minutes earlier than I needed to be home (in case I lost track of time and was out). And even I had a contingency plan for them to be able to get into the house if I wasn’t there.

    Again — I think people are just giving feedback on that situation, because it’s impossible to give legal advice. She clearly needs to get a lawyer and given that her “agreement” for employment is to not to talk to other teachers, parents, or students, that shouldn’t be a concern. The lawyer wouldn’t be any of those things.

  45. Michael macdonald June 9, 2015 at 11:42 am #

    Absolutely appalling that good parents are being punished for a running late scenario. As for the officer relieveing himself is disgusting so not professional and should be repromanded. All the best to the unfourtunate family this happened to

  46. Coasterfreak June 9, 2015 at 11:46 am #

    You know, when I was a kid, I had a stay at home mom. Thus, when I got home from school, I had a parent at home and had no need for a key. However, there were still times when I would get home and the house was empty and locked up because mom was out running errands and hadn’t made it home yet. In those cases, I would play in the yard or sit on the front porch and read. I remember once when I came home and couldn’t get into the house, it was raining. A neighbor noticed I was outside in the rain and immediately called 911 and the cops came and took me away and arrested my parents for neglect! Oh, wait, no…that’s not what happened. A neighbor (an older widowed lady) noticed I was stuck outside in the rain and invited me inside for a snack while I waited for my mom to get home. And when my mom got home and I told her where I had been, she went to thank the neighbor and the neighbor said it was her pleasure. Would it really kill people to act like that these days?

  47. Warren June 9, 2015 at 11:48 am #

    And let’s be honest here. You have to be some sort of real jerk to call the cops on kids, instead of going and inviting them to wait at your place.

  48. Anna June 9, 2015 at 11:54 am #

    As usual, this kind of thing effectively criminalizes poverty. My mom was stay-at-home, so I didn’t come home to an empty house after school (unless she was out on an errand) but my school was in a poor neighborhood so I was probably the only kid in my class who was NOT a latch-key kid by age eleven. Although I, too, wonder why this kid didn’t have a key.

  49. Andrea June 9, 2015 at 12:08 pm #

    Just so I’m clear – Florida thinks this kids are better of in FOSTER CARE than playing basketball for 20 minutes in their backyard? Seriously?

    Also, the person who “anonymously” called the cops can suck a lemon and die. What kind of horrible person calls the police on a child, rather than just keeping an eye on him and making sure he’s okay.

    Sometimes I really hate this country. I ALWAYS hate Florida.

  50. Eric June 9, 2015 at 12:13 pm #

    I’m trying really hard not to swear. The human body can survive 2-3 days without f%*$&g water and a month without food you dumb#$ts.

    This is the 343,343,232,232,543,353 reason I’m not having kids. They can’t even play in their own yards now.

  51. BL June 9, 2015 at 12:14 pm #

    “That cop totally did pee in their backyard. Gross.”

    But it’s OK, because he has immunity.

  52. Ann June 9, 2015 at 12:15 pm #

    All I can say. Is that the child should have had a key to get into the house.

  53. Nadine June 9, 2015 at 12:25 pm #

    And again people arguing about the perfect situation. This kid wasn’t neglected… Neglect is a long term situation, not just having to wait a hour or so in a single circumstance. All the other noise about what she should have done is just detracting from the real issue.

  54. Reziac June 9, 2015 at 12:27 pm #

    No access to food or water? He just got home from school, where he had no access to food since lunch and shouldn’t expect food again til dinner; and probably he wasn’t allowed a drink most of the day either, assuming he had butt-in-chair where it belongs when he’s in school.

    I swear, this idiocy that children and pets will starve to death or die of thirst in a matter of a few hours unless food and water are always available, it’s insane.

  55. craig June 9, 2015 at 12:30 pm #

    I can’t imagine having an 11 year old that didn’t know how to get into his house (hidden key, garage door code, back door left unlocked?). I guess where we live everyone has a keypad to the garage and long before 11 kids know how to get in on their own.

    Also a tip of the hat to scott for the Kafka reference 😉

  56. TRS June 9, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

    This is soooo scary. My 10 year old has a key to our house and lets herself in all the time. A lot of the time I am not home because I am driving her older sisters to practices. She is alone sometimes for up to an hour and she knows to go to the neighbors if there are issues.

    I am never worried something bad is going to happen to her but anxious that what happened to these parents will happen to us. Great home with lots of support and love for our kids.

    It is so sad while true neglect cases are ignored or not reported.

  57. Amy June 9, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

    I remember being about 6 or 7 and walking a block home from school. I had a key and waited inside for my single mother to come home from work. She allowed me to do this because I hated daycare. One day I lost my key and… Oh, yeah, lived to tell about it! Shocking, I know. What happened, you ask? I played outside. I took a nap on the porch and someone stopped and *gasp* asked if I was ok. This person did not call the cops. When it got to be around sunset, I went to a neighbor’s house who gave me a snack and let me watch a movie. Yeah, that scenario would’ve been made so much better by being kidnapped by police and cps and taken away from my loving mother for a month while she faced criminal charges. Ridiculous. The world is not less safe today than it was in the late 1990’s. Ridiculous.

    Today, I cannot let my own responsible 8 year old stay at home alone for an hour while I go to the gym for fear of cps “intervening on her behalf” for “neglect”. I can’t even express how angry this asinine-ry makes me. Children are not incompetent infants until they’re 16. Humanity would not have survived so long as a species if this was actually the case. Idiots.

  58. Kelly June 9, 2015 at 12:37 pm #

    I don’t even want to think about the trauma those kids suffered, possibly living in foster care with total strangers for a month. Putting these children in that type of setting, when I read cases of abuse in the foster system, does more harm then leaving them by themselves in the safety of their own yard for 1.5 hours.

  59. Rina Lederman June 9, 2015 at 12:46 pm #

    This is absolutely retarded.

  60. djimeno June 9, 2015 at 12:47 pm #

    I am a bit confused how the word “perfection” keeps coming up in Free Range posts when related to parenting. As Stephen Hawking said, “without imperfection, neither you or I would exist.”

    Regarding this story I am also confused why at age 11 there is such a debate. I was babysitting young children by the age of 11 and my younger sibling. I live in Canada and this type of reactionary behaviour is nothing I have ever heard or encountered in my city or Province. We are far from “perfect” here but honestly have never heard of half of what I read here on Free Range of incidents in Canada. My children have walked home from school and let themselves in or played in our yard or neighbouring park without adult supervision since age 11. As a parent I am responsible to ensure their safety so we have built in mechanism’s to ensure that. i.e. neighbours are home and we have disscussed with them and our children they can knock on their door if they ever need anything, my children (not all do I understand 100%) have an iTouch and once they get into our yard or in our home they are on our wifi and can message me to report in, we have friends in the neighbourhood they can go to if they need them, we have a local YMCA that the kids can walk to, my kids travel in groups of friends so they are not allow, etc.

    I am really worried about the laws that perhaps were developed in good faith to protect or keep children safe are in fact doing the opposite. How is it in a child’s best interest to remove them from their family because of suspected neglect from playing basketball in a back yard for a period of time. Perhaps there is more to this story and neighbours had some developing concern over time that lead them to make a call to authorities. Who knows …. just very concerning to read these types of stories but makes me really appreciate where I live and who lives in my community. It takes a village!!!

  61. Jane June 9, 2015 at 12:49 pm #

    Hineata, possibly part of the hysteria is fear of unarmed black teenagers.

  62. The Other Mandy June 9, 2015 at 12:52 pm #

    @Donna– I grew up in Florida. Despite the fact that it storms (briefly) every single day in summer (which in FL starts at Easter), the residents drive as if they’d never seen rain before. One or two cotton-heads on the road could easily equal a pile-up that jams you for an hour and a half, in SE FL anyway, over a 15-minute rainstorm.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if the “neglect” stems from not having access to air conditioning for half an afternoon– the torture!

