Mom on Child Abuse Registry for Letting Kids 11, 9 and 5 Play in Park Literally Across the Street

A Chicago mom who let her three kids play for half an hour, literally across the street, WHILE SHE PEEKED OUT AT THEM every 10 minutes was found guilty of child neglect. She has lost her job in home health care because, of course, if you look her up, she looks like the last person you’d want around your family. Now her case is being appealed by Chicago’s Family ynhhbbftin
Defense Center

The Center exists to aid parents in just such cases. It was founded by Stanford Law graduate Diane Redleaf in 1984 to fight for the rights of parents to raise their kids without fear of a government sledgehammer. As its mission statement says: “We advocate for families…threatened with losing their children to foster care.” And it adds: “Any family can be the victim of a false, harassing, or misguided Hotline call.”

That’s what happened to this mom (boldface mine). DCFS = Department of Children & Family Services in Illinois. The whole story appears in the center’s newsletter.

Family Defense Center and pro bono firm Winston & Strawn LLP claim decision discriminates on the basis of disability.

Natasha F. did not expect that allowing her kids to enjoy a summer afternoon would lead to years of strife and an unfair child neglect label against her.  On July 29, 2013, Natasha’s three boys were playing outside with their cousin. Natasha’s children were 11, 9, and 5 years old, respectively, and their cousin was 9.  The nine-year-old child’s mother is a close friend of Natasha’s, and the women were inside with a third friend, regularly checking on their children through the window. The four children were playing in a park, located in the lot adjacent to the apartment, and Natasha had left her oldest child in charge.

Natasha checked from her window that the children were fine every 10 minutes.  And the children were doing fine and were only outside for about half an hour. Natasha and her friends all approved of their children’s using their energy in playing in the park, and believed this form of play helped them.  But when a preschool teacher visited the park with her class that teacher assumed the children were completely unsupervised.  Instead of simply asking the children to be careful, or asking them where their parents were, the preschool teacher left the park with her class and placed a hotline call to DCFS, apparently unaware that caring adults were a moment away.

Natasha’s ordeal is not over, and at each stage of the case, critical factual and legal errors have been made, according the Center and pro bono attorney Kathleen Barry of Winston & Strawn LLP, who is leading the appellate effort.  DCFS decided to indicate Natasha and her friend for “inadequate supervision.”  Natasha appealed that decision through DCFS’s administrative process, and at the hearing she received, the DCFS Administrative Law Judge rested the decision against her on the teacher’s  statement that  she had seen one of Natasha’s children sliding the youngest boy under parked cars on a skateboard. But this report was contrary to the initial Hotline call, and Natasha testified it was entirely false: her two older children were playing on a scooter, which has a pole preventing it from fitting under parked cars, making it impossible to believe the teacher’s account.

The Administrative Law Judge also relied on the fact that Natasha’s two older boys have diagnoses of ADHD and were not taking medication for it at the time. The judge concluded that the 11-year-old therefore should not have been trusted to watch out for the well-being of his younger brothers. But the Center contends that ADHD is one of the most commonly diagnosed medical conditions in children, and it does not prevent children from learning how to develop responsibility and forethought.  Indeed, the DCFS investigator had agreed that the oldest boy, who had been left in charge, was mature enough to be trusted outside alone and acknowledged he was aware of safety rules to keep in mind when watching his brothers.  Moreover, the boys had stopped taking ADHD medicine during the summer at the doctor’s recommendation because the medicine caused medical complications and unpleasant side effects.

None of the four children experienced any harm in the half hour or so that they spent outside. Yet DCFS investigators concluded that the children were neglected due to Natasha’s “inadequate supervision.”  For a parent to be indicated for inadequate supervision, a minor must have been left “without supervision for an unreasonable period of time without regard for the mental or physical health, safety, or welfare of the minor.”  In this case, three children playing in a park within eyesight of their home was deemed to be child neglect.

Read the rest here, if you can stand it. The mom got put on the child abuse registry and even on appeal was found “guilty” again. Now she is afraid to let her kids even take out the garbage. What if someone tattles to DCFS about them being outside unsupervised?

On a personal note, as the mom of a boy who also had a diagnosis of ADHD in middle school, who also went off his meds for the summer, I can attest that his “disability” did not turn him into a non-person, incapable of interacting with or helping other kids.

The main issue, increasingly, seems to be this: It cannot be considered neglect or abuse to give our children some unsupervised time. Parents must be allowed to raise their kids the way they believe is safe and good, so long as they are not putting the children in obvious, immediate, and indisputable danger. Not “What if something bad happened?” danger. REAL danger. -L.


What if they already HAVE good homes, but the government says the parents must helicopter more?

What if they already HAVE good homes, but the government says the parents must helicopter more?


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77 Responses to Mom on Child Abuse Registry for Letting Kids 11, 9 and 5 Play in Park Literally Across the Street

  1. Coccinelle June 2, 2015 at 9:24 am #

    My goodness, after 10 years old on the Meitiv case it’s now 11 years old? When will that stop? At 18 years old? I was baby sitting at 11 years old! Not to mention that I was going to the park alone when I was 5 and it was not in sight of our house. I don’t understand how can the world can change so much so quickly, I’m not that old!

  2. Richard June 2, 2015 at 9:25 am #

    Contrast this to the current news story family, the Duggars, who are held up by many as exemplars as they allow a known molester to have authority over his younger sisters all while keeping them (relatively speaking from a FRK standpoint) “locked up” in their compound. Because that’s what America is all about, amirite?

  3. Richard June 2, 2015 at 9:28 am #

    Also odd – not that many decades ago an 11 neighbor used to be on the young-but-not-unheard-of side for people to use to babysit their kids when they went out. Of course, that generally only applied to 11yo girls, not 11yo boys as seen here. Maybe that’s the difference.

  4. Anna June 2, 2015 at 10:07 am #

    11 might be young to babysit – I wouldn’t hire an 11-year-old to babysit probably – but it’s plenty old enough to keep an eye on younger siblings, whether around home or at the park. That’s just not the same as babysitting.

    I’ve noticed the busybody types who comment on cases like this or the Meitiv case equate being with an older sibling with being totally unsupervised, or else they want to talk about the older sibling as a “babysitter” and thus too young for the job. Keeping an eye on younger kids – at various distances from mom and dad and in various situations, depending on age and maturity – is a totally normal part of human childhood that kids have always done all over the world.

