Free-Range Kids

Mom Jailed Because She Let Her 9-Year-Old Daughter Play in the Park Unsupervised

If only the girl had spent her whole summer sitting in McDonald's.


Cuchulain / Wikimedia Commons

Just in case you thought you could parent whatever way you see fit in 2014 America:

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.

Hours at a time? At a park? In the summer? Gosh! That certainly sounds normal and fun like a reason to throw a mom in jail—and place the child in state custody.

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.

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.

Watch the news: It sounds like Debra Harrell committed a serious, unconscionable crime. The reporter looks ready to burst with contempt. But what are the facts? She let her daughter play at the park for several hours at a time—like we did as kids. She gave her a daughter a phone if she needed to call. Any "danger" was not only theoretical, it was exceedingly unlikely.

But, "What if a man would've come and snatched her?" said a woman interviewed by the TV station.


To which I must ask: In broad daylight? In a crowded park? Just because something happened on Law & Order doesn't mean it's happening all the time in real life. Make "what if?" thinking the basis for an arrest and the cops can collar anyone. "You let your son play in the front yard? What if a man drove up and kidnapped him?" "You let your daughter sleep in her own room? What if a man climbed through the window?" etc.

These fears pop into our brains so easily, they seem almost real. But they're not. Our crime rate today is back to what it was when gas was 29 cents a gallon, according to The Christian Science Monitor. It may feel like kids are in constant danger, but they are as safe (if not safer) than we were when our parents let us enjoy the summer outside, on our own, without fear of being arrested. 

But because some busybody thought she knew more about this girl's safety than the girl's own mother, a family has been separated. Harrell is in jail and the child is in the custody of the Department of Social Services. If only the girl had spent her whole summer sitting in McDonald's—surfing the internet and eating a Big Mac instead of playing outside and getting fresh air—this never would have happened.

NEXT: A.M. Links: Drone Intercepted Over Israel, Bergdahl Returns to Duty, Brutality on Rikers Island

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  1. Your children are only yours to do with so long as we allow it, citizen.

    1. Citizen is definitely a byword for peasant.

    2. Excuse me, the official term is now “civilian.”

      1. No, the official term is “prole.”

        1. In casual conversation, the word “thrall” is used.

    3. No, it’s not even that. We complain a lot about the nanny state, true, but it’s just part of the chicken society. That is, societal standards regardless of who enforces them have gone off kilter.

      1. But a society of chickens that doesn’t throw the non-chickens in jail isn’t nearly as bad.

    4. Funny thing-if she sent the 9 year old on her own to go sneak into another country-the mom would be considered a hero. Let her play in the park? Criminal.In an odd twist-why is the park dangerous? Because our government cannot protect us-and has no desire to.

  2. …so the girl asked her mother if she could be dropped off at the park to play instead.

    The girl set her up. And rightly so. I was held for my protection in the family underground bunker at its undisclosed location until I was 16. What was this mother thinking?

    1. So what will it take for us to get them to lock you back in that bunker?

    2. When FOE was a child his parents told him to never touch the basement door. They said something horrible lurked on the other side and would get him if he did.

      Then one day, shortly after his 16th birthday, he mustered up the courage to open that door. And what he say was amazing. Birds, flowers, trees, *sunlight* and other people.

      (with apologies to Emo Phillips)

      1. And it wasn’t 1886, it was 1996! And there was an Indian guy on the other side explain it with crude exposition.

        What. A. Twist.

    3. Bitch set me up!

  3. When I was in elementary school, I had to walk to school, which was several blocks from our house. My mom followed me on the first day just to be sure things were cool but after that I was on my own. Hell, I can still remember being locked out of the house and forced to play outside. At 8 years old, I had friends all over the neighborhood and we happily explored the creeks, streets, parks and alleys that made up our neighborhood.

    Has something happened over the past 40 years that caused “predators” to suddenly sprout all over the county?

    1. This.

      “Going over to Roy’s house!”

      *** touches base at Roy’s, then wanders around all day who the hell knows where ***

      1. You touched the base of Roy’s what?

    2. My father was a probation officer and he always said if you really wanted to reduce the chance of having your kid molested, you would never let them interact with any relatives. According to him the vast majority of molestation cases he had were by close relatives and not strangers.

      1. Exactly this. Most kids aren’t dumb enough to let strangers touch them. It’s the “trusted” family members you’ve gotta look out for.

      2. Don’t let STRANGERS hurt your children! Just leave them with me and let them sit here in their uncle’s loving and warm lap…

        1. Pedobear approves.

      3. That is some selection bias right there.

      4. Everyone’s gone to the movies now we’re alone at last.

    3. My childhood was pretty much the same. As a soon-to-be parent, this shit terrifies me. I want my daughter to have the same freedom I did.

      Has something happened over the past 40 years that caused “predators” to suddenly sprout all over the county?

      Sensational news coverage has convinced people that this is so, but it’s not.

      1. Sensational news coverage has convinced many that your fellow citizen is a bigger threat than your govt. There is never a good reason to contact the authorities. You will regret it.

      2. My wife is convinced that there is a child molester lurking around every corner.

        1. Same here. Then we had a neighbor move in from Switzerland and the wife was great. She totally let her kids run free and convinced my wife that it was OK. No idea why a Swiss Miss was more convincing to my wife than I was, but I liked the results.

          On Google street view, our house and our neighbor’s (the Swiss couple) show a pack of boys (all barefoot and wearing only swim trunks) playing ping pong in the driveway, playing 4-square in our driveway with no adults anywhere to be seen.

          The swiss neighbors also set it up so that kids could jump from the slide attached to their swing set onto one of those low trampolines and into their above ground pool. The kids all loved it. Every parent who saw it said “That is really cool. You are going to be sued”. Fortunately now one was seriously hurt and the kids enjoyed it for 3 summers in a row.