  63. KandyK June 9, 2015 at 12:54 pm #

    Wow, Rina Lederman…. Totally inappropriate use of the “R” word here. Your comment offers nothing to the discussion at hand, and is a slap in the face to those of us who have loved ones with special needs, work with special needs kids/adults, or just cares about people in general. Please educate yourself on how hateful this word is, and try to find a less offensive adjective.

  64. Kim June 9, 2015 at 12:54 pm #

    My kids (11 and 8) are home alone all the time after school when I’m driving home from work. I guess I should turn myself in to the proper authorites. I’m pretty sure if I did that, the police would look at me like I was crazy.

  65. Laura June 9, 2015 at 1:00 pm #

    Wow, I did not think this was a forum for everyone to judge and second-guess the parenting decisions in other families! I’m disappointed by the number of people who seem to blame the parents for not giving their child a key. They know their child and their situation best; it was their decision not to give him a key. (If you read the account of their normal routine, it’s understandable why they didn’t feel the need for a key.) And those that blame the parents for not having a keyless keypad. What if that is against strata code? What if they rent? What if they don’t have the money for a new electronic lock?
    My goodness, can’t we offer support instead of judgement?

  66. Yocheved June 9, 2015 at 1:05 pm #

    OK, for everyone who is saying “Why didn’t he have a key?”, there was a case last year where the family came home to find their 15yo daughter murdered in the living room. She had a key to let herself in after school, and surprised a burglar.

    Sh*t happens. There is no 100% perfectly safe world. There are only degrees of safety, and best guesses. The parent who wrote this letter was giving their best guess, and it was within a REASONABLE range of safety. That should be all that is required – at least until we all develop the gift of prophecy.

  67. Christine June 9, 2015 at 1:07 pm #

    That is terrible that her 11 year old was taken away. He is practically a teen. However I was a little dusturbed that they didn’t give their son a house key. He is in fact eleven. They should have planned for situations such as this. He should have to wait in a backyard or sit in a shed. Just my two cents. These parents are a little contradictory. So they trust their son to wait outside the house but not inside? Confused.

  68. KittyKat June 9, 2015 at 1:10 pm #

    Not related but,
    And don’t I email this? I just found out my err caregiver got an app that can track my email 🙁

  69. gigi June 9, 2015 at 1:13 pm #

    They’ll leave kids with parents who keep them in closets and beat and starve them, but take them away for this.

    Years ago, a woman in NYC lost custody of her baby because she called the La Leche League, worried about feeling turned on while breast feeding, a perfectly natural response to suckling.

    Another woman was chased by authorities cross country because she took her son out of state, not wanting him to have chemotherapy. The list goes on, and it’s only getting worse.

    When the state can tell you what kind of medical treatment you have to give your child (I was on the mom’s side) they will be able to tell us we cannot smoke in our homes, or feed our kids sugar or beef. They will be able to tell us our kids can’t play outside after dark, or cross the street alone.

    An acquaintance set ground rules for her sixteen year-old daughter about being home at night, on time. The daughter objected to the rules and called the police. The police told my acquaintance she was denying her daughter her constitutional rights. The mother gave all the girl’s belongings to the cop, and told him he could raise her. Seems about right to me.

  70. Donna June 9, 2015 at 1:16 pm #

    “Who says he didn’t have a key?”

    The WRITER states that protocol is for her son to wait outside until a parent arrives if one is not home when he gets home. I suppose it is possible that the child both has a key and is still required to wait outside until a parent arrives home, but that certainly brings a whole new level of weird to this story.

    Most of us are commenting on this because it does in fact seem really odd that they deemed the child old enough to be alone for 20 minutes, but not to be inside the house and because that is why CPS intervened. The claims of CPS are not that an 11 year old was left home alone, but that he was locked out of the house. Stupid but a simple solution is to not lock him out of the house. And while normally I would say don’t give in, there is no reason not to allow a child who is competent to walk home alone from school and stay outside alone for 20 minutes to have the ability to come inside for that same 20 minutes. In fact, the other way seems weird.

  71. Dee June 9, 2015 at 1:27 pm #

    The key is not the issue. My son has a key but one day he forgot it at school, so he hung out on our porch until I got home. This is a horrible situation, and utterly, utterly indefensible on the part of the prosecution. I would be LIVID if this had happened to me, LIVID if my employer told me not to discuss it. I’m LIVID and it didn’t even happen to me! My thoughts are with these parents.

  72. Donna June 9, 2015 at 1:36 pm #

    “(If you read the account of their normal routine, it’s understandable why they didn’t feel the need for a key.)”

    See, it is not understandable to me. I don’t understand the thought process that goes into trusting someone to stay outside, but not inside. It would never occur to me to expect my child to wait at home for me, but not give her access to the house. I could envision scenarios where it would come up unexpectedly, but none where that was the long term plan as it is here. If you don’t trust your child not to lose the key (reasonable fear), find some place to hide it around the house.

    I don’t think it is abuse or neglect, just odd and contradictory. Giving the child a key is also an easy solution to prevent this from happening in the future since access to the house was the complaint, not a kid home alone. We can’t fix the legal and employment problems other than to say “hire a lawyer,” but we can give suggestions on how to not have this happen again.

  73. Papilio June 9, 2015 at 1:48 pm #

    Because 11-year-olds absolutely die if they play outside for 90 minutes.

    “Hello, officer? My neighbors left their live property outside. […] I don’t know if it has any food, water or shelter, I’m too afraid to look. It might bite me. […] Dog? No, a human. It looks juvenile. […] ‘How long?’? It is out there NOW! Please come and put it out of its misery!”

  74. Montreal Dad June 9, 2015 at 1:49 pm #

    My eyes welled up reading this.


    Just rage.

  75. Resident Iconoclast June 9, 2015 at 2:05 pm #

    I’m pretty sure Florida is where pithed-off New Yorkers must go to retire.

    A place where (as someone else already pointed out), it’s legal to shoot unarmed kids, but not legal to let them play basketball. A place where your car may be confiscated for going 20 mph over the speed limit, but where Medicare fraud artists rip off taxpayers for billions, apparently with impunity.

    In this case, of course, we have a cop seizing a child from their home, without a warrant and without “exigent circumstances,” and our neutered judiciary asks no questions.

    The best advice of all, for anyone who cares about individual rights, is to get the hell out of Florida in the first place. Go somewhere with at least basic respect for the rights Americans fought and died for. Let the remaining New Yorkers just shoot, arrest, and annoy each other until they get the well-deserved rest they earned.

  76. RcCarol June 9, 2015 at 2:06 pm #

    It matters not whether the boy has access to a key or not. Assuming all facts in the letters are true, the law was not broken. The child was not neglected. Two children were removed from their presumably loving home and forced into foster care, an event that surely caused them much trauma. Beyond the individual harm to the family, the state wasted resources on this family when there are true cases of abuse and neglect to redress. Does Florida have so much money in its child welfare system that it can place all unaccompanied minors in foster care?

  77. Tiny Tyrant's Mom June 9, 2015 at 2:16 pm #

    I’m sorry, but I’m having a hard time finding sympathy for the parents in this instance. I don’t leave my dog outside in the rain for an hour and a half, much less my kids. What’s so wrong with allowing the kid in the house while waiting for his dad? What the mother really implying that her kid was supposed to use the backyard as a toilet while waiting for them? Why not let the kid go to a park instead – at least parks have drinking fountains and restrooms. I think this is less about allowing age appropriate unsupervised time, and more about the poor choices the parents made in arranging that unsupervised time.
    That being said, if I had been their neighbor, I doubt I would have called the cops. I think I would have invited the kid into my home, offered him a beverage and a snack, and then spoken with the parents about the situation when they finally showed up.

