Outrage of the Week: Mom Arrested for Letting Her Kids, 11 & 7, Walk to Pizza Shop

Yes, readers, it’s another case of child protective craziness. According to the drntdkyzzf
Manchester, Conn. Patch
, a local  mom was charged with “risk of injury to a minor and failure to appear after police say she allowed her seven-year and 11-year old children to walk down to Spruce Street to buy pizza unsupervised.”

And according to reader Bob who sent this to us, Google Maps shows that we are talking about a half-mile walk! In addition to the solidarity of outrage, please post your ideas for how to protest the idea that kids are in danger every time they do something on their own,  even something dumbfoundingly  mundane, which means also protesting any time helicopter parenting becomes the only  “legal” way to raise our kids. – L.

Shh! Don’t tell the cops I let you get this on your own, kids!


117 Responses to Outrage of the Week: Mom Arrested for Letting Her Kids, 11 & 7, Walk to Pizza Shop

  1. Silver Fang July 17, 2012 at 5:51 am #

    Parents need to research their state and local laws so they can assert their right to be free range with impunity. Then they can tell off the cops by showing them that the laws they are enforcing are non-existent.

  2. claire July 17, 2012 at 5:57 am #

    We need to promote the prosecution of the wrong doers not the parents. If we hide our children away, we remove the responsibility from society. I hope the authorities at court level throw it out.

  3. Jet July 17, 2012 at 5:58 am #

    My goodness. What are we talking about here? Assuming these are standard city blocks (which are about .36 of a mile), we’re talking about something on the order of two blocks, ~30-40 yards. That’s still within hailing distance! Presumably, if the mother had stood on her front porch, she could have seen the children the entire distance (unless they had to turn a corner).

    Does that mean that any junior high school student who plays football isn’t properly supervised if he’s on the opposite sideline of a football field from his coach? Keep in mind that in my hypothetical someone may actually be in the process of assaulting (tackling), the student. That’s safe enough, but letting kids walk to the corner store for some pizza isn’t?


  4. Stephanie July 17, 2012 at 6:07 am #

    Outrageous. When I was in elementary school, I walked to the middle school (about half a mile) a few days a week so that one of my mom’s friend’s daughter could watch me. She was at most 13, and I was maybe 8 or 9?

    And I walked to and from middle school starting when I was 11. When my next door neighbor started offering to give me a ride, I declined. I liked walking to school.

    This society is getting ridiculous.

  5. Debbie Kinoshita July 17, 2012 at 6:11 am #

    honestly, this is getting out of hand. The kids nowadays have no idea or will have no idea how to protect themselves when they older. They won’t have any idea what to do if confronted with anything that happens to them. What the hell has happened. I am in my 50’s and grew up in a much better time then the kids of today. Everyone is paranoid out there. STOP IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My 2 sons who are in their late 20’s and early 30’s never had me or their dad looking over their shoulders every waking minute of their life. I know the world is big and scary but we have to ask ourselves who made it that way. THE BLOODY MEDIA!!!!!!!!!!! Not every person you pass is going to harm you.

  6. LauraS July 17, 2012 at 6:16 am #

    Wait a minute… It says she was arrested for ‘failure to appear’. So, they probably cited her for ‘risk of injury’ (ridiculous of course) but she didn’t appear in court and was subsequently arrested for that?
    Failing to appear is a totally different issue.

  7. Chris July 17, 2012 at 6:22 am #

    The recent disappearance of the two girls in iowa is only going to ramp up the paranoia for a while.

  8. Kristi Baumbach July 17, 2012 at 6:26 am #

    Last week, I dropped my 2 kids, ages 13, and 10 and a friend, age 13 (with her mom’s permission) off at the local library. They had money to walk a couple blocks to the sandwich shop and then a few more blocks to the snow cone stand. They were alone in a very safe small town downtown area for 2 hours while I was at a lunch meeting a mile away. The worst thing that happened? They had their snow cone prior to their sandwich! 😉 Guess I’m lucky the cops didn’t show up!

  9. jasonrfisherJason July 17, 2012 at 6:33 am #

    I was assigned to walk 3.4 miles to get to 5th grade (so 9 or 10) every day including in the snow. Not to mention being sent to the store with a note that said I was supposed to bring back smokes for my friends mom same distance and that was when I earlier than that.

  10. LauraL July 17, 2012 at 6:36 am #

    My children are learning to be self-sufficient, aware of their surroundings, alert to the world around them, and are not toddlers. They know how to look both ways before crossing the street. Statistics PROVE the chances of my kids being kidnapped by a stranger are practically nil. What epidemic of problems have I missed here that I should not be teaching them independence?

  11. Suzi July 17, 2012 at 6:58 am #

    That is completely and thoroughly stupid! We are supposed to be teaching our children to be independent active members of society not hermits afraid of the law!

  12. Jenny July 17, 2012 at 7:12 am #

    This is akin to telling women they shouldn’t go out unsupervised because they might be raped.

  13. Melanna July 17, 2012 at 7:17 am #

    the walk zones (meaning you don’t qualify for bus service and are expected to walk) to the schools in my city are bigger than that distance, I’d be curious to know what they are in her city.

  14. Paige Roper Norman July 17, 2012 at 7:26 am #

    Apparently I was wrong to allow my 13 year old to walk 1+ mile up the hill back to our house after I dropped him off a the mall with his friends. Does this mean I get to go to jail? Free meals, exercise, job-training and plenty of time away from my teenager. Sign me up! (j/k)

  15. HeatherK July 17, 2012 at 7:26 am #

    My 7 year old walked completely by himself to the ice cream parlor this week. I hope I don’t get arrested. 2 Blocks!

  16. Priscilla July 17, 2012 at 7:48 am #

    It is very sad that so many people in this country are paranoid. I have friends who are very fearful for their children’s safety and they often are quite amazed that I let my 5th grader ride his bike to school (about 2 miles). My daughter is 15 and recently told me that a friend of hers is not allowed to cross main street in town because it is too busy.

  17. backroadsem July 17, 2012 at 7:51 am #

    I need to check Utah laws. It seems to be a pretty free-range state–I see unsupervised children out and about all the time without getting into too much trouble and/or danger.

