Mom Rejects Plea Deal of “Just” 30 Days in Jail for Letting 4 y.o. Play 120 Feet From Home

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A mom who let her 4-year-old son play outside at the playground 120 feet from her home was arrested . Her neighbors had called 911 when they saw the kid outside. While many people might think four is too young for a boy to be outside on his own, the bigger question is: Is this a criminal offense?

It should not be. The boy was in a gated apartment complex and on a playground. What’s more, if the neighbors were worried, why wouldn’t they just talk to the mom? And if the cops were worried, why didn’t they tell her why this was dangerous (citing actual stats, not just “what ifs”), rather than threatening her with jail time, as they did? How does that solve any problems? The mom, Sonya Hendren, was arrested and charged with child endangerment — a felony. While the charges were later dropped to misdemeanors, Hendren told KTXL in Sacramento:

We have a CPS (Child Protective Service) case now and every time he’s not in my visual site we’re in violation,” Hendren said.

In other words, the state has decided how best to raise her child and will prosecute the mom if she doesn’t agree.

The neighbor who reported Hendren hoped the mom would just get a warning. But when you play with fire — that is, call 911 — someone can get burned. Or, in this case, scorched:

The maximum sentence that Hendron can face is 6 months in jail with 3 years of probation. She was offered an alternative deal of just 30 days in jail and 1 year of probation but she has rejected the offer.

Gee, just 30 days. That shouldn’t disrupt a family’s life, should it? It’s barely a month!  I’m sure someone will supervise little Tomahawk while his mom is in the pokey.

But let’s talk (non-Thanskgiving, metaphorical) turkey: Just how dangerous is it for a 4 year old to play outside, period? It totally depends on the neighborhood, the child, and what the child has been taught. A 4-year-old is almost kindergarten age. He can speak the language, he knows where he lives, and he is close to home. This is not to say that nothing bad could ever happen to him. Only that the mom who loves him more than we do  assessed the risk and decided it made sense for her to let him have some time outside.

As her lawyer noted:

“If this happened 20 years ago, we wouldn’t be here. There wouldn’t be a criminal case filed,” said Hendron’s attorney.

Today, thanks to the ease of dialing 911, the constant exhortations to report unattended kids to the authorities, and selective risk aversion, a call was made. No one calls the cops when a mom drives a kid to the grocery, even though the #1 way kids die is as car passengers. But ever fearful of the much rarer stranger danger, they call when they see a child not directly supervised, even for a short time, by a parent.

Good luck to the mom, and to all of us who don’t want our parenting second-guessed by arrest-happy police. – L.

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Mom, you are under arrest for letting your 4-year-old play outside in front of your home.

Mom, you are under arrest for letting your 4-year-old play outside in front of your home.

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http://www.cbs8.com/story/30571051/mom-facing-charges-after-allowing-4-year-old-to-play-outside-alone, faces

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128 Responses to Mom Rejects Plea Deal of “Just” 30 Days in Jail for Letting 4 y.o. Play 120 Feet From Home

  1. Warren November 25, 2015 at 1:29 am #

    40 yards, in the gated community playground? What the hell is wrong with the neighbor and the cops, and the DA? I hope the rest of the community is making it a living hell for this busy body to live there.

  2. BL November 25, 2015 at 2:21 am #

    “We have a CPS (Child Protective Service) case now and every time he’s not in my visual site we’re in violation”

    So it’s illegal for her to sleep??!!

  3. andy November 25, 2015 at 3:14 am #

    Huh? I would get it near the road, but what is the big difference between him on closed fenced playground and him in another room?

  4. J.T. Wenting November 25, 2015 at 4:37 am #

    sue the neighbor, the police, CPS, and the DA for libel? Might take a big legal fund but probably the only way to stop this nonsense.

  5. Keith November 25, 2015 at 5:50 am #

    People who call 911 and report their neighbors for stuff like this should find themselves shunned from polite society.

  6. Suzanne Lucas--Evil HR Lady November 25, 2015 at 6:12 am #

    I live in Switzerland. Kindergarten starts at 4. After the first couple of weeks most kids walk by themselves. The ones who don’t have to cross big roads or live far away, but all kids are walking on their own by the time they are 6, or they can’t graduate from kindy.

    I remember reading Beezus and Ramona, where Beezus has an art class and Ramona is supposed to play in the sandbox outside the community center while Beezus is in class. Ramona is 3. I’m pretty sure Beverly Cleary wrote from experience.

  7. Fiamma November 25, 2015 at 7:05 am #

    I am more concerned with people wanting to call 911 right away for such minor incidents. If you are too cowardly to do the busy bodying yourself, don’t involve the cops.
    Also, the jumping to conclusions that a kid alone is in danger. I have only seen one such situation where a kid was hysterical, but not really in danger. It was in NYC, she wss at most ten years old and seems she had gotten separated from her family on Broadway and Spring Street. The cops were consoling and getting information from her. I don’t know if they found her or she went into a store first. Always felt bad because she sounded so scared.

  8. lollipoplover November 25, 2015 at 7:37 am #

    Can there be some map of the United States filled with red dots- a 911 Offender Registry- that alerts parents where all of these horrible neighbors live, so parents can AVOID living near these people? I think I have a right as a parent to avoid these menacing people for the sake of my children.

    Can we come up with a list of most Unfriendly Towns in America for children who want to play without their parents getting arrested?

    Silver Springs, Maryland (top of the list)
    North Augusta, South Carolina
    Westbrook, Maine
    North Truro, Massachusetts
    Sacramento, California…

    “The neighbor who reported Hendren hoped the mom would just get a warning.”

    THEN WHY NOT WARN HER YOURSELF. If you want to be a good neighbor and are concerned when you see a child, please put down your phone and stop the anonymous dialing and actually be a GOOD person and address the parent. A child can play in their own yard!

    Go binge watch the Our Gang Little Rascals series if you have anxiety about children playing at young ages.

  9. Birch November 25, 2015 at 7:39 am #

    Who do we email to complain about this absurdity? Making comments on here and staying silent otherwise does nothing to support the mother and effect change.

  10. Katie November 25, 2015 at 7:39 am #

    Suzanne- yes, most of what Beverly Cleary included was from her own viewpoint, if not necessarily personal experience (but in that story Ramona was 4.)

  11. Jill November 25, 2015 at 8:20 am #

    How terrible! Dollars to doughnuts this was personal. Some neighbor disliked the child’s family and took the opportunity to inflict pain by calling the police. Any rational person who was concerned for the child’s safety would have talked to the boy’s mother. This was done maliciously, probably motivated by jealousy or because of some petty squabble.
    Whoever did it is undoubtedly pleased with herself knowing that this mom will probably be serving jail time. Some people are just mean and hateful, and the current cop culture encourages them to call 911 about children doing things that used to be considered completely normal.

  12. E November 25, 2015 at 8:27 am #

    @andy — it wasn’t an enclosed playground (I believe they were referring to it being a gated complex), the video from the news story shows the layout of the playground. It’s a very nice one, but not gated and close to the parking lot, etc.

    Of course I do not think this Mom should be in jail or charged with a crime. I’m not surprised that a neighbor may have been concerned. If I’m guessing he’s a very young 4 year old (based on his communication skills in the video).

    I do give them credit (the ones who called) for speaking out and saying they did not want her to be charged. It’s been discussed many times that people are going to call 911 when there are other options. My kid had a minor collision with a car in a swimming pool parking lot when he was about 10 and the women called 911 before we even arrived because of the scratch on her car — talk about scaring a kid, he thought he was going to jail. Anyway, the police told her they weren’t going to show up for something like that (and the humorous footnote is that her husband wouldn’t either). The world is full of people that are very different. The authorities should have some reasonable standard of concern that is not as ridiculous as this.

    I do feel terrible for the Mom, she seems very shaken. (I’m not sure how breastfeeding for 28 months or using cloth diapers is relevant though.)

  13. E November 25, 2015 at 8:30 am #

    @Jill — I won’t speak to their motivation because we have no way of knowing, but if you read Lenora’s article you would see they had this to say:

    “The neighbor who reported Hendren hoped the mom would just get a warning. ”

    I watched a new video and they seemed sincere in that they didn’t want anything bad to happen to the Mom, just that she be spoken to.

    This is when I get confused at this forum. A Parent must always be given the benefit of the doubt as being well intentioned and “right”, but a neighbor/onlooker is only out for vengeance. Is it possible for people to be concerned but their actions be misguided?

  14. Carrie November 25, 2015 at 8:53 am #

    I like your blog and big fan of your exposure of this nonsense but this hyperbole : ” No one calls the cops when a mom drives a kid to the grocery, even though the #1 way kids die is as car passengers.” Doesn’t help your case.

  15. James Pollock November 25, 2015 at 9:02 am #

    “sue the neighbor, the police, CPS, and the DA for libel? Might take a big legal fund but probably the only way to stop this nonsense.”

    That would be a quick way to waste some money. The police, CPS, and the DA all have immunity, and the neighbor’s case goes like this. “It was the truth, your honor. Defense rests”.

