Cops Say Mom Left Kids Home with 13 y.o. WHY IS THIS A CRIME??

Readers — I was going to go out on a high — the happy post below this one, about kids enjoying a New Year’s party together while their parents did the same at another house — when one of you sent in this:

“Mom Left Young Kids Alone to Go Clubbing: Police”

Young? Her oldest kid was 13 — babysitter age.

WHY IS THIS A CRIME??? If this is all there really is to the story, we are treating the mom like a criminal and the teen like a baby, all because we think no one under 18 is ever safe doing anything without adult supervision.

Now if the headline read: “Mom Left Young Kids Alone to Go Clubbing Police,” well…I could understand the consternation. That’s why we endorse good punctuation here. But not persecuting and prosecuting moms who trust their teens. – L

I guess the 13-year-old boy did not look like these kids.

I guess the 13-year-old boy did not look like these kids.

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47 Responses to Cops Say Mom Left Kids Home with 13 y.o. WHY IS THIS A CRIME??

  1. everydayrose December 31, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

    I leave my 12 and 9 year old daughters home alone whenever I go out dancing or to a show every now and then. I honestly can’t imagine why it wouldn’t be ok.

    They’re home alone every day after school and all day on school breaks. Sometimes I work night shifts and they’re home alone then. I don’t see why it’s any different when I want to go out and have fun every now and then.

    Terrifying.

  2. Suzanne December 31, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

    If you want to find some good news in all this, look at the comments, they are asking all the same questions you did.

  3. E December 31, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

    I’m 13 years older than my oldest niece. I recall babysitting for her when she was an infant…like only a few months old. It wasn’t particularly enjoyable experience (she wouldn’t take bottles — only Mom), but we all survived.

    This is one of the stories that raises more questions than it answers. Who called the police and why? Why did police have to “surround the home” to check on the kids? Why is it “not clear” if the Mom asked the 13 year old to watch them.

    Clearly if the smallest kids were alone, that’s an issue — but nothing in the written story or video indicates they were.

  4. Kelly D. December 31, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

    The subtitle states the issue perfectly:

    “She said she wanted to have fun after being home with them all week.”

    Maybe the police were mad at her for assuming that moms can have fun, too! All jokes aside, I was babysitting at 10 with parents in the house and at 12 with no adults present. The kids were an infant and a four year old. They’re both successful adults now and their house is still standing!

  5. Tara December 31, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

    Was the 13 year old capable of calling for help if needed? Was mom in the habit of leaving the kids alone for extended periods of time without food, water or shelter?

  6. E December 31, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

    A different article I googled indicated that there is no specific age for being able to take care of younger kids. It also said that the police arrived at the charge after interviewing the older brother and mom. They wouldn’t elaborate on what was said though. Perhaps there is more to the story than what we see on the surface.

  7. Bartimaeus December 31, 2013 at 4:52 pm #

    I hate to bring this up but if you click through to the news article you’ll see the mom in question is black… I suspect the police might have jumped to the worst scenario first in part because of it. :(

  8. Kimberly Herbert December 31, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

    How did the police find out? What do they mean out clubbing? If she was coming home 3 sheets to the wind, way past 12 pm? Did neighbors call because this was part of an ongoing pattern of the kids being left alone for long periods of time? Did something happen and the oldest have to call for hellp.

    I babysat at that age, but I always had someone I could call on – my parents when babysiting other kids, neighbors and cousins that were neighbors when it was Sis and me.

    I think I called for help 3 times once for a wierdo that wouldn’t get off our property, once because sis was trying to kill a flying tree roach that flew in the door and got me in the face with RAID, and once because the oldest boy in the family I was babysiting had suffered a 2nd degree burn from pizza falling in his lap, when the parents fed them before they left. (The parents’ ears might still be ringing from my Mom’s response to their total lack of first aid.) The cops never got involved with those.

    Oh once I had to call the cops because the toddler had tried to chase her parents car down the street. She set off the house alarm, and I figured it was more important to get her before she got to the major cross street being that it was dusk and rush hour. The cops agreed and said it was a legitimate call not a false alarm.

