Free-Range Kids

No Child Left Outside: Another Mom Arrested for Letting Kid Play in Park

"My own bondsman said my parents would have been in jail every day."


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A Port St. Lucie, Forida, mom has been arrested and charged with child neglect for daring to let her son, 7, play in the park half a mile from home. He was happily walking there when a busybody noticed him and asked where his mommy was. Then the busybody called the cops, since apparently no child should ever be outside without a private security detail.

The police descended upon the scene of the crime and later arresting the mom for the usual charge of child neglect. What if something bad had happened?

As the mom, Nicole Gainey, told ABC Action News:

"My own bondsman said my parents would have been in jail every day," says Gainey who paid nearly $4,000 to bond out.

The officer wrote in the report that Dominic was unsupervised at the park and that "numerous sex offenders reside in the vicinity".

"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," says Gainey.

Never mind that research has shown living on the same block as a registered sex offender does not make kids less safe. It seems the cops bought into the idea that predators are everywhere, always waiting to pounce, and simply because the worst could happen—no matter how extremely unlikely—children can never be left unsupervised in well-lit, popular public parks.


Let me reiterate here that these arrests are uncommon—that's why they make the news—and should not dissuade parents from sending their kids to play. On the contrary, the more kids running around outside again, the more normal it will seem, and perhaps these excessive fears will subside.

Or else we'll be living under a de facto policy of No Child Left Outside.

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  1. And no one was injured. And the dog wasn’t shot.…..-stand-off

  2. Because God forbid the cop talk to the kid and make a common sense decision.

  3. I need to teach my son to go ahead and tell busybody strangers to fuck off.

    1. Teach ball kicking as a back up.

    2. Oh a world in which all childrens tell busy bodies to fuck off. Thats the world I want to live in. No sarc.

    3. That’s what I was taught, and I still do that to this day lol.

      I’m basically the guy Andrew Dice Clay was talking about in his joke about asking someone what time it was, and the person responded, “What am I, Big Fucking Ben?”

  4. Those kids should be at home staring at the bright box.

    1. Right. What’s with this physical play fad? He should be home playing video games like all the other little geeks.

  5. The problem Leonore is that the reason those arrests are uncommon is most parents who would normally allow their kids to go to the park unsupervised are so terrified of getting a visit from CPS that they just go along with the fearmongers

    1. My wife and I have considered adopting that fear is multiplied because of near absence of tolerance from CPS for free range kids.

    2. Guilty as charged.

      I have all kinds of rationalizations about spending time with them, having fun, and getting myself out of the house as well (not to mention the “anti-social” behaviors they’ve learned from their parents and grandparents); but there is a small part that is worried that *something* (including nothing) will happen and I will be found guilty of letting my children play unsupervised.

    3. I think it depends a lot on where you are. I know plenty of people where I live to let their kids walk unsupervised to various places and no one bats an eye.

      1. We chose our house because the neighbor kids were out playing soccer in the street when we came to look at it. All our kids play together, relatively unsupervised, daily. Oh the humanity!!

  6. Also the cop involved needs to be sent for more training, he didn’t even shoot their dog

  7. I was outside on my own at that age every day without incident. And I was a very good looking child.

    1. Doesn’t it bother you that no pedos tried to pick you up?

      1. It really explains a lot. Poor Fist.

        1. It just proves that they were too busy looking at my pictures online.

  8. I walked to kindergarten every day including days with sub-zero temperatures.

    The police need to start arresting busybodies that call in complaints about 7 year olds walking on their own to the park.

    1. Me too…but it was only uphill one way 🙂

      1. Yeah right. I did grow up in Iowa and walked 8 blocks to kindergarten even through the frozen hell that is January.

        My son also walked to kindergarten through 3rd grade in Iowa until we moved to Phoenix. My daughter also walked to kindergarden, but she had an older brother to walk with.

        1. I went to K and 1st grade in Rochester, MN and walked to school. And played in the neighborhood all day during the summer.

