Charles Smith and Lindsay Pemberton were cited on August 23 after they let their seven- and nine-year-old sons play for an hour at a family beach in Truro, Massachusetts.
“Although Head of the Meadow is a family beach with lifeguards, the Truro police have been called there for numerous calls related to dog bites, shark sightings, lewd conduct and people taking pictures of children,” Sgt. Carrie DeAngelo of the Truro police department wrote in a report obtained by The Cape Cod Times.
Lifeguards called DeAngelo to the beach after they spotted the boys playing alone.
DeAngelo returned the boys to the couple who were camping nearby and filed a report of suspected child abuse – that is, neglect. That led to charges of reckless endangerment to a child against both Pemberton and Smith. In Massachusetts, reckless endangerment to a child can be punishable by a sentence of up to 2.5 years in prison.
Here is what led to the charges according to the Cape Cod Times:
- The boys wanted to walk from the beach to a nearby campground.
- The boys were on the beach in August with only a blanket for shelter.
- The boys were standing near a local food truck.
- The boys’ shirts became wet from the rain while they were at the beach.
- The boys may have had no way of calling their parents, who were at the campground nearby.
“Leaving two boys ages 7 and 9 alone, without anyone knowing, without proper shelter from the elements and without any way of contacting them placed them in danger,” DeAngelo wrote in the report.
The food truck operator also was present at the beach.
“Through my training and experience as a sexual assault investigator, young boys at the ages of 7 and 9 are prime candidates for sexual predators,” DeAngelo wrote. “This being a tourist community with a small year-round population, most people who frequent the beach are transients and unknown.”
Lenore Skenazy, host of the reality show “World’s Worst Mom” on the Discovery Life Channel and a supporter of the free-range kids’ movement, said the couple should not have been arrested.
The couple is from New York.
“Even though over 90 percent of sex crimes against kids are committed by people they know, not random beach inhabitants, the cop decided to file reports of suspected abuse or neglect in both Massachusetts and New York,” Skenazy wrote at Reason.com. “And, for good measure, [the sergeant} also ‘applied for criminal complaints against them in Orleans District Court.’
”Apparently it is a crime to let your kids do anything by themselves. After all, they could end up standing around a food truck! Or wet. Can’t have that.”
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