Letting your kids walk to school or around the neighborhood is now a crime in some American communities, and it easily can get parents arrested. Even a trip to McDonald’s can get parents into trouble.
Tiesha Mesha Hillstock of Spartanburg, South Carolina, discovered this the hard way when she let her 9-year-old nephew and 3-year-old son walk to a McDonald’s less than a quarter of a mile from their home. An officer spotted the children at the restaurant, walked them back home, and arrested the mom for child neglect.
Hillstock, according to AP, told the police that she was trusting her 9-year-old to take care of the younger child. The officer, though, expressed concern that the children had to cross streets and pass other businesses to get to McDonald’s.
Lenore Skenazy, a supporter of the free-range kids movement, said the police officer was wrong to take any action.
“When the kids were spotted without an adult, or drone, or armored tank to keep them safe, the cops swooped in and accompanied them back to their home,” Skenazy wrote sarcastically at Reason.com. “Because anytime a child is unsupervised, a parent must be arrested. It’s as simple as that. Note that in another independent child story that is getting a ton of attention … a 9-year-old Pennsylvania girl has been reporting on a real-life murder for her self-published newspaper. And people are mad at her, too, for not playing with dolls or having a tea party. They have written her nasty letters.”
Society is doing children a disservice by constantly monitoring them, Skenazy wrote.
“Now imagine if your own childhood had been lived under constant, state-mandated adult supervision. How many adventures would you have had? How much joy? How many memories with your friends and cousins?” she asked. “Seems like America would like nothing better than to raise children who are completely inert unless an adult is on-hand to make sure nothing happens. And nothing will.”
Commenters on the website of WSPA-TV in Spartanburg were mostly supportive of the mom.
“In order for children to grow up to be responsible adults they need the opportunity to be able to do things unsupervised without adults including take some level of risk,” one man, named Tom, wrote. “According to the story the kids crossed the street without incident and were acting responsibly so now we want to punish them for that? What kind of message does that send? This is why we have college-aged adults whining about safe spaces and who can’t handle any type of confrontation.”
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