          1. “That is really cool. You are going to be sued”.

            My sister has a trampoline in her back yard. She, I swear to the effin’ lord on high, made all the neighborhood kids’ parents sign a waiver before they could play on it.

            The saddest thing is that it’s a really good idea.

            1. Yeah, this is actually a good idea. I had several friends with a trampoline, and kids were injured using them on a regular basis. I knew two kids who literally broke their necks (both of them were very lucky in that they were not paralyzed). Now, our parents just took the mindset that kids injure themselves – at home and at friends’ houses – and it’s not usually the property owner’s fault. Today, I could picture a parent suing another over their own child being stupid enough to try doing a back flip on someone else’s trampoline.

        2. Well, Warty is at large.

        3. There are. They wear blue and carry guns.

        4. Same here- and she is a nurse who recently got her masters degree…

      3. I want my daughter to have the same freedom I did.

        I have some bad news for you.

      4. Although I noted the news factor, there’s another at play: the birth dearth. Children have become scarcer as a proportion of the popul’n. People without kids of their own feel an ownership stake in those of others, and society generally is more protective of them (in intention, not necessarily in fact).

        1. In a proper world, they would be beaten with a clue stick and told STFU and MYOB.

          1. In a truly proper world, all progtards would be buried in the landfill and everyone would enjoy their constant freedom.

            1. You’re always very violent aren’t you? Quite frankly, they can have their own progtopia to live happily ever after in*.

              *Actual results will probably be all of them buried in landfills, but at least it’ll be self-inflicted.

              1. They’re welcome to leave the US for some some shithole worker’s paradise as far as I’m concerned. But you’re a fool to think it won’t come down to force to stop these cretins. There is little reasoning with them. If they die en masse it will be because they forced our hand. I’m just a realist.

            2. I think that you’re Shrike’s conservative alter ego. Progtard = Bushpig

    4. It fits in well with the idea that the Stte needs to provid day care for all, so moms aren’t forced by a sexist society into staying at home and can realize their Full Potential as Working Human Beings.

      1. They are working on this now. My home state of WA is the test case. So WA has been systematically shutting down day cares bit by bit over tHe last decade or so. To create a child care shortage so the state will have to step in.

    5. Same here. “I’m going out to play” meant you would find (or probably not find) some combination of me, my brothers, a few cousins, and any of about a dozen boys in the neighborhood somewhere within about an 80 square mile area that we could easily reach by bicycle. That was from about 6-years old until I got my drivers license.

      My mother worked nights in the ER, so during the day while she was sleeping we were not allowed inside the house from 10am until 5 pm. And this was Florida summers with 90? plus heat with 90% humidity. None of us ever got heat stroke though, because we would just drink water out of the garden hose.

      Whenever I talk about my childhood it seems like I’m talking about the 1950’s or something, but it was the ’80s and early ’90s.

    6. It may be the cumulative effect of the news media. Normalcy is not news, but unfortunately news subtly comes to be perceived as normalcy.

      Jefferson may have been wrong. We may have been better off with gov’t & no newspapers, because then gov’t may not have gotten so bad.

  4. In defense of the police here,mNorth Augusta is not a place to let your kids play alone. Those freaking gypsies from Murphy Village are likely to snatch them up just to break their inbreeding patterns.

    Word to the wise. If you’re in North Augusta and somebody wants to sell you something, make sure their eyes aren’t an inch too close together. If they are, you’re about to be had.

    1. In other news, gypsies rounded up and placed in Obama Happy Fun Camps. No gypsies could be reach for comment. We’re sure there’s nothing untoward about that.

      1. Did we say “rounded up”? They were cordially invited. A whitehousespokesman assures us that cake and punch were served.

        1. I hear their group shower facilities are to die for!

        2. Its was cake *or* punch*es*.

          And they were all out of cake.

          THEY WERE ALL OUT OF CAKE! *sob*

          1. The cake is a lie.

            1. Cake or Death?

              1. Uh… death, please. No, CAKE, cake, cake, sorry.

        3. THE CAKE IS A LI–

          Oh, they DO have cake. Nevermind.

      2. You can tour those happy fun camps.

        *If* you sign the waiver and non-disclosure agreement that you won’t record anything, ask questions of the inmates *cough* I mean CAMPERS, and will not talk about what you see and hear inside the happy fun camp with personnel not cleared by the state department.

      3. gypsies rounded up and placed in Obama Happy Fun Camps

        Were they issued neat little armbands?

  5. Another example of how Leviathan always hits po’ folk hardest.

    If this woman was holding down an office chair instead of flipping burgers, she could afford to leave her kids with state-approved strangers at her local licensed and registered daycare center.

    1. #waronwomen

      1. Clearly it’s women upon whom society has declared fatwa. After all, notice that of nearly sevenscore comments on this article, none is decrying the automatic assumption that only a single MAN could do anything untowards to the poor girl.

        If we only notice the misogynistic way that the girl is treated as a damsel in distress, that means society is only obsessed with putting women in their place, right?

    2. I can’t think of a single progtard big gubmint policy that DOESN’T hit po’ folk the hardest.

      Now this mom is sitting in jail and not earning a dime to support her child.

  6. One (of many) terrible thing about the arrest is how arbitrary this is. How can a parent determine whether they’re violating some law? Is half an hour too much? If I hate my neighbors can I just wait until they do what most parents do and leave their kid unsupervised for a period of time, then call the cops?

    1. jesus fuck, who wants to live in a country where you can’t let your nine-year-old go play in the park without having to be physically present watching her, every fucking second?

      1. Not only that, think of the psychological damage being caused from 24/7 surveillance by parents.

        If you don’t get to do all those things you really didn’t want your parents to know about as a kid, you’re sure as fuck going to do -all- of them (to excess) when you turn into an adult.