    But the idea now seems to be that up until 12 (or 13 or whatever the state happens to dictate) a child can’t even be responsible for himself, let alone walk a younger sibling to school or the library, and then suddenly upon hitting the magic age, he’s qualified to take full responsibility for any number of little kids, for any number of hours under any circumstances, and for pay too. How in the world does this responsibility develop if there are no intermediate steps in between?

  5. mer June 2, 2015 at 10:39 am #

    11, 18, when? Well consider that according to the Fed Gov your children are allowed to be on your health insurance until they are 26, I’d say the upper limit is 26years old.

  6. Joan June 2, 2015 at 10:45 am #

    Does anyone else remember the Babysitter’s Club book series from the 80s and 90s? The girls who formed the club were, I believe, 13 at the time; and I distinctly remember they had two girls who were “junior members” at age 11, allowed to take jobs only during the daytime or some such. How have we gone from that being so normal it was an unremarkable feature of popular books, to being totally unthinkable only 25 years later?

    Also, speaking as a Chicagoan, one of the best features of the city is that there are little parks scattered every couple of blocks. What the heck is the point of that if kids aren’t allowed to go play in them?

  7. Tim June 2, 2015 at 10:50 am #

    Interesting that this comes from Chicago where, as we learned here earlier, in 1979 you weren’t ready for first grade unless you could:

    …travel alone in the neighborhood (four to eight blocks) to store, school, playground, or to a friend’s home?

  8. Vicki Bradley June 2, 2015 at 11:01 am #

    Busybodies, and everyone who’s afraid of their meddling interference, are totally ruining childhood. It infuriates me the way they way they’re so conniving, calling in anonymously instead of actually talking to the kids involved. How to explain this behaviour: do they see themselves as superheroes, swooping in and “saving” the day, then just as quickly disappearing once again? too much time on their hands? too easy access to a cell phone? I just don’t get it!

  9. pentamom June 2, 2015 at 11:07 am #

    Vicki, the upsetting thing is that they’re not merely ruining childhood (bad as that is), they’re succeeding in literally ruining parents’ lives. It’s got to stop.

  10. Vicki Bradley June 2, 2015 at 11:15 am #

    Pentamom, very good point and I totally agree with you!

  11. Warren June 2, 2015 at 11:20 am #

    WTF??!!! A Child Abuse Registry? What’s next a shoplifter’s registry, a burglary registry?

    The states are not going to be satisfied until everyone is on a public list of some sorts.

  12. SKL June 2, 2015 at 11:55 am #

    So basically let’s call this what it is. It is now a crime to allow children some fresh air, exercise and sunshine.

  13. BL June 2, 2015 at 12:21 pm #

    “What’s next a shoplifter’s registry, a burglary registry?”

    A tyrant’s registry would be my preference. The list could start with everyone employed by ‘Department of Children & Family Services in Illinois’.

  14. Peter Grace June 2, 2015 at 12:23 pm #

    The lack of character of the nation is amazing.
    Why not let kids play outside? I used to and came home when the street lights went on.

    I also documented that the 2nd Amendment protects the Uniquely American Human Right Self Defense

    Would you ask Congress to Fix it please and have some compassion?

  15. The other Mandy June 2, 2015 at 12:25 pm #

    Aren’t there kids who are ACTUALLY being abused? Shouldn’t our limited resources be used to help kids who actually need help, rather than pointlessly harassing good parents and safe kids?

  16. The other Mandy June 2, 2015 at 12:28 pm #

    Also, how is it anybody’s business how parents raise their kids, as long as the kids are not being starved, beaten, or otherwise abused? Outside those factors, it’s just a matter of opinion.

  17. Nadine June 2, 2015 at 12:46 pm #

    Someone said the D word!!! And I can’t help but react to that. Yes it was wrong wrong wrong but to call a 14 to 16 year old kid a molester (or popular right now is pedophile)is also wrong. I detest all what these people stand for and could dance for the articles “10 ways the Duggars parenting should be an example to you” but what happened there was a adolecent being brought up so f###ed up that any expression or discussion on healthy sexuality is impossible. He wasn’t allowed to be alone with a girl not his family. He didnt go to a school with a larger and diverse peer group. We all know he wasn’t allowed to experiment and he probably didnt get the same 70’s bodyparts photobook that my parents gave me. Sexual identity or sexuality was never talked about. And he never saw his sisters naked in the bathroom growing up( in a house with that many people takes seriously organisational skills and strict rules)…. How strange is it that a kid just on hormones and a unfinished brain finds a way to aquire the knowledge. Yes he did something very wrong… But it’s also a expression of being under very wrong parental supervision. And that supervision has been celebrated the last couple of years as being exemplary parenting while it’s actually just another form of helikopter parenting gone terribly wrong.

  18. Bethany June 2, 2015 at 12:48 pm #

    So the 11 year old was not responsible enough to watch his siblings for a half hour at the park? I hope some defense lawyer pulls this out when the state wants to waive an 11 year old into adult court for a criminal offense! Ridiculous!

  19. Nadine June 2, 2015 at 12:50 pm #

    And yes i say that as a child of the Netherlands where things are a lot diferent.

  20. sigh June 2, 2015 at 12:52 pm #

    There but for the Grace of God go I.

    Last summer, we parents and our four kids were at a public beach by a lake. The kids were 8, 10, and 12. We left them there with popsicle money and went back to our rental to grab some snacks to bring back, and, well, we “got busy” as they say, and our 20 minutes turned into more like 40 or 50.

    When we got back to the beach, we saw police and security personnel at the waterside where our towels were set up. My first thought was that someone had drowned, and my heart sank. But then my daughter came running up in tears, blubbering about how she didn’t know where we were. She hadn’t understood we were leaving the beach when we gave them money for popsicles, and she’d started asking people if they’d seen me.

    She said she wasn’t at all alarmed, just curious where I’d gone. She politely asked the guy at the popsicle stand, and he alerted the beach security guys in their red shirts. The security guys asked a family who were set up next to our stuff and they vouched for us, said we would be right back, no problem here, they were keeping an eye out. But the security guys were craving a drama, I guess, and called the police.

    This is where the tears started for my 10-year-old. She was horrified that the police were called, and became enormously anxious about it. The police questioned her, and she knew things were spinning out of control. When we arrived back at the beach, she was hysterical. “All I did was ask some people if they’d seen you!” She wailed. “I wasn’t upset! I wasn’t crying! They didn’t need to call the police!”