  78. Warren June 9, 2015 at 2:18 pm #

    Wanna bet that these parents are the paranoid type about their home and assets. They know that if their son loses his key, the person that finds it will be a criminal, and know just by looking at the key which house out of the hundreds of thousands it opens. Then if they don’t change the locks they will be robbed.

  79. That '70s Mom June 9, 2015 at 2:20 pm #

    Reading this post brought tears to my eyes: tears for these poor kids who lost their parents for NO GOOD REASON; tears for these parents for what they’re going through; tears of frustration that our resources are being wasted on situations that are not dangerous or unreasonable. Left without food and shelter? he was there for under 2 hours!!!! I”m shocked that the prosecutors aren’t letting this go. is there more to the story? They must need some real crime down there..

    Are there petitions underway to make real changes in the law? If so, I’m happy to help spread the word on my social media pages. If not, I can help you spearhead a movement on or move… Things are getting WAY out of hand…

  80. Warren June 9, 2015 at 2:26 pm #

    Get off your high horse!!!!!!!

    They do not leave him there for 90 mins on a regular basis. It was one of those things that happen. The back up plan for him, if his dad is late is to wait 20 mins for mom, not 90. And maybe these parents did not think both mom and dad would be held up on the same day. That is bad luck. So get off their backs.

    You know what maybe this kid isn’t responsible enough to be in the home alone, where there are things he can get into. If he was in need of shelter, he wasn’t smart enough to at least go into the shed, which if it has running water cannot be one of those little tin pieces of crap.

  81. Eric S June 9, 2015 at 2:33 pm #

    @Scott: I would have to agree with you. I was 6 when my parents gave me my own key for our house. They both worked FT, so we learned very early how to fend for ourselves while they were at work. Which included walking to and from school, making ourselves snacks (we actually knew how to cook basic foods like eggs by then), clean, do laundry, etc… Pretty much everything we needed to know to be successful adults…by age 6. Imagine that.

    Not putting the blame on the parents, but perhaps having a little bit of trust in your kids to give them keys, would have helped a great deal in their situation. Especially on rainy days. I wouldn’t want my kids hanging out in the shed to stay dry, and drink from a hose if their thirsty, when they have a perfectly good house to go into. 😉 Perhaps this will help the parents change their view even more towards letting their children become independent little by little. Even if they didn’t feel comfortable giving their kids keys to the house, it was absolutely NO REASON to arrest them, and take the kids away for a month. This not only puts a tremendous amount of stress on the parents, but even more so for the kids. It’s appalling how NO ONE ever thinks about the kids. It’s always about the “children’s safety”. But it’s never about their well being. Safety is important. But because children ARE NOT in constant danger, it comes second to their well being. Which includes state of mind. How do these idiot “authorities” when they are stressed out about work, money, etc… No imagine your 11 years old, your parents arrested, and your taken away for a month, and have no idea why. THAT is far FAR FAR MORE detrimental to children’s very impressionable minds. The arrogance and ignorance of people.

    If I were this family, once the charges are dropped, I would work on suing the city/cops/child services. Get to a psychologist and have him assess you and your children for unnecessarily high stress levels due to this ordeal. It’s certainly a life altering experience for this family, and not the good kind. It’s like these busy bodies, CPS, police, are like soldiers. They’ll battle through and destroy towns, leaving the survivors to pick up the pieces and try to gain a semblance of their former life. And these “soldiers” are long gone laughing and whoring like nothing ever happened. Absolutely atrocious. They all need to be accountable. Especially since there is no actual DEFINITIVE law against what happened. It’s all vague and left to open (very open) interpretation. And if it’s open to interpretation, who says which interpretation is best? It’s like parents no longer have a right to be a parent. Hell, if the country is going to go this route, then every couple, married or not, needs to have a license to be a parent. No exceptions. A license. Where there are standard, definitive rules and regulations in how to be a parent. And just like any other thing we need licenses or permits for, we have to go through a course. EVERYONE.

    Like my pops used to tell me, if your going to do something, do it right. Not half ass. There’s a lot of half ass people out there. Whatever is convenient for THEM, and satiates their sanctimonious attitude. If it’s not convenient for them, then it’s perfectly ok to make an exception. That is the mentality of these people.

  82. gigi June 9, 2015 at 2:39 pm #

    I have to apologize to the La Leche League, even though I’m sure they’ll never see my comment. I wrote that a woman had lost custody of her baby after calling them. I was thinking she Should have called them instead the city agency and government worker she did call.

  83. James June 9, 2015 at 2:42 pm #

    yes maybe you should sue your work for assisted child abandonment cause to b honest there isn’t any job that will keep me from kids and by the way if your husband can’t understand that your kids are not important than to have excuses to make kid stay by himself you deserve to be punished How old were you when your parents left you alone and I bet they left the front door unlocked

  84. Judy June 9, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

    Geez, I would have been jailed for life if the police knew how often I left my kids at home alone after school once they reached the age of 12. I thought it was parental discretion for kids around age 12, meaning if they have the maturity, then it is okay. I am truly shocked by this story. If the police are concerned, maybe there should be more accessible community centers that provide after-school care. Unbelievable! Maybe the parents should quit their jobs, or get fired for leaving to get their kids, and go on welfare so they can be home for their kids at all times.

  85. E June 9, 2015 at 3:04 pm #

    @The Other Mandy — you bring up all the reasons for parents to enable their kid to get into the house…it rains frequently…and it affects traffic/commuting frequently. Personally, thunderstorms would be a legit concern of mine.

    But this does sound terrible. I don’t understand the month away from their parents. Does CPS always take all children, even if the younger child was being cared/supervised by an adult? Can an agency take up to a month to decide if it’s “safe” to let them return home? Do they not have to commit to a reasonable turn around to evaluate safe/unsafe situations for kids?

    I mean — on the surface this is obviously RIDICULOUS. Even if the kid was doing something mischievous during his unsupervised time (and I’m not suggesting he was, just thinking of why a neighbor would call 911), it’s just bad planning/luck that this happened, doesn’t explain the month away from parents. If the neighbor was concerned about the weather (and unwilling to help), the police could have just called the parents and asked where they were. Mystery solved, wait until the parents show up and everyone goes home.

  86. Warren June 9, 2015 at 3:36 pm #


    Your one of those self righteous idiots that likes to lecture moms in parking lots, at parks and such, aren’t you? Word of advice…………stop. One day your holierthanthou crap will get you in a world of trouble. Not everyone out there is the type to stand by and watch you. Some of us act.

  87. Steve June 9, 2015 at 3:58 pm #

    I agree that this is a terrible scenario, and it’s also a frightening sign of what our society has become. I’ve mentioned several times before, this is the kind of thing that happened regularly in China under Mao.

    Ask yourself this.

    How could this happen without a large angry crowd of supportive neighbors showing up at the police station and demanding the release of the children? Why did the mother sign the form saying she wouldn’t talk about the incident? If the people who might support you never hear about the incident, they’re obviously not going to help you. If our society is one in which everybody lives in fear of being arrested, nobody will come to your aid.

  88. Bethany June 9, 2015 at 4:01 pm #

    Let’s see, the Duggar’s son molests four of his sisters under the family’s own roof, not child neglect. Kid plays basketball in his own yard for an hour or so, child neglect? What is wrong with this picture?

  89. Bess June 9, 2015 at 4:08 pm #

    Casey Anthony walks free, but these parents face charges. Nice work, Florida.

  90. Kimberly June 9, 2015 at 4:11 pm #

    I find it interesting that there are quite a few comments relating to things that just aren’t in evidence here:

    The Rain: there’s no mention of the type of storm they were having. I don’t know what rain is like in Florida, but out here in California, a slight drizzle (what people in the midwest might call humidity) creates massive gridlock and a domino effect of accidents. In California, it’s almost like if there is a single drop of water falling from the sky, people forget how to drive. If Florida is anything like that, who knows how much rain might have actually been falling? Which leads me to another point: if it was raining, then there was fresh water.

