Mom Arrested for Watching Her Child from Afar, after Busybodies Call Cops

Can we remember that it is not “babysitting” to watch over someone else’s child playing next to your own, just because the parent is not right there. It’s called “community.” It’s called “being a decent human being.” It’s called “normal.”

What is not normal is getting the authorities to intervene simply because you disapprove of another mom’s parenting decision:

Dear Free-Range Kids:

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How can we defend good parents caught in the net of the over-reaching laws?

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On 6/24 I was arrested in CT for a 53-21a: Risk of Injury to a minor.  It was for allowing my 3 year old to play in the sand with 2 other little children while I watched from a distance while helping my two older daughters with fishing off a jetty.  I measured on Google Earth and I was never more than 75 yards away, on a quiet evening with few people on the beach.
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My daughter would have played closer if there had been anyone to play with, but in fact these were the nearest little children.  The parents of the other children were hovering over them, so I felt it completely safe, and safer than making her be on the jetty at low tide with no railing and rocks 8 feet below on the sides.
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Well, those parents collectively decided that I was a terrible mother and that my child was neglected and they called the police.  They also said horrible things to me and accused me of letting my child “wander” the beach, being 100 yards away, and of having alcohol at the time.  To add insult to injury, they cheered when the police car drove by with me in it.
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Additionally, I want to tell you that I was at the beach that day with a Jewish Moms’ group called the “Mitzvah Mamas.”  In this context mitzvah means good deeds.  That day I led a meeting about a Friday night ritual called “Blessing the Children.”  I adore my children and they are even more important to me than my husband!  It was opened up as a family event because someone in my group offered to let us all use her family’s beach house.  My husband was present and so were other families. It felt like a completely safe environment with many eyes on the children.
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When the police came, the primary officer questioning me seemed to have made up his mind to arrest me when I admitted that my 3.5 yr old daughter was more than 10 ft away from me.  I questioned his premise that 10 ft is a legal standard.  He didn’t like that.  I said that I just don’t believe that people are ready to steal my children as soon as I turn my back.  He said “Yes they are.”  He also refused to take statements from my husband or a friend who vouched for me that I was indeed watching my children, as he was sitting on a beach chair watching everyone the whole time.
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This charge is outrageous!  I feel like the legal question at hand is how far is too far to be watching a 3.5 yr old from.  Statements from the police officer lead me to believe that the parents who reported me resented that I was leaving them to “watch my child.”  Clearly they and the police officer believe that parents must hover over their children.
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I could go on and on with details, but I’ll spare you that.  I have had many, many people ready to write character references for me.
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I write you today, because I am desiring to fight this criminal charge instead of taking the easy way out with the “Accelerated Rehabilitation” program. My only problem is that lawyers cost a lot of money and I don’t have much. I figured if there are any organizations that might fight for a parent’s right to let their children play without fear that the boggy man is ready to grab them at any moment, then you would probably know about it.
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I also feel a desire to go public with this story, but a lawyer told me “don’t say anything to the media.”  Therefore I didn’t, and as a result my reputation has been smeared as the only the horrible accusations were publicized.
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Thank you for any help or advice you can give me.
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Sincerely,
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A Caring Mom
I wrote back to say I, too, was outraged at the vindictiveness of the other parents and the clueless contempt of the cop. If children are so endangered in his town he is the worst cop ever.
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Then I added the truth: I don’t have a list of pro-bono lawyers or even a fund to help pay for lawyers. So I’m sending her note to David DeLugas, executive director of the National Association of Parents, which takes on some cases of government overreach into parenting and hopes to do more as more people become members
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In the meantime, let’s all remember that one alternative name for Free-Range Kids (at least in my head) is The Benefit of the Doubt Association. Let’s give parents the benefit of the doubt — and some help — long before we call 911. – L.

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Are parents forcing others to “babysit’ their kids simply by standing further back?

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82 Responses to Mom Arrested for Watching Her Child from Afar, after Busybodies Call Cops

  1. John B. July 11, 2017 at 1:24 am #

    When the mother said she didn’t believe people were ready to steal her children as soon as she turned her back and the officer replied “yes they are” I would have asked him to show me the data.

  2. Kimberly Albertson July 11, 2017 at 2:33 am #

    I love how the police and the media and the people on the beach totally ignore the fact that the father was also present, like there is no expectation that he might have an equal hand in being responsible for the well being of a child.

    I used to joke that my (now ex) husband was like having a 3rd child. I guess society and law enforcement actually believe that.

  3. James Pollock July 11, 2017 at 2:33 am #

    Um, if you were neglecting your child (by attending to your other children)… why didn’t they arrest dad, who was apparently also “neglecting” the child in question?

    That said, I think taking everything you say here as true, (that is, in the interpretation most favorable to you), that the other parents have justification for feeling put upon, or, in your words “Statements from the police officer lead me to believe that the parents who reported me resented that I was leaving them to “watch my child.”. You left your child where she was, at least in part, because she was close to them and their children. Whether you said so or not, you WERE assuming that they’d watch over your child for you. They did so.

    (No, there is close to zero danger that a child playing in the sand will be abducted by a stranger. There are other dangers on a beach, and there’s the fact that they don’t know your child, and how well she plays with others… meaning that they’ll want to be more vigilant with their own kids while yours is underfoot.)

    No, I did not say “these people were justified in calling the cops on you, and the cops were justified in arresting and citing you.” There were justified in thinking unkind thoughts about you, and telling you about them when you came within range.

    It’s one thing to watch someone else’s kid(s) because they’ve asked you to do so. It’s another thing to have the parents just assume that someone else will watch their kid(s). Consider some scenarios: First, your kid brings another kid home after school and they play together for a while, then the other kid goes home. No big deal, right? Right. But how about these alternatives:
    1. The other kid suddenly remembers that they’ll need to be driven home, with no warning or planning for same. Especially since they didn’t remember this until rush hour, and, oh yeah, their own parent(s) can’t do it. If a kid springs this on you, you’d have a right to think some unkind thoughts about this kid and the parent(s) who raised them, wouldn’t you say?
    2. The same kid comes over every afternoon, and first thing in the morning on school holidays. Turns out, mom and dad had to go to work but they know there’s someone at home with your child.
    3. The kid comes over and stays for dinner, then proceeds to eat like they haven’t seen food in a week, and… stays until dinnertime again, and then again, and then again…
    4. The kid tags along on family events, without the other parent having cleared it first. Counts double if the event is something that costs money, and the kid has arrived without any.

    Will I stop your kid from walking out in traffic? Yeah, that’s what people do. Will I occupy one of your children if I can see that you are overwhelmed or just busy with one of your other children? Absolutely. Will I trade off with you on supervising your kid and my kid together to the extent they need supervision? Yes. But if it gets one-sided, particularly if it’s unacknowledged, do I reserve the right to be annoyed, even resentful? Yes, again. Am I going to fob my kid off on you without checking with you first, and thanking you appropriately? No. Am I going to call the cops on you? No (unless I know that you put your kid(s) in actual danger.)

    “I feel like the legal question at hand is how far is too far to be watching a 3.5 yr old from.”
    Actually, it probably isn’t. Assuming the statute you were charged under is 52-21a(s), the statute states “Any parent, guardian or person having custody or control, or providing supervision, of any child under the age of twelve years who knowingly leaves such child unsupervised in a place of public accommodation or a motor vehicle for a period of time that presents a substantial risk to the child’s health or safety, shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor.”
    So the state will have to prove that you KNOWINGLY left the child UNSUPERVISED in a PUBLIC PLACE for a PERIOD OF TIME that presents SUBSTANTIAL RISK. (ALL CAPS added to indicate separate elements that the state would have to prove, with a failure to prove any one of them making you not guilty.) Public place is going to be easy, unless this was a private beach. Substantial risk is probably set, too… beaches are dangerous places (yes, millions of people enjoy vacationing on them because they are fun and relaxing. But kids have been known to drown in water, and there’s a couple of other ways to get injured or killed on a beach, too.) It sounds like the period of time element is met, as well.
    That leaves the state having to prove KNOWINGLY and UNSUPERVISED. The cop, and whatever prosecutor decided to press charges seems to be reading the UNSUPERVISED element as “inadequately supervised”. An attorney licensed in MD can help you find out if courts generally support that reading.
    Unfortunately, a fact-finder (jury or judge, depending on which you have) will assess the credibility of you as a witness knowing that you have a very strong interest in insisting that you were supervising your child. Your husband and other family members may also not be believed, even if they testify truthfully.
    So, I think, the question is, will the parents who were so hostile to you be called as witnesses for the prosecution, to establish that you were far away from your child and preoccupied with other things, and therefore not supervising your child? Which (in my imagination) leads to an interesting cross-examination, when your lawyer asks the witness “were you there? Were you supervising your (meaning their) children? Would you have allowed this child (meaning yours) to be harmed?” and when the witness answers “of course not” your attorney moves for a directed verdict of acquittal, since the state has failed to prove that you left your child unsupervised as the statute requires. (It is, of course, important to remember that just because I can imagine it that way doesn’t mean that a licensed professional attorney can ALSO imagine it that way. But I have a powerful imagination, and I often use it to amuse myself.)

  4. James Pollock July 11, 2017 at 2:36 am #

    “Um, if you were neglecting your child (by attending to your other children)… why didn’t they arrest dad, who was apparently also “neglecting” the child in question?”