        1. Not only that, think of the psychological damage being caused from 24/7 surveillance by parents.

          Feature, not a bug. How else are you going to habituate your children to the idea of the NSA?

  7. “What if a man would’ve come and snatched her?” said a woman interviewed by the TV station.

    Ummm, a man did come and snatch her. And you not only stood there and did nothing, you’re applauding the guy who snatched her. Maybe you could have stopped the guy from snatching her?

    1. ^ this

      in my best Jay Peterman: the very pants I was wearing.

    2. Very astute grasp. . . . Thank you.

    3. Nah…

      …He was very authoritarian, and he had a gun.

    4. For the fucking win!

  8. Splat splat splat… the noise of my brains hitting the wall after my head explodes. The country that went to the moon is now afraid to go outside and play?

  9. The system worked.

  10. Who is more likely to take your children away, a random stranger or the State?

    The answer to that, more than anything, should inform people how radically misplaced their fears are.

    1. Sad but true.

  11. Damn. My mom would have got the chair.

    1. I’m shocked that I remained in her custody, actually.

  12. The country that went to the moon is now afraid to go outside and play?

    We won the war against running with scissors, and this is what it got us.

  13. Someone should point out that plenty of the central American children Obama seems incapable of dealing with are being left to their own devices or with coyotes–in ways much worse than sending your kid to a playground. It’s kind of amazing to see someone effectively accused of neglect for dropping their kid off at a playground against a media backdrop of supposedly thousands of neglected illegal immigrant children, who are apparently routinely remanded to the custody of the parents who neglected them–by this standard.

    1. Maybe all the illegal immigrant parents coming to pick up their coyote-herded kids should be charged with child endangerment and have their kids taken away from them!

      1. I’ve been kind of wondering why someone hasn’t suggested that.

  14. People act like “kids getting snatched” happens all the time, when it’s really pretty rare.

    By the same token, you’re acting like cops make these kinds of arrests all the time, when it’s really pretty rare.

  15. What the fuck?

    When I was that age not only was I playing at the park without supervision, I was walking to school without supervision, and going downtown to the library on the bus without supervision. I was riding my bike all over the neighborhood without supervision. Hiking over to the university, sneaking into the President’s lounge, and re-arranging the furniture.
    Without supervision.

    1. That sounds like a Union Grevence there pal…a teamsters rep will be over to see you shortly…

      1. Without supervision.

    2. I was wondering outside in the desert with a BB gun without supervision at that age.

      1. I was selling my mom’s mink coat, her diamond rink and her “medication” at that age.

        1. should be “diamond ring” Damn! I’m not drinking enough vodka and scotch, but I’ll fix that soon enough.

  16. What age is the cutoff? I’m serious, my sister has 4 kids, and I don’t want to have to threaten anyone at CPS in the near future…Gosh darnit. Now I’m on a list!

    1. I think it’s twelve and under. Depends on the state.

      1. Wait…there’s a real number!?!?!? Holy ass!!!

        1. CPS can get involved until a child (person) turns 18 in PA. If the child (person) is already under supervision when he or she reaches 18 CPS can continue supervision until 21.

          They are a disgusting bunch of failed social workers, not one of whom has a stable home life of her own. They are truly horrible people whose only goal is to get more funding every year by inventing bullshit.

          Full disclosure – I have no kids but I am a defense attorney and have defended a lot of kids in these types of cases.

          1. Many relatives of a former girlfriend of mine were CPS workers. I wouldn’t let any of them be fire watchers, let alone have anything go do with children.

  17. Why does the free range kids logo depict a goldfish bowl? I’m usually pretty quick to pick up the symbology of logo design but this one is lost on me.

    1. The fish is breaking out of its bowl.

      1. It’s kinda vague. Maybe if the fish’s silhouette made the shape of a running child it would work better.

        1. Something like this?


          It ain’t just the kids that the Free Range movement is trying to free.

      2. …but then he would suffocate, so not a good design. Maybe pouring the fish into a lake?

    2. Goldfish have no privacy, because they live in a 1 gallon panopticon. Kids today metaphorically live in a goldfish bowl, because they’re under 24 supervision by their parents (or other approved guardians). The goldfish is leaving the bowl, implying that children should be free from constant monitoring.

  18. As I’ve said before, by the age of 8 I had to get myself up an to school and came back to an empty house. How I survived I don’t know. It was cool because I had free reign over the old man’s pr0n stash.

    As for leaving the kid in the park, my only concern would be not getting snatched but getting hurt on the equipment, which seems to be a higher probability of occurrence. It’s still a small probability, but if a kid slips on splash pad, or splits their skull falling from the monkey bars, it’s going to be up to the kindness of strangers to deal with. I don’t think even that worry behind the backdrop warrants jail and social services, just a parent of a 10 and 7 year old. I don’t have a problem they going to a park for a half hour once in a while, but – presumably – every day for hours at a time the probability goes up. In the end, the invocation of disinterest applies from a societal point of view. And if real disinterest were in play, there is all the likelihood that there would have been an affordable option for the child to supervised in the first place.

    1. It occurs to me that adults in the vicinity would have the same concern for an injured child as they would for their own.

      When I was a kid, my parents expected me to regard my friends’ parents as … parents, and to conduct myself toward them as I would with my own — with respect, deference and obedience. And, as my parents would be caring and concerned for their children’s welfare, so they would care for mine.

      This is the true meaning of “it takes a village.” The busybody who called the cops has a distorted sense of community. If it had been me, I would have reached out to the girl, let her know I was available if she needed an adult, and kept an eye on her.

      1. EXACTLY.

        Lord, truer words could not be uttered.

        This asshole should ask himself what he thinks he just accomplished.

        He’s the last guy I want around my kids. He pissed me off that much.