    Non-free-range kids AREN’T idiots: The repeated comments that “the parents aren’t free-range, therefore the kid doesn’t have the skills to make logical decisions” and “only a free-range kid would’ve thought to seek shelter in the rain” is lame, at best.
    All kids have at their foundation a basis for survival. Of course, that doesn’t mean they won’t make bad decisions in spite of this. Kids hide in closets and under beds during fires out of their need for survival — a deadly choice sure, but it’s the same mechanism that causes a deer to freeze in headlights. Logically thinking, if it was truly storming then the kid probably would have sought shelter in the shed. Unless, of course, he likes getting wet in the rain. Some of us do.

    Key vs. no key: We don’t know anything about the key situation. Maybe he has one and forgot it, maybe he was never given one because Dad was always expected to be home. We don’t know. My son used to have a house key, but he lost it and I just haven’t gotten around to getting him a new one (it’s been over a year). Usually I leave the door unlocked if I expect to not be home, but sometimes the door’s locked and he has to wait for his sister.

    Lastly, the hyperbole is just over the top and does more to detract from the actual situation then help to solve it. Give the boy a gun? Really? How constructive is that meant to be?

  91. E June 9, 2015 at 4:22 pm #

    @Kimberly — I think there is just not a lot to go one with this. There is no explanation (not that we are owed one) as to what CPS/DCF gave as the reason to keep their children 1 month. It’s very said, but there is not a lot that strangers can do about a legal situation with such limited details.

    So instead, people talk about related (or semi-unrelated) things.

  92. Laura June 9, 2015 at 4:28 pm #

    Donna —
    This is why he didn’t have a key: “The eleven year old comes home and is met by his dad who lets him in the house. In the event dad isn’t here on time, his instructions are to wait in the backyard until I come home about 20 minutes later.” (from the first paragraph of the letter)
    Dad is typically home when their son gets there.

    The problem is not the lack of a house key. (In some states, it is neglect if a child is unattended in a house, but not at a park – I’m not sure about a backyard.)
    The problem is not that the parents both unexpectedly got stuck in traffic.
    The problem I see is that a neighbour saw a child out playing in the rain in his own yard and called the police.

  93. Dan June 9, 2015 at 4:28 pm #

    “How old were you when your parents left you alone and I bet they left the front door unlocked”


    Our front door was always unlocked. If we were ever locked out of the house, we’d just go to a neighbor.
    We could go to anyone’s house after school and not even have to call home until it got dark.

    Rode the city bus alone to Grandma’s house (40 minutes and passing through LAX) since age 4. Parents put me on, grandma met me at the stop. Had all vital info pinned to my shirt. Sat in the front by the bus driver who was told where I was getting off. The fare box was the coolest thing ever.

    Free Range at age 6 (my birthday). On day 1, I went to explore a shipwreck and an abandoned house. Had been to both with my father before. Always wanted to go back. Dad never did. Mom made me take the dog.

    Walked 1 mile to school at age 7. (no backpacks) If pouring rain, would get a ride to school to stay dry. Never a ride home. Made sure to jump in every single puddle on the way home. Nobody cared. It was heaven. Alleys were the best. No cars and nobody bothered you.

    Rode my bike 1 mile to school age 8-10. (no helmet). Figured out the best way each direction. They were different. Involved alleys and vacant lots for short cuts.

    Don’t know anyone who was kidnapped, or had a bike accident brain injury, or was hit by a car while growing up.

    But I know 4 people who have died in car accidents.

  94. E June 9, 2015 at 4:35 pm #

    ugh — I can actually type/spell. Just in too much of a hurry.

  95. David F June 9, 2015 at 4:37 pm #

    As a Florida resident I would love to know the name of the prosecutor.

  96. lollipoplover June 9, 2015 at 4:53 pm #

    Today was not a *normal* day for my family either.

    I got stuck in a meeting at work (though I usually work from home) and the 8 year-old had to bike home alone. Her older sister had a rehearsal and middle school brother is on a field trip. NO ONE WAS HOME. She biked home, let herself in with our garage door keypad (she doesn’t have a key either), and made herself a smoothie with the surplus of strawberries she picked this weekend.
    I am sure it was strawberries because it looks like a bloody CSI crime scene in my kitchen now. I could draw a chalk outline around the area she cut berries. She put the blender with the remaining smoothie in the fridge and left me a note on the counter “Smoothie in fridge!!”.

    She apparently got herself off to swim practice, with her swim bag, goggles, towel, and cap gone. It looks like she packed her sneakers too for land practice. Sunscreen and water bottle (which I always remind her to do and pack) are questionable. I should see her in about an hour, when she comes home for dinner, good and hungry with lots of stories about her day.

    *This* is what a normal childhood looks like.
    Kids are way, way more capable of rolling with the punches and keeping themselves occupied with play without babysitters, aftercare, and constant nanny supervision.

  97. Joy Noll June 9, 2015 at 4:58 pm #

    This one is absolutely insane!! When I was a child, the pendulum was swung in the opposite direction and that was horrible for me and my siblings. For ex: there was extreme abuse going on but everyone minded their own business. I still think it was great that children could explore on their own, ride their bikes, take long walks, walk to school alone, etc.., without parents having to fear what they face in today’s world. Now, the pendulum has swung clear in the opposite direction, supposedly to “protect” the children. Yet, parents and children must live in a state of fear instead. Not fear of being kidnapped, murdered, or raped; fear of just this type of interference happening. My gosh, does anyone even remember, “latchkey” kids? I am just appalled that these parents were arrested, their children taken away and that they still face prosecution. One note: The oldest boy should have had a key. Still, not a criminal offense in any way.

  98. lollipoplover June 9, 2015 at 5:11 pm #

    “I don’t leave my dog outside in the rain for an hour and a half, much less my kids.”


    Mine kids are the ones making boats out of the recycling bottles with duck tape and having boat races in the storm water during heavy rains. They don’t melt. They also bike in the rain. Biking through puddles on the way home from school is FUN.

    But I guess your kids are more precious and fragile than mine. Who are you to judge??

  99. lollipoplover June 9, 2015 at 5:16 pm #

    “yes maybe you should sue your work for assisted child abandonment cause to b honest there isn’t any job that will keep me from kids and by the way if your husband can’t understand that your kids are not important than to have excuses to make kid stay by himself you deserve to be punished How old were you when your parents left you alone and I bet they left the front door unlocked”

    You deserve to be punished for your complete disregard for punctuation.

    How could your parents allow you to inflict this pain and suffering on the general public?

  100. Dave Colter June 9, 2015 at 5:20 pm #

    Anonymous complaint? Sounds like a neighborhood busybody trying to stir up trouble. I’d love to hear the 9-1-1 recording (which is covered by the FOI act, BTW.) to hear what this neighbor alleged.

    Regarding the prosecutor, given that no law was actually broken, this sounds like a good attorney could make a case for malicious prosecution or something similar.

  101. Emily June 9, 2015 at 5:26 pm #

    About the debate over whether or not it’s okay to leave a child outside in the rain, I think there’s a difference between a child CHOOSING to play in the rain, and a child being forced outside in the rain, and/or locked out of the house in the rain. This situation wasn’t intentional, but preventing it seems like common sense. I mean, the parents really should have realized that, while it’s not unreasonable for their son to wait outside for 20 minutes, inclement weather happens, lateness happens, stomachs get empty and bladders get full. The latter is especially after a long, activity-filled day at school, which may well have disgusting bathrooms and/or insufficient travel time between classes. So, those are just a handful of reasons that I can think of, for why it would make sense to give the boy a house key, that have nothing to do with coddling, or being worst-first or anti-Free-Range, or even worrying about busybodies calling the police. As it stands, lateness and inclement weather happened on the same day, and a busybody called the police. It’s not fair, but the whole thing could have been avoided for the cost of cutting a key, or, better yet, if there was a keypad system, giving the son the combination would have been free.

