girl walking to store 2 dalle

Cops Stop Girl, 6, From Walking a Few Blocks to Store in Michigan Suburb

Her parents had prepared her for ALMOST everything.

When Tom D’s daughter, age 6, asked if she could walk to get a Gatorade all by herself, her parents said yes. Then they gave her some money, her mom’s phone so she could be tracked, her dad’s number for emergencies, and a hand-drawn map – even though the store was just a few blocks away.

This was in a Detroit suburb. Dad Tom has asked his last name not be used, for fear of retribution from the cops.

Because, yes, the cops were called. No sooner had the girl turned onto the larger road where the store is, than an older man stopped her, and summoned the police.

Tom was tracking his daughter, and when he saw she wasn’t budging, he went out to see what was going on. As he arrived, so did two cops.


“They were asking me what I was letting her do and I said, ‘I’m letting her walk to get a Gatorade.’ And they asked me her age and I told them,” Tom recalls.

“They said, ‘She’s not old enough,’ and I remember thinking, ‘That’s your personal belief. You don’t know my kid at all!’ But I remember thinking, ‘I need to tone myself down.’”

His prudence paid off. “The cops said, ‘We don’t want to bring Child Protective Services into this,'” indicating that they certainly could, if pushed. So Tom gave them his name and identification, and promised, “I’ll make sure she’s inside our house going forward, officer.”

And that’s what he and his wife have done. They have changed their parenting, not due to actual danger, but to other people’s perceptions.


This, in turn, has changed their daughter. After the thwarted walk, “She wanted to try almost immediately again,” says Tom. “But we did not allow her to. Because if she tries again and they find her again, they’re definitely calling Child Protective Services on us.”

The spunky little girl asked a few more times. And then…she stopped asking.

Her parents changed, too. “We were both for the idea [of the walk] before anything happened. And afterward it was like, ‘Well, let’s just be a little more cautious,'” says Tom.

More cautious? They’d prepared their daughter with a map! Money! Phone! How excessively cautious must a parent be?


This is why I never blame parents for “helicoptering.” Our culture insists we do it! And yet, as childhood independence has dwindled, childhood anxiety and depression have shot up. This is no coincidence.

The way anyone gets over ANY fear is by facing it — by doing the daunting thing. By contrast, if you want to feed anxiety, just treat a competent person as not competent. Warn them that everything’s dangerous. Stop them from doing things they could handle.

A walk to the store, for instance.

Until we change our laws and norms, decent parents who want to nurture their children’s growing capabilities will be forced to smother them instead.

That’s not safety. That’s a tragedy.

Print out our free Let Grow Kid Card that kids can show to worried passersby.

6 Responses to Cops Stop Girl, 6, From Walking a Few Blocks to Store in Michigan Suburb

  1. Commonsense June 16, 2023 at 5:54 am #

    Was the person who stopped her and called the police charged with attempted kidnapping?why not?he prevented her from leaving the area, against her will. I think the parents have a case against him/her/it/them.

  2. ClemenceDane June 16, 2023 at 3:49 pm #

    This is crazy. I would move to another state at least, but my first impulse was that they should move to another country where they don’t act like this.

  3. Miles Breit June 16, 2023 at 4:42 pm #

    Stories like this make me so mad and distressed at what our society has become. Even though I don’t have kids myself, as a “baby boomer” I remember how it was in my day, when parents didn’t have to live in fear of child protective services ruining their lives if they let their kid walk to the store. With reply to the first comment, even if there was no attempted kidnapping, the parents might have a case for false imprisonment, which technically means just preventing someone from being free to leave. I would also like to dispel the misconception that the people who call the cops are “well meaning” or “concerned”. No they’re not. They are instigators, trouble makers, toxic people who take a warped satisfaction in causing problems where none exist, maybe vindictive neighbors or other malcontents. Cops should take retribution against them, not against the innocent parents.

  4. Mark Headley June 16, 2023 at 10:54 pm #


    This sounds to me the law specifies no age. So what empowers these guys to willy-nilly impose their views on what’s “too young”? In my day, the presumption was precisely the opposite. Kids were expected to get themselves to/from school: including before/after dark, in inclement weather, snowbanks pushing pedestrians onto already narrow streets w/ no sidewalks. Families couldn’t all afford to cloth kids properly for winter. Mine could only because we were entrusted w/ many tasks, like getting places, walking the dog beginning ~ 6-7, shoveling snow, picking up mail at the P.O., food at the deli. My parents could not have both held modest jobs, lives of their own, while helicoptering, regularly doing our homework.

  5. Mark June 16, 2023 at 11:05 pm #

    I largely agree, Miles. I’d allow for exceptions, but I wouldn’t consider all cops, authorities well meaning either. My Dad’s impression as a parole officer was most guys become cops because they like to throw their weight around. Be violent. My experience isn’t so extreme, but I’ve encountered plenty wrongful violence at the hands of police, and I’m white. Contrary to most media reports, we got the same lecture from our Dad about being subservient to police that reportedly only Blacks get. Basically, how Tom here wisely, sadly reacted.

  6. Carolyn June 19, 2023 at 11:21 pm #

    The parents took all the precautions. Children need space to grow. People were surprised how long a leash I gave my son but he was ready for that long leash.