  9. lollipoplover December 31, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

    M 12 year-old babysat for 4 hours this morning. How can they be charging her with this- were the kids found wandering the streets?
    What an insult to the 13 year-old son. It doesn’t matter that she went “clubbing” or how she spent her time. How is this news?

  10. Casey December 31, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

    I’m going to agree with Kelly D. I’ll bet if the mom had been out working or at a night class, there wouldn’t be an issue. It sounds like the authorities are passing judgment on why the mother decided to leave the kids at home.

  11. Michelle December 31, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

    I don’t see the problem. I’ve left my kids to have date night, which includes going to the pub and staying out late, many times since my oldest turned 13. She and her brother (12 at the time) quite capably watched their five younger siblings, even when the youngest was only 3. The oldest two are now almost 15 and 16, and I’ve actually had less trouble with them than I’ve had with adult babysitters!

  12. Sara December 31, 2013 at 5:15 pm #

    So is the problem that she’s poor and black and got drunk? Because I can’t imagine that anyone who was rich, white and living in the suburbs would be arrested for having a thirteen year old watch their siblings.

    Barring any real issue with the teenager (like a history of abusing his siblings or if he’s mentally disabled) I just don’t get it.

  13. Chihiro December 31, 2013 at 5:29 pm #

    I was babysitting the neighbor kids when I was 11. I got paid for it. And this wasn’t decades ago, I’m 19 now. I didn’t live in a nice neighborhood either, there was a fair amount of crime in the area. Parents still felt perfectly comfortable leaving me with their kids until 1 or 2 in the morning.

  14. Melissa December 31, 2013 at 5:36 pm #

    Oh, this is an easy one. Everyone’s getting their panties in a twist because the 13-year-old is a boy. Because everyone knows that only girls are capable of babysitting.

  15. TRS December 31, 2013 at 5:47 pm #

    She was out all night. Obviously there was something that happened that alerted the authorities.

    I have 2- 13 year yo daughters I leave with my 9 yo often if we go out to a concert or movie. We are always home before midnight. Our County Guidelines state that you can not leave a child alone overnight until the age of 15.

    Come on – this woman went to an after hours club. That means she went someplace for some more partying after the bars closed. From the looks of the club from the news report – I doubt they were playing Bunco and drinking tea. She did not come home till Sunday morning and that is just way too much responsibility to put on a child. I am sure her son was worried sick about her and called someone.

  16. Nicole December 31, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

    The reporting for that was horrible. There has to be more to the story- 13 year old is disabled, mom was chronically absent, something. I was being left alone overnight with OTHER people’s children at 13.

  17. TRS December 31, 2013 at 6:04 pm #

    She already has issues going on with the law and is on probation. The article stated that she spent 6 months in jail a few years ago. Sounds like a stellar mom.

  18. Papilio December 31, 2013 at 6:18 pm #

    Happy 2014!

  19. Melissa Walker December 31, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

    The American Red Cross teaches babysitter courses. Thirteen years-old is their minimum age for the class. I don’t see the problem either.

  20. E December 31, 2013 at 6:51 pm #

    One thing to consider is that the police investigated, talked with the 13 yo and Mom and then charged her. It IS possible that their investigation revealed that the younger children were NOT well cared for. It’s possible that they were of course, but if a 1 and 4 year old were not being looked after properly, they may have done the right thing.

    A story like this doesn’t say enough to condemn or acquit the parent. Ont the surface….OF COURSE a 13 year old could care for siblings that age.

  21. BPFH December 31, 2013 at 6:56 pm #

    My sister’s birthday is 8 days before mine, in April. That means that she’s 8 days short of being exactly 10 years younger than I am.

    That was also the year (1983, if it matters) that my parents started letting me watch both siblings for limited amounts of time. So I’m still trying to puzzle out why this is an issue… unless, of course, the woman in question just left, without even asking the 13-year-old to watch the other kids.

  22. Gina December 31, 2013 at 7:02 pm #

    I think the issue here is “Out clubbing”…i imagine there would be no story if she left a 13-year-old when she “was at the supermarket” or “a doctor’s appointment at 3 in the afternoon”. It brings to mind the case of Alice Crimmins (NYC, 1965) who was convicted of killing her children based partly on the fact that she was “dating” and “dressing provocatively”. We still judge moms.