  18. theeo123 July 17, 2012 at 7:57 am #

    I’m not sure of a good protest tactic, but a good factoid would be to compare this range (half a mile) to what range the local schools start suggesting kids walk as opposed to taking the bus.

    it’s been a decade or two, but when i was in high-school if you lived closer than 2 miles, to the school they refused to bus you, you had to walk.

  19. LauraL July 17, 2012 at 7:59 am #

    backroadsem, mine too, at least in the Portland suburb I live in. No one really bats an eye. And we have *gasp* immigrants! People who are BROWN and speak another language! Our school walk zones expanded as a way to cut down on transportation costs as of this coming school year. We’re stlil outside it but it’s not much further than the elementary school is and my youngest, entering middle school, can ride her bike if she wishes.

    The only thing about the school zones that chaps my hide, is that there is a crosswalk across our fairly busy road. It has big blinking lights when someone wants to cross. However, elementary kids are required to have a parent walk them across. The school tells them the MAY NOT CROSS THAT STREET or they will be punished by the school by losing privileges.

    Still trying to figure out why the school seems to think they get to dictate how MY child gets to them, the school doesn’t OWN the crosswalk nor the street, and if I’ve instructed my kids on how to safely cross, then the school should butt the hell out. Particularly the kids who are in 4th-5th-6th grade. They’re not little kids!

  20. backroadsem July 17, 2012 at 8:00 am #

    This morning I had a conversation with some co-workers about children [not] being in danger. I work in Scouting. There is a position called “Scout Parent”. It’s basically a parent helper/cheerleader for the kid. We do not do background checks on these people because, well, they aren’t leaders and have absolutey no connection to running the Scouting program.

    Two of my co-workers believe it’s horrible we don’t. One even said “I wouldn’t want my children around other kids’ parents I wasn’t sure about!” (Keep in mind, two months ago, we did a background. It came back clean. The guy then had to be removed because he then became a child molester. Background checks are useful, but only so mch).

    My response points:
    ~These parents just want to involved with their kid and maybe get to know the rest of the neighborhood.
    ~They’re not leaders. If the Scouting program is being run correctly, background-checked leaders will always be around.
    ~It’s good for kids to get to know their friends’ families most of the time.
    ~Despite my aforementioned horror story, chances are you would already know if Jimmy’s mom did something illegal.
    ~Most likely, Jimmy’s mom has a clean slate.
    ~It builds community.
    ~We do enough stupid paperwork. Let’s take a wild chance and trust someone every now and then.
    ~Parent volunteers take some pressure off of Scoutmaster Joe.
    ~Because all three of us are so snooty about following policy, we will require that if any of those parents were to take a leadership position, we would register them. And check their background.
    ~Who cares?

  21. Lollipoplover July 17, 2012 at 8:17 am #

    Risk of injury to a minor? For letting them walk to get pizza? Were they walking down the middle of the road juggling knives? When did fetching food become illegal?

    You know, Manchester Conn. Police could charge most of the local parents who put their kids in sports like baseball and soccer for potentially risking an injury to a minor.

    And where did the kidnapping come in? That’s in the Patch title…risking injury to a minor and kidnapping. So, letting a child be independent now equates to risking kidnapping? Where does the nonsense end?

  22. Uly July 17, 2012 at 8:34 am #

    Meanwhile, they’ve plastered the address of these poor innocent babes all over the internet. *headdesk*

  23. Tsu Dho Nimh July 17, 2012 at 9:21 am #

    It’s the “failure to appear” that puzzles me. Was she cited earlier for the amazingly reckless act of letting children walk somewhere, and arrested late for failing to appear for the citation?

  24. Kenny Felder July 17, 2012 at 9:36 am #

    You have to fight this in court. People have to know.

  25. J C Greene July 17, 2012 at 9:46 am #

    This is not funny. The woman may be charged with a crime. At a minimum, the state will file a petition to have her kids placed in foster care.

    Lenore, you should follow up on stories like this, and set forth just exactly how much it costs the parent when this happens. It could easily add up to $60,000 or more. And if the parent does not have a checkbook full of cash, the risk of a tragic outcome is magnified tremendously. Please see if she is willing to give you permission to have her attorney(s) speak with you and let you record what actually happens.

    I know that people boasting of sticking up the finger at the cops mean well, but unless you are ready to fight a real war with real legal ammunition, be careful what you do. The child protection authorities fight dirty, and if you are not well informed regarding their techniques, you will lose–especially if you are honest and well meaning.

    The number one advice I have for anyone this happens to is this: Say nothing, and contact an attorney immediately. Do not wait, do not talk to police or social workers, and do not give anyone permission to talk to anyone. They’ll do it anyway, but preserve your rights!

    If you follow up on one or two of these cases, it will be very clear very fast just how severe the consequences are,

  26. carla July 17, 2012 at 9:48 am #

    I am outraged! This is ridiculous! Is there a law in CT specific to this issue? I let my sons ( 11 and 8) walk to a pizza place around the corner all the time. They went to a movie alone today. Am I to worry I will be arrested?

  27. Jennifer lee July 17, 2012 at 9:51 am #

    Meanwhile I just got a warning from the daycare inspector because for reasons unknown to myself one of the 3 year olds moved the soap to the “other sink” and this is not allowed since It is confusing to the children to be allowed a choice of sink.

  28. CrazyCatLady July 17, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    What time of day was it? If it was after curfew, I can maybe see something, but violating curfew seems more appropriate. If this was dinner or lunch time, and it was light, I see no reason for this.

    Failure to appear on her part was stupid, but then I have seen relatives do the same thing for tickets. Stupid of them. Pay it, or go to court and fight it. But always do SOMETHING, so that you don’t end up in deeper doodoo.

    I hope she doesn’t end up in jail or have CPS called in on her.

  29. CrazyCatLady July 17, 2012 at 9:55 am #

    Jennifer Lee, (face in palm!) Really, really? My three kids have gotten choice of sink for almost every restroom they have ever been in. At fair, they have the choice of about 20 sinks! It doesn’t seem so confusing to them!

