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Is the "law" overstepping it's bounds on parenting?

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

Woman in Florida charged with a felony for letting 7 year old walk to the park.

http://news.yahoo.com/mom-charged-felony-letting-son-walk-park-alone-171605423.html?.tsrc=lgwnForceRecrawl:0/

 

I expect people from different areas to have different views on this but almost all of the parents around here would be in prison if this were the case here.

 

My parents and the parents of my friends would have been such offenders that they would have been in prison for life.

 

When I was 7 years old (and younger) there wasn't a place in town (Key West) there wasn't a place in town I didn't walk to alone. It was nothing for me to walk down to the movie theater and watch a movie or go play in the mangrove swamps over near the edge of the island.

 

When I would visit my grandfather in Alabama for the summer we (or I) would leave out on the horses after milking the cow and having breakfast and ride all over the county. I wouldn't come home until it started to get dark and I realized it was time for supper.

 

The only reason I wasn't just as big an offender as my parents is that I liked to play with my kids and join all of those same adventures so I was usually with them...but not all of the time. My kids walked to the park, to friend's houses, and to local ponds to fish and swim all the time when I was at work.

post #2 of 26

I let my kids walk (or ride their bike) to the neighbors all the time (up to 1/2 mile).  Then again, we live on a dead end gravel road.

 

I think it depends on the circumstances.  Although what one parent may feel as safe, another may not.

post #3 of 26

I have mixed thoughts about this. A child that age being 1/2 a mile or more away by themselves is a bit much. At that age I was in the middle of nowhere out in the country so this wasn't an issue. Around here I wouldn't let a kid that age out of my sight. Was what she did worth a felony charge? No, unless she had been warned before I think she should have been told that it was considered child neglect and not to do it again. I don't think children of that age should be without some sort of adult supervision or at least within close proximity of an adult. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 14ledo81 View Post
 

I let my kids walk (or ride their bike) to the neighbors all the time (up to 1/2 mile).  Then again, we live on a dead end gravel road.

 

I think it depends on the circumstances.  Although what one parent may feel as safe, another may not.

 

Typically this is a different scenario because there is an easy/quick way to make sure the kids made it there by making a call. I would also always check to make sure the parents know the kids are coming before they left. I don't think this is the same thing as letting a child walk to a park by alone with no way to make sure they made it there safely.

 

*edit* missed the part about the kid having a cell phone, that does make some difference but doesn't totally change the overall idea that a 7 year old shouldn't be alone that far from home. In this case nothing had happened to the boy, however if something had happened to him then I don't think there would be many people saying the mother wasn't in the wrong here. 


Edited by Jeremie Boop - 7/30/14 at 9:20am
post #4 of 26

I get why the government gets all bent out of shape about it. Who wants the political line, "Governor Scott doesn't care about your children!" In some regards I get that. 

 

Personally I think 7 might be too young to left to go play alone at a park out of sight from a parent. I don't think it should be a felony, that is just absurd. I don't think there should be a law against it. I just think it is more common sense. I am not sure, even with a cell phone, that 7 years old is old enough to be out that far away from the house with out parental supervision. 

 

As for the question, yea I think the law overstepped its bounds in this case. No way this should be a felony or even a misdemeanor. 

post #5 of 26
This example is a bit much even though I wouldnt let my 7 year old go to the park alone but thats just me. Now I do believe parents should get a felony when leaving their kids in a hot car. We had a lady here in the Bay Area leave I believe two kids in the car while she was in the Casino gambling during a F___ING heat wave. Luckily a passer by saw the kids and called the police. Sometimes the law needs to step in but in the case of the kid being at the park I dont think a felony was necessary.
post #6 of 26

7 years old and I was out wandering around in the woods with an axe and a hatchet with some friends chopping down small trees and building small forts, I think some even had BB guns at the time. Nobody died, nobody got shot or kidnapped, nobody went to the hospital or got lost.  Sometimes we'd ride bicycles to a small store several miles away and crossing a busy 4-lane highway/roadway to get candy and snacks.

 

But times have changed and the nanny state is in full force. Should the mom get a felony? Probably not. Should she have been with the kid? Maybe. Some kids are more mature and aware of their surroundings at 7 years old than other kids are.  Without knowing the parent or child or location, there is nothing more that I can add here.  I'm just glad that I was a child when I was.

 

Quote from the linked article:

 

Quote:

Officers took the boy home where police arrested Gainey and charged her with felony child neglect. She told WPTV that she paid a $4,000 bond to get out of jail.