          2nd – 8th grades we live din VT, but I took the bus (and my parents let us wait for the bus by ourselves, which is another thing you don’t see much of these days).

    2. I walked to kindergarten every day including days with sub-zero temperatures.

      Uphill both ways?

      1. We lived on Escher Way, it was uphill both ways, except sideways, in which it was vertical.

        1. Nice.

    3. My friends and I were riding the city bus by ourselves at 8 or 9 to go across town to see a movie.

      1. My friends and I rode our bikes to the edge of the swamp, carried them across the swamp, then rode them the rest of the way to the convenience store to get Bazooka Joe, sour powers and crystal pepsi. We were 8-ish.

    4. I walked to school for K-6 and took the bus (or occasionally walked) for 7-12. The greatest danger by far that we faced, either from pedophiles or from anyone else, was at the (government-run) schools themselves.

    5. Watch out…they’ll get the busybody around the neck & bash their head against the sidewalk like they did to kill the guy who was breaking up a fight. Then they’ll say it was for cigarets or a joint or something else made up.

      Seriously, that does seem to have been their grievance against the guy in S.I.: that he was a busybody.

  9. Kids are too fat! They need to play and run around more!

    Kids are in danger! Keep them inside forever!

    1. Parents are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. A feature, not a bug.

      1. Hey – it was nice to meet you last week at ye olde O’Shaughnessey’s. Hopefully we can find a situation where everyone can talk to each other. Maybe we should just rent the place out.

        1. Thanks, and it was nice to meet you, too.

      2. I suspect the desired response is “We need more bureaucrats to watch our kids!! Save us government, save us!!”

    2. Kids are too wild! Drug them up!

      Kids are too sleepy! Teach them boring pointless shit!


    3. Well, then it’s obvious that we need to fill a market need. Outside treadmills, with clear sides and locks and bars, so the kids can get fresh air, sun, and exercise, but be protected from strangers.

  10. ::reads comments on linked article::

    Is 11:30 AM too early to start drinking?

    1. It’s always after 5:00 somewhere.

  11. He just basically kept going over that there’s pedophiles and this and that and basically the park wasn’t safe…

    Which is hardly a ringing endorsement of the security afforded by the police, is it now?

    1. Or of all of those laws and ordinances restricting the movements and places of residence of sex offenders.

    2. That was my reaction:

      “So officer, you’re basically telling me that the vast sums spent on law enforcement in this town can’t even keep pedophiles from kidnapping children in broad daylight? What are you good for, exactly?”

      1. I also have to wonder how many of the sex offenders in the area are actually pedophiles. And how many of the pedophiles have shown any tendency toward snatching strange children off the street. There’s one of the bigger problems with the sex offender registration thing. People tend to assume predatory pedophile even if the offense was consensual sex with an underage girlfriend or a bathroom BJ or something completely nonthreatening to young children.

        1. Don’t forget the ones on the registry for flashing Grandma.

          1. Getting convicted of micturating in public goes down as a sex crime, too.

    3. Obviously they have a funding issue….

  12. Wait, what? We were unsupervised from about age 6 on during the weekends. Because our parents were busy doing chores while telling us to “Go play outside.” I had a second rule that I should stick my head in and tell my parents where I was going if I was going to be outside shouting distance.

  13. I was a free-range child from age 10 onwards. I drove a car from age 14 onwards. The freedom made me the successful executive I am today.

  14. From Commenter Michelle Seymour

    I grew up in Rio area in Jensen beach. I was allowed to ride my bike around that area all afternoon and during the summer all day. Going to the causeway etc. But, those were different times. Now if I can’t physically see my children they can’t go anywhere until they are teens. But it seems to be most parents these days are comfortable with having their children out of sight. Giving them a cell phone may make the parent feel better? Well if a rapist wants your small defenseless child that phone with be gone before they can dial it. Please watch your kids.

    Emphasis mine.

    But these aren’t different times as far as endangerment to children. The difference is the number of busybodies that dial the police, and the number of busybodies that are voted into office to protect us from ourselves.

