Mom Jailed for Letting Her 9 y.o. Play at Park Unsupervised (And Daughter In State Custody)

Readers — I hope this strikes you as cruel and unusual (not the mom — the authorities):

WJBF-TV feeyntsksh
ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken News, Weather, Sports

As the anchor reports: “A North Augusta mother is in jail after witnesses say she left her nine-year-old daughter at a nearby park, for hours at a time.”

And as I wrote at Reason:

Hours at a time? During the summer. Gosh! That certain sounds  normal and fun  like a reason to throw a mom in jail — and place the child into state custody. Here are the facts. 

Read the rest here!




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100 Responses to Mom Jailed for Letting Her 9 y.o. Play at Park Unsupervised (And Daughter In State Custody)

  1. hineata July 15, 2014 at 12:40 am #

    I must have been doing ‘diversity’ papers for too long, but why do the ‘defendants’ (and she has nothing to defend against, of course, just practicing normal parenting!) in the cases you highlight so often seem to be black? Or is this just a black area?

    Bruises on my forehead from bashing it against the table….That little girl is going to be soooo much better off spending her summer in foster care while Mum languishes in jail. And will Mum have a job when this is over? But of course, when this rubbish is over and she lands up on welfare , it’ll be because she’s another lazy parent creaming the system.

    If the kid was 3 or 4, okay. But 9?!!!!

  2. Emily Morris July 15, 2014 at 12:47 am #

    This sort of carp needs to stop!

  3. Wendy W July 15, 2014 at 12:57 am #

    The video identified the park and the McD’s location, and said it was a 1.5mile walk. WRONG! The park is right behind the Walmart that the McD’s is in, and if you follow the sidewalk that directly links the two, it’s 3/10 of a mile. To get 1.5mi, you have to follow the major roads and go the long way around. Talk about misleading reporting!

  4. Warren July 15, 2014 at 2:06 am #

    At least the comments on the news stations page are on our side this time.

  5. Omer Golan-Joel July 15, 2014 at 2:43 am #

    In a free society, the main rule of a thumb is that a crime exists only when an actual person is harmed (physically hurt, loses his/her freedom, or has property taken or damaged). If no one is harmed, there is no crime. And if there is no crime, there is no place for the state or police to intervene.

    The girl here wasn’t harmed, so the mother has committed no crime and jailing her is an affront to justice.

    In a democracy you jail people only for actual crimes they have committed, not for hypothetical crimes they MIGHT HAVE committed.

  6. no rest for the weary July 15, 2014 at 3:00 am #

    Really? This is what it has come to? That a 9-year-old child frolicking in a park, surrounded by other children frolicking, with an incredibly high ratio of adults supervising (because apparently it’s a crime for a child to spend any kind of time at a park without their parents or other designated adult caregiver), 3/10 of a mile from mom’s work site is considered “neglected”?

    My brain just exploded.

  7. no rest for the weary July 15, 2014 at 3:20 am #

    And I will add this: When people have an idea of “right” and “wrong,” this is what we get. We get people pointing at others and saying, “This just isn’t right” or “This is child abuse” or “This is neglect.” They label it. “Wrong.” “Bad.” “Neglect.”

    If we all could learn another way of experiencing life, there might be a little less drama and trauma. How about empathy?

    You see a child in a park, and you are there supervising your own children. You look around for the child’s mother or caregiver. You decide the kid is there alone. You ask the child if she’s there alone. She confirms she is.

    You feel a mixture of things: A kind of smug, “Gotcha!” feeling when you are doing it “right” and someone is doing it “wrong.” Maybe you feel confused and concerned. What’s next for you is to trace those feelings to what you value.

    Do you value equality (as in, “I am kowtowing to the ridiculous insistence that we all stick to our kids like glue 24/7, or pay someone else to do that, so it’s not fair that this kid is on their own”?

    Do you value safety (as in, “From what I understand about what’s happening in this community, I just don’t believe a child is safe in this park under these circumstances”)?

    Do you value nurturing and care (as in, “Poor little child, no one to make sure she stays hydrated and gets a decent lunch!”)?

    Do you value ease and comfort (as in, “It’s not comfortable for me to be around other people’s kids when their parents aren’t here. I don’t want to feel like I have to feed or watch them”)?

    Do you value responsibility (as in, “I want to know that the person raising this child is acting in a way that supports responsibility”)?

    Then you might search your soul to see if you might be able to meet all of those needs without interfering with the child.

    You also might seriously consider whether or not “calling in the authorities” will bring you closer to any of those things you value. Say the mother gets arrested. Are your needs for responsibility being met? For ease? For safety? For NURTURING AND CARE? When that child ends up in State custody? Really? Nurturing and care? SAFETY?

    Also consider the CHILD. Do they look content, or distressed? When you back away from your story about “right” and “wrong,” what do you see? Do you see a child enjoying life, or cowering in terror? Healthy and sound, or malnourished and ill? Can you imagine whether the CHILD’S needs for safety, care, ease and responsibility are actually being met? And if you can connect with that, do you need to call the police?

    Empathy. It’s what’s for dinner.

  8. BL July 15, 2014 at 4:59 am #

    “We’re from the government and we’re here to help!”

  9. Emily July 15, 2014 at 7:06 am #

    Like I said on Facebook, I have a feeling that the busybody jumped to conclusions. The exchange of, “Where’s your mom or dad?” “At work,” probably conjured up images of the mom or dad working in an office, nowhere near the park, and not accessible to the child should something go wrong. If they’d kept asking questions, or left space for the girl to explain that her mother was just at the McDonald’s in the Wal-Mart right near the park, and she had a cell phone, and was expected to meet up with her mother on her break, and this whole arrangement was her (daughter’s) idea, then that would probably make the situation seem a lot safer……because it IS a lot safer than the dramatic image of “Mother abandoned child in a park ALL DAY while she went to work!!!”

    As for the “child care” piece of the puzzle, the last I heard (in Ontario), the government provides a partial tax credit for childcare for working families……but only for kids under the age of seven. There’s no official legal age to leave a child home alone here, but most people start around twelve. So, that’s a fairly massive gap. Add in the fact that childcare is expensive to begin with, and often the demand exceeds the number of available spots, so something has to give. The situation in this article isn’t even what I’d call “unsupervised child.” Given the girl’s age, and the fact that her mother is nearby, and the daughter has a cell phone, and checks in every few hours, I’d call this more like “supervision lite.” Either way, it’s a much better arrangement than the ever-popular “leave the kids at home all day, and don’t allow them to go outside, for fear that someone might see them without an adult” solution.