  30. Betsy July 17, 2012 at 10:11 am #

    Yes, I’m also thinking of follow ups to these stories. This (and the recent blog about kids’ bruises, with one reader having had a really scary encounter with a social worker and police officers about her 14 year old dgtr.) makes me physically ill, and we need to know how to protect ourselves and our families against these Orwellian assaults on our human rights. What kind of legal action against these obliviots; where can it be obtained if you can’t afford it, etc.

  31. Peter July 17, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    And where did the kidnapping come in? That’s in the Patch title…risking injury to a minor and kidnapping.

    The story is one of those “Police Blotter” articles that mentions all the things the police had to deal with that week. They just throw the attention-grabbing ones in the headline: “Assault! Kidnapping! Some drama for your dull and drab lives!”

    The kidnapping in question came a couple of days later and appears to be someone who assaulted a woman in his car and then tried to evade the police. I assume the woman was taken against her will and it is, therefore, kidnapping.

  32. livenowandzen July 17, 2012 at 10:31 am #

    I wonder who found it necessary to report that these children went to the pizza place without supervision? Ugh. When I was 8, my mother sent me 1/2 mile away via bike to buy heavy cream at a 7-11. It was a sign that she trusted me. How sad that we need to be worried about giving our kids our trust because some stranger will decide they don’t deserve it and report it as child endangerment.

  33. Havva July 17, 2012 at 10:50 am #

    The state of CT has no law against this. But like in most cases this probably comes down to CPS, and CT is the worst I have seen so far. My county doesn’t want kids out on their own until they are okay home alone. Assuming CT is the same kids are on total lockdown. They say parents shouldn’t leave a kid home alone until they are 12!!! I am in absolute disbelief. It seems to me nearly abusive to follow such a guideline. To treat normal youngsters like they are totally defective.
    I think we need legal defense funds for moms like this. And we need psycologists to do studies and take to the stand saying that it is not only okay, but a critical part of development for 7 & 11 year olds to make small independent trips out of the house. By the time I was 12 I had been walking to school (.5 to .6 mi) alone for 3 years. I substituted for my friend’s paper route alone. Rode to the library (1.2 mi) alone. Visited sevaral banks (1 to 1.3 mi) alone before picking one and setting up my own bank account with only a parental signature for assistance. I often ventured into wilderness areas at that age. And I wasn’t the adventureous one of my friends. I can’t fathom first solo contact at 12.

  34. Havva July 17, 2012 at 10:57 am #

    Oops left out the link for CT’s constant supervision until 12 recomendation. http://www.ct.gov/dcf/lib/dcf/child_welfare_services/pdf/leaving_your_child_alone.pdf

    They say that “Experts believe” this. If I were the mom I would want to face these accusers and have a chanse to question these “experts.”

  35. Just Me July 17, 2012 at 11:26 am #

    I dropped off my 16 year old step daughter and her 17 year old friend at Huntington Beach Pier on a beautiful Saturday afternoon a couple of weeks ago. They each had money, cell phones, and plenty of common sense. They walked down to have lunch at Ruby’s at the end of the pier. They were planning a great day shopping until the friends’ mom called her, found out I wasn’t there (I was home sleeping after working night shift), and insisted they be picked up! I had to drag myself out of bed and go pick these girls up and bring them home to sit in the living room while I finished my sleep. I was disgusted! Talk about a classic “helicopter” parent!!

  36. enyawface July 17, 2012 at 11:28 am #

    When I was 5 I walked 3 blocks to school by myself, that was kindergarten. On the second week of school, all of us 5 year olds were taken to the major 4 lane street next to the school and were taught to cross that street on our own, with no crossing guard or street light, and today a 11 year old and a 7 year old can’t walk 2 blocks down a residential street?

  37. Bob July 17, 2012 at 11:56 am #

    Regarding the failure to appear, my guess is that the police responded to a call about the kids, handcuffed the mother while they ran a check, found a bench warrant for failure to appear, and then arrested her for both offenses.

    I’m the person who sent in this article. Here’s another anecdote. One day a cop knocked on our back door. They said they found a kid who appeared to be about five wandering the street. I guess they saw all the kids’ toys in my driveway and yard and thought the kid might be mine. While I was talking with the cop, the kid’s mother showed up, obviously upset. The cop arrested her right in front of our house. I’d like to think that if one of my five-year-olds decided to go for a walk without me knowing it that I wouldn’t get arrested for it.

  38. hillary July 17, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    This story is totally absurd. In 1997, I was a summer nanny for a family of five, with kids ages 11, 8, 5, 3, and 1. While I was technically responsible for all five of them, the older two were allowed (by their mother) to walk or bike wherever they pleased as long as they stayed together and came back for meals. They visited parks, played sports with their friends, went to the library, got up to mischief in the creek, brought home stray animals, visited their mom at work, and plenty of other stuff that I didn’t know anything about because they were off on their own, taking care of themselves and each other. Eleven-year-olds are quite responsible if given the chance, and many seven-year-olds can read chapter books, for goodness’ sake. They can certainly walk a few blocks to a restaurant, order off a menu, and pay for their meal.

  39. Charles J Gervasi July 17, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

    I think of how far my friend and I road our bikes to the park and to the store when were in 6th grade (11 y/o). It was probably 2 miles max. But there were two of us. I remember our moms being nervous about our being out of sight. This was in ’86, before handheld mobile phones. It certainly was nothing to call the cops over.

  40. mollie July 17, 2012 at 2:09 pm #

    My heart breaks for these kids, this woman. I agree, Lenore, that it is tragic that constant supervision of capable kids is becoming the only “legal” option. Gah!!!

  41. Uly July 17, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

    What time of day was it? If it was after curfew, I can maybe see something, but violating curfew seems more appropriate. If this was dinner or lunch time, and it was light, I see no reason for this.

    A *legal* curfew? And THAT seems appropriate to you?

  42. awombatsweb July 17, 2012 at 2:59 pm #

    From now on, I won’t allow my children, including the teenager, from brushing her own teeth for they may incidently tear their gums to shreds with the bristles of their toothbrush.

  43. Stacey Jw July 17, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    I can’t add anything better right now, Im to appalled.

  44. Donna July 17, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

    Uly, most cities and towns have legal curfews for minors. Did when I was a teen back in the mid-80s too. And, yes, a minor can be arrested for being out past curfew. They are largely unenforced beyond cops telling kids they are out past curfew and to go home when it appears that they are up to no good, but they are probably on the books in most places.