 

“He just basically kept going over that there’s pedophiles and this and that and basically the park wasn’t safe and he shouldn’t be there alone,” Gainey said.

 

But Gainey said that she believes Dominic is responsible enough and that he carries a cell phone with him at all times. However, she said she likely won’t let Dominic venture out unsupervised in the future, for fear of arrest.

 

The St. Lucie County attorney’s office told WPTV that there are no laws which specify how old children must be before they can leave the house without a parent. Cases are handled individually, they said.

 

 

Based upon the subjective nature of the quoted law references I would suspect the felony charge will be dropped unless there is some family history that we don't know about.  But then I am not an attorney so who knows what will happen.  Near here locally some parents were reunited with their court removed children, the parents then got into trouble again, and the children are once again removed from them, so even the local courts don't always use the best judgement.  I'll stop here before this turns into a 75 page rant. (not subscribing to this thread because I don't want to get sucked into the debate)

post #7 of 26

This is really a case by case determination, personally I would never let my daughter at 10 now walk alone to school even it's just not safe enough. We have registered offenders in the area and an unknown number of non registered that concerns me the most. I guess living just a few miles from where that guy "Philip Garrido" held that girl captive for 18 years probably would have something to do with it also.

post #8 of 26

All about protecting people from themselves and taking measures to prevent lawsuits.

post #9 of 26

Exurban kid walking through tract homes 1/2 mile to the neighborhood park = child neglect?  Wow that's ridiculous.  I mean, I live in LA now, and there are lots of areas where I wouldn't let even a responsible 7 yo walk 1/2 mile to the park alone.  But felony neglect?  You've gotta be kidding me.  Neglectful at all in the situation given?  Beyond ridiculous.

 

I grew up in what probably classified as exurban Philly (was just starting to be converted from farm country when I was a kid, is solidly ex/suburban now).  I spent all my summers as a child running around unsupervised in the woods, or biking several miles to "town" to buy ice cream (admittedly I was older than 7 at that point).  I even went to a day camp as an elementary schooler that was essentially a bunch of kids brought together on a huge wooded property and allowed to run free all day.  Only consistently supervised time was pool time.  I'm sad to think that kind of place won't exist for my kids (that camp closed when the ancient matriarch owner died maybe 10 years ago)...

post #10 of 26

When I was first getting into BMX we rode bikes way out there to find jumps and stuff we heard about at the track. I was older than 7 say 6th gradeish but still it was far, like different zip code and city far.

post #11 of 26

I think a warning would have sufficed. 7 is pretty young. Warn the mother, then go look for bad people to arrest.

 

Times are different, and it would also be different if she lived out in the sticks.

 

I too stayed out forever when I was a kid. But I was probably not seven when I think back to these times, and I lived in a small neighborhood where half a mile wouldn't get me out of the other nearby small neighborhoods. I wasn't walking past a ton of people.

 

Would you leave your 7-year-old child alone sitting on a bench in the mall for 15 minutes?

 

Probably not.

 

But just this year we've allowed our 11-year-old to wander around the mall with some of her other equally aged or older friends.

post #12 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by treebound View Post
 

Quote from the linked article:

Quote:

Officers took the boy home where police arrested Gainey and charged her with felony child neglect. She told WPTV that she paid a $4,000 bond to get out of jail.

 

“He just basically kept going over that there’s pedophiles and this and that and basically the park wasn’t safe and he shouldn’t be there alone,” Gainey said.

 

But Gainey said that she believes Dominic is responsible enough and that he carries a cell phone with him at all times. However, she said she likely won’t let Dominic venture out unsupervised in the future, for fear of arrest.

 

The St. Lucie County attorney’s office told WPTV that there are no laws which specify how old children must be before they can leave the house without a parent. Cases are handled individually, they said.

The logic, while certainly not untrue, sounds an awful lot like the logic behind the "women who dress sexy are 'asking for it'" type logic in regards to sexual predators.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post
 

I think a warning would have sufficed. 7 is pretty young. Warn the mother, then go look for bad people to arrest.

 

Times are different, and it would also be different if she lived out in the sticks.

 

I too stayed out forever when I was a kid. But I was probably not seven when I think back to these times, and I lived in a small neighborhood where half a mile wouldn't get me out of the other nearby small neighborhoods. I wasn't walking past a ton of people.

 

Would you leave your 7-year-old child alone sitting on a bench in the mall for 15 minutes?

 

Probably not.

 

But just this year we've allowed our 11-year-old to wander around the mall with some of her other equally aged or older friends.