    Yes, I’m quoting myself, because I’m going to answer the question.
    The answer is that you were actually NOT arrested for violating Connecticut Code Section 53-21a. Leaving child unsupervised in place of public accommodation or motor vehicle. You were arrested for “contempt of cop”.

  5. Cassie July 11, 2017 at 4:52 am #

    Even the kids get ansy when they see babies left alone.

    I was at the ice-skating rink today (yes – in Australia!!), my 1yo was heavily rugged up and amusing himself toddling everywhere. I chatted to my friend while I kept an eye on him as he wandered off amidst a crowd of holiday-program kids (age 5-9). There was kind of a buzz amongst the group as he climbed bleacher steps and wove past them. Eventually two kids took it upon themselves to bring him back to me, they were worried that I had lost him. I reassured them that I was watching, and thanked them for keeping an eye on him (kids get it – communal safety works).

    Eventually the two kids realised that he was allowed to wander (and I was watching to stop him the one time he tried to ransack a lunchbox). The third time he wandered up the steps toward the two kids, they took over. They followed him around, led him places, and had a merry time. I heard them discuss how to take care of him has he climbed and descended the steps. Occasionally I would even lose sight of him, but that tended to be because one of the new friends was carrying him.

    He fell over and cried twice and once let out a huge howl as he saw another kid eating something that looked good. I went and gave him a cuddle, and had a yarn to a couple of the caregivers looking after the group. They were enjoying his wanderings as much as I was – though possible not as much as his two new friends.

    They are so much happier when we let go.

  6. Andrew July 11, 2017 at 6:21 am #

    Gosh, was the cop implying that one of the other parents might abduct your child? How did they feel about that slur?

  7. common sense July 11, 2017 at 6:21 am #

    i think james is right..contempt of cop is the actual charge, you dared to question his authority and the fact he’s apparently of that mind that he is judge jury and executioner. you will be dragged through the criminal “justice” system and made to suffer so that you will never again even dream of talking back to a cop. there are great cops out there, unfortunately the vast majority seem to be former high school bullies who find a niche for themselves.

  8. Jessica July 11, 2017 at 6:26 am #

    “Contempt of cop” shouldn’t even be a thing.

  9. Jessica July 11, 2017 at 6:31 am #

    I live in Connecticut as well. But thank God I live in the “blue collar” part, where people let their children play on the playground alone while siblings are at t-ball practice, and not on the corner of the state where I assume this took place.

  10. jen July 11, 2017 at 7:06 am #

    I would recommend starting with the Connecticut Bar Association and see what Pro Bono or reduced fee legal services might be available. http://www.ctbar.org/?page=ProBono

  11. Another Katie July 11, 2017 at 7:40 am #

    75 yards away IS too far in that setting – not because of risk of abduction, but because of the young age of the child involved and the other risks associated with being at a beach (drowning, collapse of a sand hole, etc.). If dad was there, he should have been close enough to the toddler that the other parents knew the child was actually being watched.

    Putting myself in the other parents’ shoes, I would have felt responsible for your child’s safety. I don’t know you, I don’t know if your kid has special needs, if he can swim (highly unlikely at that age), if he’s liable to bolt into the parking lot. You appeared preoccupied with your other kids a substantial distance away in an environment where there are legitimate physical hazards for a toddler. Your husband didn’t make it known that he was keeping an eye on your toddler. What do I do if your kid’s doing something legitimately hazardous, abandon my own kids to chase after yours?

    Would I have called 911? No. But just because I’m playing with or near my own children that doesn’t mean I want to babysit a stranger’s toddler by default while they go off and fish on a jetty 75 yards away.

  12. Helen Armstrong July 11, 2017 at 8:05 am #

    I tend to agree with James that the mom should not have assumed that the parents of the the other children would watch her child. I think she should have simply struck up a conversation with them, then at some point asked if they would mind if her child played alongside their children, pointing out to them where she would be. I’m pretty sure in that case, having made contact with the mom, the parents would not have called the police. Having said that, calling the police was completely the wrong thing to do, for which those parents should feel ashamed.

    I also agree that “contempt of cop” should not be a thing.

  13. Theresa Hall July 11, 2017 at 8:07 am #

    Contempt of cops technically isn’t a real charge so they make up something that sounds good to the law. It like resisting arrest when they haven’t arrested you for anything. Since Dad was there also I think the kid was being watch just fine.

  14. Joel July 11, 2017 at 8:31 am #

    Get us more info so we can flood call these goons.

  15. Beth July 11, 2017 at 8:42 am #

    @Helen and others: Why should anyone besides the parent, from her position, have to “watch” this child? What was she doing that needed “watching”? We don’t have any information that she was misbehaving, or doing anything else besides playing. Kids CAN play without being watched. Really.

  16. Helen Armstrong July 11, 2017 at 8:47 am #

    Beth: the kid is only 3.5 years old, so yeah, I think a child that age needs to be watched when playing near a large body of water. I didn’t say hover, I said watch.

  17. E July 11, 2017 at 9:01 am #

    The people calling the cops were ridiculous, but if I were them I would think it odd that the parents at the beach would be that far from their small kid without at least having a conversation with me.

    There really is no way to watch a kid on a jetty and a 3 year old 75 yards away at the same time.

    Calling the cops in the scenario, terrible. (Unless they had no idea where Mom/Dad were, which is another reason that making contact with the parents supervising would have been prudent.)

  18. Dana -chi burb girl July 11, 2017 at 9:41 am #

    Have her contact the Family Defense Center in Chicago and they may be able to get her a contact in Connecticut. This is so outrageous.

  19. Meg July 11, 2017 at 9:49 am #

    @John “When the mother said she didn’t believe people were ready to steal her children as soon as she turned her back and the officer replied “yes they are” I would have asked him to show me the data.”

    The ironic part is if it was true, her child have would have been gone.

    @Kimberly, I also agree. If dad was there, too. Why arrest the mother?

  20. Dienne July 11, 2017 at 10:06 am #

    Please, folks, a 3.5 year old is NOT a toddler! She’s probably been walking for over 2 years now and is probably pretty darn good at it – way past toddling, anyway. Preschoolers are fundamentally different than toddlers – leagues ahead developmentally speaking. A preschooler is generally capable of playing alone with a parent watching from a distance. By that age, parents have a pretty good idea of what their kid is or isn’t likely to do.

    That said, I agree with those who said the mother should have struck up a conversation with the other parents. While I wouldn’t have called the police, I too would have felt peeved to feel left with someone else’s child whom I don’t even know. I might still have been annoyed if she’d have said she was going off to watch her other two kids, but at least I’d know what’s going on and where to find her if needed, and there wouldn’t be the element of assumption that I’d watch her kid.

  21. Puzzled July 11, 2017 at 10:50 am #

    >An attorney licensed in MD can help you find out if courts generally support that reading.

    Perhaps, but I’d recommend a Connecticut attorney instead.

    This clinic may be of help:

    https://www.law.uconn.edu/academics/clinics-experiential-learning/center-childrens-advocacy

    This one is less likely to be of help, but might be able to steer you in the right direction:

    https://law.yale.edu/studying-law-yale/clinical-and-experiential-learning/our-clinics/sol-and-lillian-goldman-family-advocacy-children-and-youth-clinic

  22. Backroads July 11, 2017 at 11:13 am #

    And my friend’s mother last year had other parents chide her for following around her grandson at a woodsy park (because he looked at least twice his age and she was just trying to keep a little baby out of trouble.) They said “we’re not following around our 3-4 year-olds!” (He was 16 months at the time, the child is the Hulk).

  23. Emily July 11, 2017 at 11:21 am #

    >>Please, folks, a 3.5 year old is NOT a toddler! She’s probably been walking for over 2 years now and is probably pretty darn good at it – way past toddling, anyway. Preschoolers are fundamentally different than toddlers – leagues ahead developmentally speaking. A preschooler is generally capable of playing alone with a parent watching from a distance. By that age, parents have a pretty good idea of what their kid is or isn’t likely to do.<<

    Agreed. I have a friend who has a son about that age (he'll be four in November), and he's not a toddler anymore. He talks well, walks well, runs well, he can ride a scooter, and he's been learning how to ice skate and roller skate. He's been to preschool, and he'll be starting junior kindergarten in the fall. My friend believes in "attachment parenting," but even she was happy when he began to be able to play without her or her partner right there with him……..yes, even in public places, even at the beach. Even when he was, not quite two (during a beach excursion), she let him play freely (albeit with us watching him) because she knew that he was smart enough not to run into the road, and he didn't. Now, I haven't visited the future, but I imagine that my friend's son will probably have less trouble being left without his parents on the first day of junior kindergarten, than the children whose parents were afraid to venture more than ten feet away from them up until that point.

  24. ggg July 11, 2017 at 11:31 am #

    Mom admits she thought her kid would be OK because other adults were nearby. But then why did she not just have a conversation with them? “Hey, can you keep an eye on him for a little while?” is not so hard.

    Sounds like she was expecting them to watch her kid, without even asking, and then getting mad when they didn’t want to, because she didn’t ask.

  25. James Pollock July 11, 2017 at 11:37 am #

    I’d like to digress a bit on the nature of “contempt of cop”. It’s a bit of a tangent, so if you aren’t interested, skip to the next comment now.