  102. Emily June 9, 2015 at 5:26 pm #

    P.S., I meant “The latter is especially TRUE after a long day of school………”

  103. Tiny Tim June 9, 2015 at 5:50 pm #

    Even if this was a moment of imperfect parenting (personally I don’t see anything wrong with it), it wasn’t criminal and the child’s welfare was damaged 1000X more by being yanked out of the house for a month than by playing hoops in his yard for 90 minutes. jesus.

  104. Jill June 9, 2015 at 5:57 pm #

    One more time for those seated in the balcony. The parents had a system in place where the 11-year-old waited 20 minutes every day after school for his dad to come home. On this particular day, the regular routine was disrupted due to mom and dad being tied up in traffic. It was an unexpected event. Sometimes unexpected events happen. Human beings can’t be expected to plan for every possible contingency. Why the boy didn’t have a key is irrelevant. It was the parents’ decision not to give him one. Parents should be allowed to make decision based on their own children’s abilities and behavior. He was in no danger and what happened to the family was outrageous and wrong.
    We can go on all day about how he should had a key and why didn’t they just give him a key, for Pete’s sake? That doesn’t change the fact that this was an appalling event that should not have happened.

  105. tdr June 9, 2015 at 6:00 pm #

    Do we know what state this happened in? I’m assuming it was USA.

  106. tdr June 9, 2015 at 6:02 pm #

    Actions of police perfectly justified for a kid who had no snack for over an hour! Do you hear me people?!?! No snack!!

  107. Patricia June 9, 2015 at 6:14 pm #

    Wow! Gone are the good old days when I used to run around playing tag and building forts in the woods with my friends and no adults following me around I’m talking the 60s here. We kids were out all day until the street lamos came on, and no one ever arrested anyones parents over it. Nowadays, the concept of keeping kids so-called safe is over the top. After all I’m 60 yrs old and I’m still here.

  108. WillB June 9, 2015 at 7:20 pm #

    first of all, I would advise the parents to get a copy of Morales, Carlos (2014-10-18). Legally Kidnapped: The Case Against Child Protective Services (Kindle Locations 146-154). a lot of good information in here about dealing with child protective services. if I remember right, I got my copy off of Amazon

    Secondly, in any upcoming court date, I would plead not guilty and demand a jury trial. I cannot picture any jury. Under these circumstances, finding the family guilty

    As for not being able to discuss this with other teachers and parents or even students that unto itself is a violation of the First Amendment and the person or organization that attempted to take away these constitutional rights. Also needs to be sued in federal charges pressed against them under USC title 18 section 241 conspiracy against rights in section 242 deprivation of rights under color of law

    The only way this nonsense is going to stop is if families start fighting back.

  109. Marcello1099 June 9, 2015 at 7:27 pm #

    Sounds like a dirty, rotten neighbour who was intent on creating trouble. Too many busy bodies in this world. I was out on my own when I was 8, riding my bike miles from where we lived, a sight that was unbelievably common back in the 50s and 60s.

    Absolutely disgusting. And what’s wrong with the state’s attorney, is he some addle-brained moron that took 20 tries to pass the bar exam? Something to be brought up at re-election time.

  110. Beth June 9, 2015 at 8:17 pm #

    How do we know it was raining? Just because the parents were slowed by rain doesn’t mean it was raining at their house, or that the rain hadn’t stopped by the time they left work and traffic was backed up because it *had” (past tense) rained. Those afternoon showers in Florida don’t last long.

    I’m SO tired of our culture requiring that kids have access to food and drink during every waking hour. A trip to the park is an epic poem for some parents with all the snacks and drinks they have to bring. And now that’s being used as a measure of neglect, when there are children in this country that really and truly don’t have enough to eat? I don’t even know what to say.

  111. Steve June 9, 2015 at 9:25 pm #

    Beth said:

    ” I’m SO tired of our culture requiring that kids have access to food and drink during every waking hour.”

    Thank you for saying that. I agree wholeheartedly.

    I tend to think the same thing about cellphones, but I realize extraverts can’t help themselves since they prefer being connected as much as possible.

  112. vijender June 9, 2015 at 11:51 pm #

    I love you

  113. Emily Guerry June 10, 2015 at 6:16 am #

    Has law enforcement considered the danger they are creating with incidents like this one? If children hear stories like this, they will be afraid to ask ANYONE for help when they really need it, because those they believe to be kind, trustworthy adults might decide to take them away from their parents “for their own good.”

  114. Buffy June 10, 2015 at 6:48 am #

    Um. I’m the opposite of an extrovert and I have a cell phone. Quite a generalization there…..

  115. melissa dowden June 10, 2015 at 7:52 am #

    This makes my blood boil. Why didnt the “concerned citizen” go to check on the kids, offer food, shelter, umbrella, etc?? Where is the decency and human kindness in this world, not to mention common sense?? These children are FAR MORE traumatized by a visit from the police and a month in child protective custody than they ever would be from standing outside. This is a perfect example of why you should NEVER call the police. Unless a life is in danger. Think people. As far as all the critics “why didnt they have key, or mom call family, or whatever,” its NONE of our business. The point is, she shouldnt have to fight for her family because she left two kids outside for 90 minutes in THEIR OWN YARD.

  116. Emily June 10, 2015 at 8:07 am #

    I never said the police should have been called; I just said it’d make sense for the boy to have a house key. Maybe his parents will get him one after this.

  117. Shana June 10, 2015 at 10:03 am #

    This is just so ridiculous. Within weeks of turning eleven, I took the Red Cross babysitting and emergency first aid licensing course, and within a couple months was babysitting for several families in my neighborhood, including very young infants. The Red Cross still begins their babysitting and first aid licensing at age 11…kids are not only able to take care of themselves at that age, they should be able to take care of others, including being able to handle an emergency situation.

    I can remember when I was a kid in the early 90, our neighbor’s little boy, probably in first grade, came desperately knocking on the door, in tears. He’d gotten home from school and his mother was not there as usual, and it happened to be raining very hard outside and dark and cloudy, which made him frightened. My dad (correctly) assumed his mom had probably hit a traffic jam on the way home. He invited the boy in and made him pancakes while he had me go tape a note to the neighbor’s door so mom knew where he was. About an hour later his mom came knocking. She thanked my dad profusely, who smiled and told her it was no problem. End of freaking story.

  118. Amy Mack June 10, 2015 at 10:24 am #

    I am absolutely speechless and that’s saying something! HOW in the world have things gone so crazy in JUST ONE GENERATION?! When I was a kid, granted that was the 70’s, we played outside all day long with no cell phones, no pagers, nothing. We rode our bikes all over town with no parental supervision. The rule was come home when the street lights came on. My mom would make us go outside and literally lock the door to keep us from going in and out and “letting the air conditioning out”! My parents would go out to the farm during harvest from sun up till sun down and I would stay at home alone and have supper ready when they came home. I must have been about 10. If I had an emergency there was an elderly neighbor or 10 in the area and they could call for help. They could not however, reach my parents who had no cell phones either, no one did. How have we gone from common sense to arresting parents of children in their own driveway?! This is an abomination and a gross violation of power by law enforcement to have arrested these children in their very own driveway waiting on their parents. Absolutely insane.

  119. Donna June 10, 2015 at 10:26 am #

    Laura – I actually can read. Clearly the father doesn’t make it home often enough that they need to have a contingency plan in place. The contingency plan is odd. Not criminal, as I said repeatedly, just odd.

    Good god, as much as I love Lenore, I’ve begun to dislike her blog (outside of her own comments). A simple observation that it is odd that this kid didn’t have a way into the house when it is known that sometimes his father doesn’t make it in time to let him in and a suggestion that giving access to the house would take care of this problem going forward somehow makes you a lynch mob ready to throw these parents onto death row. I guess all anyone is allowed to do is sign on and say “this is horrible” in 100 different ways. This despite the fact that the mother ASKED FOR SUGGESTIONS. I’m not going to give a stranger on the internet legal advice, but I can offer practical advice. Apparently you all just want to be in echo chambers where everyone just parrots back how horrible this is without adding any more substance to the conversation than that. What a boring blog to read.