Agree with this.  Times are certainly different, so the arguments about what we did and where we went as kids don't really apply, but a felony child neglect charge is a wee bit drastic.

 

Based on some of these stories we hear these days, if I tallied up all of my parenting goofs, I'm pretty sure I'd be sitting on death row.  (And that's only in 5 years)

post #13 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post

 

Would you leave your 7-year-old child alone sitting on a bench in the mall for 15 minutes?

 

I get your point, but I think that isn't a fair comparison.  Out of curiosity I looked at the satellite view on Google maps of Port St. Lucie (where this happened).  At it's densest it's still just typical suburban tract homes with some parks.  It looks to me like the most likely thing that happened is a 7 year old kid walked 5 or 6 blocks through suburban neighborhood streets (remember 1/2 mile is very close), crossed at most one non-neighborhood/"major" street, and got to the park.  That seems pretty safe to me.

post #14 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Golfingdad View Post
 

The logic, while certainly not untrue, sounds an awful lot like the logic behind the "women who dress sexy are 'asking for it'" type logic in regards to sexual predators.

 

Agree with this.  Times are certainly different, so the arguments about what we did and where we went as kids don't really apply, but a felony child neglect charge is a wee bit drastic.

 

Based on some of these stories we hear these days, if I tallied up all of my parenting goofs, I'm pretty sure I'd be sitting on death row.  (And that's only in 5 years)

Are the times really different or has the internet, video cameras on almost every block, smart phones  and 24 hour news channels just made us much more aware of all the sicko's that are out there?  I think each generation has a tendency to look at their past with rose covered glasses but I'm not so sure the 70's and 80's were as "safe" as we remember.

post #15 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdl View Post
 

 

I get your point, but I think that isn't a fair comparison.  Out of curiosity I looked at the satellite view on Google maps of Port St. Lucie (where this happened).  At it's densest it's still just typical suburban tract homes with some parks.  It looks to me like the most likely thing that happened is a 7 year old kid walked 5 or 6 blocks through suburban neighborhood streets (remember 1/2 mile is very close), crossed at most one non-neighborhood/"major" street, and got to the park.  That seems pretty safe to me.

 

The mall near me isn't that busy, either.

 

I still don't think you'd leave a 7-year-old sitting inside a Subway or an Arby's for 15 minutes, and those places are REALLY not that busy, relatively speaking.

post #16 of 26
Thread Starter 

Who draws the line as to what is safe and what isn't safe and when a parent has crossed that line? Multiple people could look at exactly the same situation and come to different conclusions.

 

Is walking a couple of blocks okay? A block? A half block? Playing in the park at all? Playing in the backyard? Walking to a neighbor's house?

 

I live out in the country and all of the kids go just about anywhere they want to go around here. Maybe it's safer here than other places and maybe not. Even if we feel like the local people are relatively safe there is no guarantee that another madman like Hayward Bissell might come along. Not to mention that a kid could get hurt from an accident.

 

Something bad can happen anywhere at any time. I tried to protect my kids from what I knew were dangerous situations but I didn't raise them behind locked doors either...and I didn't need the government to tell me what to do.

post #17 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by MS256 View Post
 

Who draws the line as to what is safe and what isn't safe and when a parent has crossed that line? Multiple people could look at exactly the same situation and come to different conclusions.

 

Is walking a couple of blocks okay? A block? A half block? Playing in the park at all? Playing in the backyard? Walking to a neighbor's house?

 

I live out in the country and all of the kids go just about anywhere they want to go around here. Maybe it's safer here than other places and maybe not. Even if we feel like the local people are relatively safe there is no guarantee that another madman like Hayward Bissell might come along. Not to mention that a kid could get hurt from an accident.

 

Something bad can happen anywhere at any time. I tried to protect my kids from what I knew were dangerous situations but I didn't raise them behind locked doors either...and I didn't need the government to tell me what to do.

Exactly, look at the tragedy that happened in Florida where a father and daughter were walking on the beach and were killed by a small plane that was forced to make an emergency landing.

post #18 of 26

“He just basically kept going over that there’s pedophiles and this and that and basically the park wasn’t safe and he shouldn’t be there alone,” Gainey said.

 

 

Based on this quote I wonder, perhaps the police officers knew that there were registered sex offenders in the general vicinity of the park and/or her neighborhood. If that were the case the kid was at a higher risk than you'd typically think. I still don't think that felony neglect on a first case basis makes sense.  However if they had repeated run ins with her letting the child walk to the park unattended I can see going that route.

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