  45. Around the Island July 17, 2012 at 5:50 pm #

    Appalled doesn’t even begin to cover it. How on earth can we expect to raise competent, independent adults if we (collective we) never give our children a chance to learn the skills they need to become one!

  46. Janet S July 17, 2012 at 6:20 pm #

    Arrest was for failure to appear, as LauraS noted. The “risk of injury” was presumably a citation, and if someone fails to turn up in court, the judge issues a bench warrant.

    Just to scale it back a bit. There still was an accusation, but not an immediate arrest.

    There may be (probably are) additional details we don’t know; this blotter is straight off the police paperwork, with no investigation. Whether those details justfy or condemn the police action, I can’t guess at the moment.

  47. Katie July 17, 2012 at 6:42 pm #

    Previously in this blog we’ve mentioned the idea of having our FR kids carrying cards that indicate they have our permission to be going/doing whatever they happen to be doing. There may be some merit in that.

  48. islandgirl July 17, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

    I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s and my childhood was a blast. We neighbourhood kids loved summer, NO SUMMER CAMPS just roaming our neighbour looking for FUN. We rode our bikes (and get this we even towed each other with one standing on the back resting feet on the wheel nuts as there was no space on the seat, holding on to the other’s shoulders). We made our way to many friends neighbourhoods and got into mischief and playing games. OMG!!! my favorite memory was going to the local dock and waiting for the ferry to come in so that we could jump into it’s current after it left, when we felt it was safe enough. As we got older we jump in sooner. THAT’s HOW WE ALL LEARNED TO SWIM. We dove off the bridges too. We could be found anywhere within a 3 mile radius and wherever we were at lunchtime whose ever house we were closest too is where we ate. My mom could never figure out why the hotdogs where being eaten so fast. YES that means we were alone in the house cooking. I remember one time we al decided to ride from our parish on the western end of the island to the BIG CITY. We had a blast finding our way. It took hours and we were TIRED but we had FUN. Only thing was we didn’t think abiout how we would get home LOL!! so we learned a lesson on consequences as we had to have parents come and collect us and our bikes. Every scar that I have is a great story of some injury i got during play. I am a CPS worker and insist that my children experience life as much as I did so i let me kids go it alone for many things. TODAY my son, 11 years, is walking from my job the 4 blocks to the Barber shop to get a hair cut. Last week he and my daughter walked 1/2 block to get a snowball which is a street over from the local drug scene. Was I worried… NO but my boss was. I now send her every daily link to this site and tell her I am a FREERANGE PARENT.

  49. islandgirl July 17, 2012 at 8:24 pm #

    Oh and in all that summer fun we had we NEVER came home unless it was to eat or till the street lights came on.

  50. Lizbeth July 17, 2012 at 8:49 pm #

    Any neighborhood where moms get arrested for letting their children walk half a mile to a pizza place is a neighborhood where it is completely safe to walk half a mile to a pizza place.

  51. Lizbeth July 17, 2012 at 8:56 pm #

    Also, my mother had me in a DAYCARE CENTER until I turned 14, and even she thinks this is absurd.

  52. Erika July 17, 2012 at 9:04 pm #

    Here’s another over-the-top legal response (from my town) to a kid who went into a local school on a Saturday because a) he had to go to the bathroom, and b) the door was open, so why not? http://barrington.patch.com/articles/open-school-door-lures-boy-12#comment_4007030

  53. Tara July 17, 2012 at 9:07 pm #

    Stop the presses! My kids are 11, 8, 7 and 5 and I let them walk several blocks to the neighborhood school for summer fun! With nobody older than 11!

  54. mk126 July 17, 2012 at 9:20 pm #

    Maybe she failed to appear because the babysitter backed out last minute? We know her children certainly aren’t capable of being home alone!!!

  55. Christine July 17, 2012 at 9:25 pm #

    A neighbor called cps on us last year because we allowed our kids (then 8, 6 and 4) to play outside without being present out there with them. When the agent came to our house, she also informed us that we could not leave the 3 little ones with our then 12 year old to run to Walmart for 30 minutes (mind you, Walmart is basically right next door.. one could easily walk there from here!). I remember when I was little, living in New York, and walking alone to the store for a piece of bubble gum… and when I was about 12, walking to the local park for picnics with my friends… alone! *gasp* I am just boggled at how differently things work now. Fortunately, our ‘case’ was dismissed because they didn’t see us causing any real harm to our children. But now I am always on high alert and feel like I have to over protect them, to protect myself.
    PS I just sent my 13 year old across the country alone, with a 2 hour layover in Chicago. And guess what, she made it, alive and in one piece! 😉

  56. Ann from St. Peter MN July 17, 2012 at 10:20 pm #

    I was a newly single mom with a full time regular job and also worked as an EMT for our local ambulance service. I was “on call” for many hours. My kids were 7 and 10 years old. We had an emergency stash of cash that they knew about in the kitchen. If I had an ambulance call and it was over a meal time, they knew enough to take some money and walk to the Subway in our town to get something to eat. The restaurant was only a few blocks away, but I am sure i would be judged if I let them do that today. This was in the mid-1990’s.

  57. pentamom July 17, 2012 at 11:17 pm #

    What the hey, it’s a boring Tuesday, so I’ll do a bit of stirring — the name Betty Abena Anane sounds distinctly African immigrant to me.

    Unless there’s more to this story we don’t know, like it was 1 a.m. or something, it sounds like someone got charged for something that she completely, due to her cultural background, could not fathom as actually being a crime, didn’t take it seriously, and now is slapped with “non-appearance.”

    And then again that reading could be completely off-base, but it does make you wonder.

  58. pentamom July 17, 2012 at 11:22 pm #

    “Any neighborhood where moms get arrested for letting their children walk half a mile to a pizza place is a neighborhood where it is completely safe to walk half a mile to a pizza place.”

    Dingdingdingdingding!!!! Lizbeth wins the prize! In the neighborhoods where it’s not safe, the expectation of supervision is lower, and the cops have better things to do.

    Like I always say, if you want to be Free-Range and unmolested by the public and private busybodies, live in the country, or an underfunded city (but avoid the “best” neighborhoods,” though middle class neighborhoods will do) NOT a prosperous city, the suburbs, or the fancy neighborhoods.