  23. Wendy December 31, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

    I’m betting there’s more to the this story than reported, there often is in these articles that get everyone so up at arms.

    My question is “What has happened to the world of journalism?” Why are they incapable of printing an article that actually gives the details instead of such brief outlines that just make readers go “Huh?”

  24. Adam December 31, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    Red Cross actually targets their certification at 11 and up.
    http://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/program-highlights/babysitting-caregiving

  25. Reziac December 31, 2013 at 9:09 pm #

    I was first left alone for a whole weekend when I was EIGHT, and my mom was rather paranoid for her era (admittedly this was 50 years ago, before things got really stupid). I knew how to cook simple stuff (TV dinners, rice, tuna/macaroni hotdish, cream-of-wheat, soup) and do the dishes after myself. I knew to go next door if something went wrong (but nothing ever did). Rather like the New Year’s Eves that I had to myself, these weekends are among my best memories. And what on earth is wrong with a kid being ABLE to take care of themselves — and do so free of fear??

  26. Teri December 31, 2013 at 9:26 pm #

    What is funny is that if the mom had PAID the 13 year old, it wouldn’t have been an issue as she would have hired a babysitter for the little ones. Crazy.

    I remember babysitting a 3 and 5 year old when I was 12 (on my birthday, so had just turned 12). The parents left a pizza for me to cook, which I did. And, even allowed us to swim in the pool, which we also did (probably right after eating pizza, too.)

    A 13 year old watching two kids is fine. A 13 year old left home alone with no clue when the parents are coming home or where they are and no food in the house that they can fix is a different story. I wonder if this particular situation doesn’t lean a little bit toward the latter.

  27. Sky December 31, 2013 at 9:40 pm #

    “Court records show Walker was sentenced to six months in jail and released on conditional discharge in 2008 following a second-degree breach of peace conviction.” I suspect there’s more to the story than letting her 13 year old babysit. There’s a reason this came to the attention of the cops, and “risk of injury to a minor” may have been a lesser charge to which she plea bargained down. This isn’t her first run-in with the law.

  28. Timothy Cooke December 31, 2013 at 10:11 pm #

    “‘Sometimes it’s hard for a 13-year-old to watch two other kids,’ said neighbor Henry Timberlake, ‘because the 13-year-old is still a child himself.'”
    What? 13 is plenty old enough to babysit. Babysit OTHER people’s children, not just your siblings.
    There’s got to be more to this story.
    “Now if the headline read: “Mom Left Young Kids Alone to Go Clubbing Police,” well…I could understand the consternation. That’s why we endorse good punctuation here.”
    😀 Lenore, you are hilarious!

  29. J.T. Wenting January 1, 2014 at 6:45 am #

    “Oh, this is an easy one. Everyone’s getting their panties in a twist because the 13-year-old is a boy. Because everyone knows that only girls are capable of babysitting.”

    That’s probably a big part of it. As a boy he’s clearly just waiting for mom to leave the house so he can molest his sisters.
    After all, every guy, whatever the age, is a pedophile…

  30. Beth January 1, 2014 at 7:37 am #

    “but if a 1 and 4 year old were not being looked after properly….”

    How hard is it to look after a 1 and 4 year old in the middle of the night? Maybe the younger one needed a diaper change, but I, for one, did not wake my kids during the night to check their diapers.

  31. E January 1, 2014 at 8:49 am #

    @Beth, that’s true, but we don’t know when the Mom left, when she returned or if the 13 yo was present the entire time. We don’t know if any of the 3 children had any special needs or concerns that made this arrangement unsuitable.

    This site doesn’t like “zero tolerance” approach to things, but in this case it doesn’t appear (emphasis on appear) that this was the approach — especially since this state doesn’t have a minimum age requirement. Someone reached out to police, the police questioned those involved and arrived at this charge.

  32. Reziac January 1, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    Even when something IS wrong, too often these situations are an excuse for a department to make an example, so they can justify their funding. So it behooves us to be suspicious of motives.