  16. Jon November 25, 2015 at 9:11 am #

    Carrie;

    You might want to do at least some cursory research before you use words like “hyperbole.”
    Just because you can’t believe it doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

    Regarding causes of death. It has been repeatedly demonstrated that the single most dangerous thing most of us do every day is drive in a car.
    As just one example, http://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/usa-cause-of-death-by-age-and-gender

    Traffic accidents are #5 overall, for kids under 14 the top three have to do with issues surrounding being born sick or damaged, and #4 is *all other injuries combined*
    For ages 15-24, cars are #1, and for 25-34 they are #2
    Cars are *dangerous*.

  17. andy November 25, 2015 at 9:11 am #

    @E Trying to make the police to give someone warning is better then trying to get them to jail, but still makes the neighbor bad guy. Kind of like giving someone weaker slap is better then breaking his nose with fist, but still not considered friendly behavior.

    Yes, it is possible to be concerned and misguided. However, in this case, even if we interpret his actions in best possible light, he was being overly controlling and tried to get cops to force mom to parent the way he wants it – without there being risk to child originally.

    I fully agree with opinion that primary blames CPS and cops. Overly controlling people abusing those services exist, always did, always will be and system should not allow that so easily. That does not mean neighbor was good guy somehow, just that CPS system should expect existence of people like him.

  18. John Frederick November 25, 2015 at 9:12 am #

    I teach second grade and several of my kids do not even know what city they live in let alone their address.

    Not saying Mom should be prosecuted by any means but saying a 4yo knows where s/he lives is not a given.

  19. That_Susan November 25, 2015 at 9:12 am #

    “This is when I get confused at this forum. A Parent must always be given the benefit of the doubt as being well intentioned and ‘right’, but a neighbor/onlooker is only out for vengeance. Is it possible for people to be concerned but their actions be misguided?”

    As others have pointed out, if all the neighbor really wanted was for the mom to be warned about the danger, why couldn’t the neighbor just warn her him or herself? I think even a very low-IQ adult must realize that once you involve the legal authorities, you don’t have any control over how they decide to handle it.

  20. That_Susan November 25, 2015 at 9:18 am #

    Carrie, it’s not hyperbole to say that traveling by car is more dangerous than walking: it’s true. The point is that we all take calculated risks, with ourselves and with our loved ones, every day. Most parents who come here believe that the harm done by depriving children of opportunities to play outdoors independently and learn to navigate their neighborhoods and communities on their own is much greater than the very low risk of something bad happening to children when they’re out playing or walking around the neighborhood.

  21. That_Susan November 25, 2015 at 9:19 am #

    “I teach second grade and several of my kids do not even know what city they live in let alone their address.

    Not saying Mom should be prosecuted by any means but saying a 4yo knows where s/he lives is not a given.”

    True. I have a terrible sense of direction and have been lost many times in my life, even as an adult.

  22. Gary November 25, 2015 at 9:20 am #

    @carrie

    It is not hyperbole, it speaks to the ridiculous extent that people go to when they “report children in danger.”

  23. That_Susan November 25, 2015 at 9:20 am #

    P.S. I’m glad nobody calls the cops on me for getting lost. 🙂

  24. James Pollock November 25, 2015 at 9:21 am #

    “As others have pointed out, if all the neighbor really wanted was for the mom to be warned about the danger, why couldn’t the neighbor just warn her him or herself?”

    Because Mom wasn’t there to be warned?

    Unlike others here, I don’t see the neighbor as having done anything wrong.
    I think the problem (if there is one) lies with the police and the DA (if there was no actual neglect), or with the mother.(if there was).

  25. E November 25, 2015 at 9:23 am #

    @andy — there is no link to any story in the post above, but I googled the mom’s name and found a few articles. They all say that the neighbors called CPS, not 911.

    And of course CPS (and police) should know that not every call/report is valid. I presume a large volume of what they deal with falls into those categories.

    And of course, the neighbor might not be good guy. But if we’re going to allow for that, it’s possible the Mom is not correct in what the kid is capable of doing at his age, right? It’s possible that the neighbors redirected his behavior (supervised him) to keep him safe? I mean – none of us were there. Supposedly the neighbors asked him to go home (do we know why? was he wandering off? was he doing something that concerned them) and he refused.

    I just get tired of hearing how the people who, however misguided or afraid to speak to the neighbor directly, make a phone call somehow must be power-tripping jerks who want to see a Mom in jail. That’s a HUGE leap.

    Should they have talked to the Mom (presuming they knew here and where they lived)? YES. Does the fact that they didn’t make it a “personal” issue with a desire to “inflict pain”. C’mon.

  26. serena November 25, 2015 at 9:31 am #

    Hey, maybe we should start calling 911 every time we see a kid in a car! Maybe that will be a wake-up call to the police.

  27. E November 25, 2015 at 9:31 am #

    correcting myself — there is a URL at the bottom, but it’s not a hyperlink

  28. Suanne Laqueur November 25, 2015 at 9:36 am #

    WHY ARE YOU CALLING 911?!??! Walk twenty feet and have a conversation with the mother if you’re so concerned, you non-contributing, passive-aggressive ZERO.

  29. Ben November 25, 2015 at 9:39 am #

    The idea that the neighbor only wanted the mother to “get a warning” is either completely dishonest or mind-blowingly naive. Once the police are involved, the chances of criminal charges approach 1. That is what the police do, that is all they are incentivized to do, that is what the system is now designed to do. The chances that either police or the prosecutor will have a “moment of clarity” and decide not to press charges are infinitesimal in almost any conceivable situation.

  30. Tricia November 25, 2015 at 9:48 am #

    @Carrie, how is that hyperbole? Unintentional injury is the most common cause of death in children, and automobile accidents are the most frequent cause of unintentional injury. What do you think is more likely to kill kids? https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001915.htm

  31. E November 25, 2015 at 10:02 am #

    @Ben — I don’t think it’s hard to believe that people are naive in what happens in these situations. Not everyone is reading about these issues. The women in the video looked to have an adult daughter, so she may not even have any perspective about what happens when you call CPS today.

    Our neighborhood recently had a spate of dog issues (I realize this is different and the stakes are completely different), but the dog owners were NOT very receptive to the criticism. It ended up on our neighborhood list where a dog owner wrote a diatribe to explain how it was pedestrians responsibility to know (or get trained) in how to deal with an approaching dog, etc.

  32. Warren November 25, 2015 at 10:14 am #

    “Not saying Mom should be prosecuted by any means but saying a 4yo knows where s/he lives is not a given.”

    Pretty sure that if asked by a police officer this 4 year old could have pointed to his home a mere 40 yards away.

    I am pretty sure that one of the reasons for living in a gated community with a playground was so that her child could go and play in that playground.

  33. Roger the Shrubber November 25, 2015 at 10:14 am #

    It’s easy to blame the neighbor. He was under the misguided and much shared opinion that the police are who you call when you need help. I hope he has learned a valuable lesson.

    Notice how the police have shifted from referring to themselves as ‘officers of the peace’ to ‘law enforcement officers’? The police are who you call when you want law enforcement. One shouldn’t be surprised that that is what you get when they show up.

  34. E November 25, 2015 at 10:17 am #

    Just to note, that the articles indicate that the neighbors called CPS. It’s not even clear if she called 911 (despite what it written here).

  35. Ann in L.A. November 25, 2015 at 10:44 am #

    We keep moving into safer and safer neighborhoods. We say we do this so that our kids can play. We spend a fortune on McMansions in gated communities so our kids can have an idyllic childhood.

    Then we don’t let them out of the house.

    It’s nuts.

  36. Mrs. H. November 25, 2015 at 10:59 am #

    I hate that these kinds of stories stifle my own maternal instincts.

    My husband is running a five-mile race tomorrow completely enclosed within a park that is two blocks away, and I’d love to ask him to drop our 7.5-year-old at the playground en route and pick her up en route back. The playground is within the same park and is the same one she plays at a couple times a week for a couple or three hours. It’s completely familiar, and she could find her way home if necessary (not that she would leave the playground willingly — ha!). But I really worry about the what-ifs and the authorities.

    So instead she can have an extra hour or hour and a half of screen time while I peel potatoes and dad is out racing. Is that really better for a child? It’s safer for us parents, that’s for sure, and if she were to become one of the U.S. childhood obesity statistics as a result of that kind of decision, the police wouldn’t even recognize that as endangering her welfare.

  37. Warren November 25, 2015 at 11:51 am #

    E,
    Calling CPS about an unsupervised child is even worse than calling 911. Because now you have CPS calling the police to go investigate. So now as far as the police are concerned their call came from a reliable and credible source. A source that has already documented the call and opened a file. Thus forcing the police to do something. It is one thing for the police to not react to an anonymous 911 call, and completely different for them to not react to a call from CPS.

  38. BL November 25, 2015 at 12:08 pm #

    @E
    “the dog owners were NOT very receptive to the criticism. It ended up on our neighborhood list where a dog owner wrote a diatribe to explain how it was pedestrians responsibility to know (or get trained) in how to deal with an approaching dog”

    And that’s what leash laws and such have brought us to. People don’t even know how to hold out a hand and say “nice doggie” any more. They need “training” to do that.