      2. I agree with you, but sadly, we have become a society where when people, even adults, see something horrifying happening (as in a child getting injured on a playground), their first impulse is to whip out their iPhones- not to call for help, but to film the event to upload to youtube or FB. I recently saw a video on some or other news site where a woman was being beaten- and I mean beaten- by a much larger female coworker in front of her two year old son. There was a gang of people around, all filming the event with their phones. NO ONE called for help or even tried to intervene- except for the two year old toddler, who repeatedly kicked the attacker who was beating his mother, saying “Stay away from my mom!” The attacker paused only to say: “You better get your fucking son off of me before I kick him in the face!” and proceeded with her attack. How was the victim supposed to do that, whens he was on the ground and out for the count? When the news media interviewed the victim, it was incredible how she looked after that beating. No one tried to help in the least. All anyone cared about was being the first person to post the video. This is the society we live in.

    2. When I was a kid (born in 1956) the playground was built either on grass and dirt or on asphalt. We didn’t have rubber padding or mulch or any of the safety items they have now, we played fully unsupervised for hours by anything but common sense and lessons learned and somehow we managed to survive that awful experience.

      Things we did learn:

      You can’t slide in shorts
      Dirt or sand will reduce the friction of the slide
      It’s not possible to loop around the swing set
      Dirt is not softer than asphalt
      You cannot skate over a stick or branch
      Concrete sidewalks will shred denim
      Jumping off a swing with a 15 foot chain is the SHIT

  19. People watch too much TV.

    My buddy came out to fish last week. We got out of the stream and had about a mile walk back to the truck on a dirt road. Heard a car coming and I mention to him that, for as many times as I’ve done this, I’ve never had anyone offer me a ride. Sure as shit, the car pulls up and the guy goes, “Need a lift?”

    You bet, we hop in. Woman and 3 kids in the car, one, quite literally, on the tit.

    She starts freaking out. “I can’t believe you are doing this (picking up people) we have no idea who these guys are.”

    Guy goes, “Shut the fuck up, Janey, I do this all the time.”

    She starts interrogating us.

    “Do you have knives?”


    “How do you clean your fish?”

    “We don’t keep our fish.”

    Then she says, “I watch Criminal Minds, and if you pull a knife I’ll strangle you with my bare hands.”

    My buddy and I are trying not to laugh, yet attempting to allay her fears at the same time. Nothing else happened. We thank the guy and they drive off.

    Reality vs teeeveee shows? Two guys with fly rods, walking along a stream in the middle of nowhere Montana???? Hollywood/the media has convinced these idiots that they are ALWAYS seconds away from certain death.

    1. I feel sorry for the guy.

    2. If I picked up a stranger with my wife in the car she’d probably divorce me.

      1. My dad used to hitchhike 170 miles to and from college.

        1. Depends too a bit on what part of the country. In the Midwest you will get picked up relatively quickly. In the Northeast you’ll walk for miles before anyone pulls over.

          1. NEPA circa 1960

            In Idaho, there was a river I fished/floated, where it was considered rude to not to offer a ride.

            Urban vs rural attitudes are very different and, I believe, that gap is expanding rapidly.

            1. Urban – fuck you, that’s why I pay taxes.

              Rural – hey, how you doin?

              1. When I was 14 I was allowed out unsupervised with a loaded gun (plinking groundhogs).

                I can’t imagine how unprepared for the world these kids are going to be.

          2. I hitched the length of Massachusetts all the time when I was in college. Never had a problem getting a lift.

      2. how much would you be willing to pay?

      3. sounds like you should divorce your bitch wife before she nags you to death. Women like that only get worse with time

        If my wife threatened to divorce me for giving a 1 mile ride for some fishermen back to their car, I’d backhand the bitch (not that I’m married yet).

        I’m dead serious on both accounts, and actually CORRECT, and you know it

        1. I will never hit my wife, and men that say they would will make for poor, abusive husbands.

          There’s a reason nobody likes you, Edwin.

          1. right, but threatening divorce to get your own personal preferences in inconsequential maters isn’t any kind of abuse, right?


        2. Yep. Woman’s be thinkin’ too much run in’ dey damn mouths and not making the menfolk a sandwich.

      4. Might be worth it.

      5. I look for strangers to pick up all the time. But none of them are hot bodied young women with daddy issues and acute nymphomania.

    3. I would never pick up a hitchhiker, and would get pissed at my wife if she did so.

      I’m not afraid of violence, I just don’t want one of you filthy animals leaving your animal stank in my car.

      Seriously, I’ve never seen anyone hitchhiking who didn’t look like they had lice, bedbugs, and whatever else just standing by to jump off them and into my car.

      1. I’ve picked up a few, and I’ll do it again. That doesn’t mean I pick up every hippie on the side of the road with his thumb out. And half the time when I do pull over, I’m not going where they want to go. Nor am I making any big detours. So I leave them there or take them part of the way, depending on what they want to do. Only once did a guy make me feel uncomfortable. The rest of the time we have a friendly conversation and then part ways.

        1. Yeah, I won’t pick up smelly bums either, but you can tell most people’s situation just by looking at them.

          Plus, I’m armed. Not too worried.

        2. I’m picky about the people I offer rides to, but I’ve picked up quite a few people and helped them get to where they’re going.

          Never once been stabbed, shot, molested, or even concerned about the quality of person I was helping. They all seemed quite nice.

          Mostly, it seems, just people getting to or from work without a car. Sucks sometimes.

      2. I do it somewhat often. Depends on the circumstances. I’ve been stranded before (flat tire and flat spare in the middle of nowhere with a dead phone battery, roommate who “forgot” to pick me up from work when I let him borrow MY truck, etc.), and had strangers either give me a lift or stop and help.

        I try to return the favor to someone else in need. It’s situation dependent though. I see someone who looks homeless hitchhiking by the on ramp, I’m not stopping. I see a car broken down on the side of the road, and then someone walking down the round a mile later, I stop.