    Maybe she’s a lousy parent. Maybe the kids aren’t being taken care of. BUT — encouraging and justifying intervention in these cases where something “might” be wrong is a step toward justifying it for ALL children. Do you really want CPS coming to your door at random intervals because “something might be wrong” ?? After all, you too might be a lousy parent in someone else’s eyes.

  33. JJ January 1, 2014 at 11:29 am #

    There may be more to the story, or there may not be. Either way, the problem is that the article focuses on, and vilifies something that in and of itself is fine–kids staying home without a parent when one of the kids is 13. The story plays on the fear and perpetuates the myth that kids, even teenagers, aren’t capable of taking on responsibility and that leaving your kids alone for a couple hours is dangerous.

  34. JJ January 1, 2014 at 11:31 am #

    And that is one of the most strangely worded headlines I’ve seen.

  35. Papilio January 1, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

    “Now if the headline read: “Mom Left Young Kids Alone to Go Clubbing Police,” well… I could understand the consternation. That’s why we endorse good punctuation here.”

    LOL! 😀
    That is exactly the kind of problems you also get when adding spaces in Dutch compounds: it’s often confusing, sometimes hilarious. There just IS a difference between ‘a lot of cases of diarrhea in Nickerie’ and ‘a lot of diarrhea fallen in Nickerie’… Yuck.

  36. bmommyx2 January 1, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

    I used to babysit for other people at 10 or 11 yrs old & at night when I was 12 yrs old. I stayed home with my siblings from the age of 9 or 10. The world has gone mad

  37. sylvia_rachel January 1, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

    The good news is, there’s at least 2 pages of comments to that article, all going “WTF? Since when is 13 too young to babysit?”

    I feel like there must be a significant amount of relevant information missing from this story that would explain why this warranted police intervention. Either that or someone at the Bridgeport police department went a bit crazy that night.

  38. SOA January 1, 2014 at 5:24 pm #

    I babysat starting at about 12 years old. It was normal back then. A few weekends ago I hired the 13 year old from down the street to come babysit my and my friend’s kids ages 6,6,7 and 5 for the night. Her mother was a few houses down should she need her. It went fine besides the kids staying up too late.

    When I posted about it on a message board on baby center a ton of posters bit my head off saying that is not safe and too much for a 13 year old to handle and blah blah and they would not do it. I just rolled my eyes. 13 years old is the legal age to babysit in my state. I don’t see a problem with it. I watched much younger kids like infants when I started sitting. All she had to do was just make sure everything was cool while they slept and watched movies.

    People’s attitudes on this has changed for sure. I was left home alone for the first time when I was about 9 or 10 while my parents went down the road to have brunch at a restaurant. Then they would leave me for longer times as I got older. It was fine. A kid is pretty safe in a locked child proofed house.

    This was even before cell phones where if I wanted to call them I would have had to call the restaurant while they find them. Now it is even safer because you can reach them immediately.

    I have to wonder if there was more involved with this story like the mother was on drugs or just left without telling the 13 year old she was in charge or something else. Just because I think 13 is the legal age in most states so kinda surprised that alone would bring charges.

  39. SOA January 1, 2014 at 5:32 pm #

    Hmm when we went out the other weekend as I said we did go out clubbing as well. We left at 10 and returned about 2:30 and drove the babysitter home and dropped her off. Would that count as over night? That is what some people had a problem with that it was late at night. But honestly watching kids at night is easier than during the day. At night they are sleeping or just watching movies in pjs. During the day they are hyper and running around and awake and playing and needing to eat, etc.

    I don’t think the reason you are going out or the time of day matters. Either a 13 is old enough to handle it or not.

  40. Emily January 2, 2014 at 12:55 am #

    There’s got to be more to the story because why were the police called to check on them at all? Did neighbors hear screaming? Hitting? Something loud and concerning? Cops don’t go knocking on doors late at night to check the ages of the people there. Someone must have heard something concerning and called to say that there were loud noises and they needed the cops to check. Either that or she has a real jerk of a neighbor watching for the second she leaves.

    13 is plenty old enough to babysit. I did it all the time. I’d trust a 13 year old with my kids. Seems silly not to.