    1. AFAIK kiddie rapists existed when I was free-ranging it in the 70’s, it’s just that people “didn’t talk about it”. We also had “stranger danger” drilled into our heads and to never, ever go with anyone we didn’t know. Seems like with lots of things, such as diet and exercise, a very vocal and media-friendly subset of parents want to abdicate these responsibilities to the State.

    2. My child has a better chance of getting struck by lightning while surviving a shark attack IN A PARK than being abducted by a stranger in the same place.

      1. Sharknado is REAL I tell you…

    3. These are indeed different times, in that things are actually safer than they were when I was a kid growing up in the 80s.

    4. The false impression that the world is more dangerous for kids is probably the biggest problem here. The fact that any time a child is abducted anywhere it ends up on the local news everywhere is probably a big part of it. As far as I can figure, child abductions and deaths were much more common in the past.

      1. This is true. The idea of a kid being snatched from a crowded public park in broad daylight is fictional.

        No amount of policing will protect your children from the like of Lord Voldemo… “you know who.”

        1. Mr. Panucci says there are only three real monsters. Dracula, Blacula, and son of Kong.

          1. HA! This comment made my day. RIP Futurama

  15. If it’s so dangerous they should let the kids carry guns.

  16. When I was 7 I was walking with my best friend who lived next door about a mile to go to the lake and go fishing or catch tadpoles, or to go to the public swimming pool in the neighborhood. Miss those days.

    1. Tadpoles carry salmonella. Your parents were heartless monsters for letting you catch them. Someone should have called the cops.

  17. It seems it is time to report each time we see a police officer or politician leave a kid in public without supervision. That would seem to be the most effective means to bring reason to bad law here.

    1. Actually, I found no Florida statute prohibiting leaving a child unsupervised–only a recommendation by the DCF that a child not be left unattended until age 12.

      The mom in this article was arrested for “neglect” which has a very specific definition, which this case does not seem to fit. See Florida Statute 39.01(32)(r) which says “the term “neglects the child” means that the parent or other person responsible for the child’s welfare fails to supply the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, or health care, although financially able to do so or although offered financial or other means to do so.”

      She should fight this.

      FYI – You can’t leave a kid unattended in car. According to Florida State Statute 316.6135, parents, legal guardians or caregivers of children younger than 6 may not leave them unattended or unsupervised in any kind of motor vehicle for longer than 15 minutes. If the vehicle is running, or if the child is in any danger, no amount of unattended time is acceptable. Officers are instructed to remove the unattended child immediately.

  18. Maybe Florida is the problem. Up here in New Hampshire I still see kids running around outside unsupervised all the time.

    1. That’s a relief. My wife and I just moved to NH (no kids yet though).

    2. As I noted above, I see the same (also in NH). I think this sort of thing varies a lot geographically.
      Though I am sure you can find horror stories here as well, the NH CPS (or whatever is is called here) seems to be relatively restrained.

  19. I have to be careful driving home from work this time of year. My neighbor’s 5-year-olds are riding their bikes with training wheels in the street. Perhaps I should call 911 and have the sheriff arrest the neighbors for neglecting their children.

    1. Naw, mount a cow catcher to the front of your car and gently push the rugrats out of the road at about 2-3 mph.

      1. It’s a 350Z, the whole front end is shaped like a cow-catcher. I just don’t want to scratch the paint.

    2. Yes, I look at it as a good thing that there are kids running/riding around all over the neighborhood. We have some awesome green space and a small pond that I would have loved at six or seven.

  20. God, how I despise the cowardly and stupid.

  21. the more kids running around outside again, the more normal it will seem

    I know, that’s the problem, isn’t it? The level of tolerance in societies isn’t great enough to allow activities that are sufficiently out of normal, so to gain or retain that freedom we have to make sure such activities are popular enough and hence common enough not to be too abnormal. Like if smoking becomes uncommon enough, it’s in danger of being banned.

    Another problem is the rebound effect from being ostentatious about it for propaganda reasons, as in open carry and we’re here, we’re queer, etc. People may conclude you’re doing it not to make yourself appear normal, but for making those who object angry and appearing abnormal.