        1. Once me and a buddy were hitchhiking and some woman’s car stopped right in front of us. We hopped in and she started screaming. We thought WTF? We hopped out and then heard the engine start and she drove off.

      3. I read an article within the last 6 months (forget where) that said the fear of dangerous hitchhikers was promoted by the government to thwart the movement of the civil rights workers coming south during the summer of freedom — fifty years ago. The article of persuasive.

        1. I suppose it could’ve been given a boost then, but goes back at least a decade earlier.

          1. So does the civil rights movement.

          2. Back in the 70s, my friends and I would hitchhike all over the Denver and Evergren area in Colorado and think nothing of it. Shame how times have changed. You met some interesting people.

            1. I lost my virginity to a girl I picked up hitchhiking in Denver in 1976. I was stationed at Lowry for tech school. I was 19. Late bloomer. She was very nice.

        2. Believable. That’s about the right time period.

    4. It think the turning point was 1972. That’s the year “Deliverance” was released.

  20. This…for all the people who reminisce about playing in the woods until dinner. Where is the modern version of the woods? Have you tried having free range children? I have, very difficult. Many stores have no unaccompanied minors policies. Many places that require tickets for entry…same thing, even if a 14 or 15 year old must have an “adult” ticket. Just riding in the front seat is problematic. So glad younger is tall enough to escape notice for the “back to the car seat with you” movement. Drives a person to sneakiness, theoretically, of course. …Stand over there while I buy the tickets, older child. I’ll hand you mine on the sly. Or …Follow close behind that family when entering…Act mature….Sit up tall…Recently had a well intentioned adult ask younger if she was at a museum alone. Fortunately for me, younger could point me out across the room at “base camp” or who knows? My whole plan to let the youngers practice their grown up skills while still having access to an adult as back up might have gone down in flames. Might have to work on young child’s possible responses…theoretically, of course for any silly person that might have thought any of this was real…please, I would never!

    1. Yup.

      Once when my daughter was four, I left her at a read-along in a (small, suburban) library to go browse the periodicals maybe 40 feet away. I was promptly tracked down by the librarian, who informed me that children had to be accompanied at all times.

      1. The Fitness club I once belonged to had ‘family time’ when kids could use the pool and basketball court.

        Rules posted on their website:

        While your child is in the Wellness Center, you will need to remain with him/her at all times. (Please keep children within your reach.) This is an excellent opportunity to show your child the importance of improving quality of life through wellness.

        Yeah. Childhood wellness is achieved by keeping a 3-foot tether on the little bugger.

      2. meh, I imagine this has mostly to do with librarians wanting libraries to be libraries not wanting to be daycare… or a homeless shelter. Just because you are a responsible parent does not mean other parents are not above dumping their own responsibility onto other adults. Imagine the worst 10 parents in your city dumping their kids off at your workplace.

        1. Back when I was a kid, all the kids were free range so the last place the troublemaker kids wanted to hang out was the library! I loved that place, loved the quiet and the smell of books.

          Unintended consequences….

          Now, in Columbus, there are indeed troublemaker kids (and adults — the homeless congregate there) hanging out at the library, because A) the library has turned into a video depot, and B) there’s nowhere else they’re allowed (and for the homeless, C, political correctness won’t allow them to be rousted out for being crazy and smelling bad).

    2. When it comes to the actual woods woods, are you familiar w David Paulides’s Missing 411 series of books?

  21. Hmm… yep, I would’ve been only 9 or 10 when my buddy and I would play at a neighborhood park for hours at a time, with no supervision. And we were often the only ones there and the park was abetted by a small shopping center and a quiet, rather run down street. It’s easy to imagine some creep snatching us or luring us.

    But we met there many days and were never accosted or asked where our parents were. And this was less than 20 years ago.

  22. For some reason, these stories get my “I hate people” on.

    Fuck the nanny bitch who called the cops. Fuck the cops. Fuck the DA, and fuck the judge.

    That is all.

  23. My brother and I use to do this bike ride, every day. And stay there all day. And cell phones didn’t exist.

    1. Me and by best friend would ride six miles to the YMCA all the time. And nothing else happened. Eight years old.

      1. And nothing else happened.

        Yeah, and I’m convinced it still happens every day; but these wackjobs and their war on childrun are getting aggressive.

  24. “You let your kids WALK to school!??!?!?”

  25. My Dad grew up on several acres of country/wooded land. My grandmother had a large, loud, bell she rang when it was time to eat. That is a model I plan to emulate.

    1. We had something similar when we lived in the ‘burbs of Rochester, MN – my Ma had a coach’s whistle that she blew at dinner time. We had 10 minutes to get home after that.

      Man, I’m really starting to appreciate the freedom I grew up with. I never even had a curfew as long as I called home by 11pm and said where I was and who I was with.

    2. Fuck, you’re lucky. My mom just said “Dinner’s at 6, if you aren’t here you ain’t getting any.”

      Didn’t take me long to figure out I needed a watch.

  26. My local library has a sign, in the children’s section, that says “All children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by a guardian at all times.” My 11 year old cannot browse alone whole I am upstairs reading a magazine.

    1. Do they card?

      Are you 12?

      YES I AM!

      1. Worked for me when I was 15 at the video store renting porn films.

    2. My local library has a sign, in the children’s section, that says “All children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by a guardian at all times.”

      At least the library probably has a reason for it; some dipshit probably dumped out every book on every shelf one day.

  27. The other part of “back in my day” is that the mom would not have been arrested, much less put in jail.

    And yeah, fuck whoever called the cops. Mom in jail and the kid with social services, you sure made their lives better didn’t you.

    1. the kid with social services

      That’s the most infuriating part. If I was that parent I would be shaking with rage.

  28. Nanny government Do they arrest parents for leaving children at Sunday School in the care of pediphiles? The child’s itinerary sounds like my childhood summers.