  10. Sloan44 July 15, 2014 at 7:27 am #

    Unreal! When I was 8 I had the house key on a string around my neck and walk to/from school and to the park,stayed there hours on end while mom was still at work or at home. The park was my get away with friends,no parents where there. Now it is considered shameful to not be with your child to supervise them! This nations gone to hell in a hand basket!

  11. Emily July 15, 2014 at 7:29 am #

    P.S., I know that not every place is like Ontario, but from what I’ve heard, the childcare crunch is a pretty widespread problem. Add in the fact that the mother is working for minimum wage at McDonald’s, and, well, where’s the money coming from? If North Augusta is anything like Ontario, a nine-year-old would be considered both “too old” for any kind of childcare subsidy, and “too young” to be left at home alone. I know the YMCA provides subsidized memberships, childcare, and spots in day camps, but there are waiting lists for the childcare and the day camps, because there simply aren’t enough resources to meet the demand. So, I think the solution of “Make the best of a bad situation by allowing a developmentally-ready child some independence” is a good one.

  12. SteveS July 15, 2014 at 7:55 am #

    Even if this person was leaving their child in a park for an entire work day, is this the best way of handling this? Foster care, even under the best circumstances, is traumatic and is likely to cause some damage to the child. It can be justified if what the parent was doing was causing worse damage. This is not true in this case.

    Let’s assume that the mother was doing something wrong and placing this child at some kind of risk (which I am not saying she was). It would seem to be a better use of state funds to help her find some kind of child care.

  13. SOA July 15, 2014 at 8:18 am #

    She does need some kind of daycare situation because her daughter cannot stay at a park all day long every day while her mom works. If it rains for example what is she going to do? Or if she is sick?

    But I don’t think in this case the child was in any danger or the mother was doing anything wrong. The proper way to handle this was not to arrest the mother. The proper way is to try to help her find some kind of childcare for when she is at work that she can rely on should she need it. A 9 year old is fine to probably be left alone for a few hours but not all day every day in most cases.

    Our government does not know how to handle moderate approaches anymore, it is all or nothing.

  14. kate July 15, 2014 at 8:19 am #

    This child is not unsupervised! Look at how many adults are in the park with their children. Other than a minor injury, I don’t see much danger in the park. Certainly not kidnapping. If the other parents feel nervous, they can certainly keep an eye on her.

    I wonder if the childcare owner has flexible enough hours for someone working shifts at McDonalds. Most centers I have been to charge for a full day and extra for “before care and after care” Aside from the fact that the mothers salary would barely cover these costs.

  15. Erica July 15, 2014 at 8:21 am #

    Unbelievable. We don’t have the money to provide enough child care options to working people, but we have the money to put them in jail and their kids in foster care. What kind of a stupid, backward, cruel, irresponsible country have we become?

  16. Jill July 15, 2014 at 8:24 am #

    How is this unlawful conduct toward a child? Is there a law on the books in North Augusta, SC, specifying at what age a child is considered to be too young to play in a city park, unsupervised by a parent or guardian?
    The sneering contempt with which the two holier-than-thou news commentators described the mother’s “crime” of letting a nine-year-old girl pay outdoors by herself “more than once” made me livid. And there’s a picture of the mom, in an orange jumpsuit, under an ARRESTED banner, as if she were an axe murderer. Nice touch, asshats. Journalism has hit a new low when you have to resort to shaming a low-income woman who’s doing her best to provide for herself and her child for being a bad parent because she let her kid play in a beautiful park by herself.
    The Greek chorus of the two women who declared that even though the park looks safe, it might not be, added to the idiocy. The park was fine. I was much nicer than the scorching hot wasteland equipped with a rusty swing set, a rickety slide and a set of monkey bars that passed for a park in my childhood neighborhood. I spent hours there, day after day in the summer, playing with my friends, and nobody called the cops.
    Lenore is right; the crime rate is lower than it’s been in a long time, but you’d never know it, according to all the cop shows on TV, and stories like this one, where everyone obsesses about the danger that lurks around every corner when children are left by themselves.
    Look, I know fear for our children’s safety is hard-wired into human brains. Back when Christianity was a new religion, it was the Christians who were said to kidnap children, eat them and drink their blood. Then it was the Jews who were said to kidnap Christian babies, then witches, and gypsies, and on and on, down to Satanists in the nineteen-eighties, and now it’s the “strange men.” Really, we need to wise up and see where the real danger lies: from busybodies who get a thrill out of calling the police, and from police who think there’s nothing wrong with throwing a hard-working mom in jail and turning her child over to foster care.

  17. E July 15, 2014 at 8:34 am #

    I think there’s a difference between a child being at a park for lengths of time and a child being on their own for an entire work day and unable to return home if she’s sunburned, sick, weather turns nasty, etc.

    I’m not saying the Mom needs to be arrested and sent to jail, but this isn’t a kid walking down to the park to play either.

  18. Jill July 15, 2014 at 8:57 am #

    She could return to her mother, who was working nearby. At a fast-food restaurant, where there’s, you know, shelter from the rain, food and water.

  19. Jill July 15, 2014 at 8:59 am #

    It WAS a kid, walking down to the park to play. That’s the point.

  20. TM July 15, 2014 at 9:01 am #


    Do we have any evidence at all that if such events (sunburn, sick, raining) occurred that the child in question had no options and no recourses? Do we have evidence that when the child is sick, the mother is still leaving her in the park in the rain? Do we have evidence that this child has been sunburned and then left in the park? Do we have evidence that this child is in any way neglected or allowed to needlessly suffer? The answer of course is no. We have a child who (of their own volition) wants to spend the day at the park rather than being cooped up alone at home or in a MacDonalds. Who is within walking distance of their parent’s work place if getting a parent is necessary (yes, even if the distance is 1.5 miles, that’s walking distance), and a cell phone in the event that walking is for some reason impossible. Let’s stop imagining worst case scenarios and crappy parenting where there are none.

  21. E July 15, 2014 at 9:06 am #

    @TM…I simply said there is a difference. And there is.

  22. Hillary J July 15, 2014 at 9:09 am #

    I read a different report on the same incident that said the girl usually sits in McDonald’s while her mom works playing on a laptop (that took months to save up for) but it was recently stolen in a burglary. She wasn’t such at the park for 8 hours with nowhere to go. She was in walking distance of her mother, with a cell phone and could return to her mother at any point in time. Would 9 year old you rather sit at McDonald’s all day with nothing to do or go play at the park and return when you wanted? Remember, the park was the daughter’s idea, nobody forced her to go outside and be a kid.