  39. E November 25, 2015 at 12:08 pm #

    My point is that it’s not universally known exactly how agencies are going to react. I’d also venture to guess that another agency/DA might not handle this scenario the same way.

    For example, after the BS that happened in our neighborhood regarding the loose dogs, I have no interest in talking to the owner, I’d probably just call animal control. I have no idea exactly what the process is, but I’d make some assumptions (like the owner wouldn’t be charged and the dog wouldn’t be at risk). It’s not my responsibility to know how good/bad/broken a system is. I have to have some level of faith that common sense is going to prevail.

    Now — do we read stories (outliers? common occurrences?) about this here at FRK frequently? Yes. But not everyone is reading them. (Just as I’m not reading a single story about animal control processes).

  40. E November 25, 2015 at 12:15 pm #

    @BL — the scenario was not a dog happily approaching a neighbor. It was a situation where someone was walking their OWN dog on a leash and an unleashed dog rushed the dog and engaged it with barking, snarling, bared teeth. The walkers and the dog on a leash don’t bear responsibility in this scenario to do anything. Yet, the discussion devolved into a lecture about appropriate behavior and how people who walk with walking sticks are creating a bigger risk, lol.

    This is veering off topic, but I’d suggest that leash laws aren’t because people don’t know how to greet a happy dog, it has more to do with the less friendly dogs and dogs that roam crapping in other people’s yards.

    My point is, there are always going to be neighborhood issues were someone may behave in a manner that is not universally embraced. An argument can be made that it applies to both sides of this story. I do believe that the people that called have no interest in the Mom being charged with a crime — because they said that. Just like I believe the Mom is a caring mom.

    I hope the charges are dropped.

  41. BL November 25, 2015 at 12:25 pm #

    @E
    ” walking their OWN dog on a leash and an unleashed dog rushed the dog and engaged it with barking, snarling, bared teeth.”

    “the less friendly dogs”

    “dogs that roam crapping in other people’s yards”

    I have personal experience with all those scenarios. And somehow, I’m still alive. And have never been bitten or mauled by a dog.

  42. John November 25, 2015 at 12:25 pm #

    Goodness gracious, my 1st cousin who turns 49-years-old on December 8th, was constantly running around the neighborhood by himself when he was 4-years-old. We lived in a small town and in a very quiet neighborhood so my aunt used to bundle him up and set him loose! Today, he’s a happily married man and gainfully employed with two wonderful teenage daughters.

    The problem is the old American mentality of “Well, it’s a different era nowadays”. It is? How different? Crime is down and so is child abduction by strangers which was extremely rare back then. So Americans still cling on to the mentality of “Well, we’ve evolved and are more concerned about our kids nowadays” WHICH IS PRECISELY THE PROBLEM and is exactly the type of mentality that needs to be reversed! It is not based on rational statistics and laws need to be enacted protecting parents from this kind of nonsense! I’m becoming more unimpressed with Child Protective Services by the day because I think they’re part of the problem and not even remotely the solution.

  43. Michael Blackwood November 25, 2015 at 12:26 pm #

    I agree with the people who say she should sue. She should file civil charges of custodial interference against the neighbor, the police, DFCS, and the city itself. Just because the local Child Protection (DFCS in Georgia) makes a determination it doesn’t mean it is true or even legal. We have to keep going after these people and remind them that we have not only a right, but a responsibility, to raise our children to be capable, responsible adults – not the silly whiners who call their mom to come to college and speak to their teachers or even call their bosses at work when they feel put upon. Btw, the latter has been occurring with increasing frequency in the last few years. People in security who escort them out say either they are bewildered as to why or plan to call in the heavy artillery: Dad.

    Fight back. Use the legal system to assert your rights as a parent. NEVER agree with a cop, neighbor, nosy stranger, anyone that “anything could happen”. Of course it is true if you are speaking of infinite possibilities. A meteorite could crash through your ceiling and kill you and the child you keep in your shadow.

    I do like the idea of calling cops in cities where these events happen when you see a kid in a car on the road. Just give the license number and direction a say irresponsible parents were endangering their children. Then cite real stats on deaths of kids in cars. Much more dangerous than playing in a park. Of course, I would love to see stats on injuries of kids playing in a park alone compared to playing in a park with their parents there.

  44. Dave November 25, 2015 at 12:38 pm #

    I get that folks are pissed at the neighbors (mother and daughter) who called police, but I have a difficult time blaming them. If you watch the video interviews, they clearly aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer. They, like everyone else, are bombarded with the false “stranger danger” messages and have been for years. These two aren’t the type who would seek out the truth. If it’s on their favorite daytime talk show, it must be true. You and I know the true statistics, but sadly, most don’t.

    However, I am pissed at the CPS folks, police, and prosecutors. We pay them to know better. Don’t sue the clueless neighbors – educate them. Sue the pants off the authorities.

  45. James Pollock November 25, 2015 at 12:44 pm #

    “The problem is the old American mentality of “Well, it’s a different era nowadays”. It is? How different?”

    The biggest difference I know of is that back in the 70’s, both the kids and the kids parents knew all the other residents all down the street. Today, people tend to not know their neighbors very well, or at all. (in the olden days, people tended to live in the same place for a very long time. Nowadays, they’re FAR more mobile, pulling up stakes and moving much more frequently.

  46. sigh November 25, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

    The mother and daughter who phone the authorities are shown in the video clip saying something like, “Well, how would she feel if someone had taken him away?”

    Um, ladies, someone DID take him away from his mother. YOU and the AUTHORITIES.

    The boy was removed, albeit temporarily, from his mother’s home. If you don’t think that’s a greater trauma than playing outdoors, even if playing outdoors led to stitches or a broken arm, you’re failing to understand well-being for young children.

    Cluck your tongue. Roll your eyes. Heck, go out and speak to the child and ask if he can take you to his mother, so you can unload your fears on her. But calling the authorities is not some gentle way to express your concern.

    Calling the authorities is reserved for situations where a child is in IMMEDIATE DANGER OF SERIOUS HARM OR DEATH.

    And even then, your first move is to attempt to help the child to safety yourself, if it’s safe for you to do so.

    Here are some ideas of times when you WOULD call the authorities:

    • Toddler wearing diaper and nothing else wandering around outside freezing to death on a cold winter’s day/night

    • Preschool child with bruises and cigarette burns on his arms wearing soiled clothing for days on end

    • 6-year-old child used to be seen playing outside in the yard nearly daily, now you haven’t seen for several days, when stepfather is asked where the child is, you get strange, contradictory answers that don’t make sense and you get a strong feeling something is “off.”

    • 10-year-old child tells you they wish they could live with you instead, because their dad is hurting them

    • 14-year-old confides that she’s been suffering sexual abuse at the hands of an older sibling for years, but can’t get her parents to believe her

    And in the case of the older two examples, you might start by asking the kids if they would be OK with you calling someone to get help, and explain what might happen next.

    Simply seeing a little kid who is well cared for outside without an adult present is not a reason to call in the “protective services.” It just isn’t. Under any circumstance in North America, unless it’s a kid playing in the middle of a highway.

    To say your reasons for calling it in as a concern are about abduction by a stranger is plain old delusional. Let’s put stranger abduction where it belongs— firmly in the column “freak accidents” — and move on with our lives.

  47. E November 25, 2015 at 12:48 pm #

    @BL — again, it’s off topic for this (was just using it as an example of 1 situation viewed differently among neighbors) but if being mauled or not is the standard by which we measure whether or not someone is being a good neighbor and pet owner, I’ll just have to disagree. People should be able to walk their block without being approached by an angry/protective dog. People shouldn’t have to point out that if they let their dogs roam, that they cannot control where their dog takes a crap.

    My mom got jumped by a large (friendly) dog and got a huge hip bruise. She was not mauled but she has every right to be pissed at the experience.

    But you are illustrating my example perfectly. Your viewpoint and standard of appropriate/inappropriate varies greatly than mine. And that is never going to change in society.

    @Michael Blackwood, how can she sue the neighbor? They simply said “there’s an unsupervised preschooler in the apartment playground”. Which was true. Does “custodial interference” even apply to a stranger making a phone call and stating the truth?

  48. James Pollock November 25, 2015 at 1:22 pm #

    “Sue the pants off the authorities.”

    Most of them are immune from suit, so the only one likely to end up pantsless is you.

  49. James Pollock November 25, 2015 at 1:34 pm #

    “Simply seeing a little kid who is well cared for outside without an adult present is not a reason to call in the “protective services.” It just isn’t. Under any circumstance in North America”

    I’d like to share a story. It’s one of two times I have ever interacted with someone from CPS in their professional capacity.
    It seems there was this child, who tended to wander the neighborhood looking for children to play with. She was not yet school age, meaning under 6. Why was she wandering the neighborhood? Because her mother, a single parent, worked a job that required 12-hour shifts and she couldn’t afford daycare. Another neighbor called in CPS; I got interviewed because my apartment was nearby and they wanted to know if I knew how often the child was left alone.
    CPS intervened… they offered information about subsidized daycare (not helpful, because 12-hour shifts) and eventually the woman and her child moved in with a family member who could provide childcare assistance.

