A “THANK YOU!” FROM the Florida Mom Arrested for Letting 7 y.o. Walk to the Park

You rfsfhrnibn
guys are so wonderful. Here’s a note from Nicole, the Florida mom:

I started crying when I got that email [from Go Fund Me]. It feels like a dream, I needed this help so very bad, it is a little easier to relax today and just have fun with my son knowing I can pay the water & electric this week, my water is due for shut off on the 19th, this is such a blessing and thanks to all of you. I can not thank you enough for helping us!

UPDATE: Nicole’s “Go Fund Me” account that was working yesterday (Friday) and then was NOT working Saturday is now BACK TO WORKING!  Hooray!  – L

Here’s a note from Florida mom Nicole Gainey who was arrested, handcuffed, taken to the local jail, fingerprinted, searched and held for seven hours for the “crime” of letting her son, 7, walk half a mile to the local park this past summer.

She faced a possible $5000 fine and five years in jail, but — thank God, the Rutherford Institute, and lawyer Brian H. Bieber — the charges were dropped.

But if her legal ordeal is over, her emotional and financial ones are not. Here’s a note I got from Nicole (edited down):

Dear Lenore: I am the mother that got arrested July 26 for letting my son son walk to the park that is closer than his school by himself, and since my arrest our lives have changed for the worse.

My son was 7 at the time, now he’s 8. He walked to our neighborhood park half mile from my home on a Saturday afternoon about 4 p m for an hour. He had his own cell phone, he had been going there all that summer, and some nosy busybody at the community pool that’s on the way called the cops, due to him looking too young to be by himself.

So then the police picked up my son at the playground and placed him in the cop car while they went to talk to the people at the pool. Then they came to my home and never told me he was in back of the car, and arrested me. It wasn’t until they were putting me in the back of the car that I found out that my son was in there this whole time, like he was a criminal.

As he got out & walked past me he tells me, “I’m sorry mommy. I wanted to go play at the park” — thinking it was his fault. Since then, the charge was not filed but I can not get a job anywhere, I think due to this, and I am struggling very bad. Also my son used to be a carefree outgoing little boy. Everything has changed.

Thank you for sharing my story when it happened. A lot of readers were on my side. Well, I was wondering if you will put my Go Fund Me link on your page. If anyone can help even a small bit, my children and I will be very grateful.  Please tap to donate. – Nicole

I am very happy to put this link on my page for Nicole. But let me reiterate for all of us that the reason this story went national is that it is RARE. When I publish stories like this here, it is first off, to support the parents. Secondly, it is to incite the kind of national outrage needed to make sure cops STOP DOING THIS!

The same way crazy stories about kids getting suspended for Pop Tart guns and sporks have made Americans deeply skeptical of Zero Tolerance laws, stories of parents arrested for giving their kids a bit of freedom have made the country start wondering: Why is the government telling loving parents how to raise their kids?

So do no freak out about possibly getting arrested if you send your kids outside. The odds are vastly on your side. And so, increasingly, is the country. – L.

Nicole Gainey and son who dared walk to the playground on his  own!

Nicole Gainey and son who dared walk to the playground on his own!


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20 Responses to A “THANK YOU!” FROM the Florida Mom Arrested for Letting 7 y.o. Walk to the Park

  1. Doug March 13, 2015 at 6:57 pm #

    I believe it is pronounced “foon”.

  2. Earth.W March 13, 2015 at 7:41 pm #

    That State won that battle without the war. I’m sharing her crowd funding site.

  3. Kate March 13, 2015 at 10:58 pm #

    That is a kid who looks like he can handle a walk to the park.
    People are nuts.

  4. lollipoplover March 14, 2015 at 8:00 am #

    “But let me reiterate for all of us that the reason this story went national is that it is RARE. When I publish stories like this here, it is first off, to support the parents. Secondly, it is to incite the kind of national outrage needed to make sure cops STOP DOING THIS!”

    Support your local police by allowing them to enforce crime.

    Walking to a playground, designed to encourage children to play, is not a crime.
    Perhaps this local police force needs to trim it’s budget if it has so much time on it’s hands to harass children and parents utilizing the public works and recreations of their town that their tax dollars pay for. This is such a basic right and we should all be outraged that in our age of obesity and type II diabetes, we are not ALL actively encouraging children to play and be active. Why even have playgrounds if your going to *lure* these kids to them and arrest their parents!

  5. Jill Scott. March 14, 2015 at 12:19 pm #

    Lollipoplover-i wholeheartedly agree with you. We talk about what kids are eating, but what kids eat today are the same things we ate as kids in the 70s and 80s. The difference, we spent 10hours every Saturday and Sunday during the school year and everyday in the summer outside running the streets. We never got kidnapped, we never got seriously injured, and never got into real trouble. We ate ice cream every night for dessert and not one of us in my family were fat. Now as I have become more inactive because I’m not chasing kids, running to practices and games every day, I have started putting on the pounds. We need kids outside off their computers off their phones. They need to be playing and thinking and doing activity without thinking about it even being activity. Kids are way smarter than we let them be.

  6. Hanneke March 14, 2015 at 4:31 pm #

    The funding link is not working for me – not via my email and not via the browser. Could you check that you have the correct link please?

  7. E March 14, 2015 at 5:40 pm #

    Hmm, I clicked on the link yesterday and it took me to the actual page, but now it says it was removed. Strange.

  8. Caitlin March 14, 2015 at 5:54 pm #

    I’m also having trouble with the link–this morning, it worked, but now it doesn’t. Lenore, could you check and see if there’s a larger issue here? I’d like to share it with friends, but the flaky link makes me concerned.

  9. Sandi March 15, 2015 at 12:19 am #

    I just want to say to Nicole that I’m so sorry this has all happened.