    “Contempt of cop” happens because cops have broad discretion. They can choose to write you a ticket, or they can choose to let you off with a warning. There’s a range of factors that goes into such decision-making, and one of those factors is how you choose to interact with the cop. This is true of any job in which customer-service is part of the job. (yes, it can be abused, and I’ll get to that… let’s establish first that SOME discretion on the part of the cops is right and proper and that we prefer that to the alternative.) Speaking of the alternative, it’s zero-tolerance. Zero-tolerance is when we remove the discretion, the authority to make decisions in the field, and instead require that all offenses be treated the same. Some states have this for cases of domestic violence, and when they do, the rules and laws are called “must arrest”. Some states have them in cases of drug possession… possession of any amount, no matter how small, triggers an arrest requirement. It’s a binary choice… either the field agents have discretion to choose how to respond, or they do not. If they have that discretion, it’s possible that it may be abused, and if they don’t, then they don’t.

    But wait. Shouldn’t I, a free citizen, have the freedom to exercise my right to criticize agents of the government doing their government work, without fear of reprisal? Doesn’t this apply from the President on down to the assistant dogcatcher, and every government official in between? Yes, but… wait, what? “yes, but…” what??? If you are completely innocent of any crime, then you are free to do or say as you like. If you AREN’T innocent of any crime, if you ARE guilty, you give up some of your rights. If you are guilty of a felony, you surrender your right to go where you like for a period of at least a year, and afterward, you surrender your right to possess a firearm, despite remaining a citizen. In a handful of states, you surrender your right to vote. There are even a few rights you surrender if the government (through its agent) can reasonably suspect you of being guilty. The government can require you to stand trial, at the time and place of its choosing, if there is enough evidence to suggest you are guilty of a crime. There are rules (and a lot of them) governing what you can and can’t do, and what the government can and can’t do, with regards to being suspected but not convicted of a crime.
    OK, so a government agent (cop) can’t single you out from out of the blue with no reason and decide to hold you and accuse you of a crime, but if there is reason to suspect that you are guilty of a crime, your rights constrict a bit. Lawyers will tell you a question to ask a cop is “am I free to leave?” but sometimes the answer is “no, you aren’t”

    OK. Let’s apply it to the real world. OK, the real world that I am imagining right now. Suppose that you have been pulled over by a cop because you were driving 5 miles over the posted speed limit. Applying the distinction above, it’s possible that the cop has no discretion… having initiated a traffic stop because you were over the speed limit, the cop is now required to issue a ticket. You’re guilty, so you have no right to complain. Assuming the much more likely case, which is that having pulled you over (properly), the cop now has some discretion in whether to write up a ticket or to let you off with a warning. There are lots of reasons why you might have been over the speed limit, and some of them are better than others. Maybe your speedometer is miscalibrated. Maybe the view of the speed-limit sign was obstructed. Maybe the speed limit changed, and you were decelerating to the lower speed limit when the cop pulled you over. Or maybe you’re an entitled jackass who doesn’t think rules like speed limits apply to you. Since some reasons are better than others, the cop is authorized to take the reason into account when deciding whether a warning is appropriate, or a ticket (which also means that the cop’s assessment of your truthfulness in providing the reason is fair game, too. Being pregnant and having contractions might be a good reason to exceed the speed limit as you travel to the hospital or doctor’s office… but the cop might not believe that this is actually the reason you were doing so it you are, say, clearly not pregnant because you are a male person.) To review, the cop’s discretion of whether or not to cite you for speeding doesn’t extend to a right to stop you because they don’t like the way you look or for something you said… but if they have stopped you for violating the speed limit, then what you say to them and how you say it can be used to decide if you get a warning or a citation.

    So, if person A gets pulled over and provides a good reason for being over the speed limit and convinces the cop that they don’t routinely drive dangerously and gets let off with a warning, that’s fine… the cop’s job with regard to traffic enforcement is to ensure that people don’t drive dangerously, and that’s what has happened. If the cop then pulls over person B, who can’t provide a good reason for being over the speed limit and the cop assesses that person’s behavior as suggesting that they will, in fact, resume driving dangerously as soon as the traffic stop is concluded, and the cop therefore decides to write up a citation, this is again in keeping with the police’s role in traffic enforcement. Drivers A and B got different results from their traffic stops because there was a difference between their overall behavior. But what about drivers C and D, whose traffic stops were identical in every way except that person C was contrite, respectful, and apologetic, and got a warning, and driver D, who was belligerent, confrontational, and aggressive, and got a ticket? I’ll argue that this is still right and proper. Now, when driver E comes along, and gets pulled over the DWB, that’s a different thing… there’s no actual offense, or arguable case that says being black suggests that a driver was probably going to violate traffic laws and needed an interaction with law-enforcement to put them back on the straight and narrow…the point of traffic enforcement is to ensure that people drive safely, and DWB doesn’t threaten anyone’s safety or well-being, while speeding, improperly changing lanes, or failing to signal all may (along with the other traffic laws).

    I think the case, as outlined here, is weak because several elements of the charged crime are not clearly met. But there is enough to make an arrest justified and proper, because the requirements for arrest are lower than the requirements for conviction. Because I think an arrest was justified, I don’t think the cop abused his or her discretion in choosing to arrest rather than choosing not to arrest. (That said, the decision to arrest one parent who was present but not the other parent who was present is a different question.)
    Put another way, treating all cases of “contempt of cop” as if they were cases of abuse of discretion is incorrect, and I think this was a case of “contempt of cop”, but not a case of abuse of discretion.

    If you made it all the way through to here, good for you (I think).
    .

  26. James Pollock July 11, 2017 at 11:43 am #

    “>An attorney licensed in MD can help you find out if courts generally support that reading.

    Perhaps, but I’d recommend a Connecticut attorney instead.”

    D’oh! I was thinking of the Meitivs.
    Yes, an attorney licensed in (insert correct state here) is what you want. (Although (attorney licensed in incorrect state) is probably better than (random person on the Internet with incomplete information, even if they do know everything about everything).

  27. Peter Brülls July 11, 2017 at 12:03 pm #

    Okay, I’m out, and will unsubscribe from this blog. Not because I don’t agree with its content, but because I literally can’t learn anything from it. It was somewhat interesting to see American points of view and the challenges American parents face, but as the father of a five year old in Germany, the experiences featured in this blog read like letters from Bizarro world, where everything my mother, wife, other parents or I do, could be a criminal offense.

    If you want to experience that feeling: Read a couple of articles from The Onion and tell yourself, that those are real news from another country.

    Fellow free range parents in the States: I wish you best of luck.

  28. Theresa Hall July 11, 2017 at 12:38 pm #

    A go fund me page and a shark of a lawyer will help. Peter I am sorry that you’re going. Lots of us in the states wish to easily free range but somewhere along the way the worrywarts and busy bodies got power so when we don’t play the game called life their way they punish us and can run our lives. If your big bosses aren’t doing that even a bit then you are lucky.

  29. Jessica July 11, 2017 at 1:10 pm #

    Peter
    You are making the same mistake as the people who say “I just read two stories about abducted children; I’m not letting my child outside ever again”.

    Each of these blog posts, while dramatic, represents something very unusual. I am sure that the US is much more helicoptery than Germany. However, it is not at all correct to say “everybody lives in fear of child protective services/police all the time.” Of course my 5-year-old plays alone, goes places alone, etc. I hope he won’t be hit by a car; I hope nobody will call the police on me for neglect. Both of those possibilities, while remote, are frightening. I do not let them paralyze me.

  30. lightbright July 11, 2017 at 1:15 pm #

    “It was for allowing my 3 year old to play in the sand with 2 other little children while I watched from a distance while helping my two older daughters with fishing off a jetty. I measured on Google Earth and I was never more than 75 yards away, on a quiet evening with few people on the beach.”

    If you’re enough of a busybody to call the police, you’re enough of one to go after the kid if she decides to wander into the water and practice her crawl stroke. It would take an entire beach full of sociopaths to sit back and watch this child drown because Mom can’t get there in time from 75 feet away.

    The child was occupied with sand, and “baby-sitting” wasn’t necessary. If a problem occurred, even just a petty squabble with other kids, a simple, “Where’s your mom? Let’s go talk to her.” would suffice.

    People who clutch their pearls over these matters need to learn what *real* child neglect looks like. I could–but won’t–link to several news stories of child neglect that would make your skin crawl.

  31. lightbright July 11, 2017 at 1:19 pm #

    I would further caution parents not to engage the cops in legal matters. You never know when you’re going to get the one with a fragile ego and power complex, as this unfortunate woman did.

    We should probably all have the National Association of Parents in our cell phone directories, if nothing else to get a local referral.

  32. Peter July 11, 2017 at 2:05 pm #

    Another Katie, you’re as responsible as you want to be.

    Consider the dangers of the beach. We’re talking about a 3 year-old. I doubt the kid was digging her way to China, so I wouldn’t be too concerned about the collapse of a sand hole. Granted, depending on where the sand was, a wave could come in and sweep her out to sea. But for the most part, unless the kid gets up and wanders over to the shoreline to get some wet sand–which is a possibility–I doubt they’re going to drown in the sand.

    So it’s mostly, “Oh my god! I saw this thing on the news and believe it’s an everyday occurrence unless a parent keeps an eye on their kids at all times! And if the kid’s parent isn’t around, I guess I’ll have to do it.”

    Frankly, “I am being put upon because I have to watch your child and make sure she doesn’t drown” is entirely in your mind. If you don’t want to watch someone else’s kid, don’t.