    I think getting CPS involved was the right thing (although I was only tangentially involved… the reporter was a woman who was home all day, with her 4 kids, and saw how often this other child was left to care for herself. The tipoff was that she kept trying to invite herself for meals.)

  50. SteveS November 25, 2015 at 1:53 pm #

    Four years old is not necessarily too young to be left outside without immediate supervision. Both of our kids were allowed outside and we would keep an eye on them for much of the time, but it was by no means constant. We never had a problem and they were able to stay within the defined area we gave them.

    Thirty days in jail and probation is a terrible offer. I do a fair amount of criminal defense work and, unless she has record, this ‘deal’ stinks. Ideally, the prosecutor should drop the case, but if they won’t, they should offer something reasonable. If she takes this to trial, it is hard to say what would happen. A jury full of busybodies and nervous nellies may think she is a horrible parent.

  51. EricS November 25, 2015 at 1:53 pm #

    If these “neighbors” are so concerned about the well-being of the child.

    1. Why have authorities involved, it’s just fact that the kids would end up worse off if their parents were incarcerated.

    2. Instead of calling the cops and CPS, why don’t they just keep an eye on the kid. Everyone USED to that back in the day. You know the saying, “it takes a village to raise a child”.

    A “village”, meaning a community. All these people are showing the rest of us, is that they are extremely quick to point fingers, but the last to actually be a true helpful and caring neighbor.

    Sheeples. Geez.

  52. lollipoplover November 25, 2015 at 1:58 pm #

    “Unlike others here, I don’t see the neighbor as having done anything wrong.
    I think the problem (if there is one) lies with the police and the DA (if there was no actual neglect), or with the mother.(if there was).”

    The neighbor started the domino effect of involving authorities by calling 911 to avoid a social encounter with a neighbor. A 4 year-old playing in their own yard is NOT a police matter. No crime is being committed here and the police do not need to be involved. The neighbors are abusing emergency services when they make such calls. Had the 4 year-old been wandering at night, shoeless and crying, yes call the police. On a swing singing a song? No.

    The police and CPS HAVE to follow up on these calls. Who comes out to investigate makes this a game of Russian Roulette of common sense. Many police officers will investigate and see no crime here. But when it comes down to it, the neighbor who called 911 bears the blame for this cascade of events because they started it. I don’t care if their intentions were good- they CHOSE not to get involved and instead involved the authorities. Maybe it’s not illegal and they can’t be sued for their actions, but there should be some consequences for their actions.

  53. Melony November 25, 2015 at 2:03 pm #

    OMG, this is stupid, crazy, outragous, Keep government out of our business of parenting. Unless we abuse our kids, it is numya business

  54. EricS November 25, 2015 at 2:05 pm #

    “I think getting CPS involved was the right thing (although I was only tangentially involved… the reporter was a woman who was home all day, with her 4 kids, and saw how often this other child was left to care for herself. The tipoff was that she kept trying to invite herself for meals.)”

    In certain circumstances, contacting CPS right off that bat would be advisable. But in a situation like this, considering what happens when authorities get involved in families lives that they probably don’t need to (eg. we wouldn’t call the police to settle an argument between siblings, unless of course physical threat is apparent). If it were me being a “concerned neighbor” (though I wouldn’t be that concerned), I’d talk to the mother. Find out what her thought process was. Offer my assistance if I felt she needed it. Other than that, I’d let it be. Help keep an eye on the kid. You know, being a good neighbor. Not a nosey one. lol

    That sad truth, is that many people don’t stop to think about consequence of their actions. They want to satiate their sanctimonious attitude, without ever thinking how the bigger picture will affect the family. It’s pretty evident these kinds of people have messed up good families’ lives. And ultimately put the children in worse position than they were prior to being “ratted out”. Kind of nullifies their “concerned neighbor” act. But what do they care? It’s not their kid. As long as they feel better about themselves and their decisions, whatever happens afterwards suddenly is no longer their concern.

  55. E November 25, 2015 at 2:11 pm #

    @EricS

    1) the people that reported her have made it clear they weren’t interested in this type of punishment, it seems they were surprised that this was the course of action

    2) you are comparing a time when most Moms were at home and most kids went to the same schools (thus on the same schedule). There was a different connection between the neighbors that does not really exist today in most places. Plus, why would an adult with a grown child be interested in watching someone else’s 4 year old while they played?

    You could also ask why didn’t the Mom go to her neighbors and tell them what she was allowing her kid to do, and if they saw him doing something concerning to let her know? I mean, the village isn’t just there for others to help her — she can participate in the village too.

    If this kid is 4, he could be “just” 4, or about to be 5 (I’d guess on the early side given what I saw). That’s a big difference in the development of a preschooler.

    If I’m being honest, I’d scratch my head (not call police) at the kid being alone too. But I’d probably be more concerned about traffic if he wandered than anything else. I find it odd that in the video clip when she’s being interviewed she yells “Tomahawk stay on the playground Tomahawk” to him off camera. I presume it was for the video, but it plays like he has to be reminded to stay put.

  56. lollipoplover November 25, 2015 at 2:18 pm #

    Regarding this *village* (from the article):

    “They talked to him and asked him to go home, but say he told them he wasn’t ready to stop playing yet. They eventually went back in their apartment and called child protective services.”

    So these two strangers approach a child on a playground and tell him to do something and then called CPS when the child didn’t obey them. Why aren’t these strangers being charged with attempted luring. They just got all butthurt because he didn’t listen to them. How dare he! So they sought revenge. If anyone should be charged here, it should be these two sanctimonious neighbors. He is playing at a playground designed for children. What are these adults even doing at the playground if they don’t have small children?

  57. EricS November 25, 2015 at 2:21 pm #

    “The biggest difference I know of is that back in the 70’s, both the kids and the kids parents knew all the other residents all down the street. Today, people tend to not know their neighbors very well, or at all.”

    Very true. But that is a CHOICE people are making these days. That is the only difference between now and then. What choices we make these days. Back then, people actually CARED. Most strangers were the eyes for parents, when the children were out and about. That included disciplining them if they got out of hand.

    These days, because of social media and technology, people “care” only because it’s trendy. They want that recognition that they did the “right” thing. I truly doubt, they actually care about the child. Because if they did, they’d see the bigger picture when they involved authorities on such trivial issues as this. And part of the reason why they don’t think bigger picture, is because media (social and conventional) has conditioned them to believe what they want them to believe. Why? Because it gets ratings. And ratings mean big money for them.

    So basically, children are being exploited so that corporations can make more money. And communities are being brain washed to perpetuate issues, so that media can continue to capitalize on them and make more money. Technology has made this much easier and more efficient for companies to this these days.

    I’ve often said, if we had the same tech and mentality of today back then, the way people see the world now, would pale in comparison to how they would see it back 25 or so years ago. No one would ever come out of their homes. They would make paranoia of today seem like a day at the beach. lol

  58. EricS November 25, 2015 at 2:43 pm #

    @E:

    “1) the people that reported her have made it clear they weren’t interested in this type of punishment, it seems they were surprised that this was the course of action”

    Well, if they had actually thought before acting, they would have figured it out. After all, the story of the Meitivs was nationally known. Among other stories of families getting burned by CPS for non-valid reasons. And each time it was because of nosy, sanctimonious neighbor wanting to exert their “values” on others.

    “2) you are comparing a time when most Moms were at home and most kids went to the same schools (thus on the same schedule). There was a different connection between the neighbors that does not really exist today in most places. Plus, why would an adult with a grown child be interested in watching someone else’s 4 year old while they played?”

    Those are all CHOICES. The difference between now and then, are the choices we make. The world isn’t all that much different. But people’s mentalities have changed because they have been conditioned to. This is why were are were we are today when it comes to parenting. Think about it, only in the last 20 years have people started treating children differently than previous generations (going as far back as the dawn of man). 10000 years of successful child rearing can’t be wrong. After all, we went from a few thousand people, to 6.5 billion. And if she has her own children to watch, why was she so concerned about someone else’s? “Caring” is caring. You can’t just decide to care 50% of the time. And of those 50%, you can’t choose to care in varying levels. You either care or you don’t. And if you care, you would care enough to see the bigger picture of all the things before jumping to conclusions, calling authorities, then wiping your hands clean.

    “You could also ask why didn’t the Mom go to her neighbors and tell them what she was allowing her kid to do, and if they saw him doing something concerning to let her know? I mean, the village isn’t just there for others to help her — she can participate in the village too.”

    Does she have to? She trusts her parenting and her child enough to let him play outside on his own. Why does she need to inform her neighbors? The village isn’t their to raise others’ children, they are their to help when needed. If they aren’t asked, or it’s not a matter of safety (actual safety issues), or life and death, let it be. That’s how it’s always been done. It’s called respect. And the respectful thing for these nosy neighbors to have done, is to talk to their neighbor first. Find out the WHOLE story, not just what THEY want to believe and impose. THAT is the purpose of a “village”. And just because these neighbors are fearful, doesn’t mean everyone else has to be feel the same way.