  120. Shana June 10, 2015 at 10:38 am #

    Amy, I so agree with you. What amazing me about this ridiculous helicopter parenting is how quickly it came about. When I was a kid in the 90s, “free range parenting” was just called parenting. We spent pretty much the entire weekend other than meals on our own, unsupervised by adults. We walked a significant distance to school by ourselves when we were young elementary school students.

    Our high school ran trips abroad that any high school student could join up with, and I went on several myself. These trips had minimal adult supervision, and for the vast majority of the time we teens (as young as 14) were on our own in major cities in foreign countries, and we had our own unsupervised hotel rooms. No one seemed to think twice about this arrangement.

    Yet only one single decade later, things had completely gone insane. Now, I look at parents who will walk children over age ten to the bus stop that is half a block away, and will stay there with them until the bus arrives. Yes, kids are different than adults, yes they need more guidance and attention. But they are capable of so much, if you just give them the opportunity. Yet so many parents today seem to think kids are absolutely infantile until they reach adulthood, and also that every other adult is a child rapist.

  121. Angi June 10, 2015 at 10:39 am #

    Not only are the parents distraught over not having there children back, but the children are now traumatized from being hauled away by police, being place in a foster home with strangers and being separated from their parents. This could effect them for life.

  122. J Cline June 10, 2015 at 10:41 am #

    Such stories are common, frightening and absurd enough make anyone a libertarian, at least as far as family life and parenting rights are concerned.

  123. Warren June 10, 2015 at 10:44 am #

    Wow, all of you still going on about the KEY. Give it a rest. There may be numerous reasons why he didn’t have a key. By the sounds of it these people have jobs that do not require them to be flexible with their hours, and they could rely on being home each day at the same time. Since coming home on his own just started this year, he may be working his way up to getting a key. Who knows, and who cares.

    The point is the kid being seized and held for a month. For nothing.

    If you cannot see this is an attack by a hateful neighbour, and over reaching by the authorities, well I feel sorry for you.

  124. JJ June 10, 2015 at 12:44 pm #

    So not only are 11-year olds in perpetual stranger-danger they are also in danger of dying of dehydration and starvation when forced to abstain from food and drink for 90 minutes? Good god, talk about a societal oral fixation (which when you think about it goes right along with the infantilization of adolescents). Everyone has to have food and/or drink attached to their mouths at every minute of the day. Not to go off on a totally different topic, but whatever happened to being encouraged NOT to snack between meals?

  125. Nicole June 10, 2015 at 1:01 pm #

    Everyone says “times have changed” and “people don’t know their neighbors anymore.” Well, I think this is a very good example of why you need to know your neighbors. It’s not impossible. If you don’t know your neighbors, put on your shoes and go over and introduce yourself right now. Introduce your kids. That way, if you are ever delayed, instead of calling the police anonymously like total jerks, maybe your neighbors will think of you and your family as fellow human beings and just, oh I don’t know, sit outside and watch your kids play for a while, and maybe offer them a snack or the use of their bathroom. One reason that kids used to be able to roam free throughout this country is that people knew who lived around them at least well enough to wave and smile, and go ask for help in an emergency. In my experience, people are less likely to complain about noise when they’ve been invited to the party, and less likely to call the police frivolously if they know you.

  126. Dana Welch (Schwab) June 10, 2015 at 1:17 pm #

    What asinine city is this?

  127. lollipoplover June 10, 2015 at 1:20 pm #


    I work from home and have given permission to at least 10 kids on our street to come over ANY TIME if they need help. Several of them have my garage keypad code and other neighbors have given my kids their code as well.
    I can’t tell you how many times this has come in handy. Neighbors up the street texting my son to let their dog out, checking on a sump pump during a storm while neighbor is away, etc.
    I’ve watched kids here (mostly they play outside) when parents run late from work. Life is unpredictable. We all need to rely on the kindness of neighbors and strangers throughout life.
    And not call the police.

  128. JP Merzetti June 10, 2015 at 1:37 pm #

    And so it all sinks into a social abnormality.
    A perfect shytestorm of who didn’t do what.
    Could have, should have, would have………

    And court jesters throw another pile of loot onto the GDP.
    If there was a problem (and that doesn’t seem to be the case) no-one was there to easily and naturally assist the kid. (lovely neighborhood.)
    IF – he needed assistance.

    Someone just saw risk. That’s all. That’s all it took.
    The kid is the one who is supposed to imagine lurking bogeymen.
    Adults are thought to have a somewhat different approach.

    While legals imagine any possible loophole of neglect.
    Like a 5-minute span consisting of an existence without all the comforts of (inside) the home.
    He was actually home.
    Just not inside it.
    Just him and his basketball.
    Dreaming of LeBron, no doubt.

    Kids lost. Job lost. It’s a tough world.
    That doesn’t serve and protect.
    A Prez once asked – why do they hate us?
    freedoms, he was heard to say.

    The irony of it would be laughable, if it wasn’t so tragically stupid.

  129. Maxwell June 10, 2015 at 3:18 pm #

    My mom would be in jail if that were really the law. In fact, half of my city would be in jail if that were the law.

    The law here in Pennsylvania states no minimum age for staying home alone. But here, it is actually enforced with some sense. As a preteen, I was allowed to ride the bus around town. Sure, my father got all angry about it, but I didn’t get hurt. My mother, though I wouldn’t call her free range, encouraged it…I am autistic, and was learning independence skills in a way that was fun.

    This arrest was wrongly done. Where I am, the law only charges those who endanger their child’s life or health by abandonment, such as abandoning a baby in a trashcan, or leaving a child in a hot car. THAT is child neglect, NOT what this boy “endured”.

  130. Uly June 10, 2015 at 4:05 pm #

    Warren, we’re going on about the key because the whole story doesn’t make any sense, and the key issue is the most obvious part of it.

    I mean, which is more likely? That Petunia Dursley was really watching out her window every day, waiting for the parents to slip up (but not willing to call so long as the parents arrived home in under 20 minutes) and that the police took both kids for a month rather than saying “Dude, get your kid a key!” and having child services make a home visit?

    Or that the person who anonymously submitted this story is skipping some serious context?

  131. Uly June 10, 2015 at 4:07 pm #

    Hear, hear, Donna.

  132. Rob Gillespie June 10, 2015 at 4:21 pm #

    I urge you to contact the Institute for Justice asap. This is a case that I think they will be very interested in.

  133. Warren June 10, 2015 at 4:54 pm #


    There are hateful jerks out there, that hate kids, hate the sounds of kids outside playing, and are just spiteful enough to watch for any chance to call the authorities and cause trouble for people. Have seen it done, and have jumped to the defense of people when targeted like that.

    One street I lived on years ago, a grumpy old couple started harassing the kids for making noise, playing in the neighbourhood and the like. The went so far as to call the cops to try and stop them from playing street hockey.
    None of my kids were playing, but I still went out to talk to the officer, and explained it was just one old couple that hated kids. Since there was no other complaints, and I and another parent spoke to her, the officer put it off for what it was, and left.

  134. Havva June 10, 2015 at 5:01 pm #

    As much as some people are sick of talk about keys, I’m getting a bit sick of talk about the neighbor. Lord knows who called and why. Maybe they are delusional or a liar like the caller in the prior post, maybe they are crippled and couldn’t come out to see what was going on, maybe they are terrified of the world and or kids. Frankly it doesn’t matter. You can’t control for the ethic, morals, and sanity of every single individual that might lay eyes on an unsupervised child (or one insufficiently restrained for their tastes) and dial 911.