    I mean, you’re talking about “What if the kid has special needs?” You’re acting like you’re the kid’s babysitter and need to know everything about this child because she happens to be playing with your kids. This is a role that you took on. Now if my kid starts screaming and throwing sand at your kids and such, you might have to interfere. But, for the most part, the concerns you bring up belong to the child’s parent. Horrible things could happen–I won’t deny that. But nobody asked you to babysit the kid. It’s a duty you are taking on.

    This is sort of what we’re talking about here. You’re basically deciding that this kid–happily playing in the sand–is in some mortal danger (they’re not) and that you must be the one to protect them (you don’t). And then you complain about having to do this thing that you don’t have to do.

  33. jennifer July 11, 2017 at 2:08 pm #

    Random aside, but some of us use the word “toddler” at that age because we opt not to define a child’s existence in relationship to school. Unfortunately, as school has become so all encompassing of childhood it becomes difficult to communicate efficiently – but when I use “toddler” what I am going for is “not quite a young child” because my 3 yr old is quite different than her 5 yr old friends.

    @Dienne Attachment Parenting and Free Range are 100% compatible. In fact, nearly all free range parents I know started out as AP parents of infants 🙂

    It also seems that some of the risk assessment may be related to how close the child is to the water. If the playing children were several tens of feet upland there would be little reason to be concerned, assuming the child was not a bolter (and this goes back to parents knowing their children best). I had several children who avoided water like the plague at that age – I hardly had to pay any mind to them at all at pools, beaches, etc because they were going nowhere near it.

  34. Betsy July 11, 2017 at 2:11 pm #

    Last fall I left my nine-year-old son playing on a playground while I was with my daughter in the same park for her 18m photo shoot. He was informed of our location and when we changed locations. He got bored with the playground and decided to sit on a bench near our car and wait for us. We were at the park for less than an hour total which means my 9yo son was “on his own” for maybe 30 minutes.
    Some mom at the playground decided that X being by himself was bad and called the cops. When I walked back to the playground, he was crying and being guarded by the cop. When I saw X with the cop, I began to panic that something truly bad had happened to him. I asked what was going on and was told that the cop was called because my son had been playing by himself for over an hour. I asked if we broke a law and was informed that we hadn’t but that I should be more concerned because there was that girl that was just taken who lived four towns away….I said it is statistically incorrect that my son was in danger; furthermore, if this park is so unsafe shouldn’t he be looking for bad guys instead of moms of not-lost children. After some back-n-forth with me trying as hard as I could to keep my temper in check, I asked if I was being charged with anything and could I please go.
    I then spent the next 30 minutes explaining to my exteremly scared and apologetic child that he had done nothing wrong, that I wasn’t mad at him, I was angry with the woman who called the cops which made my son scared and think he had done something wrong. It has become a bit of joke around our house now, but at the time it was pretry annoying.
    The worst part of the story in the Lanore”s post isn’t that the mom was arrested or even the jerk-people who called the cops; it is the lasting effects of seeing their mother hauled off in a cop car and not being able to understand why. That 3.5yo believed herself to be safe and knew that Mom and Dad were nearby; then the cops came and took mommy away. This wasn’t about the well being of the child; this was about one set of people tattling on a non-conforming person. If the tatting-people were really concerned for the child or even their own level of annoyance, they could been grownups and used their words. But they wanted to make a point and prove something to someone. This was not about child safety.

  35. Archimedes July 11, 2017 at 2:16 pm #

    Seems to me it comes down to the kid. My daughter, at 3.5 last year, was at far less risk than my 6 year old on the beach. He’d just started swimming without assistance and was cocky as hell.

    If she wanted in the water, she would get assistance getting her life jacket every single time, and stay close. I was comfortable getting further away from her because of consistent, demonstrated behaviour on her part.

    Alone on Daytona beach with them, my biggest worry for her was morons driving irresponsibly. I kept closer to the older child, because, as a lunatic, he was more at risk.

    If the other parents had to repeatedly intervene to keep the 3.5 year old out of the water and safe, I’d be inclined towards negligence. If they were just worried about something that never actually happened, then the parents exercised good judgement.

  36. Dienne July 11, 2017 at 2:54 pm #

    “@Dienne Attachment Parenting and Free Range are 100% compatible.”

    Did I say otherwise?

  37. aebhel July 11, 2017 at 3:01 pm #

    I’d probably be annoyed if some stranger left their three-year-old with me and wandered off, but assuming I knew where they were (which these parents obviously did), it seems a hell of a lot easier to just go over to the mom and say, look, I don’t have the time/energy/desire to keep an eye on your kid, could you or your spouse please deal with it?

    I mean, I get the annoyance. Maybe just because my kid’s a runner, but I wouldn’t leave her near a large body of water if I wasn’t in relatively quick grabbing distance, and assuming that some stranger will be happy to chase after her if she wanders off seems pretty presumptuous (and even if the kid in question isn’t a runner, the other parent doesn’t know that). Where this goes completely off the rails is where they *called the cops* instead of just going over to have a word with the mom here.

  38. George July 11, 2017 at 3:08 pm #

    James says that the mom was in the wrong for implicitly imposing on other moms.

    Since when is that a crime? A lot of behavior is rude, but not criminal. If those moms were reluctantly watching the kid, then the kid was supervised, and there should have been no arrest.

  39. Miriam Drukker July 11, 2017 at 3:14 pm #

    Our society is so focused on judging and punishing, that they forgot other ways of dealing.
    In what world will a child be safe once the mother is not 100 yards away, but locked and under arrest? If the father and other adults weren’t there to take care of the child – they are basically forcing upon themselves the unwanted babysitting job that they had to endure until then. If not directly, than indirectly. Did they think the child is safer in the foster system? Do they think that the children are unharmed when they witness other adults cheering at the thought of their parent, their caregiver, taken away?
    Maybe they are right, maybe kids ARE in constant danger of being abducted. Not by a criminal, but by the unkind parts of our community and the legal system.

  40. E July 11, 2017 at 3:48 pm #

    “Since when is that a crime? A lot of behavior is rude, but not criminal. If those moms were reluctantly watching the kid, then the kid was supervised, and there should have been no arrest.”

    I think James is also the one who pointed out that her charge is not related to the child supervision, but rather her interaction with the cop.

    Anyway, a quick conversation with the nearby parents would have allowed the parent(s) of the 3 year old to know if they were cool or not or if they were planning to leave shortly or whatever. It’s a huge presumption that they were fine with this arrangement as you go almost a football field away. My brother used to “presume” that because we were watching our son, that having his son along was always ok. It was presumptuous from a family member and even more so if it’s a complete stranger.

    I wouldn’t go up to the snack bar at our pool and leave my 3 year old near the edge w/o specific supervision. I’m not going to presume that someone is going to jump in after him (or even that a life guard would notice). I don’t think any water safety people would agree with 75 yard distance from a 3 year old at the beach.

    So yeah, don’t call the cops on parents just to be a jerk even if you disagree, but don’t presume people are cool with watching your kid at the beach. One is mean, one is dumb/rude.

  41. Eric S July 11, 2017 at 4:20 pm #

    @James: “…You were arrested for “contempt of cop”.” Exactly! Some cops don’t like being undermined, and made to look stupid because they were. Especially in public.

    @Jessica: “Contempt of cop” ISN’T a thing. But that’s the reason why she go arrested, because cop felt slighted. So he named some random charge, just so that he can arrest her. Sometimes the charges don’t even have to stick, they just use to make the arrest. Put her in distress, make her fearful of loosing her children. Basically fear tactics, and “in your face” from the cop. Stupidity on the part of the cop and the rat mothers. Sanctimonious mofos!

  42. Eric S July 11, 2017 at 4:23 pm #

    Trophy wives with trophy children. That’s all I see in this story. The only normal people seem to be the ones that got snitched on.

  43. Alanna Mozzer July 11, 2017 at 4:25 pm #

    The police certainly have better things to do, and their time is being wasted with “emergency” calls like this. If those parents did not want to watch her child, they should have just taken the child’s hand and brought him or her over to the mother and asked the mother to watch the child.

  44. CTYankee July 11, 2017 at 4:35 pm #

    Connecticut is a small state, but I’d hate to have to wash it. Where did this occur?

  45. Donald July 11, 2017 at 5:32 pm #

    Although it has been going on for a while, things are changing. I don’t have any statistics. However, I’m sure that cops aren’t reacting as overzealous as they were ten years ago. Busybodies will soon have to find another hobby such as collecting stamps. The police are getting fed up of jumping to every whim of a disapproving parent. They’ll have to find some other form of entertainment. In the not so distant future, they won’t be able to work the cops like a puppet on a string. They still can, but their power is fading.

  46. James Pollock July 11, 2017 at 5:54 pm #

    “James says that the mom was in the wrong for implicitly imposing on other moms.
    Since when is that a crime? A lot of behavior is rude, but not criminal. If those moms were reluctantly watching the kid, then the kid was supervised, and there should have been no arrest.”

    You didn’t read what I said all the way to the end, did you?
    Hint:
    I did not say “these people were justified in calling the cops on you, and the cops were justified in arresting and citing you.” There were justified in thinking unkind thoughts about you, and telling you about them when you came within range.