    “If this kid is 4, he could be “just” 4, or about to be 5 (I’d guess on the early side given what I saw). That’s a big difference in the development of a preschooler.”

    Children start learning from the age of 1. Don’t assume because it’s a child, they are stupid. They are a lot smarter, observant and more resilient then many adults give them credit for. Plenty of hero kids in the media these days. That’s the great thing about nature, it makes children like sponges as they grow up. This is how children survive, but seeing, learning, experiencing, and trial and error. That is how we’ve all survived since the beginning of mankind.

  59. Suze November 25, 2015 at 2:43 pm #

    I’d like to know what type of drugs this person was on that called 911 on this mother. My sister in law and brother in law live in this type of set up. It is town houses and they all back on to a huge green space with a communal playground in the middle of it. Now, unlike the area in the article, this one isn’t even gated. It is considered the renters BACK YARDS for Pete’s sake. This is just getting ridiculous. Whoever called CPS on this women just needs to myob.

  60. MichelleB November 25, 2015 at 2:46 pm #

    It seems like there was another option, if the neighbor didn’t know who Tomahawk’s parents were or didn’t want to talk to them directly. Apartment complexes have managers…

    Years ago, we lived on a dead end road off of a busy street. On the corner was an apartment complex. A little girl, I’m guessing three years old, was playing between parked cars, crouched behind the tires. (To be clear, this was on the gravel shoulder, not in parking lot.) I pulled over, tried to talk to the little girl, who didn’t speak English, then went looking for the manger’s office. Never did find her parents, but did find a neighbor who knew her and took care of the situation. No police, no child protective services, and the little girl didn’t play in the road anymore. If she’d been on a playground, or on the sidewalk, I would’ve minded my own business.

  61. E November 25, 2015 at 2:55 pm #

    Great suggestion MichelleB.

    EricS: I would have never known who the Meitev were if not for this forum. Seriously, not everyone knows the same thing.

    Of course the Mom does not have to speak to the neighbors about letting her son have her first steps of independence. I’m just suggesting that it’s an option…particularly if your 4 year old might be the only one in the complex with this privilege. If you’re going to suggest that the neighbors are part of your village, you could also let them know what’s up.

    I’m not blaming the Mom…..I’m not blaming anyone in this situation other than the authorities. I am able to believe that a neighbor a) was concerned about the kid and b) had no clue what she was going to unleash from “the system”

  62. Kristin M November 25, 2015 at 2:58 pm #

    Go ahead and berate me, but I’d call CPS on the mom for her choice of name. Tomahawk? Really? Did we run out of names like bill and Steve?

  63. James Pollock November 25, 2015 at 3:00 pm #

    “The neighbor started the domino effect of involving authorities by calling 911 to avoid a social encounter with a neighbor.”

    You’re projecting a motive.

    “A 4 year-old playing in their own yard is NOT a police matter.”
    It’s also not what happened here.

    ” The neighbors are abusing emergency services when they make such calls.”
    You don’t know who they called or what they said when they did.

    “when it comes down to it, the neighbor who called 911 bears the blame for this cascade of events because they started it.”
    When it comes down to it, the mother who birthed the child bears the blame for this cascade of events, because that’s what started it. Or do we blame HER parents, for making HER? There’s not bottom to this rabbit-hole.

    “Maybe it’s not illegal and they can’t be sued for their actions, but there should be some consequences for their actions.”
    What consequences do you find appropriate for being concerned about the welfare of a child?

  64. James Pollock November 25, 2015 at 3:01 pm #

    “Very true. But that is a CHOICE people are making these days.”

    People are choosing to have neighbors that come and go?

  65. Hancock November 25, 2015 at 3:02 pm #

    I was taught to call 911 only for emminant and clear danger. I think the same should be said for CPS. Don’t call CPS, unless you are prepared to openly testify in court that the child is being actively abused or significantly neglected.

  66. Donald November 25, 2015 at 3:04 pm #

    She’s a hero!

    She needs a website where people can donate to help her cause. She’s taking action. Her bravery is commendable!

  67. Julie November 25, 2015 at 3:32 pm #

    I don’t understand why a call was needed. If the child was in danger, they should have stayed with the child to supervise. If child would not take them to the child’s mom, wait it out. Eventually mom would show up or child would go home – follow them home and talk to mom.

    There is a 13-14 year old girl that wanders our neighborhood during the summer. It is obvious when speaking to her that she is developmentally delayed. My 10 year old is almost too old to be a good playmate for her and shows better interpersonal judgment. And she seems to have absolutely no sense of personal boundaries, always wants to come into our house and rearrange things for me. I worry about her – but my answer was to call her mom and let her know that they need to have more discussions about going into people’s homes that she and her parents don’t know. All the shop owners downtown know this girl and watch out for her. We include her in our outdoor family activities when she just shows up at our house.

    There is a very old, retired guy that roams the neighborhood on his bicycle, too, who has kind of made himself the “watcher of the kids.” Sounds creepy to most people, but he hangs out at the park and around downtown and makes sure that the high school troublemaker boys leave the little kids, as well as this developmentally delayed girl, alone. The cops know him and check in with him throughout the day to keep a finger on what is going on with the kids. All the kids know this guy and know that they can wave him down if they need help. He keeps first aid supplies and such in his milk crate bike basket for them.

  68. Donald November 25, 2015 at 3:38 pm #

    Why would anyone call 911 to report a 4 year old playing 120 away from home? Why don’t they express they’re concerned to the mother and not to the police?

    Answer

    This requires social skills. We’ve seen 30 years of decay of child freedom. They lost more then freedom. They lost the opportunity to develop social skills.

  69. theresa hall November 25, 2015 at 3:43 pm #

    they don’t helicopter kids. it bad for them but every darn time you don’t they insist on rescuing the kids and making parents helicopter . which do they want? can’t have both

  70. David November 25, 2015 at 3:49 pm #

    Warren, I disagree with you that the police have to “do something” simply because CPS called them. If after an investigation, they determine that a crime has not been committed, they do not have to do anything except leave. They must have probable cause to make an arrest and a call from CPS does not automatically give it to them.

  71. MattB November 25, 2015 at 4:12 pm #

    Free Range kids? Sure.

    But the leash laws mentioned above have a purpose. Expecting other people to deal with a rambunctious or possibly aggressive dog, or someone else’s dog’s crap, is entitled beyond belief. These are the same jackwagons that think no smoking on airplanes is discriminatory.

    The alternative phrase for “Dog running loose” is “Target Practice”

  72. EricS November 25, 2015 at 4:34 pm #

    @James:

    “People are choosing to have neighbors that come and go?”

    No. My reply was in reference to the other part of yours:

    “Today, people tend to not know their neighbors very well, or at all.”

    THAT is a choice they make. Whether they are planning on staying a few months, or indefinitely, why wouldn’t anyone want to get to know each neighbor? Unless your an introvert, or trying to hide from someone or something. Either way, it’s still a choice. Pretty much everything we do in life is our choice.

    I have people coming and going in my building, but I always make a point to introduce myself, and talk to them while waiting for the elevator. That’s my choice because I want to know my neighbors. For various reasons. But mostly because I’m just a friendly guy. And generally give people the benefit of the doubt, and certain level or respect and trust. The rest is up to them, and I react accordingly. 😉

  73. James Pollock November 25, 2015 at 4:46 pm #

    “Why would anyone call 911 to report a 4 year old playing 120 away from home?”
    Not knowing where the child’s home is.

    “Why don’t they express they’re concerned to the mother and not to the police?”
    Because the mother wasn’t there. The police, however, have a known phone number.

    I don’t know what this kid was doing, playing by himself. I can imagine some things that would not merit calling in parents, much less the authorities. I can also imagine some things that definitely would. Without knowing which categories the child’s behavior actually falls in, it’s impossible to judge whether or not dropping a dime was justified in this case.

  74. That_Susan November 25, 2015 at 4:47 pm #

    I know the “free-range dogs” discussion is rather off-topic, but I’d like to chime in and say that I find the stray dogs we sometimes encounter pretty easy to deal with compared to the pit bulls some people in our neighborhood love keeping chained out in their yards in all kinds of weather. It seems like the pit bulls I see have been both BRED, and after birth, RAISED to be aggressive…and also that they invariably yank and yank at their chains until they break them, and just love to rush and intimidate anyone walking down the street. Now, neither my loved ones nor I have been mauled thus far, but when we recently had a neighbor who essentially shut the door in my face when I tried to talk with her about how my 10-year-old walks to and from school on her own and it was completely unacceptable for my child to EVER have to deal with an angry pit bull…

    Well, let’s just say that my husband and I had no problem with reporting that. Sadly, they pay less attention to dog reports. They’ll just warn the owner repeatedly and won’t do anything more unless they themselves see the animal out running loose, or you manage to get it on video, or someone does actually get mauled by the dog. I guess there are too many vindictive neighbors out there just itching to make up a story that’ll get someone’s dog put down?