  23. E July 15, 2014 at 9:14 am #

    So I watched the whole video…I don’t see where it says the Mom worked at the McDs at Walmart so maybe I’m missing something.

    Yes, I think the predictions of abduction are silly (or the fact that this is a “news story” at all), but when I read the headline it didn’t really paint the whole picture.

    Hopefully she’ll get access to some of the programs that the report mentions.

  24. lollipoplover July 15, 2014 at 9:30 am #

    What a lovely park to spend the day playing outside! Cool off in the splash fountain, make friends, and enjoy a public play area swarming with other kids.
    Hungry? Go to Mickey D’s and get some food from your mom.
    Get hurt or weather turn bad? Call mom on the cell. That’s what she gave it to you for.

    When did playing become endangering children?
    She’s 9! Have you met many 9 yo’s lately? This is a pretty savvy age with playground rules and conduct, they’re not drooling in diapers or helpless, brainless blobs.

    Unsupervised kids make helicopter parents nervous and self-righteous. The busybody who reported this child and broke this family up should be named. And why do other parents feel the need to police the park? Unless you see something truly dangerous, put the cellphone down, take a xanax, and let the kids play freely and without ridiculous child leash laws that help no one.

  25. Dirk July 15, 2014 at 9:36 am #

    Fine or ten years or both! Wow…

    SECTION 63-5-70. Unlawful conduct toward a child.

    (A) It is unlawful for a person who has charge or custody of a child, or who is the parent or guardian of a child, or who is responsible for the welfare of a child as defined in Section 63-7-20 to:

    (1) place the child at unreasonable risk of harm affecting the child’s life, physical or mental health, or safety;

    (2) do or cause to be done unlawfully or maliciously any bodily harm to the child so that the life or health of the child is endangered or likely to be endangered; or

    (3) wilfully abandon the child.

    (B) A person who violates subsection (A) is guilty of a felony and for each offense, upon conviction, must be fined in the discretion of the court or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

  26. Dirk July 15, 2014 at 9:41 am #

    In SC a minor is anyone under the age of 18. Pretty standard. Does anyone know the history of that? Drinking age related? Vietnam? What?

    Separate thought:

    Instead of bitching about how crazytown these arrests are how about setting up a defense fund or website that tells people what to do if this happens. Surely with the right legal steps she can prove that the child wasn’t in danger. So easy to say oh what bad cops. Harder to change the laws, culture, and in the meantime assist people…

  27. Liam July 15, 2014 at 9:42 am #

    But if you want to go to that same park and wave a gun around, by all means no one is going to stop you. Thanks Georgia!

  28. Matthew July 15, 2014 at 9:42 am #

    Just to answer the demographic question, that particular area, and much of the SC lowcountry, has a very high percentage of black people, and is particularly poor. There just isn’t much there to attract industry, and it’s a hard area to leave.

    For the most part it’s rural poor though, not city poor. Overall crime is higher than the national average, but violent crime is lower.

    While it’s an overreaction now, absent actual harm, SC policy in family court is to defer the parents know best. Hopefully it works out and her employer is understanding.

    Unfortunately, there may be a culture shift since the head of DSS resigned recently due to the number of children not removed that died.

  29. Pophouse July 15, 2014 at 9:54 am #

    This is absolutely an abomination. Prosecutors are specifically targeting poor people because they know they are unlikely to be able to defend themselves. This would not be a crime even ten years ago. When I was a kid (I was seven, but my brother was nine)I would head down to the park –not nearly as nice as that park looks — no water features — almost every day while my Mother worked. And a mile and a half? Of course a kid can walk a mile and a half to get lunch. The only thing I am judgmental about is that the lunch was at McDonald’s but to each their own.

  30. Dirk July 15, 2014 at 9:58 am #

    This article is really interesting in light of this mom’s plight.

  31. KB July 15, 2014 at 10:11 am #

    So, she should pay half her salary for daycare? She should have her kid stay home and “safely” eat junk food and watch television? What are the options here?

    What can we do? How can we avoid criminalizing parents encouraging independent children – ESPECIALLY if (as did not happen in this case) something bad does happen.

    There are risks associated with my sending my kids to the park by themselves… I feel that these risks are outweighed by the lack of independence found in kids that aren’t ever encouraged to be on their own.

    I have left my eight-year-old home for hours at a time – he couldn’t wait for me to leave so he could be a big independent boy like his brothers. I don’t believe this is neglectful. He is a capable young boy and able to call for help if needed. He fixed a sandwich for lunch, played too many video games, and left his dishes on the table. He neither starved nor withered away without my watchful eye.

    Could something happen? Yes. But, I could get run over by a beer truck today, too.

    How can we recover sanity?

  32. Paul July 15, 2014 at 10:13 am #

    E, this is in the fourth paragraph of the linked article:

    Here are the facts: Debra Harrell works at McDonald’s in North Augusta, South Carolina.

    If you continue reading it also says that the child had been hanging out with the mom all summer at McD’s until their laptop got stolen and she requested that she be permitted to go the playground. So obviously this child had recourse in case of rain or if she got hurt or simply tired of being on the playground.

  33. John July 15, 2014 at 10:15 am #

    This just makes my head explode. When I was a kid growing up in the 60s, we’d go to the park to play ALL DAY while our parents were at work. Nobody would bat an eyelash at that because it was the norm. Golly, we’re talking IN THE PARK and not in the crocodile invested Lukanga River in the Congo!! But the typical response you get is, well, it’s a different era. You just can’t leave kids unattended anymore because it’s so dangerous out there now. Even though you explain that crime is down from what it was years ago and that there is no data or statistical evidence to support the notion that “it’s so dangerous out there now”, people STILL hold on to this crazy mindset and it then spills over into our courts and into the minds of lawmakers and politicians.

    Goodness, Japanese kids take the subway to school by themselves when they’re that age. Young Filipino kids are out on the street all day washing car windows and playing soccer. Meanwhile America continues to wussify its children and then justifies this insane behavior by claiming we’re a civil nation who believes in “protecting the kids”!! Without realizing we’re doing more harm to them in the long run by robbing them of independence and some much needed exercise.

    I tell ya, if I were a billionaire which of course I am not, I would get involved in this case and hire the best defense team possible to defend this woman against this insanity!

  34. CrazyCatLady July 15, 2014 at 10:40 am #

    After college, I was the supervisor/head life guard for a community pool. We opened at 10:00 for swimming lessons, 11:00 for general swim. And closed at 7:00.