  47. Liz July 11, 2017 at 6:14 pm #

    CT has gone child-welfare insane. I’m willing to bet that this happened in Fairfield, where they actively hunt parents at gas stations, who go in to grab a gallon of milk while leaving their child alone in the car. When the “no child under 12 may be alone in a car, for any length of time or for any reason” law went into effect, instead of doing a public service announcement or making the public aware (those of us following these kinds of things knew about it, most others had no idea) they just started waiting in gas stations and arresting people, because “ignorance of the law does not create exemption from it.” And Fairfield has been one of the worst for these arrests.
    Just today, they had a news report on the radio about a father who was arrested under that law because he left his 10, 6 and 22-month-old children in his car “FOR TWENTY MINUTES!” (That’s how the woman reading it emphasized it.) It turned out that the guy had warrants out, so grabbing him wasn’t a bad idea, but come on, if the 10- and 6-year-olds don’t know how the windows, doors and locks work on the car, there’s bigger problems than them being alone.
    The irony of all of these arrests is that CT has no age at which it becomes legal to leave your child home alone. The law reads that it’s up to the parent’s discretion. So an 11-year-old can be left home alone for however long the parent wants, but can’t sit alone in the car while the parent gets milk from the gas station?
    That law was brought to us by one of the mothers of a child who died in a hot car. The toddler, who was forgotten by the father when he went to work. Even though she no longer lives here, she has gotten one of our senators to introduce federal legislation to put alarms in cars to alert parents when there’s a child in them (Or maybe just the car seat? They were not clear on that.). They ran an article in the newspapers, and they quoted a statistic of how man children die in hot cars, not yearly in this state, but for the last 27 years in the entire country. And now every single new car will have to have this alarm installed, if the legislation passes. I’m all for additional safety features, but this seems insane to me, to include on every new car every single person purchases, adding to the purchase price for everyone. Why not have it be voluntary, an additional feature you can purchase, or one that can be added later when you have a child in a car seat under an age where they can’t let themselves out of it, and have it turned off again when they’re out of the car seat? This may be the Libertarian in me speaking, but it’s such a massive amount of government overreach.
    My heart breaks for the families of children who are kidnapped by strangers in public places, or forgotten in cars, but ruining other people’s lives because you have the misguided belief that you’re “better” than they are, or that you have the magic bullet to fix a problem, isn’t the answer.
    Children’s lives are not made better by having a parent with an arrest record, or forbid, prison time.
    Plus, the father wasn’t arrested? He was there too, just not too far away from the child? Does a child need not one but two parents hovering over them every minute of every single day (the entire day, no slacking to sleep at night!)?

  48. Another Katie July 11, 2017 at 6:28 pm #

    Peter – because the mother here basically assumed that the other parents would watch her kid. She says as much in her email.

    Supervising doesn’t mean hovering; IMO with a 3 year old at a crowded beach it does mean being close enough to easily see if there’s a legitimate safety issue and intervening rapidly if necessary. 75 yards away out on a jetty is too far. Free Range doesn’t mean ignoring potential real risks.

    I’m not justifying the police being called or charges being filed, far from it – but it was presumptuous of her to just walk away with the other kids and expect the other parents to be cool with watching a stranger’s preschooler. I think it was a crappy parenting choice but not worthy of having her arrested.

    Also, when I responded this morning I somehow read it as being a 2.5 year old vs. 3.5 year old. There is a difference even with just one more year of development.

  49. Resident Iconoclast July 11, 2017 at 6:31 pm #

    I’m sure Lenore will let me know if there’s a fundraiser for this mom. I’m in for $100 for legal fees.

    But…here’s another important thing for the defendant mother to know. Lawyers are good, and necessary, and doing the right thing in court is absolutely mandatory. But there’s another side of this, which anyone who knows Gloria Allred will tell you.

    Jewish parents? Group? They should show up in court of course and be on hand to talk to the media…

    But why wait. In Tacoma Washington, in the late 1990’s, the local CPS thought it was advisable to snatch the child of two African-American parents. The reason, as in many cases, was as flimsy as can be.

    The parents caught the CPS goons flat-footed. Before they called anyone at CPS, and before they even thought of groveling, they were in touch with a local TV station. That night, on the evening news, the articulate parents were shown cogently arguing that the CPS theft of their child was an overtly racist gesture, completely unjustified by the circumstances. In other words, the parents went on the offensive, just at the time some social worker was expecting to have her ass kissed.

    Instead, the state quickly moved to do some kissing of its own.

    Now, I don’t know much about the circumstances of the mom’s problem, but I know enough about politics that it sure wouldn’t hurt to be on the media calling out the complaining busybodies as a bunch of antisemitic retrogrades. And, of course, could I afford it I’d be sure to have a good lawyer to put those other wheels in motion, too.

    As far as the affording it part goes, that’s where we can help. For the other part, when you hear stories of women getting arrested merely for “contempt of cop,” and somehow you forgot all that bullshit propaganda from your school days, about it being a “free country,” then I think it it happens to you it’s all good to bitch. And bring some company, because there’s strength in numbers. There’s a reason why the Black Panthers drove Nixon and the government nuts.

  50. Beth July 11, 2017 at 6:51 pm #

    “I’d probably be annoyed if some stranger left their three-year-old with me and wandered off, but assuming I knew where they were (which these parents obviously did), it seems a hell of a lot easier to just go over to the mom and say, look, I don’t have the time/energy/desire to keep an eye on your kid, could you or your spouse please deal with it?”

    Please read Peter’s post above. This mom did not ask anyone to look after her child, nor did she feel anyone needed to. Your time/energy/desire is immaterial if all the kids are doing is playing.

  51. Theresa Hall July 11, 2017 at 7:51 pm #

    Resident could you please send a link of CPS getting their but kicked. I love stories about CPS getting their but kicked.it so rare.

  52. Momof8 July 11, 2017 at 9:12 pm #

    What these people did to this mom was attention-seeking and self-righteous. If their intentions were pure -to protect the child- they could’ve voiced concerns to the mom. But they stewed in their indignation and hate and fed off each other until a minor annoyance became a major crime. (Don’t get me started on the cop.)

    I’ve been the parent who has involuntarily watched an unknown child a few times, maybe because people think we have so many kids, what’s the diff if another one joins?

    Yes, the more the merrier, until the child actually NEEDS watching, is misbehaving (hitting, taking toys) and needs correcting, and then what? (Obv not the case here.) Other then that, they are welcome to join us, but I prefer that the parent(s) make introductions. Seems courteous, is not required.

  53. James Pollock July 11, 2017 at 9:48 pm #

    “This mom did not ask anyone to look after her child, nor did she feel anyone needed to.”

    You apparently read a different article than I did.
    This one says
    “The parents of the other children were hovering over them, so I felt it completely safe”
    It does not say. “It was safe, so I didn’t pay any attention to where the other parents were.”

    It says (paraphrasing) well, my kid was farther away than I might have liked, but these were the only other kids nearby, then offers a false choice between way over there with those other kids and right here on the jetty with me”, as if all that space in between wasn’t a choice. Why wasn’t it a choice? (I’m inserting here) because there were no parents in all those spaces in between to watch my kid for me.

    Later on, it says “It felt like a completely safe environment with many eyes on the children.” Not “It felt like a completely safe environment. Nobody needed to watch the children.”

    You ARE correct that she didn’t ask these other parents to watch her child. That’s the problem. She just assumed they would, without asking them. That’s not something I made up. That’s from her own account.

    But let’s turn it up a notch. You (and I) have only one side of the story, and it’s (gasp) possible that it might be biased slightly, either by reason of outright deception or by the person telling the story not having all the facts. (No, I’m not claiming that either is true. I’m pointing out that either one or both are possibly true, we we don’t know. We know nothing about the other parents in this story. (Look for the value judgments presented as facts in the narrative above. Look for the strawmen arguments offered as fact.)

  54. aebhel July 11, 2017 at 9:49 pm #

    @Beth, I disagree. She explicitly says that she was okay with leaving her kid there *because* the other parents were there. To me, that implies that she wouldn’t have left her kid playing alone that far away in that situation; she felt it was completely safe because the other parents were ‘hovering’, not because her kid is mature enough on her own not to get into trouble or wander off.

    The other parents (and the cop) were clearly in the wrong here, but that’s still rude.

  55. Becky July 11, 2017 at 11:42 pm #

    1) There is no beach in CT where a wave can wash you away. All the water is Long Island Sound or rivers or lakes. There are no large ocean waves–except perhaps in a major storm, which surely wasn’t occuring in this event. So, if the child is trusted not to enter the water, which is very plausible at that age, she is safe from the dangers of the water.

    2) When you know your kid, and you are keeping a loose eye on them, leaving them like that should be fine. It’s all about knowing your kid. Which the other parents did not, so they can’t judge. But in the time they were near the child, they (as far as we can tell) did not see the kid head to the water, kick, hit, bite, insult, throw sand, take toys, dive into a sand hole, etc. So there was no concern about the child’s safety. So, by the end, they knew the child a bit. They didn’t know for sure that those things couldn’t happen, as that amount of time isn’t long enough to assess a child, but it didn’t happen, so for the time being, no problem. But the mom, if she let the child go, did know it was highly unlikely to occur. Without knowing all the info, you can’t judge a situation.