  41. Buffy January 2, 2014 at 9:38 am #

    A couple of you, and the article, have referenced the mother’s past criminal records. Does a record mean that a mom isn’t allowed to go out and spend an evening with other adults? Does it mean that one’s 13-year-old is automatically unfit to babysit?

  42. Suzanne January 2, 2014 at 9:47 am #

    I read some of the comments on the story in the link, it made me happy to see that the general consensus was 13 is old enough to babysit and many seem to think there is a big detail missing from the story or that the woman was being targeted either for prior offenses or because of race. So cheers to it looks like sanity is on the rise with the general public, maybe.

  43. ECB January 2, 2014 at 5:34 pm #

    OK, I’ll admit I don’t really have any experience with appropriate babysitting ages, but 13 seems kind of young to babysit someone into the wee hours of the morning. I totally agree that 13 year olds are more than capable of babysitting, but I always thought that was more for daytime. From what I remember, the 13 year old girls in the Babysitter’s Club couldn’t stay out past 10:00.

  44. Donna January 3, 2014 at 1:42 pm #

    “but 13 seems kind of young to babysit someone into the wee hours of the morning. … From what I remember, the 13 year old girls in the Babysitter’s Club couldn’t stay out past 10:00.”

    It’s babysitting in his own siblings in his own home. He isn’t “out” anywhere. The 13 year old is able to go to bed whenever he wants once the younger kids are sleeping. The little ones need no more wide-awake babysitting from him after they’re asleep than they do every other night of the week when the mother is home but sleeping.

    While I definitely think there are facts that have been left out of this story, it is not unusual for even young teens to babysit at a location where they will be spending the night until the wee hours of the morning. I started babysitting for a good friend at age 12 and often babysat until after midnight. I would just plan to spend the night if she was going to be out too late (and often even if she wasn’t).

  45. AlbertaParent January 3, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

    The problem today is that an opinion of a lay person (like in this article the opinion of the neighbors that the mother should have asked friends or family for help) is taken by the police and social workers as the verdict of guilt and from that point on both agencies venture on the punitive road, instead of performing their duty imposed on them by statutes (which is to investigate, and only move to remedial measure such as criminal charges, or supervision orders or apprehension of children, etc AFTER that investigation took place and conclusions are rationally supported by evidence/findings). If they had investigated, they would have found that the older child left in charge was capable of being trusted so.
    There is not a single piece of information in this article that discloses even a hint at investigation done or reasonable grounds obtained/discovered to support the charge.
    Articles like this create a misunderstanding among the general public that it is illegal to trust a child with any responsibility what-so-ever (circumstances vary from article to article), and thus encourages the next busy body to call in the authorities next time such a normal event takes place. On the surface the article reports “just the facts”, but read as a whole it sends a very wrong message – and we end up in a vicious circle.
    Furthermore, unfortunately, any parent that was unlucky to become the subject of such judge & jury (lay person) and executioner (police & child welfare workers) has the first and foremost objective of getting their kids back and back to normal. After that initial goal is met, there is no energy, resources ($$) or faith in the justice system left to actually complete any steps in bringing punitive measures or at least declarations of state agents misdeeds.
    Until more and more parents push through, all the way to declarations made in court that their and their children’s rights were infringed without lawful authority and without sufficient cause, our liberties, and liberties of our children when they become parents themselves will continue to erode.

  46. Red January 4, 2014 at 10:20 am #

    “OK, I’ll admit I don’t really have any experience with appropriate babysitting ages, but 13 seems kind of young to babysit someone into the wee hours of the morning.”

    At age 13, back in the early 1990s, I regularly did “overnight” (until early morning) babysitting for other people, and I sometimes watched my five younger sibs (the youngest would have been 3 then) overnight and even over the weekend. Usually over the weekend, grandma would drop in around dinner time each day to check on us and make sure we were eating an actual dinner.

    This was pretty common in our area. We lived in a comfortable, (white) middle class section of Chicago.

  47. Phil McC January 6, 2014 at 7:35 am #

    Under Maryland law, a child must be at least eight years old to be left alone in a house or car. State law also says a child must be at least 13 years old to baby-sit another child. What state is this insanity