    Every day there was a girl about the same age as this one that came to swim every day. Her mom gave her money to get in, and I think she usually ate before she came. Sometimes her 12 year old sister came, most of the time she did not.

    Yes, I did feel like we were being used as a babysitting service. But….the pool was being used, and that is what it was there for. The girl did not bother other people for food, did not bother staff, and did get very good at her swimming. It NEVER would have occurred to me to call the police.

    My own 9 year old, I could see doing this as well. He does fine. He knows when the car is too hot and will come into the store with me (or a couple times, after me.) I feel so bad for this family. It is one thing after another, the only break they seem to have gotten was that McDonalds would let the girl sit all day while her mother worked, which is way above what other places would do. I hope that when she gets to court the judge will say this is stupid and throw it out.

  35. E July 15, 2014 at 10:40 am #

    @Paul…I hadn’t read the Reason article until after the news item. It would be helpful if that info was sourced since it’s being presented as “fact”.

    I apologize if I’ve missed something obvious.

  36. SKL July 15, 2014 at 10:45 am #

    Somebody needs to sue the cops for this kind of damage to families.

    Yesterday morning (8am, before it got warm), I was in a hurry to get my kids somewhere, and I had to buy them an emergency packed lunch along the way. I pulled into the grocery store along the way and told my 3rd grade daughters they were going to wait in the car. They refused, saying that the last time that happened (when they were merely 2nd graders), someone called the cops. Now they are afraid that if I make an unpopular parenting decision, they are going to be placed in foster care while I serve a prison term. So congratulations to everyone out there who planting fear in our kids with this newly popular, legal kind of abduction. :/

  37. Warren July 15, 2014 at 10:49 am #

    I hope this mother’s lawyer will use some media style fear mongering in court.

    1. The mass shooting in a Calif. McD’s years ago.
    2. The ease with which a child can be abducted from a busy fast food joint.
    3. The fear of obesity from sitting stationary on the computer all day.

    Take their own fears and turn them right around and throw them in their faces.

  38. SKL July 15, 2014 at 10:49 am #

    When I was a 9yo “alone” at the playground, or pool, or zoo, or library, or store, or anywhere else, nobody ever asked me where my parents were! What the hell? Had they asked me, I too would have said “at work.” So what? And I didn’t have a cell phone!

    I’ll bet the lady who asked where her parents were was allowed to be out “alone” when she was a kid.

  39. Carol Anne July 15, 2014 at 11:02 am #

    Folks have spent so much time with 24 hour news loops that reports the most horrific stories. The media gloms onto stories that are unusual, if they happened regularly, they wouldn’t make the news.
    I sort of think people spend more time living in the world inside their screens than they do in the actual world outside their doors. And it seems to me, it’s made people afraid of their shadows.
    Of course, horrible things happen, but no one reports normal days spent being kids. So, we aren’t flooded with images of safe, normal, kids growing up without constant supervision.
    I’m concerned that the kids who are growing up with this extreme layer of bubble wrap surrounding their lives aren’t going to be able to function without being stalked by fear.
    Get out and experience the world a little, it’s not nearly as scary as the television and the internet make it look.

  40. Neil M. July 15, 2014 at 11:17 am #

    Again we see the way privilege influences and even bounds the debate. No one’s complaining that this woman has no professional child care. No one seems troubled by the fact that her house was BURGLARIZED. No one even notes that this woman has what is likely a low-paying job, on which she has to support herself and her daughter. Instead of grappling with this complicated issues, it’s easier to be judgmental. Now, of course, the state could have helped subsidize day care, but instead it will now pay much more to institutionalize this child.

    Parents of America, you have my sympathies. Someone, somewhere, is always ready to judge you and find you wanting.

  41. E July 15, 2014 at 11:31 am #

    @Neil M, I agree that the focus is warped, but I will say that the news report (which doesn’t include info about her being robbed so unsure if they were aware at the time) includes information about how to find out about assistance for child care. The people in the clip seem to understand the dilemma she was facing (even if they didn’t approve of the choice made).

    The woman who worked in child care pointed out that enrollment drops in the summer because it’s expensive (for fulltime care) and people can’t afford it.

  42. K2 July 15, 2014 at 11:47 am #

    It scares me to think what kind of a world my grandchildren will grow up in. 9 is usually an age in which some unsupervised play is allowed by the official guidelines. Even if this mother worked part-time she probably went over the “time allowed”, but the penalty for both the mother and child seems cruel and unjust even if that is the case. They are afterall, guidelines, not laws. The police and CPS can be very, very unjust. They can invade the privacy of homes in a way that most people don’t imagine until they have their own encounter with them. We need to fight allowing anonymous calls that are vindictive and immunity of judges. I think the system should screen out most of the cases they get and only focus on the more severe cases. As it is, many more severe cases of abuse do not get recognized enough to provide help; while many seemingly minor offenses that could easily go unnoticed get jail time/foster care.

    Our country is going downhill in other areas too with some politicians who wanted to “update” the Bill of Rights, making changes in the free speech section. Fortunately that didn’t happen yet. We also have the NSA spying case. We have 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of it’s prison population ( -Facebook). We are quickly becoming a corrupt police state and while some people thing analogies of Hitler’s youth plan and CPS often get criticism, there are some resemblances. There are more resemblances than I am comfortable with. The National Association of Parents, Parental, and the ACLU are some organizations that are working on these issues.

  43. lollipoplover July 15, 2014 at 11:47 am #

    This reminds me that I am glad to be alive with how I was raised.
    Especially the lack of supervision. My mother did not work outside the house and routinely kicked us out to “go play” and get fresh air to keep us healthy and strong. She rang the dinner bell to call us home for a home cooked meal.
    This was called good parenting.
    Now it gets you arrested.

    Can’t Michelle Obama, with her emphasis on Let’s Move, help this family out? The 9 yo CHOOSE to spend her day at the park instead of indoors, sitting sedentary at a fast food booth. Sounds like she’s trying to make good choices, to keep moving and play outside to not become another statistic of youth obesity and fast food culture. The First Lady emphasizes playing outdoors and making healthy food choices, and what a lovely park she choose to play in.