    3) The way the story goes, I may have been annoyed about this other child just joining in our family fun. Sometimes, you finally get the family together and want just the family and adding someone else messes up the rare and cherished family interaction. I’ve definitely had other kids come over and just endlessly ask questions or tell long-winded and boring stories. But their parents soon arrived and brought the kid back, or we just went off somewhere else. Or, sometimes, I felt like the kid needed extra attention, and listened. The other side is that maybe the other kids really liked playing with that child and he/she brought something good to the interaction. It could go either way. You never know. So, letting your child (who you know to operate safely and politely) go off to play with others can be fine, but you have to watch and see the others’ reactions and retrieve the child if the new people don’t seem to care for the “intruder.” Perhaps there wasn’t even time to asses this; I don’t know. I comepletely agree that if the parents weren’t happy about this other kid (as they could possibly not be), they could easily have waved mom over or one could have brought the kid to mom. NO need to call the cops.

    4) Finally, when you have children of different ages under your care, it is quite likely one or some may have to be more on their own. It happens very often at a playground. A mom watches or feeds a baby, while the older ones (who should not have to sit by mom’s side for this) go off and play, and even make friends with other kids. Or mom teaches older kids to do monkey bars and the younger ones have no interest and do younger kid things, elsewhere. They sometimes play with the other moms, who are playing with their kids. When I do this, I watch, however. But the moms may not know I’m watching, ’till I suddenly appear to remind the child not to tug on others’ moms or ask other people for food, etc. You can’t actually assume mom isn’t on hand. Moms have a knack for watching when they look like they aren’t and for knowing far more than you think.

    5) If the callers truly cared about the child, they would not have put it in a situation where it would be forced to be without its mom, without her watchful eye. Now, the child may have to be left a bit more, out of necessity, because mom is gone and it’s just dad. How does that help?

    In summary, it was presumptious, but we don’t know the child or the whole story, and it seems mom was watching more than the parents assumed. The beach was likely safe. Dad apparently was watching, too. So, the arrest is ridiculous. How can kids learn to be on their own if they aren’t ever on their own?????

    I certainly hope that the 911 calling parents are called as witnesses and have to spend many many many hours sitting in court when they could otherwise be at the beach. This might teach them to not be so ridiculous and just think of the simple solution and the consequences that can occur by calling the cops. They should be found guilty of wasting police time, causing unneeded arrest and mom-child separation, and have to babysit for these children whenever the mom needs it–not that she really wants those parents around her kids.

    I don’t know all the legal ins and outs or the scenarios of what could happen, but I would say to publicize this as much as possible and get people riled up against the calling parents. But be ready for others, who are equally crazy, to take their side. Play up the part about knowing your child and how you knew she’d stay safe and that you were (if you were) actually watching the situation whether they could tell or not. Don’t emphasize the part about knowing your child was safe ’cause of the other parents. People will blow that out of proportion and focus on the fact you just assumed others would watch your child and make that be the negative part. Maybe your daughter went off and found these people and that’s where she landed, as opposed to you sending her to them? You were watching and all looked good, but you were ready to step in if not. And don’t forget about dad’s presence. And play up the trauma to your child of having you hauled off in the cop car. Publicizing this maybe could turn some peoples’ mind back to normal and make them see that calling the cops has far more negative consequences than they had considered.

  56. Donald July 11, 2017 at 11:59 pm #

    I know little of ‘Contempt of Cop’. However, I know about human nature and how people reflect onto you what you give them. If I try to make things difficult for the cop, I shouldn’t be surprised if the cop tries to make things difficult for me. This is so obvious to me that I have a hard time understanding why others don’t realise this. Mike Tang gave us a great example of this.

    http://www.freerangekids.com/mike-tang-the-dad-convicted-for-making-son-walk-a-mile-responds-to-critics-and-offers-of-assistance/

    I certainly don’t side with the other parents. It sounds like mob mentality getting stoned from a ‘judgmental high’. The cop may have even been a Nazi. However, I still believe that our response helps to steer the outcome.

  57. James Pollock July 12, 2017 at 1:03 am #

    “in the time they were near the child, they (as far as we can tell) did not see the kid head to the water, kick, hit, bite, insult, throw sand, take toys, dive into a sand hole, etc. So there was no concern about the child’s safety.”

    You pulled that out of your… er, gluteal region. Here, I’ll do the same thing, with the opposite bias.
    In the time they were near the child, they (as far as we can tell) were subjected to a non-stop barrage of steering the strange lady’s kid away from the water, kicking, hitting, biting, bad language, sand-throwing, and the like. No wonder the parents were pissed at this lady who supervised her child from way over on the jetty…

    “Without knowing all the info, you can’t judge a situation.”
    These are the right words, but then you go on to, well, judge the situation rather more than a bit.

    “they could easily have waved mom over”
    Or, maybe they did wave and yell and wave and yell, and mom was too busy with her other kids to notice. (yes, here it is again… filling in details and making assumptions with a different bias. The difference is, I don’t state MY assumptions and imagined details as fact.)

    ” Moms have a knack for watching when they look like they aren’t and for knowing far more than you think. ”
    This is true. But, here we have a case where the mother did not detect how unhappy the adults near her child were at her extended distance. That’s not a favorable indicator of the degree of attention being paid to this child (by either parent, apparently.) When my child was little and playing outdoors, I didn’t follow her around. But I was close enough so that she could get my attention immediately, even if I was doing something like reading a book.
    The mother in this story presents two choices… “no more than 75 yards away” and “within 10 feet at all times”… as if these were the only two possible choices. It’s possible to say “listen, you need to be closer than 75 yards away from your kid” without implying “get no more than 10 feet away from your kid”. It’s possible to say “you know what, it’s not being 75 yards away that’s the problem, it’s STAYING 75 yards away, without even checking up on your kid, for so long” without implying “anyone who’s 75 feet away from their kid on a beach is a terrible mother who neglects their kid.”

    “I don’t know all the legal ins and outs or the scenarios of what could happen, but I would say to publicize this as much as possible and get people riled up against the calling parents.”
    This is called “a rush to judgment”. You’ve decided who is right and who is wrong after listening to only one side of a dispute.

  58. Donald July 12, 2017 at 1:24 am #

    @james I’ll beat you to it

    “This is called “a rush to judgment”. You’ve decided who is right and who is wrong after listening to only one side of a dispute.”

    I probably did this as well when I said, “It sounds like mob mentality getting stoned from a ‘judgmental high’.”

    However, the main point that I’m trying to make is that we can easily aggravate the situation without even realizing it. Mike Tang gave us an example that sometimes this is the default setting on their attitude.

  59. James Pollock July 12, 2017 at 2:09 am #

    “However, the main point that I’m trying to make is that we can easily aggravate the situation without even realizing it.”

    This is true. It can even be the case that you can aggravate the situation knowing full well that you’re doing so, but not caring that this is what you are doing, and sometimes you can even find yourself in a situation where you’re making things worse, and you can see that you’re making it worse, and not want to make it worse, but not seem to find any path that doesn’t make it worse.

    Another aspect of human nature is that we want things to be simple. Binary choices are simple… this or that. Yes or no. Right or wrong. But… things often aren’t simple, and things that look like binary choices, or that we might really wish are binary choices, are just NOT a binary choice.

    You’ll often see this in a reduction to tribalism in politics. You are either one of US or you are one of THEM, and we like all of US, and we hate all of THEM with all the venom we can muster. If you want to be one of US you must agree with us about EVERYTHING, and if you don’t fall into line on ANYTHING, you MUST be one of THEM. I take nuanced, centrist positions on most political issues, which means I get plenty of “He’s one of THEM!!!” from both sides, often at the same time.

    What I insist on, though, is making decisions from as much information as possible. You get better decisions when you have more information, and worse decisions when you have less information. Some people, nice enough, really, for the most part, get “information” that just isn’t, well, factual. And then they use that “information” to make decisions. And you know what? They really, REALLY don’t like it when some know-it-all SOB on the Internet points out that, well, they’re working from false information. And it doesn’t help things, at all, that the know-it-all SOB is actually right.

    Which brings us to the subject of “spin”. This means the presentation of facts in such a way as to lead to the desired conclusion. If it’s done with ONLY facts, then it’s called “debate” and is about who can marshal the most or the best facts to support the conclusion they’re advocating. Outside of a few limited academic areas, however, it is NOT done that way. For example, if you leave out facts that are contrary to your conclusion, or use emotional appeals or logical fallacies in addition to or in addition to facts, or just flat-out lie about what the facts are, you can get people to make decisions based on emotion rather than on the facts.

    In the old days, journalists kept news strictly separate from opinion. They were literally on different pages, clearly labeled, and sometimes in completely different sections, back when newspapers (remember newspapers?) had more than one section. Broadcasters (radio and TV), because they use radio frequencies that are owned by the people of the country and not the broadcast company, were subjected to rules that required them to balance the opinions offered, which meant that broadcasters generally avoided any opinions at all, because they’d be required to give equal airtime for free to “responsible, opposing viewpoints”. That changed during the Reagan administration. They decided to drop the Fairness Doctrine, and AM talk radio boomed right after that, with radio hosts who offered nothing but opinion… Cable television news followed suit, and now, even local television news has a significant opinion slant to it. (and no, it is not a liberal one, popular as that myth is.) The Internet, on the other hand, has NEVER had any kind of Fairness Doctrine applied to it. Anyone can say pretty much anything on the Internet, and people tend to seek out content on the Internet that agrees with the opinions they already have. Today’s generation gets its information pretty much exclusively from the Internet, which means we have fragmented subgroups of Americans, all of them getting their information from biased sources that tend to agree with them. This makes it more important now than ever before for people to have information-acquisition skills, to sort out things that are true from things that they really, really wish were true.