    But…if we’re going to compare free-range kids to free-range dogs, then I’ll just say that if I see a friendly, happy dog out running the neighborhood, I’m happy to mind my own business, and that’s my approach with kids, too. However, If a child of any age came rushing at me threatening to harm me, and the parents shut the door in my face when I tried to tell them about it, then I’d be totally within my rights to call the police — and seriously, if the parents are that unconcerned about their child’s behavior, that is one of the extremely rare cases where I believe that a child might be better off in state care. Strangely, though, while I’ve been in a few different situations where I felt like a dog might be dangerous, I simply haven’t felt that threatened by a child, even a poorly behaved one.

  75. Emily November 25, 2015 at 4:49 pm #

    Is she fighting this? How can we support her? This makes me SO ANGRY!!

  76. James Pollock November 25, 2015 at 4:50 pm #

    “THAT is a choice they make. Whether they are planning on staying a few months, or indefinitely, why wouldn’t anyone want to get to know each neighbor? Unless your an introvert, or trying to hide from someone or something. Either way, it’s still a choice. Pretty much everything we do in life is our choice.”

    Or if THEY’RE an introvert (not that there’s anything wrong with that) they may not want to get to know you. Not a choice you get to make.

    It’s not just kids that go outside less frequently… adults don’t, either. You can go up the street, introducing yourself to everyone who lives on it… but you’re likely to be treated like a salesman or a religious nut if you do. Those are OTHER PEOPLES’ choice.

  77. TheOtherAnna November 25, 2015 at 4:58 pm #

    @E:

    “Supposedly the neighbors asked him to go home (do we know why? was he wandering off? was he doing something that concerned them) and he refused.”

    Of course he refused. Why should he take orders from some random adult? Maybe his mother told him to stay put. Even if she didn’t, why should he be forced to leave the playground if his parent said it was okay to be there? Maybe “the thing the kid was doing that concerned the neighbor” was just being there without a parent?

  78. Ben November 25, 2015 at 5:02 pm #

    In my personal opinion, 4 years old is just a tiny bit too young to be playing outside by yourself. If this kid falls in the playground, he has no experience to deal with it himself.
    That said, if there is someone who called 911, clearly SOMEONE is looking after him, so that is the only danger dealt with. In a gated apartment, there is no risk of the kid running off or going missing.

    It would not be my decision, but it is definitely not criminal.
    Even if it was somehow illegal, a fine should suffice.
    Jail should only be for serious offenses.

  79. That_Susan November 25, 2015 at 5:03 pm #

    @James, a truly concerned person could ask, “Where is your mom?” and after the child points in the direction of the apartment, knock on doors until finding the mom and talk with her about it. Instead, this mother and her adult daughter bossily decided that the child had had enough of a playtime and told him to go home, and then when he demonstrated his maturity and social skills by explaining that he wasn’t done playing yet, they demonstrated their lack of social skills by deciding that this was a matter for the law.

    Seriously, the older I get, the more strongly I feel that the best people are the absentmindedly-friendly folks who have interesting enough lives that they aren’t all that interested in what’s going on in everyone else’s.

  80. lollipoplover November 25, 2015 at 5:35 pm #

    “The alternative phrase for “Dog running loose” is “Target Practice”

    And the alternative phrase for a child playing alone is a 911 call?

    We foster dogs. I usually get the “misfit” dogs who need small training corrections. A few years ago we fostered a dog who went through over 4 homes and was returned repeatedly to the rescue. He was a former hunting dog and a runner. We had him 1 week before his first escape from our fenced yard. He never went near people or other dogs, he just ran to the wild spaces and chased birds, squirrels, and the occasional rabbit. He was too fast to catch but always came home. He is the most gentle creature and not a danger to anyone.

    What scares me most is the “Target Practice” idiots of the world. Instead, I met many neighbors who helped me find my dog without judgement. There are still so many good people in this world. We reinforced our fence but he still had such a strong drive to escape that he tunneled under it or headbutted it to break the wood! Eventually, we added an electric fence but the urge for him to chase critters is sometimes too strong and he still gets out on occasion. We adopted this *problem* dog to join our island of misfit dogs in our family (they all have something wrong with them). I have a new appreciation for parents of autistic children who are prone to wandering- I feel your pain. Fortunately, we have fantastic neighbors who help us out and know his story.

    “Target Practice”?
    You make me sick.

  81. Michelle November 25, 2015 at 5:44 pm #

    Regarding dogs running loose, it’s great that BL has never been mauled by a loose dog, but my first dog was killed by one. I’ve also had a neighbor screaming hysterically at me, telling me I needed to control my dog, when MY dog was on a leash, hers wasn’t, and her dog was attacking mine. (Different dog than the one who was killed.) And lately, I’ve had TWO instances of dogs camping out in my driveway, refusing to leave, and trying to get into my yard/house every chance they get, all day long. If the Free Range Kids in my neighborhood were acting that way, I’d be calling the police for damn sure. In the latter case, if it were small children, I’d probably try the parents first, but killing / attacking anyone in my family means I immediately call the cops.

    As for calling CPS only in emergencies, I don’t think it should be that way. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether a child is in danger. Consider the example that James gave. If a 4yo is home alone for 12 hours all day, every day, that’s cause for concern. I, personally, think something would need to be done, but I wouldn’t be sure she was in danger. Maybe the mom just needs help with childcare (as it turned out), but maybe she’s a drug addict or just a terrible person. There needs to be an agency that can investigate such things, figure out whether the person needs to be left alone, helped, or have their kids taken away, and trusted not to just bowl over every single family that gets a call made about them. That’s what CPS SHOULD BE. It’s sad that it isn’t.

  82. James Pollock November 25, 2015 at 5:57 pm #

    ” In a gated apartment, there is no risk of the kid running off or going missing.”

    People have gone missing from inside their own houses. All kinds of terrible, horrible, no-good things can happen, regardless of where you are.

  83. faith November 25, 2015 at 6:03 pm #

    She should be in jail and she does not have her kid no voy a parent in their mind will wait for you or go away from the house

  84. James Pollock November 25, 2015 at 6:09 pm #

    “@James, a truly concerned person could ask, “Where is your mom?” and after the child points in the direction of the apartment, knock on doors until finding the mom and talk with her about it”

    First off, you don’t know WHY the child being unattended was of concern, and insist on supplying your own opinion, sans facts.

    Then, you assume that A) the kid was actually helpful in any way, and B) that anyone should feel a need to take on looking after someone else’s kid. Nope. We pay taxes to have people to look into that. A truly concerned person might well have an urgent need to be somewhere else doing something else.

    ” they demonstrated their lack of social skills by deciding that this was a matter for the law.”
    It’s perhaps worth noticing that everyone else who has a detailed knowledge of the events thought so, too. the CPS workers, the police, the prosecutor… all thought that there was a criminal act here. Maybe they’re all right, and in THIS case, the child expanding his borders should have been supervised.

  85. Emily November 25, 2015 at 6:38 pm #

    I don’t see the big deal. When I was that age, I played alone in the backyard, and the front yard, all the time. My parents probably surreptitiously peeked out the window at me every so often, and sometimes physically came outside as well, but I wasn’t constantly supervised. In this case, the mother could see her son playing on the apartment complex playground, so I see that as the “apartment/townhouse” equivalent of playing in the yard, for a child who lives in a fully-detached house.

  86. That_Susan November 25, 2015 at 8:24 pm #

    @James: “Then, you assume that A) the kid was actually helpful in any way, and B) that anyone should feel a need to take on looking after someone else’s kid.”

    No, I don’t assume any of that. If he’d opted not to answer me, I’d have gone back to minding my own business, because I assume that a child who needs my help will actually talk to me. That’s based on my previous experience as an early childhood teacher and also on my current experience as a parent.

    And no, I don’t feel compelled to look after anyone else’s kid just because I see a child not being parented in the same way I parent my own kids. Sure, I’d scoop a toddler out of the middle of a busy intersection, but short of something that extreme, while I don’t wish anyone else’s child ill, I’m just not all that wrapped up in other people’s kids.

  87. James Pollock November 25, 2015 at 9:10 pm #

    “No, I don’t assume any of that. If he’d opted not to answer me, I’d have gone back to minding my own business”

    You’re just full of assumptions, and empty of willingness to examine them. You don’t know why somebody felt the need to summon authorities, yet you’re willing to state categorically how you’d react to the scene you’re imagining. Maybe the reason LE was called in was because he was torturing animals (no, I don’t think this is true, either… but I don’t know that it’s not, and neither do you.) Maybe he’s a budding little pyromaniac.

    You’re starting with the assumption that he was just… there, and so someone maliciously called it in because they’re nogoodnik busybodies. That may even be true. But… it might not be. What happens if you start with a different assumption, or, better yet, start without one at all?