  59. elandsimom July 17, 2012 at 11:32 pm #

    It’s interesting – our local school is actively using federal money to build sidewalks to increase the “walk to school” opportunities in our neighborhood. This would seem to be in direct conflict with the idea that children cannot walk about their neighborhoods. They are trying to engage children in being outdoors for fitness reasons.

    We made the (much discussed, due to lack of sidewalks and crazy teen drivers, not child-grabbers) decision to allow the 10 and 8 year old to walk together to the neighborhood playground program. They LOVE it – and are up and ready long before it is time to leave most mornings.
    Frankly – I was more worried that they would get in an argument and one of them would sit on a curb and refuse to move, leaving the other one to decide whether to continue or stay, than I was about any other issue! Ha!

  60. Yan Seiner July 17, 2012 at 11:35 pm #

    I remember when I was maybe 6 or 7 my grandfather would send me to the pub to get a pitcher of draft beer. It’s about a 1/3 mile walk across a busy road. I’d walk into the pub, give them the money and carry the pitcher back.

    Today that would probably land the whole town in jail…..

  61. Yan Seiner July 17, 2012 at 11:43 pm #

    I really would like to see a cultural profile of the women arrested. Here in the Czech Republic kids are given much more freedom than in the US.

    It seems that in the US risks are ok if they’re part of an approved activity but criminal if not…

  62. Uly July 18, 2012 at 12:05 am #

    Donna, I have to say, that’s actually the craziest thing I’ve ever read.

  63. lucy July 18, 2012 at 1:20 am #

    I would really love to see follow up stories on all of these recent arrests. I think that someone needs to be keeping track of what the final outcomes are. What are the judges saying?

    My intuition says that there are few, if any, laws on the books that actually indicate age for when leaving your kids is illegal. I think most of these things are left of to the police under ambiguous “endangerment” types of laws.

    What’s important is the disposition of these cases. AND making sure that the laws don’t begin to change in order to codify the endangerment by age range.

  64. nancy July 18, 2012 at 1:35 am #

    At 11, I was babysitting for 5 children, including an INFANT. ’nuff said.

  65. EricS July 18, 2012 at 1:35 am #

    Remember, just because they have a badge, doesn’t make them right. Cops are people too, with the same common sense (and sadly some…lack thereof), insecurities, opinions, and self-center. More so because they DO have a badge. Unless it’s against the law, you can tell them to grow a pair. lol “Risk of injury to a minor” is so VAGUE. Pretty much ANYTHING is risk of injury to a minor, or adults for that matter. If it is law in some places, then there is something terribly wrong with society these days.

  66. Rachel July 18, 2012 at 1:36 am #

    Oh, crap! I just sent my kids (10 & 12) to play mini-golf and get pizza ON THEIR OWN … I better run after them and get in the way of them having a good time! (Just kidding … I’m staying here with my book!)

  67. Emmanuelle Works July 18, 2012 at 2:13 am #

    This is the kind of story that completely freaks me out! Helicopter parenting, which is a TERRIBLE way to parent, is becoming the only acceptable way of parenting. How are we supposed to let our kids grow up and help them learn to become self-sufficient and independent, responsible, skilled and adaptable, able to handle every situation!?

  68. Meg July 18, 2012 at 2:39 am #

    In CT, it’s illegal to leave a child unsupervised in a place of ‘public accommodation’ or in an auto. Crazy right? http://www.cga.ct.gov/2011/pub/chap939.htm#Sec53-21a.htm

    No dropping your second grader at the library to do his report; no letting your 10 yo read in the car while you go in to buy milk. As a resident, the Nanny state drives me nuts, but just as much are the people who are reporting them.

    I see three problems here. One, parents who don’t control their kids, so if they were left alone, whatever adult around would end up supervising (then get in trouble with parent for trying to control the child). Second, people who don’t trust kids to behave (probably driven by number one), and call the police. Three is the bubble wrap parents who see abuse where some of us see letting a kid be independent.

  69. Emmanuelle Works July 18, 2012 at 2:48 am #

    Most of the kids who don’t behave have never been allowed to learn self-control and independence! Two skills ALL kids used to be taught and expected to learn! They need to make their own mistakes. And yes, other adults used to be expected to glance at the kids around from time to time. That was called being part of a community.

  70. Fuchsia July 18, 2012 at 3:03 am #

    Here kids are allowed to be at home alone at about 10 and that is at the discretion of the parents. There is a great info sheet about it at http://www.nscr.bc.ca/HelpsHands/Children%20Home%20Alone.PDF. It is full of sanity!

  71. Fuchsia July 18, 2012 at 3:05 am #

    And they provide actual useful safety tips! http://www.nscr.bc.ca/HelpsHands/Children%20Home%20Alone-Safety%20Practices.PDF

  72. Emmanuelle Works July 18, 2012 at 3:13 am #

    I live in AZ. It’s pretty sane too. And we always manage to have a good time and leave kids some freedom in California too.

  73. MG July 18, 2012 at 3:21 am #

    I’ve discovered an unpleasant side effect of your blog, I’m now questioning my desire to let my kids be free range for fear of the police/authorities coming to cite me and/or take my kids away (like in these stories). I’m 100% committed to free range, but every time I read something like this I wonder if I’m being foolish. Is my desire to raise a self-sufficient, independent child worth the risk of losing that child to the authorities. Yikes! Please remind me that these stories are the 1 in a million, and not the norm.

  74. Hels July 18, 2012 at 3:47 am #

    I am starting to see the reason my friends in Pennsylvania believe one has to be clinically insane to want to live in NY/NJ/CT…

  75. Christina July 18, 2012 at 3:59 am #

    Ugh. It’s definitely getting harder to be free range – not that I’m letting that stop me. Just last week I was on my way back from Ohio when the boys needed a bathroom break. I pulled over at one of those big gas stations the trucker use b/c I knew it would have easily locatable bathrooms. I sent the boys in (they’re about to turn 5) and filled up my tank. When they came out, some woman asked me if I was their mother. I said “yes” and promptly got scolded for not keeping an eye on my children. Huh? Yes, it could have been a teachable moment, but I have to admit I snapped at her that I do keep an eye on my children, and that she needed to stay out of our business. Guess I should be glad she didn’t call the cops.