    I am sickened that I live in a country that cannot figure out how to help the poor escape poverty. A single mom with a low wage job at a fast food restaurant is trying to work and not rely on public assistance. But instead, her daughter gets turned into a victim (even though SHE choose to play in the park). Now she will substantial need financial support in state custody and what precious few dollars this mom has to rub together she will need to spend on legal costs.
    This is sad on so many levels but mostly that a community doesn’t see to look out for kids like this who have difficult lives they are trying to rise above.
    Instead, holier-than-thou busybodies call the cops on a basic freedom, playing in the park, that all kids, of every economic level, have a basic right to enjoy.
    Stop calling the cops!

  44. SKL July 15, 2014 at 11:55 am #

    Another thing. Statistically kids who are playing “alone” in the park are safer from creeps than kids who are hanging with relatives/family friends all day.

    When I was a kid, we knew a family with four boys. The parent(s) had various issues. The boys were often left in the care of a nice, generous elderly guy in the neighborhood (a guy we also hung out with a lot). So much better than wandering the streets! Come to find out, that guy and his live-in brother were both pervs. Those boys would have been better off “alone” at the playground or other public place.

  45. Emily July 15, 2014 at 12:28 pm #


    1. There’s already a lawyer who volunteered to represent Ms. Harrell, and she accepted. He posted about all of this on Facebook, so while he can’t make everything instantly better, he’s helping to resolve things, eventually.

    2. “Abandon” is a fairly subjective term. Surely “it’s illegal to abandon a minor” can’t mean, “it’s illegal to leave someone alone, for any reason, at all, ever, until they turn 18,” because that would be insane–if you adhere to that literal interpretation, then kids will have no idea HOW to be alone, and look after themselves, until all of a sudden, they go off to college or university, or move into their first apartments, and life forces the issue. I’ve seen this play out in university, and the consequences range from the comical (people arriving not knowing how to do laundry), to the slightly disturbing (the roommates who cooked chicken for dinner and got salmonella, because they didn’t know it wasn’t supposed to be pink on the inside), to the catastrophic (people dropping out because of excessive drinking, skipping classes to smoke and sell marijuana, and the one boy who got drunk and drove his car off a bridge).

    Anyway, that’s why independence should happen in small steps, and a few hours at a park, for a mature nine-year-old, seems like a developmentally-appropriate step. It’s not as if the mother dropped a helpless infant off on the outskirts of town and drove away, and honestly, I think that’s what people are essentially doing when they do the “helicopter until age 18, then drop Junior off at university” thing. They hover over their children their whole lives, and then all of a sudden, expect them to magically “get it,” and then everyone acts so surprised when the inevitable happens. So, no, I don’t consider “independent play at the park, within contact of a parent” to be “abandonment.” If it is, where do you draw the line? Walking to and from school? Staying at home alone for an hour or two until the parents get home from work? Playing in the yard unsupervised? Using a public bathroom alone? Is there any grey area at all between “Parent must be tethered to child 24/7” and “abandonment?”

  46. Nicole 2 July 15, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

    So my was working at a McDs walking distance from the park? WTF. The kid was in a supervised place, had access to her mom, could have probably sat in McDs and colored or otherwise entertained herself should the weather have gotten bad, and was probably perfectly happy with the situation. Now she’s in foster care and mom’s in jail and this is better?

    Seriously, people are nuts.

  47. Emily July 15, 2014 at 12:39 pm #

    P.S., I forgot to mention, the lawyer volunteered to represent Ms. Harrell for free, because obviously, McDonald’s wages wouldn’t come close to paying legal fees.

  48. SKL July 15, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

    When I see a 9yos playing unsupervised at a park, I think, “hooray, kids playing at a park!” Am I the weird one?

  49. E July 15, 2014 at 12:42 pm #

    As a related question….has Lenore (or any other person/journalist) been able to get any traction with news outlets to address the exact thing that SKL describes?

    I know people are motivated by fear (most of us are eventually, they are just different things we “fear”), which is why extremely rare things get attention. But rational approaches to risk seem like they’d be such an interesting under-served viewpoint to take and cover.

  50. Andrea July 15, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

    How about they use the cost of putting the child in foster care and instead give it to the mother for day care? This isn’t about protecting children, this is about destroying families.

  51. Nadine July 15, 2014 at 1:18 pm #

    So i went to the DSS site from South Carolina and looked at the elligability calculator. and suprise its under construction. In fact the whole site is a mess. Ofcourse the self rightious journalists forgot to mention that. Couldnt find and waiting list information either. Calculate in that a lot of lowe wage employees dont even know what their shifts will be a week in advance the cards are really stacked against her. And then forget that this woman is working for a wage that is below the poverty line.


  52. K2 July 15, 2014 at 1:23 pm #

    Yay for the lawyer volunteering!!!

  53. Dirk July 15, 2014 at 1:37 pm #

    Is it ironic that the same news site linked above also has a news article about how parenting skills are dying?

  54. Htizzo July 15, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

    Does anyone know if a petition has been started on her behalf?

  55. Dirk July 15, 2014 at 2:28 pm #

    Call the mayor of North Augusta!


  56. MarkG July 15, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

    You almost never see a father in these stories as being the reporter, largely because in order to ascertain whether a child is at the park alone, you have to ask them. Know what happens when a man asks a child if they’re at a park alone? We get arrested.

  57. K2 July 15, 2014 at 2:47 pm #

    I was unable to reach the mayor, but did call Governor Haley at 803-734-2100.

  58. Dirk July 15, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

    LOL! Awesome K2!

  59. Steve S July 15, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

    @Liam, this is in South Carolina, not Georgia. Regardless, I am pretty sure that brandishing is illegal in both those places.

    I am glad a lawyer volunteered to help the mom. They will likely have more time to devote to this case than a court-appointed one would have.

  60. AlbertaParent July 15, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

    With all due respect to all you commenting: This child was NOT UNsupervised. She was SUPERVISED.
    Supervision is not equal and is not synonimous with ‘directly watching over’. When you have a supervisor at work, does he or she stand over your shoulder all day long ? no. Because supervising in this manner would be very inefficient, and most likely very detrimental to the quality of the work you do, and the job satisfaction you have, which in tern would result in further reduction in quality of the work you do and increase the leve of errors. Children reach points at which they no longer require direct watching over.
    When they are 13 months old , the parent holds them by the hand while walking down the staris, or hover over ready to catch; at age 3 the parent reminds the child to hold on to the rail again and again, and reminds again and again not to play on stairs; at age 5 there is no longer a need to neither hold the hand, hover over, nor to give constant reminders – the child had learned and internalized it.
    This girl is 9 y.o. Rain or not, all day or not, cell phone or not, she is not UN-supervised. Supervised means there is awareness of the child’s actions, intentions and whereabouts. This family has these. There is an agreement: the child stays at the park while mom is at work. She was taken by police exactly where she was expected by her mother to be . Supevesion clearly worked here. She has not run away and was not found in Mexico or somthing – instead , she was trusted to do what she was competent to do, and she lived up to the responsibility vested in her.
    There is plenty of research out there that defines supervision of children as early as age 2 and 3 in terms of hearing rather than watching and later by ‘being aware’ and knowing of the child’s whereabouts and child’s inclinations.
    This girl WAS SUPERVISED, even if not directly watched. People must start using proper language and proper meaning of words.