  88. Kathryn November 25, 2015 at 9:31 pm #

    I’m with those who want to know what we can do to support this mother. It’s great that Lenore shares stories and instances where things are going awry, to bring attention to our cultural shift away from and bias against allowing children independence and being able, as parents, to make reasonable risk assessments and determinations about what freedoms and responsibilities our children are ready for, without fear of repercussion.

    But it would be so much better if we could mobilize together as a community to fight injustices like this, and to assist parents who are butting heads with unreasonably intrusive, over-reaching, fear-driven authorities. Let us support one another! How can we do that?

  89. Rivka333 November 25, 2015 at 9:36 pm #

    That_Susan
    Statistics show that most dog-caused fatalities are from a chained uneutered male dog who has lived outside his whole life with no chance to form actual relationships with human beings.
    That being said, I’m not in favor of dogs roaming loose, either. I think they should be taken for actual walks by the owner.
    BTW, my own dog is a pitbull, and is one of the sweetest dogs you could ever meet. I have never ever chained him; we take actual walks together. The whole thing has a lot to do with the area where you live. I come from San Diego county, where most medium-large dogs are pitbulls, and no dogs are kept on chains. I volunteered at an animal shelter, and most of the dogs there were pitbulls, and all of them were friendly.

    Anyway, statistically speaking, you are dead right about the problem of dogs on chains.

  90. Reader November 26, 2015 at 12:36 am #

    Sorry to get sidetracked into the dog issue, but the problem with that is people breeding and buying “tough-looking” dogs to show off how tough they supposedly are. End result: kids (and adults, though adults usually not fatally) getting attacked by dogs that have been inbred from strains originally selectively bred for fighting. Other end result: pounds and shelters full of dogs which, through no moral fault of their own, do not have personalities suited to being pets.

  91. andy November 26, 2015 at 4:17 am #

    @E I do not see how calling an agency with power to remove children from home is oh so much better then calling cops. My comment even wrote about CPS.

    Unless he has really low IQ, he must have know that government agencies are blunt tools and not something from 90ties family tv show. What did he expected to happen? Friendly fairy tale grandma showing up with smile with a cup of tea in hand? Agencies gets changes by fines or other punishments. There is only one reason to call them – you think the threat of punishment is needed. Unless of course, you are 12 years old and still believe those family friendly tv shows.

    Oh, and I did not told that he should talk to mom. My opinion is that he should have left them alone. I am tired of how easy it is to use the “I just wanted to help” excuse when busybodies wreck havoc on other peoples lives or interfere where they are not welcome.

  92. andy November 26, 2015 at 4:20 am #

    @E Just for the record, I do not mind existence of CPS and other agencies. I think that some children have right to not be abused and some are. These are situations in which it is fine to use those blunt punishing tools. Four years old playing 120 feet from home is very clearly not such situation.

  93. sexhysteria November 26, 2015 at 4:55 am #

    Another example of the modern wisdom: Never call 911 for any reason, unless there is imminent danger to life or limb and no non-government help is available.

  94. Donna November 26, 2015 at 8:00 am #

    Andy – Many people with perfectly fine IQs believe that the police, cps, etc will do “good” rather than penalize. I consider most people who regularly post here intelligent and yet many posts are replete with the notion that the police should do something other than arrest. In fact, it is human nature. We generally consider ourselves rational and expect people to act in accordance with our rational beliefs.

    Most people have no negative contact with cps or the police and do not follow Free Range Kids to know the latest goings on. They view these organizations as to what they expect them to do according to their own rationale, which is nothe always how they really operate.

  95. Donna November 26, 2015 at 8:09 am #

    SteveS- Whether this is an outrageous plea offer for child neglect depends on the jurisdiction. I regularly work in one where 30 days in jail would be fairly typical for a case of child neglect and others where it would be considered outrageous.

    *** I am just speaking in general and not saying that this actually was child neglect. I don’t believe the mother should have been arrested at all. I don’t support 4 year olds playing where mom can’t look out the window and see them, but arrest is uncalled for unless there are facts we don’t know. ****

  96. James Pollock November 26, 2015 at 9:15 am #

    “Many people with perfectly fine IQs believe that the police, cps, etc will do “good” rather than penalize.”

    Perhaps believing this because of their own experience(s), which shows it to be true at least part of the time.

    Is the notion that different people may have different experiences when dealing with the authorities that hard to internalize?

  97. SteveS November 26, 2015 at 10:51 am #

    Donna, that is a good point. I don’t really know. Where I am, 30 days in jail for a neglect case for a person without a record would be an unusually poor offer. We would more likely see probation and parenting classes. A parent that has to serve 30 days in jail would likely lose their job and their child would be traumatized by this event.

    I am also surprised that so many people think the police and the prosecutor will do the “right thing.”

  98. SteveS November 26, 2015 at 11:04 am #

    I would suspect that Donna’s basis for forming an opinion on how the police will “help” is based on a larger sample than what most people have. I tend to agree with her. Calling the police in a non-emergency is a huge risk. You have no idea how they will react and once they are involved it isn’t as if you can just opt out if you don’t want the help.

    I can say that most of my personal interactions with police have been pleasant, but I have had enough clients with very negative reactions when they called the police to intervene in a non-emergency that I would be very cautious in calling them for something that may be better handled by other means.

  99. James Pollock November 26, 2015 at 11:15 am #

    “I can say that most of my personal interactions with police have been pleasant, but I have had enough clients with very negative reactions when they called the police”

    If you are a defense attorney, your sample MAY be skewed.

  100. Maggie November 26, 2015 at 11:52 am #

    When my kids were 3 and 5 we were skiing. My 5 yr old was a quite competent skier, the 3 yr old was just learning. My older son turned down a run the younger one wouldn’t be able to manage and was about 15 ft down before I could stop him. I was stuck. It would have been very difficult for the 5 yr old to climb back up, and I couldn’t leave the younger one. So I told the older one to ski down and wait at the base by the staff who scanned the tickets until we could make it down. When we finally made it down, my son was waiting, talking to staff about skiing.

    While I was worried, being a friendly, capable kid meant he could ask for help if he needed it. His skills were developed enough to handle the situation.

    Kids that have been raised over-protected and fearful of strangers don’t develop those skills.

  101. Beth November 26, 2015 at 12:13 pm #

    SteveS, when you say that calling the police in a non-emergency is a huge risk, what are you defining as a non-emergency? If I get home from vacation and find that my house has been burglarized while I was gone, that’s not an emergency (no bad guy is currently in the house), yet I would want to report it to the police. Or, I wake up one morning to find that my car, parked on the street, was crashed into overnight, and no sign anywhere of the suspect vehicle or driver. I would definitely want to report that to the police, but it’s a non-emergency.

    What kind of huge risk am I taking in these two examples?

  102. That_Susan November 26, 2015 at 12:13 pm #

    Okay James, I’ve just read the article and watched the video on Fox40, and the women who called quite clearly stated that their concern was that he was playing outside alone and “what if” he’d been kidnapped and was on Amber Alert? Nothing was said about him actually doing anything concerning. They simply saw it as concerning for a small child to be having a good time without his mother in sight, because of their seeming belief that there’s a kidnapper lurking behind every bush.

    As far as the poster who saw it as irrelevant that the mother breastfed and cloth diapered — maybe it has no bearing on the case, but she’s feeling attacked as a mother and feels a need to emphasize that she’s not just some lax, detached mom who doesn’t even pay attention or care about her child.

  103. SteveS November 26, 2015 at 12:24 pm #

    Beth, the situations you describe are ones that clearly fall into the realm of a crime being committed and it would be appropriate to call the police. I would suspect that most insurance claims may even require that you do so.

    I guess I could have been more specific and said that it may not be a good idea to call the police in a situation where no one is being harmed or the likelihood of harm is very remote. Most of my examples come from people that called the police to deal with some type of “family dispute” or some other situation that was made worse by police and court intervention.

    I will readily admit that my perception may be skewed, but genuinely believe that in cases where there is no abuse or neglect or the neglect is borderline, CPS will do more harm than good.

  104. Beth November 26, 2015 at 12:56 pm #

    Understood SteveS; it just seemed to me that saying “calling the police in a non-emergency is a huge risk” was a pretty broad statement.

  105. JKP November 26, 2015 at 1:19 pm #

    In the past, I may have been one of those naive folk who would expect the police to help if called. But I still never thought it was a good idea to call the police unless there was a true emergency or crime, not because I thought involving them would cause more harm, but because I could be taking them away from a more serious situation that needed their attention.

    When did people stop thinking about the idea of wasting limited emergency/police services on trivial matters? What about all the truly abused/neglected kids who never get help because CPS is too busy chasing calls about happy kids playing in the park?

  106. andy November 26, 2015 at 2:20 pm #

    @Donna I do not expect police to arrest at every turn, they are not even allowed to. They can arrest only under certain conditions e.g., risk you run away, you pose danger, etc. However, when cop tells me nicely what to do, I am expected to do it because he has that special authority from being a cop. (Neighborhood called cps not cops directly, but I will continue with that hypothetical.)