    Republicans really, really believed that Hillary was guilty of crimes and would be prosecuted for them as soon as their guy won. (No, she isn’t guilty of crimes. Sorry, guys.) Democrats were really, really sure that Americans were too smart to elect such an obviously-unqualified candidate as, er, the guy who won. Republicans are really, really sure that there’s no truth to the Russia thing, and people who keep bringing it up are just sour-graping because they didn’t win the election. Democrats are waiting for the impeachment that is so obviously deserved. (Full disclosure: I do not support impeachment, even though a count of obstruction of justice seems justified, because I’d rather have the twit-in-chief who can’t get anything done over the backup-twit who might be able to, but won’t do much of anything I want done, and wants to do a lot of things I don’t want done.)

  60. sexhysteria July 12, 2017 at 2:19 am #

    “53-21a: Risk of Injury to a minor” sounds like a euphemism for what the Fascists call “political crimes.”

  61. Donald July 12, 2017 at 3:38 am #

    “In the old days, journalists kept news strictly separate from opinion.”

    I remember that! Then again I’m so old, I’ve even seen a black and white television! It wasn’t in a museum either!

  62. ezymel July 12, 2017 at 4:11 am #

    Hi caring mom:

    I do feel so bad listening what you had to say and how you became the victim and treated as such. One thing I was always, not to argue with the police as that makes things a lot worse. For some reason, their way of thinking can be a complete opposite of what your thinking. It also depends how their day is going. I feel that there was no reason for an arrest and right away, you become the guilty one. I don’t know if you have to sign the report before the arrest or not. Every person has a right to defend themselves and ask for an attorney to help with your defense. Of course you would rather not have an attorney present considering the expense or one appointed to you who knows enough about the law to defend you. Of course you would have to answer to the judge which gives you the opportunity to explain what you were doing. This is really a hard one because whatever you say, you have to think very clearly. All I can say at this time is to wish you the best and hopefully the outcome will be in your favor. I have a feeling it should be.

  63. AmyP July 12, 2017 at 8:55 am #

    Recently I experienced the opposite of this and it was lovely. We went to a local park for the Fourth of July where they were going to do fireworks. It was really crowded with people having picnics/playing on the playground and splash pad for the whole afternoon. Kids of all ages were running around without their parents. I sat back and read a book under a shady tree, every now and then glancing up to glance at my children who were playing happily 100 or so yards away. The older kids even walked sometimes to the other side of the park where I couldn’t see them to check out the vendors. There were lots of other kids where I couldn’t tell where there parents were as well (not that I was searching them out). A little kid (I would say about four) came over and chatted with me for a while. I gave him one of the cupcakes he was longingly looking at and he went back to play. Some random guy even came around and gave all the kids on the playground popcicyles at one point. Nobody thought he was a kidnapper trying to lure kids or that they were poisoned. People said thank you and ate the popcicyles (a welcome treat as it was incredibly hot that day!). In this case it wasn’t even that parents were comfortable with other parents looking out for the young ones. They were comfortable with older KIDS looking out for them. It was a lovely day/night. I read the local news every morning. Next day I saw nothing about anybody getting hurt/kidnapped/arrested. Kids enjoyed meeting other kids. Adults enjoyed conversation and relaxation with each other. Certainly bad things happen sometimes. Kids get hurt. But this is how most days at the park can be if we can just be nice to the each other and not be paranoid. I feel really bad for that mom. I disagree that the mom was expecting anybody she to “babysit” her kids. Instead it just sounded like she was near enough and thought her kid was fine with or without those other parents and that the other parents would help out if there was a problem (like any normal human being) was just an aside.

  64. SKL July 12, 2017 at 9:44 am #

    Yes, been there sort of, though the busybody did not call the cops (or if she did, they didn’t do anything about it).

    Where a kid was never in any actual danger (i.e. not teetering on the edge of a dock, street, precipice), how about, for example, asking the child “where is your mom or dad”? That ought to take care of things 99.9% of the time.

  65. D Oehlberg July 12, 2017 at 10:57 am #

    If I had been there, I would not have called the cops, but I sure would have found the parents and made it clear it was their responsibility for their own child. The beach is not safe for anyone, much less a young child who really isn’t aware or concerned about dangers. Possible things that could happen: being stung by the pretty jellyfish the child picked up, a random huge wave crashing and dragging the child in the undertow, sharks (which are seen more and more now), another child getting the child to go further down the beach and out of eyesight to get lost, etc…. If I wanted a parent to watch my child, I would have the decency to go ASK. And, I sure would return the favor. Some parents use the public as their huge free babysitting arena so they can be adults. And that to me, is not free-range, but rather despicable! I guess free-range also means not teaching the lesson about stranger danger. That was what I got from this story. A public place means any and all people DO go there! My job as a parent is to gradually let my child be independent by what is appropriate for his/her age level. I wonder how many kindergarten teachers would believe this was wonderful behavior on the part of the parents. If free-range means free of responsibility, I would never agree that is a good way to raise children.

  66. Kimberly July 12, 2017 at 12:03 pm #

    I’m super strict with the kids in my family around open water. I’m a strong swimmer but I’ve nearly drowned 2 times. Once because of a head blow in the surf. The 2nd time because of a prank by teens caused me to be trapped under other tubers in a lazy river. I require non-swimmer/poor swimmers to wear US GC approved life-saving devices, swimmers have limits of how deep they can go set by the shortest swimmer in the group, and things like swimming out from the shore will get your butt stuck in the sand. (I also take the kids out to the 2nd and sometimes 3rd sandbar and the kids love me being there because I will stay in the water taking them out “deep” long after the other adults are tired out.)

    To me, it sounds like this Mom did the safest thing. (Honestly, I don’t let the kids anywhere near the Jetties off the Galveston Seawall because of the undertow and riptide). It sounds like the younger child was up the beach in the sand – with a group of people the family was part of. My impression is that her family including the father were part of this group. To me the default is if you choose to go swimming especially in open water with a group – you are agreeing to look out for everyone in the group.

    I actually refuse to go to the beach with some groups of friends because they don’t follow my family’s rules about weak swimmers in open water. I won’t be able to relax and have fun so why stress myself out.

  67. Michelle July 12, 2017 at 12:54 pm #

    “Even though she no longer lives here, she has gotten one of our senators to introduce federal legislation to put alarms in cars to alert parents when there’s a child in them (Or maybe just the car seat? They were not clear on that.). They ran an article in the newspapers, and they quoted a statistic of how man children die in hot cars, not yearly in this state, but for the last 27 years in the entire country. And now every single new car will have to have this alarm installed, if the legislation passes. I’m all for additional safety features, but this seems insane to me, to include on every new car every single person purchases, adding to the purchase price for everyone. Why not have it be voluntary, an additional feature you can purchase, or one that can be added later when you have a child in a car seat under an age where they can’t let themselves out of it, and have it turned off again when they’re out of the car seat? This may be the Libertarian in me speaking, but it’s such a massive amount of government overreach.”

    I want to hear more about this. Especially about whether they’ve considered whether the alarm can be turned off. My older “kids” are 19, 18, and 15. They can’t all sit in the front seat when we are all in the car together, and they certainly don’t need to be dragged into the gas station with me every time I stop. How much fun would it be to have an alarm go off every time I leave my 18 year old “child” in the back seat of my car?

  68. E July 12, 2017 at 1:04 pm #

    @Kimberly — I agree it’s unclear if the parents that called the police where with her own group or just random people. It would be really bizarre if it were people she knew, so I’m presuming they were not.

    Again, no water safety people (I used to be one) would agree with being 75 yards away from a 3 year old near open water (I don’t care about the surf, we have no idea how quickly it dropped off, etc). Those are just facts. So if your comfort comes from their presence, you’d better check with them to make sure they are comfortable being ‘in charge’ and how long they plan to stay, etc. The burden is on her to make that communication, not expect them to make the 75 yard trip over to say “hey we’re leaving” or “hey here’s your kid”.

    Yes, the legal situation is dumb and uncalled for.

  69. Kate July 12, 2017 at 1:13 pm #

    I don’t agree that “seeing other parents close by” automatically = “she assumed they would watch her kid.” To me it could also mean, “she assumed the presence of grownups would scare off any potential psychopath kidnappers, and she could therefore scratch that particular concern off her list.”

  70. E July 12, 2017 at 1:23 pm #

    @Kate — that doesn’t negate that fact there is huge body of water very nearby. That was the risk and it was a real one. Water safety is a real thing.

  71. Zelly July 12, 2017 at 4:33 pm #

    I’m in the same boat. It’s amazing how quickly people pull out their phones and call the cops. I don’t think people realize how difficult things become when the cops are called for no good reason, it does more harm than good. Now I have to deal with CPS and the headache of hiring an attorney and taking time off work to go to court. And for what, because some random stranger thinks I wasn’t supervising my children closely enough??!? I wish police would stop harassing parents just because what they’re doing is unconventional and spend tax dollars on things that actually matter. Fortunately, it isn’t a huge financial burden since I have a legal assistance plan through work. I hope and pray that this caring mother finds a good attorney that doesn’t break the bank!

  72. Mike Tang July 12, 2017 at 5:09 pm #

    @Donald

    “However, the main point that I’m trying to make is that we can easily aggravate the situation without even realizing it. Mike Tang gave us an example that sometimes this is the default setting on their attitude.”