    I said, “Oh, God, Honey, you’re going to get me arrested.” The police did question me, wanted all of our identifying stats so they could run a search through the system to see if we had any prior “issues,” but we came up clean, and the officer agreed that leaving three kids at the beach under the supervision of a 12-year-old was well within the range of normal parenting, and he didn’t see any issues that raised red flags for him. Talking with the folks on the beach we’d lent our kayaks to helped secure us as “responsible” in his mind as well. Hooray for community.

    That was my brush with what I think of as the death of my family. All it would have taken was that officer to decide that leaving kids that age at the beach for even a MINUTE was “negligent,” and our lives as a family are forever changed and decimated. It should not be that way. The personal opinion of a police officer or a CPS social worker about “what if” should not ever trigger changes in custody or care. WHAT IS is another matter. Kids who are suffering frank abuse, physically and emotionally, need support. Not kids playing somewhere happily.

    I still feel sick about how different our lives could have become that day.

  21. Rachel M June 2, 2015 at 12:52 pm #

    I am so bothered by this article, that I don’t even know where to start…

    So where do we start…how do we help families like this? This could be me! This has got to stop – lunacy!


  22. Red June 3, 2015 at 1:32 am #

    I grew up in Chicago. The summer between 4th and 5th grade (I guess I would have been 10 then), I and a friend of the same age ran a “summer camp”. We picked up a bunch of toddlers on our block daily using two red wagons, and took them to the park for a few hours. Each of their moms gave us a few dollars a week for doing it.

    Two years ago, my 7-year-old in Illinois was allowed to go down to the park which was way out of sight of my house, without my supervision (about a quarter a mile), as were all his friends.

    When my son was 5, I let the older kid across the street take him down to the park a few times as well. Maybe N was 11 at that point. Maybe. But he was trustworthy.

    This is bullshit.

  23. sexhysteria June 3, 2015 at 2:33 am #

    Is this insanity a kind of sick revenge by men against women for all the false accusations of child sex abuse over the past 30+ years? It just doesn’t make sense.

  24. AmyO June 3, 2015 at 7:26 am #

    I don’t understand even the idea of asking the kids if they’re okay. I get that this could be a good alternative for someone who’s first though is no adult in sight=imminent danger. But if I took my kid to the park and saw some other kids playing by themselves, as long as they were a) in good over all appearance (dressed, reasonably dirty and not ridiculously hadn’t-had-a-bath-in-a-month dirty, no signs of being malnourished) and b) not hurting anyone, I doubt I’d even take a second glance, let alone “keep my eye on them”.

  25. Beth June 3, 2015 at 7:31 am #

    @mer, can we PLEASE stop equating health insurance with helicopter parenting? PLEASE? Many young adults who have jobs and have maybe been to college and live on their own and know how to function in the real world do not have health insurance as a job benefit.

    You may be willing to let your 25-year-old go bankrupt over a serious illness or accident, but I’m not. And it has nothing to do with parenting styles. Let it go.

  26. Fiamma June 3, 2015 at 7:43 am #

    Maybe it is me, but if I see or saw a kid alone at the park and if they didn’t look distressed, I would see no reason to call the police. Has no one learned that neglect and abuse rarely happen so blatantly for all the world to see? If it did, many children could have been spared suffering thanks to abuse being obvious. Hell, as someone said earlier, the Duggars swept their crap under a rug and allowed the perpetrator to remain in the home.
    If I was Natasha I would see that the teacher would be out of a job or at least get a clue on how to recognize signs of neglect instead of assuming happy children at a park are in danger.

  27. Shoshie June 3, 2015 at 7:56 am #

    Wow…I grew up in the Chicago suburbs, was minding my brother by 9 or 10, babysitting for other families at 11 or 12, and regularly going for walks with my brother or going to the park with him when I was 10 or 11 and he was 5 or 6. I also walked a mile home from school with a friend who was 2 years older than my when I was in K-2. Clearly I should have been taken away from my awful abusive parents who wanted me and my brother to get some exercise and fresh air.

  28. Beth June 3, 2015 at 8:03 am #

    A child abuse registry? When did that happen?

  29. Crystal June 3, 2015 at 9:34 am #

    We’re currently adopting a 4-year-old girl from Eastern Europe with spina bifida and some other medical issues. And yes, I definitely know these child abuse registries exist, because we’ve had to get checked whether we’re on them or not IN EVERY SINGLE PLACE WE’VE SPENT MORE THAN 4 WEEKS IN SINCE 18. And we’re military, so that translates into a gazillion places. It’s already added an extra month onto our wait time, while our girl languishes in an orphanage. But hey, as long as the government gets their way, right?

  30. librarian June 3, 2015 at 10:01 am #

    Over the past 15 years, friends from different US states (Mass, NY, Virginia, etc.) were told by their children’s schools that it’s “against the law” to leave children under 12 unsupervised. We all know that there are no formal laws on the subject in these states, but these notion must have come from somewhere.
    I would love to research when and how this misinformation has started – there must have been an organization and/or a campaign that propagated it, and succeeded to instill this arbitrary cut-off age of “12” in people’s minds. I would love to research this further, but would appreciate any ideas from the hive mind on the origins of this madness.

  31. librarian June 3, 2015 at 10:06 am #

    And yes, Child Abuse Registries exist since 2006 (see Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act,

  32. shdd June 3, 2015 at 10:14 am #

    Maryland also has an under 12 rule on its books. When my daughter was almost 12 she started middle school. I wanted her to get off the bus go home, unlock the door, and do her homework etc. I was so nervous until she turned 12 that my neighbors would turn me in. Now almost two years later her routine is fine. I let her decide if wants to stay late at school, go to a friends house, or go home. Requirement is she must text and let her parents know what she decides.

    I babysat at age 11 and watched an infant alone at night at age 14. Now parents say my 13 year old who is more responsible than me at my age is “too young” to babysit. It is their loss.

  33. Mary June 3, 2015 at 10:20 am #

    I have two kids, ages 10 and 6. I grew up “free-range” in the 70s and 80s (known as “just a normal childhood” back then), and I want to raise my kids the same way. I’ve seen what it does to a child to grow up in a bubble, and it’s not pretty. They’re sent out into the world with no coping skills, no way to figure things out, and basically scared of their own shadow. I didn’t want that for my kids.

    The thing I worry about more than anything are the “good samaritans” who see a child alone and suddenly assume that SOMETHING has to be done about it. Even if the child is fine, not distressed, and minding his/her own business, well by God, SOMETHING has to be done! Call somebody! NOW!