  29. Our crime rate today is back to what it was when gas was 29 cents a gallon,

    Nine-year-old kids should be allowed to play in the park unsupervised any hour the park is open.

    But not for the reason stated above. Police crime statistics are complete bullshit and are no reason for government restrictions of liberty, no matter if the stats look good or bad.

  30. Without looking at the link, can I assume the person arrested is black since the location is South Carolina?

    Jim Crow is alive and well and living under an assumed name protected by Team Blue and Team Red.

    1. I’m betting it’s either that, or a hottie that wouldn’t blow the cop making passes at her. So naturally, he arrested that bitch so he could rape her in jail later.

      1. That’s sounds particularly awful, and also correct.

    2. Yep. A black kid playing in a nice suburban park got “noticed”.

  31. “…because some busybody thought she knew more about this girl’s safety than the girl’s own mother, a family has been separated”

    Um, not to nitpick, but I don’t think any busybody has ever been able to arrest and jail someone. History is full of busybodies. It takes cops to do this.

  32. I have this argument with my wife all the time (she over reacts to what she see’s on TV). At least she is coming around as I keep explaining what she sees is crap and not real. I keep telling her, he is safer now, has phone and can take care of himself. Then I joke, they would give him back after they have to pay for him to eat for a week.

    She finally made a break through. My son is 13 but looks 19 (5’7″ and 195 – been shaving for two years). She let him ride his bike around a large park where we were walking the other day. He was only visible to us for about 30 seconds when he passed. She said “you should be proud of me, it is hard to let him out of my sight”.

    I did say it was good, right before I pounded my head on the concrete. She would die if she really knew what I let him do when it is just me and him.

    1. She would die if she really knew what I let him do when it is just me and him.

      Damn, how much is the bill for the hookers & blow?

    2. She would die if she really knew what I let him do when it is just me and him.

      I know how that goes.

  33. How many little girl’s lives actually IMPROVE after they get their laptop stolen? Well of course, until mom get’s thrown in prison…nm

  34. The linked tv news report on this is ridiculous. They claim in a caption that child was neglected, no use of alleged. They do say child is fine. Of course she is. She was having fun in the same way all the kids in my generation did in the late 60s. A statist parent called the brown shirts, and now thank the lord, this child is so much better off with her mom in jail and she in the custody of government. What a happy ending!

  35. Why was the daughter talking to an adult she didn’t know? The daughter should have run away from the adult and called 911.

    1. I need to tell my kids that. If you’re out playing and an adult asks you where your parents are, back away and yell “I don’t know you! Why are you approaching me? Stay away from me! Stranger Danger! This adult may be trying to abduct or molest me!”

      Teach ’em to mind their own damn business.

      1. Not a bad idea. . .

      2. GREAT idea. Will pass it along to my 10 year old son, thank you.

  36. I can’t wait until they start doing this to 13, 14, and 15 year olds and people realize how fucking stupid it all is

    1. Don’t hold your breath waiting for the second part.

    2. They won’t realize it’s stupid until they start harassing 26-year-olds…

  37. Call. Complain. Please.…..fault.aspx

  38. Why is there no father present? Divorce rape? She wasn’t haaaappy? Government as provider spouse?

    1. Seems to me she was working and now because some idiotic person felt the need to call the “government”, both the child and mother are in government custody. People will continue becoming needy of the government with the coddling thinking.

  39. If I saw a young child at a park very apparently by themselves for a very long period of time (hours and hours), and for a amount of days successive days at that, I would definitely be concerned and gently approached the child. If I received an answer that would let me know he/she was there unsupervised I most likely would have done the same thing (called the authorities). I couldn’t have it on my conscience if something happened to that child (got snatched up, very physically hurt) knowing there was no one there for them and I had the opportunity to do something about it.

    This brings to mind what I saw at a ‘very safe’ park playscape in a ‘very safe’ town (Milford, MI) last week. A very old looking 10 or very young looking 12 y/o girl hanging out with 2 tween boys by herself, sitting on their laps and finally ending up with both of them in a long crawling tube for an uncomfortable period of time. This made me get up to see what was up in there (my 4 year old was closeby). When I approached they had made their way out. Based on personal stories from a principal in a very suburban local middle school (boys giving each other oral in the bathroom, girls trying to get drunk IN SCHOOL by soaking tampons in alcohol…yeah, you heard that right…and more), you’re living in a dream world as to what am unsupervised, very young child can be exposed to. You can’t be everywhere, but d*mn if I am going to leave everything up to chance.

    1. Alcohold soaked tampons! Oh noes!!!

      What about the rainbow parties?

    2. “I couldn’t have it on my conscience if something happened to that child (got snatched up…)”

      But … that’s precisely what happened. And wouldn’t have happened if the busybody parent hadn’t called 911. Instead, what ever happened to just keeping an eye on other people’s kids? And if you have to leave, maybe confide in another parent there and make sure someone keeps an eye on the kid? Cops want to make arrest quotas, DAs want to convict, and social services wants to fill beds. No one’s really looking out for the best interests of the child except the actual parent and other well-intentioned at the park. And now that parent’s in jail, and some strangers will be looking after this girl now. But I’m sure that is preferable somehow.

      I wouldn’t leave my kid unsupervised at a park like that, but only because of people whose first instinct is to call the cops. I wish I could raise my son with the same kind of freedoms I enjoyed as a kid .. taking public transit to swimming lessons at age 10 for example, or roaming the desert at age 6. But hey, that was Aruba and it was 1982. Different time and place.

    3. Glad you weren’t around when I was a kid.

    4. You are an idiot & a danger to others. How safe do you think that child will be in foster care? The family situation she had with her mother wasn’t ideal, but it was a lot better and safer than foster care.

      If you really “have to do something,” here’s what do: give the child a card to give to her mother. It should say something like: “if her need someone to look after your child while you’re at work, drop her off with me. My kids hang out at the same park anyway.” If you’re not willing to do that, to “do something” that actually helps, then just mind your own damn business.