    Yes, and as long as parent’s constitutional freedoms are eroded while cops get free reign to abuse their authority, that will remain my attitude. You’re aggravating me and I’m pissed off. Now you feel less safe and can’t sleep well at night. Why don’t you call the cops and come arrest me?

  73. Donald July 12, 2017 at 7:19 pm #

    @Mike

    I sometimes come across as judgmental. I try not to be. I don’t like judgmental people and therefore I don’t like to join their ranks. What I really try to point out is cause and effect or in this case, action and results. For example, a chain smoker destroyed his health. During my explanation of this, it can get interpreted as judgmental. It’s not meant to be. A smoker can enjoy the moment of the cigarette. They can also avoid the terrible feeling that’s experienced when trying to quit. However, they still have to live with the results of it. (bad health)

    Now back to cause and effect. For that, I’ll quote James. (Sometimes we agree 100% and sometimes we both disagree so much that … that’s another story and not a nice one)

    “you can aggravate the situation knowing full well that you’re doing so, but not caring that this is what you are doing, and sometimes you can even find yourself in a situation where you’re making things worse, and you can see that you’re making it worse, and not want to make it worse, but not seem to find any path that doesn’t make it worse.”

    I’ll add to it. Some people can clearly see that they’re making it worse but can’t control their destructive behaviour. The outcome of your behaviour is that you’re also teaching your son how to behave. It’s little wonder why he gives you so much grief.

  74. Warren July 12, 2017 at 8:03 pm #

    Wow!!!

    Where the hell did we go wrong?
    I have raised three and at no time did I have to have a conversation with other parents nor they with me. Yes it was assumed proximity means responsibility. It was understood. Damn we have gone to hell.

  75. James Pollock July 13, 2017 at 1:50 am #

    “I don’t agree that ‘seeing other parents close by’ automatically = ‘she assumed they would watch her kid.’ To me it could also mean, ‘she assumed the presence of grownups would scare off any potential psychopath kidnappers, and she could therefore scratch that particular concern off her list.'”

    This would be a reasonable assumption if either A) potential psychopath kidnappers were the only danger involved, or B) she’d specifically said they’d be safe from potential psychopath kidnappers.

    But neither one of those things is true.

    She concedes that A) it was the presence of the other parents that made her feel that B) the distance, which otherwise would have been too far away, would not be an issue. OK, she doesn’t DIRECTLY state B, it’s inferred from the fact that she’s attempting excuse the distance because it was the shortest distance to other similarly-aged children.

    That’s a concession that she was assuming the other parents would keep her child safe… which means watching the children. It’s not that you can’t do that… most human beings are decent, and will help you out if they recognize the need to do so, but they like to be asked first, and they may have a clock ticking that limits their availability to assist you. You ignore both of these at your peril.. With very few exceptions, the response is not “well, I guess I’ll just abandon your child, as you seem to have”, it’s a growing resentment towards you.

    Maybe the kid was fine at 75 yards away from one parent and the other who knows where. I don’t know this kid, and you don’t either, and there’s even a small chance that neither parent knows for sure, either, despite all their experience in interacting with this child. Let’s assume, for the moment, that this particular child is fully capable of avoiding all of the potential avoidable dangers that were present in this environment. Further, let’s also assume that the mother is fully confident that this child is completely competent to handle any of the potential dangers here. (and, to avoid the sexism, the father and any other adults with any actual authority over and responsibility for this child are all on the same page… either they know the child well enough to know that the child can handle it, or they trust the mother’s judgment on the question without reservation.) You know what the right way to establish this, for the people who might feel a need to safeguard the child because they DON’T know how competent the child is? It’s to tell the people who might otherwise feel a need to watch out for your kid “She knows how to be safe.” or “Don’t worry, I got it. I’m still watching her from way over there” or “just send her back to me if you need to.” Even better is “do you mind if my kid plays with yours? I’ll be over there with my other kids, where I don’t want this one to go.” Even better is “honey, come watch the little one while I’m out on the jetty with the others. You don’t have to DO anything, but if you’re visibly nearby, they’ll know they won’t have to worry about her”… leave the other people out of it. Expecting other people you don’t know to guess what you want them to do about your child… even if its nothing… may work, but it’s inconsiderate. It’s a miscommunication… one that could have been readily avoided, quite likely heading off difficulty later. It’s too late to change anything now, but it CAN serve as a learning opportunity.

    One more thing: Just because one side of a dispute has behaved poorly, does not mean that the other side in the dispute has ALSO acted poorly. We tend to pick sides, and when we do, we like everything that “our” side has done and don’t like anything that “their” side is done. But not liking what one side has done DOES NOT obligate us to support everything the other side has done.

    I’ve explained upthread why I think the charge probably won’t stick (if the facts are substantially as reported here) but why the arrest was very likely proper. (Remember, the standards for the two are different… conviction requires proof beyond reasonable doubt, while an arrest requires probable cause.)

    In the end, I can see bad choices/bad behavior amongst all parties here. Well, except for whoever donated the use of their beach house to people who wanted to go to the beach. THAT guy seems awesome.

  76. SanityAnyone? July 13, 2017 at 10:16 am #

    A child should be watched at the beach at all times. It’s nonsense to say Mom could adequately watch both the fishing kids and the toddler at once whole Dad was apparently off the clock. It takes one minute to drown, and the sea can overpower anyone. A mistake was made.

    Mom or Dad should have asked the others “Can you keep an eye on him while we are over there fishing, I’ll check back often?” Don’t just assume it’s ok, because people will feel responsible and also need to take their own kids to the bathroom, etc. If you’ve asked, there is communication established for a quick transfer. I would not necessarily apply this same standard at a playground for a 3 year old unless you know your kid will bolt for traffic, is a daredevil or allergic, etc.

    On the other hand, the upset parents should have approached Mom or Dad and said “Watch your own kid”. The police could have responded with a warning. A mistake was made. Every interaction doesn’t need to go nuclear. That’s where we are really going wrong.

  77. brian July 13, 2017 at 10:46 am #

    Totally get the frustration of the other 2 parents. Nothing worse then when some annoying kid ends up being your problem at a playground. Especially one who is so young you cant just tell them to buzz off. BUT NOTHING justifies calling the cops.

  78. Shobit Gupta July 14, 2017 at 8:38 am #

    Very Amazing!!

  79. Donna July 14, 2017 at 10:14 am #

    Unless this mother would have left her child in the exact same place while she went the exact same distance away for the exact same period of time with NO other people around, she absolutely WAS most definitely relying on the other parents to babysit her kid. It absolutely is babysitting if you are relying on other people to steer your child away from any reasonably obvious and anticipated dangers (say an ocean a few feet away) in your absence if it is necessary. While we all rely on each other to help in unexpected emergencies, an obvious danger that your child clearly cannot handle alone is NOT an unexpected emergency.

    Leaving a preschooler alone, particularly that close to the ocean, was clearly relying on the other parents to babysit the child. The child likely can’t swim at that age. There is no way the mother could have gotten there quickly enough to stop him from entering the ocean had he decided to go. Preschoolers do random things and cannot be expected to act 100% predictably all the time. Preschoolers are not well-versed in socially acceptable behavior and even the best regularly act in inappropriate ways.

    That said, this was clearly not something the police needed to be involved in. The other parents should have put on their big girl panties and addressed the mother directly. If they were not into watching out for this kid, one of them should have taken the preschooler over to his mother and said “sorry, not babysitting.” End of story. This just shows how much we avoid confrontation and standing up for our own boundaries these days. We’d rather call a 3rd party to intervene than to handle simple matters ourselves.

  80. Pete July 14, 2017 at 11:34 am #

    We need to know the town, so we can launch an investigation. Reporters should be asking:

    What town police force believes abductors are lurking in their parks, waiting for a 10ft opening to snatch children?

    What are they doing to fix this?

    Will school activities be curtailed until this threat is eliminated?

    Why hasn’t the local town been notified that their children are not safe playing at the local park?

    How many predator arrests have they made, in addition to harassing parents with different risk tolerances?

    Where is this 10ft standard documented? CT Statute? Research? Department Policy?

    Is this town going to reduce the size of it’s kindergarten classrooms so no teacher is ever more than 10ft away from a student?

    Are local schools planning to cancel outdoor recess in the future, or maintain all students withing a 10-foot radius “corral”?

    If this risk is real, How is the number of abductions reported by the town to the federal authorities and in crime statistics so low? Are they falsifying their data? What is the department hiding?

    ….

  81. David July 15, 2017 at 7:21 am #

    @Pete: The things you suggested will never be done because they make too much sense.

  82. Matthew Dowd July 18, 2017 at 9:52 pm #

    I am one of the two attorneys who represented the Meitivs in the Silver Spring, Maryland “free range kids” case. I would be happy to talk with the mother who wrote the note above. Of course, she/you will need a criminal attorney in Connecticut. Hopefully, you will get one who is willing to fight against the standard rhetoric one hears in these types of cases.

    Some general points to consider when dealing with the police and Child Protective Services in such circumstances.

    1) In general, don’t admit anything to the police or CPS. The less they have to use against you, the better off you will be in the long term.

    2) Point 1 needs to be balanced against the fact that CPS (almost always) and the police (often) will threaten that they can take your children away.

    3) In many of these cases, the media can be very helpful to resolving the case successfully. in fact, unlike other criminal cases, an overblown child neglect case makes for the perfect news story.

    There’s plenty more to add, which I will do in a later post.

    Matthew J. Dowd
    http://www.dowdpllc.com