    I was in a small thrift store a couple months ago with my 6-year-old and my husband. When I say it was small, I mean really small – like you could see literally everything and everyone in the store no matter where you were. We love thrift stores and go to them often, and my son loves them for all the cool stuff he finds.

    We go to this thrift store quite frequently. As we always do, I was on one end of the store looking at things, and my husband was about 20 feet away, looking at other things. My son looked through the toys, then went back and forth between my husband and me every few minutes, asking if it was time to leave. (He hadn’t found anything good, so as far as he was concerned, there was no reason to still be there!)

    We were there for a total of less than 15 minutes. My husband, son, and I stayed in the store together the entire time. I noticed a few minutes after we got there that a woman and her little boy had come in. She immediately strapped him into the little baby seat in a shopping cart (he was too big for it in my opinion, but I minded my own business). My son was still going back and forth between my husband and me, talking nonstop to everybody he saw (which he always does, and I only make him stop if I’m afraid he’s bothering somebody).

    He stopped to talk to this woman’s son about Legos. The boy looked to be about my son’s age, and I overheard their conversation, smiling to myself because he’d found a little friend.

    The kid’s mom started questioning my son. “How old are you?” “What’s your name?” “When’s your birthday?” “Where do you live?” “What grade are you in?” “Where do you go to school?”

    I thought it was a little odd. She fired these questions off rapidly like it was an investigation. My husband overheard this, too, but we didn’t intervene and kept browsing.

    My son came back over to me to ask again if it was time to go, and I said it was. We all went up front to pay, as the store was closing anyway and we had to leave.

    The woman then left the store with her son, put him in her car, and came back in to confront me in front of everybody right at the front entrance near the register.

    She pointed at me and said “You need to take better care of your child. He was way too willing to tell me things about himself. I know his name, where he lives, where he goes to school, and his birthday. You really shouldn’t allow your son to be unsupervised in a store like this. I could’ve walked right out of here with him and you would’ve never known it because you weren’t paying any attention to him or watching him at all.

    My husband, normally pretty quiet and reserved, spoke up and said “Like HELL you would’ve walked out of here with him.”

    The woman demanded an explanation from me as to why I allowed my “baby” to be unsupervised in the store. I told her I would not give her any explanation, and that I didn’t owe her anything.

    The woman said she was a “ranger” (not sure what that means) and that if I were in her “jurisdiction” she would arrest me and have me put in jail right on the spot for my neglectful behavior.

    I told her that if that was her take on things, she’d be arresting people in that store – and many others – every single day.

    I guess I wasn’t apologetic of docile enough for her taste. She then got her cell phone out, right then and there, and called 911 to report an abandoned child.

    She walked out of the store, and my husband, son, and I followed her.

    She took a picture of my license plate while she was on hold with 911 and told me “You’re going to jail tonight, sweetheart. You better hope somebody can come get your son ’cause you’re spending the night in jail.”

    I pointed out that while she was inside launching her self-righteous tirade, she’d left her OWN son in the car alone, in the parking lot. She laughed and said “There’s nothing wrong with that.”

    I just…I…OH MY GOD.

    My heart was pounding. I couldn’t believe this was actually happening.

    The police showed up about five minutes later. The woman had told the 911 operator that my son had been left alone in the store for “over an hour” (total lie – we were in and out in 15 minutes). When the officer got there, she told the officer that my son had been there totally unattended for “several hours.” She then later changed that to “almost all day.”

    The officer my husband’s statements, and my statement, and this wacko’s statement. My son was crying, scared, and holding on to me for dear life. He had no idea what was going on, but he was really scared.

    Then the woman told the officer to go check with the store employees. “Yeah, they’ll tell you. This woman left her son all alone in that store almost the entire time they were open today.”

    I figured this woman would hang around to see how things turned out, but she left after that, giving me a smirk first and saying “Heh. Enjoy your night in jail, honey!”

    God, I was terrified. TERRIFIED. I had no idea what was going on. We’d just stopped in to browse before going to dinner, like we’d done a hundred times before.

    The officer came back out after talking to the cashier in the store and told us we were free to leave, and that we’d done nothing wrong. He said “Hey, I have kids, too. I know how it is. Have a good day.”

    I was so relieved that I started crying right there in the parking lot. Know why? Because of stories like the one Lenore posted above. I know how these things can turn out, and they can ruin your life, and your children’s lives. All because of what? We didn’t bubble-wrap our kids and never let them out of their sight until they’re grown?

    I would never leave either of my children in a dangerous place, or neglect them. At the same time, though, I want them to experience freedom and learn some independence when it’s appropriate and possible. There’s always that fear, though, that one of these so-called do-gooders will show up and smash your entire world to pieces, all in the name of “safety”.

    It’s hell on earth sometimes, trying to raise a free-range kid in this country. My thoughts and prayers go out to all free-range parents to make the effor to do it anyway.

  34. librarian June 3, 2015 at 10:21 am #

    “Maryland also has an under 12 rule on its books.” – that’s the thing – MD DOES NOT HAVE A LAW LIKE THIS (as proved by the Meitiv’s case). So, I think we need to research, where exactly this notion came from. I am pretty good at research (and have access to many databases) but would appreciate tips on where to start.

  35. Havva June 3, 2015 at 10:47 am #

    @Beth, @librarian,
    Can’t say for Chicago, but I know abuse registries have been around for a while, longer than ’06, and even the early 90’s mere suspicion was enough to put someone on it.

    I was in a private school during the satanic ritual abuse/”recovered memories” thing, in the late 80’s early 90’s.

    I had a classmate who was a deeply troubled boy. I am told his parents were going through a divorce and in an apparent attempt to get leverage, the father accused the mother of knowingly putting the child into a school where the children were being abused. This came shortly after the boy had a particularly violent tantrum were he was throwing tables and chairs at other students. My teacher had grabbed him by the ear to get him (semi) under control so he wouldn’t hurt anyone. It’s the only time I recall the teacher laying hands on anyone. We students all thought the police involvement was about that. My parents would later tell me it had nothing to do with that. He came home with his new shoes scuffed, that was the ‘evidence’ of abuse.

    My parents also called it a straight up “witch hunt.” Anyhow the cops wanted to sit all the students down with psychologists for one-on-one interviews. The parents, thankfully, banded together and told the prosecutor in no uncertain terms that his psychologist wouldn’t be digging about in our brains. Ultimately the accusations of sexual abuse did not hold up, in fact key elements of the story were demonstrably false. Rumor had it that the abuse happened in a secret basement with access in the supply closet. Never mind that there were no basements in that area for the very good reason that they were virtually impossible to build. Anyhow, there was no finding of any abuse. Despite this, both teachers in the school, wound up on a registry for child abuse, and 7 years after they were proven innocent, I was shocked to learn they were STILL on the registry.

