Friday, June 12, 2015

It Isn't Rocket Science

I read an article today that left me wondering what the hell is wrong with people. The article was about a family in Florida whose lives were turned upside down by one phone call.

An 11-year-old boy returned home from school approximately 90 minutes earlier than his parents as they were stuck in traffic. Not having a key to the house he ate his snack and played some basketball outside until they arrived home. What happened next blew me away. The parents were arrested, strip-searched, handcuffed, fingerprinted and held overnight in jail. The charge? Negligence.

Are you fucking kidding me?

There are people filming parents stuffing their children the trunk of their car and uploading it to social media but not reporting it. Then there's this douchebag calling negligence on the parents of an 11-year-old who was in the front yard of their property, during daylight, in a state that has no minimum age restrictions for a child to be left alone. 

Here's what I want to know; if the neighbor was so damn concerned for the child, why didn't he/she go out there and ask if the child was okay? Maybe offer him a snack and a drink or let him watch TV in their house until his parents returned. And please don't say you wouldn't want your child sitting in a stranger's house without you there. This person called CPS on the child's parents because he was playing in the front yard. I'm going to go out on a limb and say they aren't pedophiles. That would have been the perfect opportunity for them.

I just don't understand how there can be two such opposite extremes. When I was a kid we always played outside. Sometimes by ourselves, sometimes with a group of friends. The streetlights came on and it was time to go home. We would walk to the local corner store to look at magazines and buy candy. We rollerbladed from one end of the neighborhood to the other. We babysat our younger siblings.

Look, I get that horror stories about kids being abducted, abused and murdered are all over the internet, TV and radio these days. That doesn't mean those things didn't happen when we were kids, or our parents were kids. All it means is they are more widely reported now. We are a society who is constantly plugged in. Where a news story is uploaded, viewed and shared within seconds of each other.

Are there more abduction/abuse cases today? Maybe. But there are also more people in the world. I appreciate neighbors looking out for our kids, I really do. But what this person did wasn't looking out for anyone. They have essentially ruined the lives of a family who did nothing wrong. The 11-year-old and his 4-year-old brother have been shuffled between foster care and relatives since this happened. Before they were allowed to go home, the parents had to go to therapy, parenting classes, promise it would never happen again and arrange daycare and day camps for the kids over summer break.

In my opinion the neighbor should be the one in therapy to figure out why he/she felt the need to call the authorities in the first place. How can these parents be ordered to arrange care for their kids in a state that has no restrictions regarding what age a child has to be to be left home alone? 

Do I really have to worry that if I let my kids play outside in the sprinkler while I'm inside doing laundry, I might get arrested? My kids are 11, 10 and 8-years-old. (I have a 2-year-old as well, but I'm obviously not going to let her run around outside without an adult.)

How do we draw the line and differentiate between true neglect and a misunderstanding? How do we judge if a child playing outside is the result of careless parents or if they are simply just playing outside, like we all used to do?

It certainly isn't right that the kid didn't have access to his own house, I'm not denying that. However, if the parents typically arrive home at the same time as him and this isn't usually an issue, I don't think it should be considered neglect. The first time it happens, make a key for the kid so it doesn't happen again. Simple.

At the end of the day, there is nothing wrong with being concerned about a child. But let's think about how we react to certain situations. See a child outside their home? Ask if they're alright or if they need anything. See a kid being stuffed in a trunk, call the cops.

It's not rocket science, people.


  1. I saw this story too and was very confused! I let my kids (11, 8, and 5) play outside all the time. I'm usually inside folding laundry or even {shudder} reading a book! I've even left them home along to run to the grocery store for that one dinner ingredient I forgot.Actually, a few weeks ago my kids were outside and the neighbor came over to let me know that one of my kiddos had stepped out into the road, which he's not allowed to do. Thank goodness she's smart enough not to call CPS!

    1. Exactly! My kids play out front too, but they know that they are not allowed to cross where the driveway turns from brick to concrete because it is too close to the road. If their ball goes out in the street they have to get an adult to get it back.

  2. That person who made the phone call certainly exaggerated the whole situation. Well, I find it strange because the boy wasn't even crying, but just playing outside while waiting for his parents to come home. It’s not like the parents deliberately left the boy outside home. Anyway, it's true that there are a lot more issues about children that needed more focused on like those being abused, rather than these kids who are merely playing outside. I hope that the parents of that boy were able to overcome that incident.

    Eliseo Weinstein @ JRs Bail Bond