    What we can and should have an absolute interest in controlling is how our government reacts when a call comes in. This could have ended with a welfare check. It could have ended with a warning. It could have ended with a safety plan (ala Montgomery county CPS or frendiler). It could have ended any number of ways short of the kids being taken and the parents being prosecuted. But it didn’t. Not because the neighbor was totally out of control, but because the cop, CPS, and prosecutor all decided it was okay to go completely, totally, and unnecessarily, overboard. And (though I am not a lawyer) I dare say they have no grounding in law. Florida law is here:
    And among other things states
    “Except as otherwise provided in this section, neglect of a child may be based on repeated conduct or on a single incident or omission that results in, or could reasonably be expected to result in, serious physical or mental injury, or a substantial risk of death, to a child.”

    Unless the child was severely mentally disabled, and/or standing out with lightning all around and lacking the sense to seek shelter, there was no way the situation however normal or imperfect “could reasonably be expected to result in, serious physical or mental injury, or a substantial risk of death.” And in the latter it could still be fixed with a warning and safety plan.

    It would be advisable for the mom in this case to familiarize herself with the state’s supervision guidelines… which should be noted are just guidelines and not laws no matter how much CPS says otherwise.
    Still be prepared to answer how you handled the list of questions to ask before leaving the kid alone, or remedy what you can’t answer on the spot.

    There is nothing you can do about the age. Welcome to being a free-range parent. You know your kid, and know he is more capable than the state says.

    It is Florida’s published belief is that no child is capable of being alone before the age of 12, and that “many” will not be ready until after that. They also set 15 as the absolute minimum to babysit which is likewise bull and flies in the face of biology.

    But it seems Florida has handed itself over completely to “The National SAFE KIDS Campaign” which deserves it’s own rant starting with how they conflate “unintentional injury” with negligence and seriously believes that every unintentional injury is preventable. And continuing with how they trumpet rare causes of harm while giving little or no play to true risks.

    I think this notion that every injury is preventable with enough supervision, is quite damaging and I think it leads to our new and appallingly warped sense of what is important in protecting kids.

    In my sister’s neighborhood two adults witnessed a toddler maliciously whacked upside the head with his trike by an angry parent, and CPS just added it to the 2 inch stack for violations in this family’s file. The abuses continued stacking up for a few more years, but they kept the kids. However a few miles away and a few years later the same CPS abducts the Meitiv children. I wouldn’t be surprised if this Florida CPS is similarly letting real abuse stand while they took this boy and his brother. It’s like being beaten it’s all good with CPS since it proves your parents are there to ‘protect’ you from ‘unintentional injuries’ never you mind the intentional ones.

  135. Debbie McCormick June 10, 2015 at 8:56 pm #

    I don’t agree that the kids should have been removed from the home for just that one day. There has to be more to this story. But I do think the police had the best interest of the children at heart. How were they to know where the parents were or if they had been in an accident? If a child has been waiting outside for 1 1/2 hours this is just not alright. These parents need a backup plan and someone to call to come get their kid. And not because they are in danger, but just because they should have an option of being in a house or the option of being able to use a bathroom Sounds like it was raining too. Just not cool to have your kid sitting in a shed with not bathroom for close to 2 hours.

  136. Esther Herman June 10, 2015 at 9:35 pm #

    I’m appalled at this story. I worked at Social services in all of the services that impacted those children. I feel shame at how this family has been treated by a system that is supposed to help. I can tell you from experience that children are traumatized by foster care, especially when they are thriving in their own families.

  137. Beth June 10, 2015 at 9:40 pm #

    I have to believe that Lenore vets these stories carefully, but on subsequent readings it sounds a little like the stories in that spate of troll posts a couple weeks ago – like the one where the commenter said her 12-year-old was taken away because mom asked her what she wanted for lunch (CPS said she was giving her child too much power? or something?). There are things that appear slightly…off….(the cop peed in the yard in front of the child?) making me suspicious, especially after reading the above post with Florida’s actual laws. But like I said, I trust Lenore and wish I could shake off my suspicions.

  138. Warren June 10, 2015 at 9:42 pm #


    Give your holierthanthou attitude a rest. They had a plan, they had a backup plan and fate stepped in and fubared both plans.

    How many people do you know that have a backup plan to the backup plan? And how many backups to the backups should people have?

  139. Buffy June 11, 2015 at 6:52 am #

    @Debbie, so what if they were in an accident? Still no reason to take the kids away for a month.

  140. nolmar June 11, 2015 at 7:54 am #

    Your ‘take heart’comment as most timely. I greatly appreciate all you bring to our attention. Along with your incisive, witty commentary. Even so, rough going with as infuriating as this is.

    Almost unbearablle. Need more filters.

  141. kim June 11, 2015 at 10:17 am #

    how can we help? this is absurd.

  142. Jenny Tripp June 11, 2015 at 3:45 pm #

    Wondering if there’s any source for this story other than the letter you received; it’s being treated as fact all over the web, based on your post, but I’m not seeing it pop up in any local news sources, and that makes me question its validity. Did you fact-check this before you published? It does our side no good if we run with unverifiable and potentially false narratives to buttress our opinion. Just asking.

  143. Jim Frank June 11, 2015 at 3:46 pm #

    What facts do you have to support that this event actually happened? I have tried to find a factual report to substantiate this story, but I have found none. Can you cite the newspaper or the court documents that substantiate these events? In my looking around, I am beginning to believe that this is an urban legend.

  144. Not_Hineata June 11, 2015 at 4:35 pm #

    Trayvon was guilty and you are an idiot.

  145. sideshow June 11, 2015 at 4:45 pm #

    strange..florida doesnt have a law regarding the minimum age a child may be left unattended…….. so what law was broken?

  146. sideshow June 11, 2015 at 4:47 pm #

    BS Story.. There are no laws regarding the minimum age a child may be left unattended in their home or yard in florida.

  147. Curtis Bloes June 11, 2015 at 6:07 pm #

    Jim Romenesko has requested further information from you so that he can use his journalistic training to independently verify this story. You don’t seem to be providing it. At this moment you are standing in front of the world. Will you prove yourself to be a credible reporter, or will everything you have every written now be suspect?

  148. Robin Harden June 11, 2015 at 7:31 pm #

    Move to NC. You have to hurt your child before CPS does anything. Grandparents here are forced to hire lawyers in order to protect young children. In N.C. they work harder to protect parents than children.

  149. Dan Hortsch June 11, 2015 at 7:58 pm #

    This story is bogus. Period. It makes no sense and this site should not promote it. It is unsubstantiated nonsense that has no internal logic in terms of how the systems work. (For one, mild neglect does not result in a felony charge. It is not possible in any state, I am certain.) I am a volunteer involving children who are in state custody because of abuse or neglect, and this story reeks. It is false.

  150. Ciara Ballintyne June 12, 2015 at 1:41 am #

    If it is child neglect to leave a child unexpectedly unattended alone in a backyard because there is no running water, no shelter, and no food or toilet, isn’t it therefore also child neglect to allow children to travel home from school via school bus or by walking because that, too, is unsupervised, has no running water, no food, no toilets etc., PLUS the additional risk of being struck by a car or kidnapped by a stranger?

  151. Kate June 12, 2015 at 4:35 am #

    Have you verified this story with independent sources? It strikes me as fake, and seems to be unsubstantiated by any news or government sources.

    Have you contacted the court, judge, or CPS office involved? Have you asked the neighbor or sister for her side of the story?

    I suspect you may have been taken in by an attention-seeker or hoax (or that you have ill-advisedly created this in the same way the Rolling Stone created its UVA story).

    Please follow up with the steps you took to verify the facts in this case?

    Thank you.

  152. J.G. June 12, 2015 at 9:39 am #

    I can’t find a single source to confirm even the most basic details of this incident.

  153. Terry Heaton June 12, 2015 at 11:56 am #

    I posted a reference to this story on Facebook and was told the source (you) “is being challenged” on its validity. What do I tell people? Can you provide a photo of the letter or a name/contact, etc.? I do not wish to spread false information, regardless of how strongly I feel about the issue. Thank you.