    Based on a law review journal I dug up last year “In California, the penal code requires that the California Department of Justice wait at least ten years to remove a person’s name from the child abuse central index (CACI), even when a court has found that the individual is innocent.”

  36. Havva June 3, 2015 at 11:03 am #

    @librarian, wish I knew where to start on rumors. All I know is that the rumor of 12 is demonstrably false in Virginia. There is no law. Further, not even the child supervision guidelines in the state would support the rumor. I’ve managed to dig up recommendations in 5 of the 10 most populous counties in Virginia. Fairfax county gives a minimum age of 8, Prince William County 9, Loudon County 10, Chesterfield talks factors but gives no age, Arlington county says 9.

  37. lollipoplover June 3, 2015 at 11:21 am #

    I’d argue that allowing kids to play in parks, away from parents, actually DECREASES child abuse.

    Why have public playgrounds, funded and maintained with taxpayer dollars, in the first place to lure children to play and then entrap parents as criminals for supervisory crimes? Playgrounds and public spaces are where kids SHOULD be. Why build them if they’re not? Children are more at risk of abuse behind closed doors!
    Do any neighborhoods still have those “Watch: Children playing” signs anymore? Ours has them. Key word: Watch. Not dial!!
    If you are truly concerned about the welfare of these kids, stop and watch and ask questions.

    The “bad samaritan” who called and reported this mother should be held accountable for filing a false report. Her punitive and inaccurate statement (that the boy was on a skateboard under a car, when he was actually on a scooter that couldn’t possible ride under a car) caused this mom to be charged with child neglect erroneously and resulted in lost wages that this mom should attempt to recover in a civil suit (and I’m not the suing type but this warrants action).

    Kids have a basic human right to play outside without persecution from paranoid preschool teachers. We need to address bad samaritans and this mental disorder that makes them anxious when they see children unattended. There needs to be a mental disorder designation for Bad Samaritan Syndrome. They need a healthy dose of MYOB.

  38. Anna June 3, 2015 at 11:30 am #

    In my state (Colorado) 12 is given as a “guideline.” The trouble is, from recent stories we’ve seen it seems that CPS is free to treat guidelines as law. (Bizarrely, this is also the age for babysitting: from baby to babysitter overnight!)

    An ironic thing about these laws & guidelines is that they suddenly give kids freedom at the age when they’re probably least equipped emotionally to handle a surge of new freedoms. Is it just me, or doesn’t it seem like the average 8 or 10 year old is more likely to behave reliably and less likely to make trouble when left home alone for the first time, than the average 12 or 14 year old? Not to tar all adolescents with the same brush, but if we’re talking generalities here. . .

  39. librarian June 3, 2015 at 11:38 am #

    A friend from Maryland in a recent conversation confirmed that they are told by school authorities that 13 (!) is the official age when you are able to leave kids unsupervised;
    In Fairfax County, VA there is a document with “guidelines” (relevant quote follows):
    “7 years and under:
    Should not be left alone for any period of time. This may include leaving children unattended in cars, playgrounds, and backyards. The determining consideration would be the dangers in the environment and the ability of the caretaker to intervene.
    8 to 10 years:
    Should not be left alone for more than 1½ hours and only during daylight and early evening hours.
    11 to 12 years:
    May be left alone for up to 3 hours but not late at night or in circumstances requiring inappropriate responsibility.
    13 to 15 years:
    May be left unsupervised, but not overnight.
    16 to 17 years:
    May be left unsupervised (in some cases, for up to two consecutive overnight periods).”
    When I pointed out that these are just “guidelines”, my Maryland friend said: “all I know is that my friends have to follow guidelines in VA by not leaving child alone (under 13). I did the same in MD”
    Evidently, the Child Supervision Guidelines (what is the authority who puts out these?) are treated as laws in the eyes of CPS and school authorities. Can Lenore interview a person, responsible for compiling such guidelines ? We should also track the trickle-down effect – how adopting such guidelines influences decision-making by CPS and other similar agencies, and whether it acts as a de-facto law resulting in increased incarcerations, child neglect cases etc.

  40. Warren June 3, 2015 at 11:55 am #

    Isn’t it a little insane that in the US you have the constitutional right to carry a firearm, but not the right to raise your kids the way you see fit?

    Another thing that needs to be addressed is the state by state differences in laws. Not only for things like this, but for everything. We run into problems in the transportation industry with varying laws. In this era where travel is so easy, so common place, laws need to be the same across the US. We have the same problem province to province here, just not as bad, and not as many provinces as there are states. But it is ridiculous to be completely within the law in one place, hop in the car and be breaking the law after a couple of hours on the road. Yet within the same country.

  41. Barry Lederman June 3, 2015 at 12:02 pm #

    It is outrageous that any parent should have to go through such harassment!
    Thank you Lenore for shining light on these horrible governmental abuses.

  42. Jeff June 3, 2015 at 12:05 pm #

    Maryland – The State – may not have a set age law. Each county does. In Montgomery, where the Metiv family lives, as do I, a simple search brings up:

    For those who do not want to follow the link, the text here in full:

    “Age at Which Children Can be Left Home Alone

    Children under age 8 cannot be left home alone for any reason. Children age 8 or older can be left home alone for short periods of time, as long as a parent or other adult can be contacted. Short periods of time could be before or after school, not an entire day. There is nothing written in any code or other law that says that children cannot stay home alone overnight. Parents must use their own discretion. Children under the age of 13 cannot babysit, even for brothers and/or sisters. A child age 13 can babysit, although the regulations do not specify for how long.”

    And there you have why the system is so messed up. In one paragraph is says “under 8 cannot be left home alone for any reason”, then says “nothing written … stay home alone overnight”.

    Well, which is it? No rule against overnight alone (with no age restriction), or never leave under 8 ever?

    Cant find, in a quick search, the ‘rules’ for walking alone.

    Would that there would be rules or laws about the helicopters and nosy busybodies causing distress and emotional harm to children and parents by imposing their insanity on others.

  43. Anna June 3, 2015 at 12:15 pm #

    I don’t know, Warren: I’d be hesitant to campaign for uniformity among states on this. I strongly suspect they’d end up agreeing on the most restrictive guidelines, not the most reasonable ones. I’d hate to see parents in Arkansas or Arizona suddenly go from no guideline to 10 or 12 just so they’re in agreement with my state.