  10. sexhysteria March 15, 2015 at 2:30 am #

    I would sue the pants off the city, the county, and the state of Florida. They are the irresponsible adults who caused a child and parent unnecessary suffering.

  11. E March 15, 2015 at 8:32 am #

    The link seems to be working again. I was also a little concerned.

  12. Maria tripician March 15, 2015 at 9:44 am #

    Her gofundme is back up and running thank y’all for helping her she is an amazingly strong person but it has defiantly taken its tole on her. She will give to others when she has nothing herself. She is an example to all of us and I am so proud of her.

  13. Donald March 15, 2015 at 4:51 pm #

    When decisions are made, BOTH sides need to be looked at. The pros and cons should be weighed up against each other. Looking at one side only and disregarding the other side is a sure fire way to make bad decisions.

    The Police and CPS know all about their side about protecting the child. However have they considered the thought of the child punishing, flogging and berating themselves for years perhaps decades of ‘causing’ their parents financial hardship and possibly divorce? Have the police or CPS pondered of THEM causing the child years of anxiety and depression because the kid believes they are the cause of the divorce?

    Children naturally blame themselves whether it’s their fault or not.

    This is my page of an example of looking at one side only.

  14. Rebecca March 16, 2015 at 11:59 am #

    I am sorry this happened to you Nicole and I wish I could afford to donate money but I can’t. I hope the support you are getting from strangers and hopefully your friends and family is enough for you to know you did nothing wrong absolutely nothing. I hope your son starts feeling better it is sad that the people who are supposed to serve and protect failed so miserably.

  15. Joel March 19, 2015 at 8:23 pm #

    Time to get the community making a stink like a dead skunk in August about this, get people fired, sued over this.

  16. Robi March 20, 2015 at 1:25 pm #

    WOW !

    I am a Canadian ex-pat living in Estonia. Here it is the norm to see kids as young as 10 taking the bus to town with their friends to go to the movies, perhaps making their own way to a piano lesson, sports training session, whatever, who knows, does not matter. I recently asked my neighbour if he had seen my kids in the past couple of hours,he replied by saying that he had seen them with some friends by the shore ( Baltic Sea ) looking at swans and prodding a dead seal with a stick. Thanks neighbour was my reply, I knew where to go to call them for dinner. Now I read this ! I My wife and I as well as our whole neighbourhood would be in prison in the U.S., who would take care of our kids ? My son is at out withhis friends in the woods right now, its getting dark and I know he will be home soon, I just called him.

  17. Annette March 21, 2015 at 6:42 pm #

    Being born in the 60s, kids that weren’t free range kids were considered as ‘possibly’ abused kids. The neighbors would pester parents for not letting the kids go out and play.
    When I was six, I would walk my four year old sister about a mile to the lake to go swimming (it felt like three miles but I goggled it years later). When we moved to a new town my Mother was furious that I wasn’t allowed to ‘supervise’ my then five year old sister at the community pool that was a longer distance away.
    I guess that’s why at age 7, my mother just decided to lock us older sisters (7 and 11) out of the house all day and would make my sister take a long nap most of the day (probably drugged her). While my mother was an abusive mother and not just a free range mother, being left to fend for myself made strong, confident and able to be out in the world on my own. It has served me well, maybe too well.
    Every now and then I’ll remember an incident of my first summer of being left to on my own all day. Back then there were enough other kids out and about that there was plenty of safety in numbers. Though I did spend great amounts of time playing alone outside, I would not play in isolated areas alone. Though there weren’t playgrounds nearby there were parks, empty lots and a river to keep kids busy. When the kids I was playing with went inside, I would cruise the other ‘play spaces’ for kids to play with. When the pool was open, I went there as often as my swimsuit was deemed clean enough to wear.
    My mother was not naturally loving and is pretty socially inept. Being allowed to go out and play is what allowed me to learn how to interact with other kids and adults. I had been horribly shy until my mother let me go out and play. That’s how things were. Little kids played in the yard, big kids (six and up) would run with the other kids.
    I’m sure there were predators back then too. One of the boys I played with would warn us to stay away from this guy or that house. I thought it was all just rumor until one day a guy in a green sedan was lurking around us. He decided we needed to gt out of there. About then some workers from the bottling plant started to approach us (the car took off) and told us to go to the office (in the right now, don’t ask questions grown up voice). We were directed to go inside and sit on their couch in the office/reception area while somebody was on the phone. They gave us some sodas, asked us lots of questions, showed us some of their factory and then sent us off with some stickers. None of the other kids had those cool stickers there were my prized possessions. Years later I realized the workers had probably scared off a pedophile.
    If more parents would let there kids go out and play, there would be safety in numbers like it was back in the 60s and 70s. We were given the same lectures and I knew it so well, I refused a ride from a guy when a tornado had touched down nearby and we were walking to school.

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  19. Ken March 25, 2015 at 4:15 pm #

    If you allow your child to walk unsupervised you should make sure your child knows a few things.
    When approached by a police officer the child should say: “Sir, am I being detained?” the follow up question should be: “Sir, am I free to go?” They should repeat this as often as necessary. Once your child receives a no then a yes response have them return home promptly. Unless the police have a reasonable suspicion that your child is involved in a crime they cannot LEGALLY detain your child. Unfortunately some police officers are bullies and will try to trip up or confuse your child, leading to unwanted State attention. I would advise against giving their name and address unless they are detained. This will ensure that you and your child retain your legal rights with the possibility of exposing the police to a lawsuit.

  20. Justin March 27, 2015 at 12:11 pm #

    So the police will arrest you for leaving your kid in the car by themselves, but when they stick the kid in the back of the patrol car and leave them there it is all ok?! The cop should have been arrested for child endangerment! And the rest of the government officials involved should be charged with the emotional traumatizing of that child.