  61. Michelle July 15, 2014 at 3:17 pm #

    Crazy Cat Lady said she felt “like we were being used as a babysitting service” when a young girl was at the pool every day. Why? If the little girl didn’t make any extra demands on the staff or other patrons, what makes her any different than any other person using the pool?

    I was at the playground with three of my four kids last week (more to provide transportation than anything else) and, even with my supervision, the day ended in a bloody trip to the ER. I’ve got to admit that I had the image of my son’s injury in my head when I read this post and started to think “what if there hadn’t been a parent there?” She would have called her mom. Maybe an adult would have helped apply pressure to the cut…or maybe she would’ve done it herself. It would have been unpleasant and scary. But so was my son’s injury — and I was right there.

  62. E July 15, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

    @crazycatlady, I’m not the person who spoke about the kid at the pool and ‘babysitting’, but I experienced that as a guard myself (worked my way thru college as a guard/swim coach). I don’t think she meant is as derogatory, just as descriptive. We had kids that were ALWAYS at the pool as well (we sometimes called them “lifers”). We helped a young girl when she got her first period, we’d share our snacks or buy them a soda. It’s just a different pool experience than kids that come for shorter periods of time or with their parents.

  63. Warren July 15, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

    Funny how they never want kids, and so many are now talking that kids are up to at least 18 yrs old, unsupervised.

    Yet when they get out in the working world, one of the most common questions on an application or in an interview is about working with little or no supervision.

  64. Jennifer Hall July 15, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

    This makes me so mad. It’s so ridiculous!

  65. Papilio July 15, 2014 at 4:32 pm #

    Every time I haven’t been visiting this site for a few days/a week and return to catch up, it has become even weirder, somehow. The stories seem to just keep getting crazier. I watched this video feeling it was satire, or should have been, with all those people imagining the most improbable dangers, and all with a straight face too!

  66. JP Merzetti July 15, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

    Forgive me Free-Rangers,
    but I’m about to get out my nasties and let them all have a little fun.

    The mom is just a tad punished for being a McJobbed service worker. No, she doesn’t have a lot of the same ‘resources’ as a lot of nose-sniffers, obviously.
    She might have a good deal of basic common sense and good parenting smarts……but whatever.

    What she and her daughter both very much are, indeed – are value-added profit-generating opportunities, raw resources to be exploited by the child-protection undustrial complex.
    And boy! Are they ever in the zone!

    How much does this fiasco set the mom back?
    No doubt she was struggling a little in the first place.
    (couldn’t afford to replace an old laptop)
    for shame.

    So let’s just kidnap the kid, throw mom in jail, and not have a second thought about how this blows up her life.

    Would this have happened to ma & pa professional upper income earners? Of course not. Their kid would be nannified to death, and sucking up endless supervised activities that cost a fortune. God forbid they’d ever have to ‘stoop’ to a public park with other little heathens to play with.
    And anyhow, worst case scenario, there’s always that high priced lawyer family friend lurking affordably in the background.

    And I saved my best for last:
    This was all done, apparently – to protect the kid.
    The irony of this, fatuously escapes them (their little brains are too small, their hearts have been bought for gold.)

    The irony doesn’t escape the mom.
    Not at all.
    She’s the one, stuck in a cell, worried sick about her beloved child.
    Who was quite fine, actually, until she got ‘saved.’

    The po’ folks do declare: “Can we please have just a little less ‘saving’ going on?”
    The saving’s bound to kill us………………..

    “no thanks, I’ll save my life
    don’tcha send no hero to me”

  67. SOA July 15, 2014 at 6:14 pm #

    I think what they meant by babysit is sometimes parents will dump kids out somewhere and kinda expect the adults around or other employees to watch them. This I do not approve of. The difference is is your child well behaved? Does the child know how to act? Are they independent and intelligent and mature?

    If so, then you can drop them off at the movies, mall, playground, pool by themselves. If not, then you better not do it. Working in a toy store at a mall parents always dumped kids off there so the parent could shop and we were babysitters. Because these kids were not ready for that responsibility yet. They messed up the aisles, bothered the employees with lots of chit chat when we had other things to do, asked to use our phone..just in general could not handle looking around the store without being a bother. And they never bought anything ever.

    So in that case, don’t make me your babysitter. It is not fair to other parents or adults to have to clean up after your kid or entertain them etc.

    So it just comes as a judgement call. Can your child go to the playground and not bother other parents for snacks, water, bug them? Can your child play nice with other kids and not bully them or take their toys? If no, then they are not ready to be there alone. Because other parents are going to have to babysit them and intervene when they bully other kids or take their toys or when they ask for snacks or water or try to talk to other parents and won’t get the hint that that parent may not want to talk to them for a long time.

  68. Vanessa July 15, 2014 at 6:39 pm #

    I can’t believe she was charged with “abandonment” of all things. How is it abandonment when you’re coming back at a set time to pick the child up again? By those standards, I’m abandoning my kid every time I drop her off anywhere – I mean, for all anyone knows, I might just decide to take off to Vegas, right?

  69. Donald July 15, 2014 at 7:12 pm #


    Er.. um… We already have one. She’s not only beautiful on the outside but on the inside as well. She’s fighting for children’s self reliance and parents sanity by being active in many channels. Lenore’s got a book, blog, TV show, and is a very funny public speaker.

    Warren – “At least the comments on the news stations page are on our side this time”.

    This would not have happened if it wasn’t for Lenore.

  70. Lindsey July 15, 2014 at 7:39 pm #

    Only in the south!

  71. Emily July 15, 2014 at 9:57 pm #

    You know, I hope that CPS doesn’t change tactics and rush in and provide day care, because that would probably make the girl feel infantilized at best, and punished at worst–after all, her mother trusted her to play in the park independently while she was at work, and now that’s being taken away from her. Instead, I hope they say, “Hey, we screwed up, we’re sorry,” and allow the mother and daughter to return to the status quo.