  44. shdd June 3, 2015 at 12:16 pm #

    For the record I live in the same county as the Metivs. Do you understand why I am little nervous letting my 13 year daughter walk alone in Bethesda from her middle school to a math tutor’s house? She would talk to her police but it would not make her comfortable especially if they made her late or miss her tutoring session entirely.

  45. librarian June 3, 2015 at 12:18 pm #

    Aha, look what I got (after looking through a dozen “guidelines” from different counties all over US):
    The countrywide “SAFEKIDS” campaign recommends never leaving a child below 12 home alone. (from
    National Safe Kids campaing is described at:
    Tha campaign’s home is at:
    (Since 1988, when Safe Kids was founded by Dr. Marty Eichelberger of the Children’s National Health System with support from founding sponsor, Johnson & Johnson, there has been a 60 percent decrease in the unintentional injury rate among children 19 years and younger.)
    Check them out, and look at their partners and sponsors.
    Can we get their opinion on cases like this one, I wonder?

  46. SteveS June 3, 2015 at 12:30 pm #

    Child abuse registries have been around since prior to 2006. I can’t speak for all states, but mine keeps one to monitor reports and it is not accessible to the public.

    I hope that this case can be overturned on appeal. It sounds like many errors were made and that this family was treated inexcusably by the system. I also agree that AD/HD is irrelevant, based on the information given. A diagnosis of AD/HD, without any supporting evidence that the child is irresponsible, is not helpful.

    I live in a relatively free state and have no interest in having the same laws as California or New York. No Thanks.

  47. Echo June 3, 2015 at 1:16 pm #

    it’s going to get to the point that parents no matter what they do will be cited for abuse or neglect!!

    something has got to be done before some jackass decides that all children born will become immediate property and wards of the state!!!

  48. Jenny Islander June 3, 2015 at 1:26 pm #

    So when is somebody going to get after the Red Cross for allowing kids to take a babysitter’s first aid class starting at age 11?

  49. Beth H June 3, 2015 at 1:37 pm #

    By this standard every parent on my street is guilty of child neglect. Granted it is a dead end street but all the kids routinely play up and down the street and in everyone’s front yards with Mom’s either inside or sitting on garden chairs keeping an eye on them ocassionally while reading or chatting. Of course maybe all it would take would be for one adult who didn’t think like this to call CPS!?

  50. SteveS June 3, 2015 at 1:40 pm #

    There is a Constitutional right to raise your kids as you see fit. See Meyer v. State of Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390 (1923), Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510 (1925), Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972), and Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000), just to name a few. Unfortunately, as we have seen with the right to have a gun, there are many exceptions and the court seems to give too much deference to the state.

  51. lollipoplover June 3, 2015 at 1:47 pm #

    “So when is somebody going to get after the Red Cross for allowing kids to take a babysitter’s first aid class starting at age 11?”

    It won’t be me!

    My daughter took the Red Cross babysitter’s course and she’s been regularly babysitting (and a mother’s helper) since age 10 What a great program they offer. Her older brother (now 14) is also a regular sitter (though he mostly sits for dogs now). Classes like these teach kids they are CAPABLE. To get a regular Saturday night gig in our neck of the woods is usually $100. She loves making her own money (and spending it) and revels in the glory of parents and the children she watches looking up to her as a responsible person. She loves kids and enjoys teaching, playing sports and games, and crafting with them. She plays with them even when she isn’t paid just because she loves them. Her cooking skills and clean up have also taken off with babysitting too. I simply don’t understand how any of this is *bad* parenting or neglect.

    We need to stop “profiling” tweens as lacking responsibility and maturity.
    I know adults who lack responsibility and maturity. Age is just a number.
    Kids can and do watch after each other. It should be encouraged, not illegal.

  52. Havva June 3, 2015 at 2:37 pm #

    @librarian, funny the link you shared was framing itself around Pennsylvania. I have a photo on my phone taken on the playground of a Pennsylvania state park that says:
    Though I believe that was in Summerset County which has no official guidelines, though I’ll say the park sign is quite sane. I also have photos of my daughter playing with the 5 and 7 year olds who were at the playground sans parents while their parents packed and waited for grandma to arrive.

    And gag me on the statement “Since 1988, when Safe Kids was founded by Dr. Marty Eichelberger of the Children’s National Health System with support from founding sponsor, Johnson & Johnson, there has been a 60 percent decrease in the unintentional injury rate among children 19 years and younger.”

    Well of course there have been substantial reductions. Cars are the leading source of deaths and injuries from about age 4-40, and they have been greatly improved. When my family got in a car accident in the early 90’s the car, which may well have been from 1988, had no air bags, and only lap belts in the rear. I weighed at most 45lbs and had neither car seat nor booster, you can forget about side curtain airbags to protect my head from slamming into the side of the car, and the other car which rolled had no roll protection. But hey, our car was advanced for the day, it had crumple zones, which may well be why I survived and only temporarily lost the use of my legs after my dad’s car ran head long into a parked car on the highway.

    Also could gag on school officials in Maryland saying 13. Because we all know thanks to the Meitivs that the state law (one of the few in the country) says 8 for being left home alone, 13 for babysitting. But I bet they want it to be 13, that’s about the age I saw promoted when I started poking parenting forums on when and how to let go. The most celebrated answer was “I’ll let her go to the playground alone when she sneaks out of the house to do it. So probably around 12.” …. Right because launching their independence through an act of defiance and breaking rules sounds like such a “good” idea. And you expect them to follow your rules for their safety after that? I swear the real reasoning behind the 12-14 age limits you see promoted come down to just one though. “How long can we exercise absolute control, before they rebel?”

  53. Donna June 3, 2015 at 2:59 pm #

    I don’t understand the insistence that the 11 year old was in charge of the 3 younger boys. 9 year olds are old enough to be responsible for themselves for 30 minutes. Outside of some specific reason that one or both of the 9 year olds couldn’t be trusted to look after themselves for a short period of time with parents nearby, it seems that a single 5 year old had 3 “babysitters,” not that an 11 year old was “babysitting” 3 children.

    Say the sliding under cars story was true. So? It is not a particularly bright thing to do – not overly dangerous either since the cars were not running – but people of all ages spontaneously do things that make others wonder about their thought processes all the time. Even the most responsible of people occasionally do less than bright things. I just don’t understand this notion that children must be supervised at all times lest they decide to do something that was probably not the best idea, but once you become 18, you can suddenly do all the stupid things you want as long as they aren’t illegal.