    It does not matter all that much whether individual cop is “good”. What matters is that civilian can not tell him to “f*** off” and disobey the way civilian legally can to random neighborhoods.

    When the definition of cop “doing good” is “make a person that disagrees with me to do what I want”, then it is either a.) the person is doing something really illegal and cops job is to stop it or b.) I am asking cop to abuse his authority to take my side in a conflict and it is cops duty to refuse. Neighborhood intention was the latter and I do not find it good thing at all.

    When you have a friend who is a cop and you are using him this way, we call it corruption – and yes it happens in practice and is bad thing to happen. When he does that just because one of you is more charismatic or cop personally agree with his opinions, then it is not all that much better. I find this more dangerous then whatever standard local CPS have for when the child can be alone on playground.That is at least clear rule. Nobody wants neighborhoods to call cops to take their sides in disagreements with him. Non corrupt law enforcement that does not uses its authority in non-law related matters is preferable. (I am not saying it is reality in general, but my strong preference. )

  107. Warren November 26, 2015 at 9:15 pm #

    andy,

    “It does not matter all that much whether individual cop is “good”. What matters is that civilian can not tell him to “f*** off” and disobey the way civilian legally can to random neighborhoods.”

    Could you please tell me where it is written you cannot tell a cop to f— off and disobey him or her?

  108. David November 27, 2015 at 6:31 am #

    @Warren: There are laws that require people to obey the orders of a police officer. If you think the officer has no right to issue the order, obey it and settle it in court, unless he orders you to do something illegal.

  109. Donna November 27, 2015 at 7:49 am #

    David – There are no laws requiring such. There are laws requiring that you obey the LAWFUL orders of police officers. You do not need to obey orders that are illegal or violate your constitutional rights.

    That said, there is no real remedy for the police violating your rights in this way. If you are arrested for obstruction of an officer for telling a cop to F off, you may ultimately get the charges dismissed, but you have still been arrested, sat in jail for a period of time, gone to court, appeared in paper and nothing will change that.

    There is no way to remedy the violation of rights if you follow orders that you didn’t have to follow. Everyone is allowed to consent to give up their rights. And even if you arguably didn’t consent and could sue, what exactly are your damages for 1 minute of your time of, for example, showing an ID?

  110. Donna November 27, 2015 at 7:55 am #

    Andy – I’m not really sure what your point is. All I was saying is that perfectly intelligent people seem to have the view that police officers, cps, etc exist to help rather than simply act punitively. And my guess, based on stories from older family members and friends, that this was true in bygone eras. Many act on that notion and are not anticipating arrest/removal when they call these agencies. They simply want help solving a problem that they don’t think they can solve themselves. They are misguided but not malicious.

  111. lollipoplover November 27, 2015 at 12:29 pm #

    And in other news, a 4 year-old calls 911 to help him with his math homework.

    http://tiphero.com/4-year-old-calls-911-with-a-unique-problem/

  112. Warren November 27, 2015 at 5:47 pm #

    David,

    Sorry, but you are wrong. I am under no legal obligation to obey a cop’s orders that are illegal or violates my rights. And I have done so numerous times. In my line of work we deal with the police on a semi regular basis. Unfortunately some of them believe just because we are working on the side of the highway that we come under their jurisdiction, and we don’t. We actually come under the Ministry of Transportation’s jurisdiction. They don’t like hearing that, but it sucks to be them. I don’t have the luxury of moving on a ordered, and dealing with it later. That would leave a transport loaded with cargo, or a bus loaded with travelers stranded on the side of the highway.

  113. Steve S November 28, 2015 at 8:19 am #

    While there are some police officers that appear to understand the difference between lawful and unlawful commands, there are some that do not.

  114. James Pollock November 28, 2015 at 9:21 am #

    “While there are some police officers that appear to understand the difference between lawful and unlawful commands, there are some that do not.”

    But they all have the support of a court system that is EXTREMELY deferential to their use-of-force decisions.

    http://www.loweringthebar.net/2015/11/deadly-tree-force.html

  115. andy November 28, 2015 at 12:50 pm #

    @Donna I guess the difference is mostly in different idea about what is proper use of police, its role in society and when it should not intervene at all – whether they end up acting punitively or in nicer manner. I would not expect them to arrest people instantly or anything big like that, but I find using them to solve non-criminal/law problems wrong thing to do (ethically wrong).

    There was never bygone era when police would be smiling helpful guys you routinely call to solve non-criminal matters around here. If you call them, it means you think the law was broken and you expect them to come as cops not as your friend to settle dispute.

    I would expect them to be grumpy for wasting their time or act in a way that discourages that sort of thing. If they would want retaliate, I would expect them look hard to find something to fine you, not to arrest.

  116. James Pollock November 28, 2015 at 1:15 pm #

    “I find using them to solve non-criminal/law problems wrong thing to do (ethically wrong). ”

    They’ve always had non-criminal-law functions, for as long as there’ve been metropolitan police forces. Arguing that they shouldn’t have them is a philosophical discussion that has no relation to physical reality. “Keepers of the peace” and “enforcers of the law” are things that overlap significantly but not completely.

  117. Steve S November 29, 2015 at 9:24 pm #

    James, I would tend to agree that judges tend to give the police a great deal of leeway when it comes to use of force and getting people to comply. That being said, things are changing. More people are recording their interactions with police and making it so that a judge or jury isn’t going to give them the benefit of the doubt.

  118. Papilio November 30, 2015 at 4:50 pm #

    @lollipoplover: Giving math homework to a 4yo sounds criminal enough to me! 😛

  119. Jeenifer December 1, 2015 at 6:01 am #

    Your suppose to “watch” your kids especially a 4 year who can’t make the right decisions. Don’t hide under the new age hooey “free range parenting”. Your an idiot. You should not be allowed to procreate. Sorry. 4 years is too young. If you don’t have enough common sense to realize that well then someone should call the cops on you.

  120. Jim December 1, 2015 at 7:54 am #

    I am 64 yrs old. I wish my mom had been like Mrs. Hendron. Instead of giving me some “space” she constantly “hovered” over me as a child. Even though we only lived a half mile from my elementary school she walked me there and back EVERY DAY (for the FIRST WEEK of 1st Grade to make sure I knew how to get there and back). When I got my 1st bike she wouldn’t even let me leave our NEIGHBORHOOD (unless it wasn’t raining or snowing). Worst of all, she only allowed me to leave the store she was shopping in and walk up the sidewalk to buy an ice cream cone AS LONG AS I DIDN’T CROSS THE STREET. Now she still drives to my home to check up on me several times a year even though I live only 40 MILES AWAY. SHEESH, MOM…GIVE ME SOME SPACE!!

  121. April December 1, 2015 at 8:41 am #

    I would recommend some balance from the mother, CPS, nieghbors, law enforcement in that area immediately before one child turns an adult and end up on welfare, jail, depresion, or other health issues!

  122. Renay Adair December 1, 2015 at 11:23 am #

    As a Grandmother of 3 four year olds and a 7 year old. I fell that the person who called 911 stepped outside their bounds! A first step should have been to talk to the mom, and even the child. One to see if the boy would react to a stranger, and also to see if the mother actually allowed the child to be outside. Now this child must be in eyesight of the mother at all times. That will not allow the child to gain independence, and a healthy self esteem. The people who call and force their views on everyone, are a portion of the problem with young adults today, who need hand holding, constant attention, and lack the ability to hold a responsible job.

    I allow my grandchildren to play at a playground, and at times they are more than 120 feet away from me. Lord know I don’t have eyes on even 2 of them all the time. These kids are learning how to deal with difficult people, challenging play, and problem solving skills. All while I am on a bench watching out for them but not on top of them. This mother was doing the same thing, and that is her choice! I wish the government / nosy neighbors / well intentioned busy body’s would quit trying to micro manage. Try talking first before jumping to conclusions!

  123. james December 1, 2015 at 7:30 pm #

    What a fucking joke, these cops are out of control, and also whats up with this loser neighbor!

  124. James Pollock December 1, 2015 at 7:45 pm #

    “That being said, things are changing. More people are recording their interactions with police and making it so that a judge or jury isn’t going to give them the benefit of the doubt.”

    Idealist.
    The four cops who beat up Rodney King were all on video, too.

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  126. Bee December 4, 2015 at 6:29 pm #

    Anyone know if there is a GoFundMe account set up for the mom of the boy? I bet a lot of people would be willing to donate some money to help her with lawyer fees. If she loses this case, it will have repercussions for the entire nation.

  127. Maria Hasankolli December 5, 2015 at 3:28 pm #

    The more of these stories that I read, the more enraged I become. I, too, have fallen victim to these kinds of acts. I recall playing outside as a toddler both with my siblings and alone. I discovered salamanders and slugs. I learned how to balance on fences and climb trees. As children, we created a world of our own full of imagination and secret forts. We drank from hoses when we got thirsty, sat under trees when we got hot;the answers to askall of life’s mysteries throughout the maze that was our neighborhood. Back then, the village raised the children. What a great time it was to be a kid. When, exactly, did that change and why then didn’t we all get the memo.