  72. rivka July 15, 2014 at 10:37 pm #

    i mean a 5 or 4 year old i get but a nine year old what is wrong with you people i mean if your so worried just watch the kid don’t call the police people are just plane worry wort’s i wish people would mind there own business oh wait no one can really do the when there hover parents :\

  73. Christina July 15, 2014 at 10:50 pm #

    Ugh. This. At 9, I was at the local pool all day long. It was about 6 blocks away, and I think my parents came with me perhaps a half-dozen times. Once my younger brother passed his swim test, he pretty nearly always tagged along. How is this now a bad thing?

  74. SKL July 16, 2014 at 12:39 am #

    My parents never came with us to the playground or pool. Nobody else’s did, either, except for wee toddlers. A 9yo who needed his mommy at the playground would have never lived it down. 9yos (including me) were babysitting younger children.

  75. Clair Ryan July 16, 2014 at 3:38 am #

    I am absolutely sick over this. So sick that I had to do something. I made an online fundraiser to help Debra. I found contact information via the Aiken County court records and will get any and all money raised to Debra. Please donate if you can and share liberally! Every little bit will help! If you have questions, please email

  76. lollipoplover July 16, 2014 at 8:15 am #

    So 9 is new 3?

    Even that is insulting to a 3 yo. Kids are WAY more capable than we give them credit for.

  77. Lyn July 16, 2014 at 9:13 am #

    This makes me so angry. I hope this mom and her lawyer get this thrown right out. We wonder why our teenagers and twenty-somethings have a hard time making good decisions and choices. Gee, our society treats them like they’re babies until we don’t. Then it’s, “You’re on your own. Learn to be independent now!”

  78. hancock July 16, 2014 at 9:35 am #

    When your only tool is a hammer, then all you’ll see is nails.

    We have a system that only punishes child abuse and neglect. Poor parents are bad, as are middle class parents. Everything is child abuse. Candy, discipline, playgrounds, food, playing unorganized sports, running, walking, sitting in a motionless car. Any time you allow your kids to do anything other than sit still at their desk in school, they are being abused. Every nail seen gets hammered.

    I’ve been allowing my six year old and four year old to practice walking on their own through Walmart, and I’m scared some busybody will see two happy kids minding their own business, and summon the hammer. It’s getting hard to teach children to become confident, independent adults.

  79. Pophouse July 16, 2014 at 9:51 am #

    Lenore … great job on getting the word out about this travesty. Right now the Slate article has over fifteen hundred comments and the vast majority are in support of the mother. You are doing some good in the world, and that ain’t no small thing. Cheers.

  80. Red July 16, 2014 at 11:22 am #

    Talking about the pool and “lifers” …

    When I was in junior high (5th and 6th) my mom bought a membership at an aqua club (pool club as called in the midwest). It was a fairly big one with 5 pools and multiple play areas. I was the oldest of 5 kids.

    My mom never dropped us off alone, but my mom had her spot over by the kiddie pool (which was isolated from the other pools, apparently so that the other swimmers didn’t have to listen to the sounds of young kids playing) and I and my just-younger sister had the run of the place most days from probably noon until 5pm. One day, my sister hurt herself, and one of the lifeguards said he’d take us over the office so we could call our mom. I had to say “no, mom is just at the kiddie pool” and he said “oh, we thought you guys were some of the kids who just get dropped off”.

    So, the guards thought we were “lifers” but we weren’t actually.

  81. SKL July 16, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

    Still not sure what is wrong with school-aged kids being at the pool (or anywhere else designed for kids) without a parent. What is a parent going to do at the pool that isn’t the lifeguard’s role anyway? Assuming, as SOA said, the kids are reasonably socialized so they know how to behave in general.

    When I was a kid you just went there and put your feet in the foot bath, ran under the showers, and jumped in the pool. Nobody needed to know anything about you unless you actually required significant medical attention, which never happened in my entire childhood experience (to me or anyone in my presence) in a public kid spot. Sometimes they would ask your age (and little kids would lie, because you had to be 8 to swim without a caretaker over 14). I can’t imagine anyone complaining about kids coming too often. I thought the point of a public pool was to enable kids to swim more. So what am I missing? If people running the pool don’t like seeing kids swimming a lot, they need a different job.

  82. Sarah broderick July 16, 2014 at 12:57 pm #

    Is there a gofundme going for this mother or another way to help with her legal fees?

  83. Laura July 16, 2014 at 1:07 pm #

    I’m appalled that this mother is being treated this way!

    A nine year old can be very competent, and that’s for the mother to judge. It sounds like she could have made the girl sit at McDonald’s all day but trusted her to stay at the park, and even gave her a phone to use if needed. The chances of her being snatched from a busy park in broad daylight is so slim as to be preposterous to even worry about. Worry about putting your kids in a car every day, where they really might actually get hurt.

    I wish more people would recognize the difference between “should” ideally and “should” at minimum. I think this mother was acting well within the bounds of “should, at minimum”, and shouldn’t be punished when she clearly already has a difficult life – for goodness sake, the woman was recently robbed, and now this..?? She must feel so terrible – I know I’d be horrified. Poor thing.

  84. Neil M. July 16, 2014 at 1:57 pm #

    Clair has the right notion. Let’s not stop being angry, but let’s channel that anger into action. If the State of South Carolina wants to pick a fight with a poor, single mom, let’s give her the funds she need to make it a fair fight, eh?

  85. AGP July 16, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

    This story horrified me to such an extent that my husband and I spent a fair amount of time looking for a legal fund to contribute to in support of Debra Harrell. If anyone has the contact information for the lawyer who has volunteered, I’d love to help promote it. Her lawyer fees may be covered, but most defendant’s face a number of other fees once they’ve been incarcerated for any length of time. Not to mention the fact that this woman has likely lost her job and could use some help just to get another one. This story is heartbreaking on so many levels.

  86. Blue July 16, 2014 at 11:35 pm #

    I agree with AGP’s comment. Please keep us updated on this story, Lenore, and let us know how we can help the mom.

  87. agnes losonczi July 17, 2014 at 9:33 am #

    Instead of warning the mother and helping her to find a solution, it’s much more convinient to condemn and imprison her “in the name of Jesus Crist”!
    Well, I have some news for you: Jesus C. was forgiving!
    Not to mention that playing in the park is much-more healthier than rotting in the Mc Donald!

  88. ty July 17, 2014 at 10:09 am #

    It seems that the likeliest thing that will happen if you leave a child alone these days, (whether in a car for a minute, or at the playground as in this case), is that the State will take your child away. This separation of child and family is just as bad as any stranger abduction. How can we help this mother??