  76. Emmanuelle Works July 18, 2012 at 4:13 am #

    My oldest son is constantly getting upset because of stupid adults. We used to drop him at busy restaurants’ doors so he could put our name on the list while we parked. But we had to quit because they just won’t listen to him. We try from time to time but he hates it. He’s 12 years-old! How old does he have to be to get any respect?! And he’s very polite! He’s tired of hearing “wait for your mommy and daddy”.

    He went to France twice, including this year alone for the first time. He flew from AZ to Paris where my parents met him. He LOVES it there. He says kids are not treated like they’re stupid or dangerous. They have freedom and respect. I grew up there. He has a point.

    My French mom says French summer camps HATE receiving American kids because they cannot handle one minute of freedom, even in college! They are so immature! What kind of idiot believes that maturity comes with age!? It comes with education, the ability to learn independence and the opportunity to use it and make mistakes, you know, that little thing called experience! And then those overgrown kids are released into the wild with no training, no practice, when they go to college or turn 18!? Seriously!?

  77. Jackie July 18, 2012 at 4:21 am #

    My brother and I were at our cabin for the summer as usual, in a very rural, northern town. We felt the need for Dairy Queen one day, which was located in the nearest town 16 miles away. My parents said, “If you want to go, pack a lunch, hop on your bikes, and go”. They made sure we knew the route (not a hard one) and had money. This is in the time before cell phones. We left and had great time, plus the 32 mile round trip-probably closer to 40 with the biking we did to the town’s park was great physical activity. We were 14 and 12 at the time. We had done long family bike trips before, so were competent and athletic enough to handle the distance. The roads were not so busy as to be a safety hazard to us, and our parents trusted us not to do something stupid. It was a great day. Now I’m sure they’d be in big trouble for allowing it.

  78. lucy July 18, 2012 at 5:21 am #

    @meg and the CT law. Thanks for posting that. Actually the way I read it, it very clearly includes “… for a period of time that presents a substantial risk to the child’s health or safety, ”

    Meaning it is up to (someone) to figure out if you left your under 12yo child in a place of accommodation for too long.
    This is not a clear cut law.
    Not sure why I am nit picking, because I certainly don’t want these to become more clear cut, but I also want to point out that people get things in their head about restricting laws and then they stop thinking.

  79. Ann July 18, 2012 at 5:26 am #

    Does nobody remember their own childhood anymore??? When I was growing up, my neighborhood was just a few blocks from a shopping area with several restaurants. Friends and I would walk or ride our bikes over there all the time to go out to lunch, buy slurpees at the 7-11, or pick up groceries for mom. Surely other people did these things too. Why can’t kids of this generation?

  80. Emmanuelle Works July 18, 2012 at 6:09 am #

    @Ann I can remember my childhood. It was NOT safer or more dangerous, but we had more freedom. And I want my kids to have the same kind of freedom. When I visited New York with my 12y old, the first night, I had plans with friends but my son was too tired and wanted nothing but sleep so I left him in the hotel room with clear instructions. He slept. He often also babysits his younger siblings for 2 or 3 hours because we have no one to help us here and finding a babysitting is both difficult and expensive. And, to be honest, we’ve had bad surprises with some of the babysitters. Never with our son! In fact, he’s had to do some damage control with some of those older girls! Believe me, he was shocked! It’s about maturity, not age.

  81. AW13 July 18, 2012 at 6:09 am #

    My husband and I just bought a house. When we went for the whole house inspection, two of our new neighbors came up and introduced themselves to us. They told us about all the kids our son’s age in the neighborhood and about how there are a lot of older, retired adults who sit out in their yards when the weather is nice and keep an eye on the children. They knew everybody on the block and across the alley. They were also quick to let us know that the local school has great parental support and encouraged us to become involved with it as soon as kiddo is old enough to attend. I left feeling very positive about our choice of neighborhood. Reading stories like this really bothers me. I don’t have any ideas about what to do, but I like what others have said about following up to find out what has happened with the various cases – if they’ve gone to court, been resolved, been dismissed, etc. Sometimes these things are dismissed for lack of evidence. (At least, I’m hoping they are.)

    (Also, I’ve only personally known of two people who have gotten tickets for curfew violations. And they were 17. And in a park after curfew. And up to no good, haha!)

  82. Lillian July 18, 2012 at 6:15 am #

    The First Lady’s campaign to get kids moving and being active by walking and riding seems like it might get blocked by local municipalities that don’t like children on their own on sidewalks and bikes. Perhaps the Let’s Move campaign can be encouraged to educate local leaders on the health benefits of children roaming our streets again instead of seeing it as criminal endangerment.

  83. Emmanuelle Works July 18, 2012 at 6:20 am #

    You know? That’s one of the reasons why our kids are unhealthy and overweight! They’re not allowed to play because almost everything not highly controlled and supervised is considered “child endangerment”. So they give up and stay in front of the TV or video game. They’re not allowed to go see their friends either so they spend their time texting them or chatting on FB and Twitter. Their parents can’t constantly drive them places because they’re overworked, and we can’t all afford several activities a week. Not to mention that the kids NEED freedom and independence more than a million organized activities.

  84. Becky July 18, 2012 at 8:42 am #

    I had the librarian tell me my 8 and 10 yr olds were unsupervised in the childrens area of the library. I was inside the same library, just a few yards away at a table. She said it was library policy that a parent must be IN the children’s area with the children.

  85. Emmanuelle Works July 18, 2012 at 9:28 am #

    Seriously!? We should be able to just DROP kids at the library at 8 and 10! That’s what I was used to! What is this country coming to?! Our kids aren’t allowed to grow out of the toddler stage until they turn 18, and then WHAM, you’re an adult! Don’t make any mistake or we’ll put you in jail!

  86. Emmanuelle Works July 18, 2012 at 9:30 am #

    No wonder Americans are afraid of teenagers and college kids. They KNOW we’ve only allowed those kids to grow up physically but that they have the social, reasoning, decision making, and empathetic skills of 4 year-olds! Giant toddlers free to roam the city! Quick, let’s make sure we get the cops to arrest them whenever they get too loud or break something or make a stupid mistake! The sooner they’re behind bars the safer we’ll be!