  154. Kate June 12, 2015 at 12:27 pm #

    As a response to my earlier comment, I received an email from Ms. Skenazy:

    “have read the civil case against her.”

    However, this blog indicates felony charges, not civil.

    Citing these sources on this page would be useful. At this point, it appears this whole story is a hoax.

  155. James Pollock June 13, 2015 at 2:48 am #

    “Your one of those self righteous idiots that likes to lecture moms in parking lots, at parks and such, aren’t you?”
    Nope. You are SO bad at reading people!

    “Some of us act.”

    I bet you sing and dance, too.

  156. James Pollock June 13, 2015 at 2:49 am #

    “However, this blog indicates felony charges, not civil.”

    Both are in play.
    Having the kids taken away happens in civil court, and they were ALSO charged with criminal child neglect.

  157. James Pollock June 13, 2015 at 2:51 am #

    Warren sez:

    “Wow, all of you still going on about the KEY. Give it a rest. There may be numerous reasons why he didn’t have a key.”

    You don’t have to wonder about them, the mother gave her reasons for the son not having a key. (It wasn’t very good.)

  158. Warren June 13, 2015 at 3:12 am #

    Nice try. The comment about the key and the family’s reasons was made well before the mother made her reasons public. Weak attempt, James.

  159. James Pollock June 13, 2015 at 5:05 am #

    “Nice try. The comment about the key and the family’s reasons was made well before the mother made her reasons public.”

    Yeah. But the comment that says “hey, you don’t have to wonder” was made after.

  160. leslie r June 13, 2015 at 9:58 am #

    this is very sad, best wishes to family…what a mess… kids must be distraught – how do they get past this?

    its so easy, and lazy, to phone the police. we live in europe, new home to many americans wanting their kids to have a traditional north-american upbringing with personal freedom and necessary responsibility. my son just left for local football pitch with his american buddy – both just turned 12. expect to have them home in 1.5 hours in time to take them trampolining. guess guns are more important than kids in good ol’ usa inc.

  161. leslie r June 13, 2015 at 9:59 am #

    btw – is suing neighbour thru civil court not an option?

  162. James Pollock June 13, 2015 at 10:56 am #

    “btw – is suing neighbour thru civil court not an option?”

    What would you sue them for?

  163. Nina June 14, 2015 at 6:31 am #

    There should be a court case, against the cops. For kidnapping. The child wasn’t in danger, wasn’t being abused or neglected and they had no reason to abduct him. No court order, nothing. If they had tried that with my kids there would have been criminal and civil charges filed against the cops and the department.

  164. Scott Fink June 14, 2015 at 9:44 am #

    It sounds like her place of employment has something to hide,and she has something on them and this is away to get her out of the way. Find the caller and you get your answer .PS please tell me the cop left the ac on for the young man.

  165. Scott Fink June 14, 2015 at 10:00 am #

    And one more thing in Pa an 11 year old is old enough in court to decide what parent he wants to live with.AND as far as child services I would never ask them for help.You have people with no parenting skills at all trying to tell you how to do something that they learned out of a book.Yes books are okay they are like blueprints its a good starting point but no child is the same.

  166. Patty June 14, 2015 at 10:14 am #

    florida is bad about just swooping in on kids for no reason. Countless times this happens. The government has no right to invade unless it really is neglect. It needs to be stopped !!!! DCF is the worst here.

  167. rob roy June 14, 2015 at 12:36 pm #

    Your view of free range is overly simplistic. It depends on where you live. Do you live in the country or a suburb? Then by all means free parent away. However, I used to live in a major city and although the neighborhood didn’t seem too bad, Within my geographically small zipcode there were over 200 (mostly older males) on the sex offender list. So you say letting my 7-10 yo girls walk a mile and a half to the library is a good idea? I call BS. While you are mostly correct, there are places in this country where letting kids wander around ad lib is a bad idea. If you can’t be honest about this, you are going to lose credibility with those of us who know better than you.

  168. Really June 15, 2015 at 10:31 am #

    When I was 11, I went to parks, played with friends, rode my bike to places, even caught the trolley to the mall as a pre-teen…man they wont let these kids breathe anymore…back then I even ate school lunch or chose my lunch..managed to survive without government intervention?

  169. Nora-Adrienne June 15, 2015 at 12:52 pm #

    Amazing! I live in Miami when I turned 7. We were down there from NYC so that my mother could file for divorce. We lived in a number of places in that year, going from a nice hotel to a garden apartment and ending up in a boarding house across from the S.E. corner of Flamingo Park.

    I had no supervision and had a bus pass to take public transportation to and from the Parochial School I attended way down on 6th. street.

    Moving back to Brooklyn, we moved in with my maternal grandmother who owned a real estate business that most of the family worked at. I got up in the morning, made my own breakfast and either took 2 busses to school or the subway on the corner and then walk 3 blocks to school. I was EIGHT and nobody batted an eyelash at young kids doing what needed to be done!

    This coddle the kids, don’t let them out of your sight at all costs is getting out of hand. Back then the family and neighbors made sure (without you knowing it) that you were ok.

  170. Nora-Adrienne June 15, 2015 at 12:56 pm #

    Oh, I left out the part where this was in the mid to late 1950’s. My own kids all had keys to the house and came and went as needed. That was the 80’s and 90’s. Their own kids today have that same freedom.

    I grew up in East New York Brooklyn. Google it.

  171. Warren June 15, 2015 at 1:22 pm #


    I call BS on your logic. You list the number of sex offenders. How many of those are a risk to kids? Next Lenore, has never said to blindly adopt any parenting style. She encourages teaching and giving independence to our kids, but within what we feel is acceptable.

    So instead of bitching and whining about your area…….do something about it. If you are not part of the solution, you are just another part of the problem. Tired of all these people that whine about where they live. If it is that bad, get off your arse and move. Don’t whine about money or anything. If it is that important you can make it happen.

  172. James Wilcox June 15, 2015 at 9:20 pm #

    Why was the law enforcement officer not charged with indecent exposure or even destruction of private property? Are you serious? Then to have the judge proceed with the charges without the decency to give the first time offender a warning. Remember in Forrest Gump, where they came up with the infamous saying “S—Happens? In a perfect world this is a nonissue but, because it’s not we have to deal with political B/S. The judge is probably up for reelection and the police officer, narrow minded as he is, can’t see past the next donut stop to understand that people need help not a conviction quota. This whole thing smells bad and it is at the expense of the children ultimately. They were never the point of interest in this whole ordeal. If they were, none of this would have transpired. God be with all of you and may all this be behind you.

  173. James Pollock June 15, 2015 at 9:40 pm #

    “Why was the law enforcement officer not charged with indecent exposure or even destruction of private property?”
    My guess would be because he didn’t indecently expose himself to anyone or destroy any private property.

    “Then to have the judge proceed with the charges without the decency to give the first time offender a warning.”
    That’s not something judges can do.

  174. Arrow Smith June 16, 2015 at 7:53 pm #

    Who is the Prosecuting Attorney? Who is the Judge? Who is the sorry excuse of a neighbor who cause all this. Please provide this information. Thanks in advance.

  175. Martha June 18, 2015 at 5:34 pm #

    As a Floridian who has had CPS investigate my own family because of a stupid unreasonable busybody call, I completely believe that an invasive investigation could be sparked by a child playing in his own driveway. However, even I find it hard to believe that the parents would be separated from their children for a month if this were the only thing they supposedly did wrong. The employer’s gag order also sounds weird. Did they have legal representation? If these facts are true, it’s simply outrageous.

  176. James Pollock June 18, 2015 at 5:51 pm #

    “The employer’s gag order also sounds weird.”

    It doesn’t, really. If she works for a school district, they probably don’t want to broadcast the fact that they employ someone accused of child abuse.