  89. Papilio July 17, 2014 at 10:27 am #

    New glasses, Lenore? 🙂

  90. Anne July 17, 2014 at 11:10 am #

    My husband and I live in Montana. It is where he grew up running wild in the mountains. He later went on to receive his Ph.D. from Berkeley “with distinction”. He had no political support system–just hard disciplined work earned him that recognition. And, what else you might ask: it was the running free in the mountains. Learning about the difference in water levels and temperatures at different times of the year, learning to keep your nose and eyes, and ear on alert. Learning that you can get hurt and may have to get yourself back to safety, etc.,etc.

    As for me: I grew up wild in a small suburb in So. California. Griffith Park was in my backyard as were some of the movie studios. It was a small blue collar area that just happened to be close by. We played in the LA river, we climbed the hills of Griffith Park, we climbed over the fences of the movie studio back lots and played among the cowboy town sets. This of course was all in the 1950’s. Were there perverts back then — yes, of course were there fewer then than now probably, but we did have them then. We all knew how to handle ourselves–we looked under the bridges before running through, we recognized who was “stalking/watching” in an unusual way. Did we know what perversion meant–no, of course not–but, we did understand safe and not safe. We learned early on that the ice cream truck driver was a sicko–we went to the truck together and didn’t let anyone stick around alone. All of these things gave me insights and most importantly an inner courage that children growing up in silence in their homes will never have.

    Here in Montana we live in town during the winter (we are both over 70 now). There is a brand new development here. I would say 150-200 houses. The streets are wide there are new trees growing and tidy yards. NO ONE on the streets ever!!! I did not realize how many kids lived in this idyllic Montana setting until one day I was stopped behind a large school bus at it unloaded after school. I was stunned at how many kids live in this neighborhood.
    QUESTION: Why move to Montana if your kids are never going to be outside? This development is bordered on two sides by large farm acreage (hay fields). Do you ever see a kid climbing through the fence? NO! Do you ever see a kid running free in the fields? NO! Do you ever see kids playing around in the fresh water canal? No! The best part of all–these fields are in front of the landing/take off area of a small commercial airport. These children could be watching airplanes take off/land 50 feet above them! Not many, about 4 every day–but, oh what a thrill that would’ve been for us. To be so close, so free as they flew overhead. There are no dirt forts in the ground around the fences, there are no created structures over/around the water canals. There is no sign of childhood out there–neither on the safe streets, nor in the beautiful hayfields. I ask again: why the hell move to Montana? A family will certainly earn more per hour in other places then they will here.

  91. Wendy W July 17, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

    For those that were asking, one of the reader here DID set up a fundraiser for this mom. She posted a link further up, but here it is again.

  92. caroljean52 July 17, 2014 at 4:30 pm #

    Let’s look at this from a totally different angle. When the lady at the park approached the girl, the girl could have said, “Sorry, I’m not allowed to talk to strangers” and then maybe have called the police herself to report that she’d been approached by a suspicious adult. Some of these do-gooder types don’t realize what they themselves look like sometimes!

  93. Mary July 18, 2014 at 12:22 pm #

    US Citizens need to wake up! I’ve been saying for a long time that our kids are the prisoners and it’s pedophiles and other criminals who have all the rights. We have several half-way houses in our town for men released from jail into these programs. The government pays $3,000 /mo each to the house manager. How do I know? The best man from our wedding rents and has sold houses for these group homes. Meanwhile I don’t even feel safe even letting my kids out front. And we HAVE had real abduction attempts of kids walking to and from school in our town. Kids aren’t getting abese because of their poor eating habits. They are getting obese because of this problem. They also wouldn’t eat so much if they weren’t so bored and sitting around the boob tube all day!

  94. Tory July 18, 2014 at 9:26 pm #

    Anyone know of a legitimate place where someone could send money to her? Also, anyone know a way to get this topic on the news shows this weekend? This woman’s life has been shattered, as as her daughters. And it is a class and race issues and just makes me cry. I think I will start calling the cops if a kid is inside to much playing video games or watching TV.

  95. bmommyx2 July 19, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

    Every time I hear one of these tragic tales I wonder what law was broken?? I suspect none.

  96. Emily July 19, 2014 at 6:01 pm #

    >>Let’s look at this from a totally different angle. When the lady at the park approached the girl, the girl could have said, “Sorry, I’m not allowed to talk to strangers” and then maybe have called the police herself to report that she’d been approached by a suspicious adult.<<

    I don't think that's any better. Lenore always says, "Kids can talk to strangers, but not go off with them," and I think that that's much better advice, because, until you talk to someone, they'll ALWAYS be a "stranger" to you. I think it would have been better for the girl to tell the woman, "My mom's working at the McDonald's in the Wal-Mart near here. I'm going back there to meet her on her break at X o'clock, and she'll be finished at Y o'clock." That way, there's no confusion, and it's not as if the mother has left her daughter at the park, miles away from her workplace, for an entire 9-5 workday, plus travel time before and after, which is what the woman who intervened, was probably envisioning. Then again, the girl is only nine, and again, I'm sure that if the woman had asked some follow-up questions rather than immediately calling the police, the matter could have been cleared up.

  97. Amanda Matthews July 20, 2014 at 11:57 am #

    You might as well say the girl is abandoned at school during the school year because the mother is not there with her all day. Heck if there was more than 1 adult per every 30 kids at that park (which I’m going to guess there were a LOT more) then the ratio is higher than in a classroom.

  98. David July 21, 2014 at 7:19 pm #

    Some people must think kids must be on a leash in public!

    When my son was 7, I was on the local Little League board. Most Saturdays after his game, I was inevitably working in the snack bar. (Because most parents fail to volunteer to do anything for their child’s organizations.) My son loved being free range in the park. He watched games, played with kids, and wandered over occasionally for a hot dog.

  99. Hugo S Cunningham July 24, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

    As a former 9-year-old White kid who played outside alone many times, I suspect the original problem is that a 9-year-old Black kid is not welcome in a park in a predominately White neighborhood. McDonalds and authorities in North Augusta SC deserve to be crucified by racially-conscious elements in the national media. Does anybody have contacts to bring them in?


  1. Maggie's Farm - July 17, 2014

    Thursday morning links

    Image via sWINDle How to Make Small Talk with Strangers: My 21-Day Happiness Experiment Birds of a feather: Study finds people’s friends genetically similar to them The anonymous men who built Central Park Mom Jailed for Letting Her 9 y.o. Pl