  87. BL July 18, 2012 at 10:19 am #

    Speaking of curfews:

    I remember in the 1970s playing one-on-one basketball with a friend after 10 PM in a public park one fine summer night. Very small safe town, by the way.

    A local cop drove by and told us there was a curfew and we’d have to leave. We were 16, I think. We were shocked. We never knew our town had a curfew.

    Years later, when I heard of Bill Clinton recommending “midnight basketball” as a cure for juvenile delinquency, I remembered that and laughed. Of course, neither of us were “delinquent” so I guess we wouldn’t have been allowed in those games anyway …

  88. awombatsweb July 18, 2012 at 11:42 am #

    Somebody get a time machine and send this child protectors back a hundred years. Would like to see what happens.

  89. mollie July 18, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

    Seems like it used to be the children who were not fed at all were the ones CPS was supposed to protect. Now it’s the ones who are feeding themselves.


  90. signsandwonders2020 July 18, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

    This is an outrage, as a elementary child i walked to and from school everyday about 1 block and no supervision but it was during a time when the world was different and safer for kids. But this doesnt seem right that she could not let her kids go a blocks distance for pizza without an adult. Why dont they start chasing the real crimminals for a change instead of a innocent mom. For goodness sake. Betty

  91. gap.runner July 18, 2012 at 3:06 pm #

    I think that every parent in Germany and other Western European countries would be in jail for child endangerment. Kids here walk to school by themselves starting in first grade. In my neighborhood kids have to cross a busy street at a light. Kids here also play outdoors when the weather’s nice (or even when it’s not so nice) until dinnertime or when the street lights come on. It’s like it was when most of us were growing up.

    Contrast that with the San Diego neighborhood where I used to live. The local elementary school was a 10-minute (at the most) walk from my house. But my neighbors were required to have their kids ride the bus, and pay for it, because the kids had to cross a busy street at a light. And then people there wondered why their kids are obese

    Back when I was 11, my mother used to send me to 7/11 to buy cigarettes with a note giving her consent.

  92. timesnlatte July 18, 2012 at 11:48 pm #

    I used to buy my dad’s smokes, too. I had to walk two blocks to do so. I think I was 8.

    This is insane. No wonder kids are living with their parents until they turn 30.

  93. Andy July 19, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    @timesnlatte I think that they live with their parents because the job market is bad, housing expensive and they are on speaking terms with their parents. If you have good relationship with parents, then staying in home may be a good way how to save money.

    Living with parent until you marry is not that exceptional in countries with expensive housing. The American “it is shame to live with parents after 18” is exceptional and probably result of extremely cheap housing prices.

    One way or the other, I do not think it does matter too much.

  94. gap.runner July 19, 2012 at 5:02 pm #

    When I was growing up and complained about something, my mother used to tell me, “I walked 10 miles (about 16 km for those on the metric system) to school every day in a snowstorm going uphill both ways.” Dad would then say his commute to school was even worse than walking in a blizzard because he rode the New York City subway from Brooklyn to the old Stuyvesant High School.

    What are kids now going to say when their kids complain about having a rough life…My mother drove me two blocks to school on a hot day and the air conditioning in the car wasn’t working?

  95. Diane S. July 20, 2012 at 3:01 am #

    @Becky – glad our library is not like that here. I could see if the kids were very small, and had the bad habit of pulling all the books out of the shelves & trashing the place.

  96. Emily July 21, 2012 at 3:54 am #

    @Diane–I think the reason Becky’s library has the “all children must be supervised by adults at all times” rule is because it’s easier to make a blanket rule about “no unsupervised children, ever” than to come up with a few reasonable rules about appropriate behaviour. However, that still doesn’t make it right, because of what some others have said–kids aren’t permitted to grow out of the toddler stage until age 18, and then they’re released into the world as “adults.”

  97. Larry July 21, 2012 at 9:50 am #


    What’s the problem? I remember as a child I always had more fun when I was surrounded by strange adults.

    Makes one wonder tho — why is it called the childrens area if it contains adults and, presumably, adult sized stuff?

    I’m old now (Grandpa type old), and I swear, sometimes I weep for our society’s lost childhood, and for you still tasked with nurturing the children thru it. Hang in there.

  98. Larry July 21, 2012 at 10:01 pm #


    My bad. I had placed psuedo-sarcasm tags around the “What’s the prob…” paragraph above. ‘parantly this site’s software didn’t like the made-up HTML tags and deleted them. Sorry if I came off as smart-a**ed and/or offensive.

    As I said, I really feel for today’s parents. For all the conveniences “progress” has given you, you guys face a real journey.

  99. Becky July 22, 2012 at 12:07 am #

    I totally read it the way you intended.

    I remember we could ride our bikes to the library or park or candy store and not have to be supervised. It makes the kids think they are unable to do anything when there are so many rules.

  100. Emmanuelle Works July 22, 2012 at 12:45 am #

    You know? I can see how today’s America may be less safe for children. We used to know all the people in our neighborhoods, inc. the weird old guy who watched the kids from behind his curtained window. Kids used to play in the streets with their friends and there were at least several houses almost always open and welcoming to the neighborhood kids. But now? Houses are closed and often empty (long work hours). Kids have to be driven everywhere. The streets are empty. That means if there is a predator out there, who’s to stop him, who’s to watch the kids and who are the kids going to run to?!

  101. Tism August 3, 2012 at 4:48 am #

    The way to fight this is get donations from sites like Kickstarter, buy the front page of the local news paper and post you story and pictures everyone involved, police,D/A,CPS, judge, then at the bottom let folks now about jury nullification. Refuse any plea and destroy them in court.

  102. Bob Honiker August 7, 2012 at 1:03 am #

    When I was 11 I was riding my bike 10 miles out of town and hunting squirrels with the .22 rifle I bought with money from my paper route.

  103. snafubar August 7, 2012 at 3:30 am #

    I live 5 minutes from there. It’s not the safest neighborhood, but what neighborhood in any city is totally safe these days?

    When I was 14 and in Illing Middle School in Manchester, (7th grade I think?) I signed up for an after school NRA rifle safety course. I used to walk to school with a .177 pellet rifle (Crosman 760) over my shoulder, and store it in my school locker until the end of the day.

