A North Augusta mother is in jail after witnesses say she left her nine-year-old daughter at a nearby park, for hours at a time, more than once.The main hazard here is that CPS (Dept. of SS) will come up there and snatch the kid. Not truck drivers.
The mother, Debra Harrell has been booked for unlawful conduct towards a child.
The incident report goes into great detail, even saying the mother confessed to leaving her nine-year-old daughter at a park while she went to work.
The little girl is fine, but some say an area the mother thought was safe could have turned dangerous. ...
Cullum works at Sara's Childcare and Preschool. ...
Cullum said, "what if a man would have came and just snatched her because you have all kinds of trucks that come up in here so you really don't know."
Lamback said, "you cannot just leave your child alone at a public place, especially. This day and time, you never know who's around. Good, bad, it's just not safe."
The girl is in the custody of the Department of Social Services.
The mom is black and there is no dad in sight.
This summary of state laws on latchkey kids says this about S. Carolina:
There actually isn’t any state law regarding when a child can be left alone. However, there are “regulations,” which say no child under the age of nine should be left alone. The regulations boil down to what Jennifer said, “A parent knows if their child is responsible.”Lenore Skenazy is quoted in the Wash. Post:
Here are the facts: Debra Harrell works at McDonald’s in North Augusta, South Carolina. For most of the summer, her daughter had stayed there with her, playing on a laptop that Harrell had scrounged up the money to purchase. (McDonald’s has free WiFi.) Sadly, the Harrell home was robbed and the laptop stolen, so the girl asked her mother if she could be dropped off at the park to play instead.It appears that the mom was actually doing something that was extremely safe.
Harrell said yes. She gave her daughter a cell phone. The girl went to the park—a place so popular that at any given time there are about 40 kids frolicking—two days in a row. There were swings, a “splash pad,” and shade. On her third day at the park, an adult asked the girl where her mother was. At work, the daughter replied.
The shocked adult called the cops. Authorities declared the girl “abandoned” and proceeded to arrest the mother.
To prosecutor this mom, the authorities should have to prove a quantitative estimate of the risk that a truck driver would kidnap the kid from the park, of whatever bad they think is going to happen.
CPS is not just picking on single black moms, as they also got a dad in Ohio:
What started out as a normal Sunday morning for Jeffrey Williamson of Blanchester, Ohio, turned into a nightmare when police officers showed up to his front door and arrested him in front of his family. His crime? Child endangerment—as the authorities described it—because his son skipped church to go play with friends. He now faces up to six months in jail.Update: Amy Graff side with the S. Carolina mom in the San Fran paper:
According to Williamson, the local Woodville Baptist Church sends a van to his neighborhood twice a week to offer free transportation to those interested in attending services. Williamson’s children ride the van regularly on Wednesdays and Sundays. This morning was no different, as his eight-year-old son Justin and siblings said goodbye to their father and left their house to board the van.
One problem: Justin skipped church and went to play instead.
The young boy stayed in the neighborhood to play with friends and then later ended up at the local Family Dollar store down the road. After police officers were called to the store by a customer who recognized Justin, they took him back to his neighborhood where they proceeded to arrest his father for child endangerment.
Perhaps the police force in Blanchester, Ohio, should have a “come to Jesus” moment, too, and acknowledge that sometimes kids will be kids.
Williamson recounted his interaction with the police officer, stating, “The next thing you know, he comes up to me and he says, ‘You’re under arrest.’ My kids start crying their eyes out wondering why I’m getting arrested.”
To make matters worse, as a result of local news coverage of the event,Williamson was fired from his job and remained unemployed for a period of time. ...
Child endangerment is prohibited in Ohio under R.C. 2919.22(A), which states: “No person, who is the parent of a child under eighteen years of age, shall create a substantial risk to the health or safety of thechild, by violating a duty of care, protection, or support.” This means that if Williamson created or ignored a situation where a substantial risk of danger existed for his son, he would be liable under the code provision.
However, Ohio case law specifically requires the element of mens rea (guilty mind) in order to convict a defendant for endangering a child. Significantly, in 1997, the Ohio Supreme Court held in State v. McGee that the existence of a culpable mental state of recklessness is an essential element of the crime of endangering children under the statute. Thus, only if prosecutors can prove that Williamson acted recklessly due to his son’s behavior could a conviction be possible.
I’m also angry. Putting a mother behind bars and taking away her child is far worse than allowing a child to play alone at a park. Harrell’s daughter was in very little danger at the park. Gosh, she could have broken an arm, and if she did Harrell says this was a busy park with at least 40 or more children and parents present at all times. I’m sure someone would have helped her. The absolute worst thing that could have happened is a kidnapping and the possibility of that occurring was next to none. I always love quoting the statistics gathered by Free-Range Kids author Lenore Skenazy who advocates for parents letting their kids do confidence-building activities like go to the park alone and says there’s a 1 in 1.5 million chance of a child being abducted. A family has been completely torn apart here on the off chance that this girl might have been abducted — that’s criminal.The comments are overwhelmingly in favor of the mom, and against CPS. Except one who said that the kid should be reading books instead of playing at the park, and another saying:
What nonsense. How would the writer know if Harrell made the best possible decision for her daughter?Is that the standard for criminal behavior? All parents occasionally make decisions that are not the best possible. If that were the legal standard, then this mom and millions of others would have lost their kids a long time ago, and our foster care system would be overwhelmed.
Several comments described the positive value of unsupervised play in their childhood, with one getting this response:
This was prior to the third world colonization of the USA.