    5. You are completely ridiculous, and if I ever saw you or anyone like you “gently” approaching my 10 year old son, you’d be in for more than a mouthful from me, maybe lose a few teeth for being a “stranger danger” yourself. My son is taught to RUN from people like you. And who ever said she was playing “by herself?” It was a crowded playground. I know when my son gets on the playground,the first thing he does is find playmates and they are off to playing and having a good time, which you seem to want to spoil. Perhaps you should keep your eyes on your own four year old and mind your own fucking business. As for YOUR private fears, like no one in there tweens or early teens ever experimented or “played doctor” in the history of the world. You are definitely the problem, NOT the solution. You have NO BUSINESS approaching anyone’s child but your own, no matter how many days the child played in the park, no matter how many hours. Jackass!!!

    6. Attitudes like this perpetuate evil. Regardless of your intentions, you are despicable.

  40. If Mcdonalds paid their workers 20 dollars an hour, the mom could have hired a full time nanny. Because nannies have no record of abusing kids.

    This is all capitalism’s fault. Are there any human trafficking or kidnapping in South / Central America? No, there is none. Socialism is just another way of saying “human prosperity”.

  41. This begs the question: Why are these obviously dangerous criminals still breathing?

    Why hasn’t said busybody been strung up by their thumbs? Why haven’t the kidnappers been *ended*?

    And the big question. . . what the FUCK is wrong with these people?

  42. It’s a shame we’ve gone this low. If the adult at the park was really concerned, she would have gotten the whole story, met the mother and ascertained the real situation, instead of making assumptions.

    I hope you follow up on this, I’d like to know the final result. Hopefully, the judicial system will do the right thing.

  43. its awesome,,, Start working at home with Google. It’s a great work at home opportunity. Just work for few hours. I earn up to $100 a day. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out.

    1. that’s wonderful for you. Maybe send some money to the poor mother who’s now in jail? Opportunistic arsehole.

  44. I hate to interrupt this predictable session of COP-HATE, but this woman didn’t just let her kid play at the park for a couple hours while she sat at home two blocks away. She left her kid at the park while she worked a shift at McD’s.

    How long is that? 4 hours? 8 hours? Did the kid have a key to get back into her home in case she needed, oh, food or shelter? Furthermore, why can’t the kid just stay at home while Mom works?

    Seriously, if people can no longer feed nor shelter their kids, perhaps the state OUGHT to take them away.

    1. you don’t know that it’s far away. For all we know, the playground is visible from the McD’s, the story isn’t clear

      1. The kid would go to McD’s for lunch, so not far at all. And she had a cell phone.

    2. //Seriously, if people can no longer feed nor shelter their kids, perhaps the state OUGHT to take them away.

      This would be fine, if the state actually let people do this at reasonable cost. Daycare is expensive, and if you come up with reasonable solutions for yourself, like letting a neighbor watch the kid, the state STILL fucks with you. This instance of government prosecution may have been reasonable, but there are countless examples of completely unreasonable behavior by the authorities: people letting their kids just play a few blocks away or ride the bike up and down the street, or even just WALKING TO SCHOOL LESS THAN 2 MILES AWAY, and then the parents get charged with child endangerment.

      So please, get your head out of your ass. MAYBE this one instance was reasonable, but our point is still valid, that everyone’s a shrill fuckin pyscho nowadays who think kids should sit all day in rubber rooms.

      1. *So please, get your head out of your ass.*

        Please, tell us all–what age is the cutoff for letting your children run the streets, locked out of their house? Obviously you think it’s fine for 9 year-olds. So how about 8? 7? 6?

        1. I think age 91. Insufficient maturity before then.

        2. In most parts of the world even 6 year olds spend most of the day out of the house unsupervised. The danger in the US is not paedophiles, it is traffic. If the kid is old enough to stay in the park by herself, navigate a traffic light and use a cell phone, she should be fine on her own. When I was 9 in the 1970s, I fucking commuted across Washington DC on a public bus everyday to school. Don’t tell me a 9 year old can’t entertain herself on a playground.

    3. what does that have to do with food or shelter? They had a home. Chose to let the kid play outside instead. Kid could have had a sack lunch with her. Massive overreactions all around. It’s not like she was left in a park all by her lonesome. There is safety in numbers.

      1. *what does that have to do with food or shelter? They had a home. Chose to let the kid play outside instead.*

        This was one of my points. Why can’t the kid stay either at home–INSIDE–or in her own yard. Why was the kid left out of doors or shunted into a booth at McDonalds?

    4. Do you still need someone to change your diapers? You are ridiculous. I am not a cop hater as I used to be a law enforcement officer. They were doing their job, though I think it was over zealous. However people are so over sensitive. I used to run around the neighborhood, play in the woods, swim in pools and lakes, and yes go to the playground when I was nine. It’s a wonder why people need to be coddled constantly.

      1. I am not a cop hater as I used to be…

        You shoulda stopped there.

    5. 1. Kid had a cellphone to call mom with in case there was a problem.
      2. It was the kid’s idea to be in a park, instead of inside.

      Fuck off slaver.

      1. You know absolutely nothing about me, yet leap to the conclusion that I am a “slaver” because I don’t think it’s a good idea for 9 year-old kids to be wandering the streets while their “parents” work an 8 hour shift anywhere.

        Brilliant logic. It’s no wonder libertarianism hasn’t caught on with geniuses like you singing its praises.

        1. Wandering the streets? I’m pretty sure the article said she was in a park.

    6. Jmomis, fuck you and your idiotic assumptions. Help people or fuck off. Don’t call the cops on them if they aren’t hurting anyone.

      1. It’s not my job to help ANYONE.

        I didn’t call the cops and wouldn’t if I saw a kid wandering around. It’s not my kid and I don’t care.