  54. librarian June 3, 2015 at 3:17 pm #

    I agree with you that part of this 60% decrease in injuries since 1988 has been due to an entirely welcome increase car safety. I also, however, found it ironic that, during the same period of time, we also saw an increase in childhood obesity … about 60% increase, to be exact.
    Yes, I know that this numerical coincidence is just a coincidence… but, nevertheless, it is kind of funny that the downside of obsessive injury prevention never crossed their minds.

  55. Neil M June 3, 2015 at 4:03 pm #

    There’s something so quintessentially elitist about this situation that it makes my blood boil. What these law enforcement officials are doing is judging all parents based upon the capabilities and privilege of some. If certain parents have time to drive their kids everywhere, meet them at the bus stop, and supervise them 24-7, then *all* parents should be capable of doing so.

    It’s toxic, it’s unnecessary, and it’s completely unfair. It needs to stop. Immediately.

  56. Maggie in VA June 3, 2015 at 4:29 pm #

    Once again, it’s a lower income woman and likely a woman of color who is on the receiving end of this treatment.

  57. Tiny Tyrant's Mom June 3, 2015 at 4:38 pm #

    I need to stop reading this blog at work: I end up totally distracted and unable to focus on the task at hand.
    When I was 10, and my younger siblings were 8 and 6, we would go down to the church at the end of our street, riding bikes in the parking lot, and playing on the lawn. Worst thing that ever happened was my brothers broke a window playing football. My parents paid for the damage, and grounded them for a month, end of story. Nowadays, it would probably involve cops, cps, and all hell breaking loose.

  58. Jessica June 3, 2015 at 5:42 pm #

    @Tim, thanks for the link. I feel much better about where my five-year-old is developmentally now. Compare that first grade list to any kindergarten assessment and the difference is shocking. My kid is just about ready for first grade but not ready for kindergarten.

    @lollipoplover, you make a very important point. Abusive relationships generally include some form of isolation for the victim. The child you never see is the one you should worry about.

  59. Marcello1099 June 3, 2015 at 5:53 pm #

    Beyond idiocy. The ALJ is an ass. If this was OK in 1955 it should be OK in 2015.

  60. Jason June 3, 2015 at 6:15 pm #

    @Nadine – So far, this sort of thinking seems only to be infecting the Anglo countries of the world. Some sort of neo-Calvinism, I think.

  61. Isabelle June 3, 2015 at 7:09 pm #

    I have ADHD and babysat kids younger than this when I was 11. Guess I better report the parents and get them arrested, then.

  62. Tiny Tim June 3, 2015 at 8:04 pm #

    As I’ve written here a million times, I live in a supposedly dangerous urban area. Many young kids are required to get themselves to school by themselves. Young kids are out in groups all the time around my house. I have no idea how close earshot or eyeshot their parents are because I’m not worried about them. If they’re smart enough not to run out in front of cars, they’re smart enough to play.

  63. Michelle June 3, 2015 at 8:25 pm #

    Mary, as I read your story, I found myself hoping that when that woman started taking photos of your car, you whipped out your phone and took a photo of her.

    Why should it be only the crazy people documenting our “bad deeds”? I think we should start documenting them! I don’t want to be helplessly standing there waiting for judgment. I think, if this ever happens to me again, the first thing I’m doing is pulling up the video camera on my phone and documenting everything.

    Warren, as someone who lives in a state with more freedom than many others, I don’t want to compromise with the more restrictive states in the name of continuity. No way, no how.

  64. Rina Lederman June 3, 2015 at 9:37 pm #

    OH. MY. GOSH.

    WOW. What is wrong with this world?????????

  65. RJ June 4, 2015 at 7:35 am #

    Not only was she free ranging them she did not have them on government mandated mind altering medications…
    no wonder she is an enemy of the state!

  66. Papilio June 4, 2015 at 3:15 pm #

    When I was 9 Little Brother and I were allowed to go to the park by ourselves, and it was faaaaar out of eyesight. I also wasn’t considered responsible for him (less than 2 years younger), we were both responsible. So like Donna I was puzzled why a kid is said to be babysitting a younger sibling when the age difference is so small, and like the rest of you I don’t get why even an ELEVEN-year-old is considered too young to be ‘alone’ in a park.

    Not leaving kids under twelve alone for even a minute – how is that even logistically possible with more than one kid, especially with large-ish age differences (> different schools, etc)??

    @Mary: Wow – that was some serious bad luck to run into a lunatic that crazy and persistent! Too bad you didn’t photograph HER child when he sat in the car alone, and told 911 that HE was abandoned there for an hour, no wait, several hours, no wait, all day…!

  67. Papilio June 4, 2015 at 6:00 pm #

    Actually… We’ve had Supernanny Jo Frost visit this country to do some housecalls (the episodes were broadcasted earlier this year). I usually agree with her, but…! There was one family with two boys of 7 and 6, a 5-year-old girl and a toddler or baby or so. They lived in a newer neighborhood, more or less across the street from the local store, but with some open space in between – I forgot whether it was a playground or some sort of square or just grass. Anyway, you could see the store from the house (or maybe the street right in front of it), and it was clearly a 30km/u (18.6 mph) zone with very little traffic (most of which on two wheels) and sidewalks everywhere. So the father told Jo that he had allowed his two boys to go to that store by themselves to buy icecream or whatever for themselves, and they had come back all excited and were so proud…
    Yet Jo didn’t agree at all that this was okay! She insisted that since the 7-year-old wasn’t capable of judging whether his younger brother would need to see a doctor should he cut his finger in case the two of them were home alone, they also couldn’t cross one practically traffic-free street and buy icecream for themselves! (You know, with *money*, not knives.)
    It was baffling. I later asked my parents if they’d seen it too (am *I* crazy, or is Jo), and the first thing my mother said was ‘But that’s just fine here!’
    Apparently Jo isn’t immune to the American/British parenting hysteria :-/

  68. Emily June 4, 2015 at 6:40 pm #

    The other day, I was watching the classic Sesame Street episode where Miles gets adopted. Big Bird and Telly organized a surprise “welcome to Sesame Street” party for Miles, and asked Gordon to just “send him over to Big Bird’s house,” so Gordon had to explain that Miles was only eleven months old, and was therefore too young to go places alone. In the end, Susan and Gordon were invited as well, but my point is, this was in 1985. When you contrast that with this article, written thirty years later, in 2015, it’s so absurd to think that a child of eleven YEARS old is now considered too young to go places alone as well.