    My, my how times have changed.

  104. Jake August 18, 2012 at 8:07 am #

    The law is an ass. The day will come when she will be arrested for feeding her kids obesity-promoting pizza.

  105. Kat August 26, 2012 at 2:30 pm #

    Today I went into the bathroom to run a bath for my boys, (5, 3, 1) and had left my 1yo in his room holding his toy to do so, i called my eldest two in the bathroom and told them to take their clothes off when I went back in the room my one yo was gone, he’s likes to hide so I started looking for him like I usually do, in the cabinets, closets, beds, etc… Then I got really nervous and was about to go outside but then thought thats stupid the door is closed he’s 1 he wouldn’t have shut the door I just need to calm down he’s just hiding good. Well, I was wrong about 15sec after my rationalizing a police officer knocks on my door, and asks, “Do you know where your kid is?” Already stressed I replied that I had been looking for him. Well somehow he had gotten outside and was still in the yard and my neighbors who I don’t know cuz we just moved here, figured that the 7 of them standing at the end of their driveway watching my son and calling the cops was more appropriate then knocking on my door. After all of that I called my friend and went to Walmart, I got a chain lock and a chime for both doors just in case it ever happens again. However I thought to myself why didn’t they knock on my door, I don’t know them and have never done anything to them? Any insight?

  106. peacelovemama September 1, 2012 at 3:27 am #

    THANK YOU for your blog. My children are 9 and 6. We have a park at one end of our street and a small corner store at the other. I let the kids ride their bikes or walk together to both. I also let them play in our yard while I am in the house. A lot of people have voiced their opinions on this to me, saying they are too young to be anywhere on their own. I think that is ridiculous. No harm has come to either of them this entire summer, and they’ve spent a large portion of it without me breathing down their necks. I trust them – they know my rules, and they know what will happen if they don’t follow them. Some days they’ll leave for the park after lunch and I won’t see them until supper time. The first time I allowed them to go alone, yes, I worried. Largely because I didn’t believe that it was possible for them to go that long alone together without arguing, and found it odd that no one was running home to tattle. Now? I enjoy my peace and quiet, and knowing that my kids are being social and playing in the open air rather than cooped up in the house watching TV or playing video games.

  107. Stephanie September 9, 2012 at 6:30 am #

    I just saw your interview on Alex Jones and as always I look up what he is talking about because I no longer trust any media to be 100% honest.

    When I first started reading this article I was flabbergasted. Totally flabbergasted. I used to walk to school from first grade on and we had to walk over a mile to school. We used to play in the woods out back and up on the next street. As long as we were home by dinner we were okay.

    I think CPS is over stepping their bounds, but I don’t totally disagree with keeping an eye on younger children these days, even in “safe” neighborhoods.

    I just found out the other day, I have a convicted sex offender living next door and that there are 27 more in our neighborhood. That was shocking!

    What was even more shocking? One of them had their address registered as a field behind a store. Yeppers, living in a field behind the store. The Perp is homeless.

    We no longer live in neighborhoods like we did fifty years ago. I applaud those that try to raise their children responsibly. I really do. I was cooking, sewing and knew how to clean my room and do laundry by the age of seven. I was more prepared for the world than most of my peers and definitely more so than the young people that go to college today.

    However, and this is a heart-breaking however. We live in a world today where there is a serious lack of morals and a lack of understanding the difference between right and wrong. It’s great to teach your kids to be independent, teach them personal responsibility. That’s wonderful and I applaud you.

    But there are some sick wicked people out there.

    Keep them in the yard and let them play. Let them go to the neighbors to play. Sure, but check out your neighbors and find out how many perverts are living in your neighborhood before you let them loose or you might regret it. In fact, I wouldn’t think it was going too far for you to teach your children to stay away from certain houses and don’t trust anyone that lives there.

    The convicted sex offender that lives next door is just as nice as can be….but I wouldn’t want my grandkids or the neighborhood kids around him

    It took me a year to find out the guy’s real name because he goes by a nickname .and just as I found out his real name, I was told about how many sex offenders lived in our neighborhood. And now I watch him as he carries on with teenage boys to make sure they never go to his house. It’s a horrible feeling to feel like you have to do that but that’s today’s reality.

  108. KBurke September 11, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

    Wow, I can’t believe what we are doing to our kids. When I was a kid (aged 9 on) I took the public bus 7 miles each way to and from school. I then walked the mile and half from the # 44 home because I didn’t want to waste the money on transferring to the #28 bus. Once I figured out different bus routes I rode all over town to museums and movie theaters. On summer days when my parents worked I secretly slipped off on the Greyhound bus to NYC (25 dollars in those days round trip). My parents put me on trains and planes to visit relatives and friends, and I am quite certain that this freedom of movement made it easy for me to make the decision to go overseas for college- an experience that I will cherish forever. I never cease to be amazed by the maturity, common sense and good humor of my own children. Neither is quite the rover that I was, but they are very independent, capable people.

  109. ChristineC October 2, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

    It’s happening everywhere. I was arrested over a year ago in Denver, Colorado for allowing my 10 year old daughter to meet friends at a local (less than 0.75 miles – and we drove her there) water park.

    Some young college women (one of which was studying social work) called the police because they felt she was an ‘endangered youth’. Social Services investigated and found no issues, but the police charged me anyways under a law that said “I put a child in a situation where they could have been harmed”.

    Actually, just by taking your child to a water park, allowing them to ride a bicycle or play on a jungle gym, or even allowing them to ride in a car, you are breaking this very vague law. Any reasonable person can see that any of these actions could potentially harm a child in some accident.

    Pleading not guilty wasn’t an option. One, I was breaking the law as written, so I had no defense available to me. My lawyers said that unless I had very deep pockets, there was no way I could fight it. The best I could do (and did) was to plead guilty and take probation for 6 months with an agreement that after I completed my probation, the guilty verdict would be removed.

    The real crime is not allowing our children to be out of our sight – they never learn to trust their own decision making abilities. Yes, the world is a dangerous place, but it has always been that way – and we all need to learn to grow up. If we wrap our kids in bubble wrap and never let them out, how will they survive when they become ‘adults’?


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