        My point is this: if you have to lock your kid out of doors while you work, you’re a bad parent. You probably shouldn’t have that kid. Give it away to someone who wants it and can afford it. And definitely don’t ask me for money to care for a kid that you obviously can’t afford.

  45. But, “What if a WOman would’ve come and snatched her?”

    1. Proper spelling: WOEman.

  46. Chicken shit society gone mad.

  47. Seriously?! I used to play at the park, in the woods, and all around my neighborhood when I was nine. Every other kid I lived around was also outside without parents. This was in the 80’s when crime was worse. People are are so over sensitive these days. It’s a wonder why people feel like they always need someone else to care for them, i.e. the government.

  48. If I were sitting on the jury that this case was brought to, I would throw my shoe at the persecutor. This case insults my parents, my aunts and uncles, all of my neighbors growing up, and every other person who isn’t a paranoid idiot.


  49. When I was 6 my father had a convention to attend so he gave me a hundred dollars and let me wander around Chicago for the day. I learned how to use the buses in Chicago and had a great day.

    1. Uh….. That isn’t good at 6. I wouldn’t wander around Chicago as an adult. With my luck I would end up in a black neighborhood and get shot.

  50. The wording of the news report is telling:

    “According to a North Augusta Department of Public Safety (NADPS) police report, a woman noticed a small black girl playing at a park on the 700 block of Old Edgefield Road, in North Augusta, around 9:30 a.m. Monday morning.”

    Google street view shows a nice suburban park with a full soccer field. Mom’s crime, I suspect, was in picking the wrong park.

    1. Yup. Black mom dropped her black daughter off at a white park. White mom called the cops. Would any black mom in her right mind have called the cops? Not in the neighborhood I grew up in.


  52. Time magazine had a really good piece on this kind of thing years ago. It was about busybodies and do-gooders. Both knew what was best for you and would make you do it, with the government’s help of course.

    I appreciate the concern this person had about the girl, but people just need to leave other people alone. Especially the government needs to leave people alone. The government and other people are too much in other people’s business.

    If they spent as much time looking at their own lives and making changes here the world would be a much better place.

  53. “What if a man would’ve come and snatched her?” said a woman interviewed by the TV station.

    The scenario in this clever person’s mind is that only the child’s parents would actually intervene in an attempted kidnapping, that unless the child’s parents are right there at the park, all the other parents at the park would just stand there idly watching someone else’s kid get taken away. By the sound of it, it probably wouldn’t even raise an eyebrow. Must be some nice community.

  54. Looking for the left to blame lack of free daycare funding for this one….

  55. What a world we live in, where Austria is now freer than the US. In Vienna even 8 year olds routinely walk to school alone, ride streetcars, go to the playground, etc. A cynic might think that the US media is actually trying to inculcate children at an early age with the idea that they need to depend on a higher authority rather than take decisions for themselves.

    1. 8 year-olds either can’t or don’t make good decisions.

      You people crack me up.

      1. The populations of Switzerland, Austria, Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany all disagree with you. Not to mention my own experience of being 8 year old. What is your special expertise?

      2. When raised by people like you, I imagine they don’t.

  56. too bad the adult who called the cops shucked off their responsibility.. could have said, “If you need any help we are right here to make sure you are safe. If you need something, ask us!” I appreciate all the ‘good old days’ comments, but if any child was hurt on the street or park or other public place there was an adult who would help.. plus the cops have lost all their common sense – what do you do with a 9 year old – find their mother – not take them into custody.

    1. Absolutely! The lesson this teaches instead is that if you’re a kid you can’t ask for help, because someone might find out you’ve been entrusted to be on your own for a few hours and call the cops to arrest the your mom.

  57. When I was a child, my world extended

    just as far as my mother could see

    and sometimes I’d ask if I could go

    to the park, across the street

    I’d sit on the freshly mown lawn and watch

    the neighborhood carrying on I’d watch

    and listen and look

    for a telltale sign

    of that beautiful friend of mine

    The man with the horse and wagon

    the one who comes by at noon day

    I’d wait for the horse and wagon

    so I could hear him say….

    Apples, Peaches, big white pears,

    blue strawberries, watermelon, cherries…

    and a flower for your young girl’s hair.

    But apron strings can’t hold young wings

    when the world becomes too small.

    and a young man grown

    must stand alone, if he will stand at all.

    1. white pears?
      blue strawberries?

      Holy Frankenfoods.

      That’s what I get for copy/pasting from the internet.

  58. 2+ years abroad really changes one’s perspective.

    In Hong Kong, China and Japan, I saw kids riding the buses and trains without the slightest concern from them or anybody around them.

  59. Of course, the cops didn’t do a damn thing when the woman’s laptop was stolen.

  60. I read this this morning and it’s literally been angering me all day. I wrote a little bit about how it made me feel here, but to sum it up, can we please, as parents, remember where we came from? Can we please remember that we were once kids going to the park, riding bikes without pads, climbing trees, and getting in fights… Where will this ridiculousness stop? I pray for Miss Harrell… we have failed her as a society


  61. Another terrible lesson this teaches kids (and parents) is that if you’re alone and you’re in trouble, you’re screwed. You’d better keep quiet about it, because if you ask someone for help, someone will find out you’re alone, arrest your mom, and put you in foster care.

  62. Based on the reasoning for arresting a woman for not monitoring and protecting her child, why aren’t police and politicians arrested when they fail to protect our lives, property and liberty from others who would harm us? Isn’t that their job? Seems like our government “servants” think we are their servants and are making us responsible to do their jobs.

  63. I have to say if the child was mine I find a way to hire a babysitter. There no way she be in a park alone.
    They did right by arresting her it will show other’s that you can’t just leave a child in a park by him or her self. We have laws to protect them children from harm and if you can’t get a baby sitter take the child to a church run day care.

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