  69. Amelia June 4, 2015 at 7:14 pm #

    As a Child Protective Caseworker in NYS, I would not have Indicated for child neglect there needs to be detriment or impairment to the child or children. By just playing outside is “risky” but doesn’t in itself cause harm or detriment. Is there laws in Illionios stating children have to be a certain age to be by themselves/supervision laws? Is this mother white or African American?

  70. Abigail June 4, 2015 at 9:55 pm #

    Thank you for saying it Anna – from baby to babysitter overnight. It shouldn’t be free range to raise your child with a progression of freedoms and responsibilities. That’s just parenting.

  71. JP Merzetti June 5, 2015 at 12:05 pm #

    @ sigh,
    After carefully reading your story – all the adults in that area, including security, couldn’t handle the situation on their own, and needed police involvement instead.
    Thankfully, the police had more sense. (instead of drama-addicted security.)

    As to this headline: what grabbed my eye was the preschool teacher who started it all.
    Seems she sees all children as toddlers. Maybe that’s because she’s surrounded by toddling all the time.
    In my inner city, in well to do neighborhoods, I see kids in the park all the time, all ages, having a ball.
    Supervised by hired help. Nannies.
    Socio-economized children.

    Sometimes I really do wonder – what do people see in a kid’s age?
    Do they even know what to look for?
    Do they know how to look?
    Or are their eyes just glazed over by inner demons? Flashbacks of Fox news, and terror in their souls.
    And so we darken young lives. Endlessly.
    Irony in that response – that the innocence protected becomes so predominated by well-meaning doom.

  72. Maggie June 5, 2015 at 8:54 pm #

    These registries exist in every state, however, Constitutional challenges have been brought in some states. There is virtually no due process in the proceedings.

    In order to have a case “founded”, all the CPS worker needs is credible evidence, that is the absolute lowest form of evidence, in other words, if the CPS worker thinks it happened, it happened.

    The rules of the registries vary from state to state. In NY state, one is placed on the registry until the youngest child named in the report turns 28 years of age.

    In NY, If the case was founded or even unfounded, said case can be re-opened should a sibling or OFFSPRING of the named child comes under CPS review. Therefore, this stigma can be perpetual.

    There is an administrative review in NY as mentioned in the article concerning Chicago but I know of no parent who was able to adjust a case from founded to unfounded without the assistance of an attorney or an able parent advocate.

    Even unfounded cases, whether initially unfounded or reversed by an Administrative Judge remain on the books until the youngest child named turns 28 years of age.

    The general public is under the misconception that those on the registry were “.convicted” in a court of law, this is seldom the case.

    Initially, and long before 2006, these records were only checked for those who sought to work in child care, now, however, they are checked for those seeking civil service jobs, law enforcement jobs, any job demanding a security clearance, nursing, health care, libraries and even those who volunteer with children and the elderly.

    Should your name appear on such a list, I urge you to seek an administrative review to have the case reversed to unfounded and sealed. There are strict deadlines for this in NY.

    I spent several years working on these cases (I am a paralegal) both for private law firms and in pro bono endeavors.

    In NYC, a good place to start would be to call CWOP..Child Welfare Organizing Project. The last I knew, I left Social Service Law some years ago, CWOP did not have attorneys to assist but was an excellent non-profit referral source.

    In my past experience, here are some reasons why parents were “indicated” (abuse, neglect founded):

    1. The house is cluttered with too many books
    2. The family indoor cat sleeps on the child’s bed
    3. The teenage son objects to a curfew
    4. There are no pictures, photos, etc on the family’s home’s walls; i.e. no stimulation for a new born.
    5. The parent insists upon, when the child wets his bed, washing him off and changing his pajamas and bed sheets before allowing him to return to sleep.
    6. The children have beds, the single mother sleeps on a mattress on the floor.
    7. There is no soda in the house.
    8. There is soda in the house.
    9. The child can not play on the school’s basketball team…because the parents need their limited funds to purchase food, not basketball uniforms.
    10. The main food staples in the house consist of rice and beans…the family has same as they are Hispanic.

    I think you all get the picture.

  73. Maggie June 5, 2015 at 9:08 pm #

    The teacher reported it because she is a mandatory reporter and the rules have them all scared.
    I know of a neighborhood woman, an RN, who reported her own husband for spanking their rather brattish child. The girl was a brat who terrorized her younger siblings etc. The husband/ father was not a bad man in the least but this RN said, “I am a mandatory reporter, I could lose my license, I have to report him”.

    I had begged her not to but she did. Luckily the case was recorded as unfounded but they are still on the list.

    Silly stupid woman who threw her husband under the bus for NOTHING.

    I am happy to report that the benign spanking must have done some good as the child is now a more than productive and delightful member of society.

  74. Yocheved June 5, 2015 at 9:46 pm #

    I’m suddenly glad that my 11yo has discovered the joy of Minecraft, and I have to fight to get her to go outside and play.

    Wait, I’m not glad at all. This SUCKS!

  75. Nadine June 6, 2015 at 12:34 pm #

    *little happy dance*
    research is finally catching up.

  76. Kephre June 13, 2015 at 11:39 am #

    These stories are all examples of why anonymous phone calls to police or cps should be banned nationwide. Where is the right to face your accuser when the accuser is anonymous?

  77. Elizabeth Appel June 13, 2015 at 6:49 pm #

    Ok, this is crazy! All of my summers, from the time I was nine were spent outdoors. My mom would shoo me out and say ” I don’t want to see you till lunch”. Off I would wander, climbing trees, picking carrots out of the garden, washing them with the hose and eating them, playing with the dog, catching frogs and toads. It was a blast! I pretended to be an explorer, spun myself on the swing, watched the neighbor harvesting his wheat. I even got to at age 11 walk to the park alone. By 13, when we moved into town, I was allowed to ride my bike anywhere my legs could take me as long as I was home by a certain time. I would go pick up groceries for my dad, and get books from the library, a half mile away. As an adult, I’m not always in the same room with my kids. The worst thing that usually happens is a lot of cereal ends up on the floor. Which I then make them clean up. My kids, 2 and 5 volunteer to do dishes, and my 5 year old knows well enough not to talk to strangers or leave the courtyard. I know my kids need opportunities to earn my trust and make the right decisions. Yeah, I know five seems young, but she makes a lot of decisions that I am proud of. My 2 year old still requires a lot of attention, and that is as it should be. My parents taught me to use good judgement, and make wise decisions at a young age; I am forever grateful and I hope I can teach my child the same lessons.