  22. A FLA friend tells me that the law directs offenders to use parks as meeting points with parole officers, due to the offenders constantly changing home addresses. That should be looked into. Why direct sex offenders to a place where children should be able to congregate freely, and without endless hovering supervision?

    1. It’s because you can’t be a sex offender and live within 1000 feet of, well, anywhere, in FL. So once again, their good intentions have created bad results.

  23. They should arrest whoever put that park in a community full of sex offenders. It’s an attractive nuisance – kids could wander over to play, after all.

  24. Think TV fiction may be partly to blame? Child characters aren’t shown alone often, because they’re not interesting enough, so they’re always in the company of adults, the childen being, basically, props. People seeing enough of that just get used to the image of children always being in adult company, and without thinking about it, just come to that impression of normality.

    1. Also, I suspec that there’s a lot of stay at home soccer moms who sit around and watch re-runs of Law and Order: SVU all day, and start to think that there’s rapists and kiddie-diddlers everywhere.

  25. As I said in another thread, I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to call 911 for no good reason. So why don’t we do the same thing for people who call the cops just because a kid is playing unsupervised?
    There need to be some penalties for calling the cops for something that you could easily go talk to a kids mom about. If you’re that worried, all it takes is to walk to the kids house and knock on the door.

    1. It would be nice if the cops could tell people to stop being stupid and wasting their time sometimes.
      I occasionally see a report of “shots fired” in the local police log. And it is invariably someone doing some perfectly legal shooting in their back yard.

      1. Tangential rant: did you see the vid of the cop talking to the guy who was open carrying? “We’ve had some reports of people who were frightened by your gun.” Oh yeah? Well, you know what scares me? Cops who think it’s their job to keep people from being scared of moronic things. Did you get any calls today about spiders or the boogeyman?

  26. I grew up in a typical suburban neighborhood, but it was quite large since the houses were pretty far apart. We used to ride bikes all over the place, I wonder if my parents would be arrested now for the same thing…

  27. This case is different than the prior case of “kids in the park”. The other case here it was clear the child was left for hours daily in the park. I still wouldn’t make it a State issue, but there should be some concern for a parent intending on leaving their child in a park/play ground for 30-40 hours per week. I think that would be negligence, but – again – would not get bureaucrats involved even if I didn’t like the idea personally. Having a kid walk six blocks to a park for an hour, and back again, is most certainly not an issue of any kind.

  28. So are there really that many people who believe that there’s a registered sex offender behind every tree and all parks are just crawling with them? What a bunch of pussies.

  29. Can’t wait for kids that walked here from Honduras VS nosy busybodies. Maybe they can have Homeland Security arrested.

  30. I’m fortunate that I have a 20-acre, wooded compound with a scenic river flowing through and in which my nine-year-old twins have free rein (and free reign), at least until such time as they’re mauled by a rabid badger.

  31. Not that this is necessarily a prog thing, but I mentioned the Mcdonalds woman who lost her kid for 17 days for letting him/her play in the park to a prog woman I know.
    She said she would call the cops too if she saw an unsupervised kid.
    I asked her what the mother was supposed to do with the kid and she said that the mother should send the kid to day camp or get a babysitter.
    I said how is she supposed to afford that.
    The response was that’s why we need free day camp and babysitters for working moms.

    This makes even more sure that Lizzie Warren will run and win on WOW and free shit, like universal daycare.

    1. The last time my mom saw an unsupervised girl (about six years old) walking along the side of a highway, she told the kid to get in the car, brought the kid home, looked up the kid’s parents in the phone book, called her mother, got her address, and drove her home. This was in 1983 or thereabouts. No cops, no fuss, no dogs shot or innocent people arrested.


  32. What free range parents need to do is network with other free range parents and send their kids out to play in large groups. Then the busybodies might think twice about interfering.

    1. What free range parents need are lobbyists.

  33. Hey Reason Editors–this is not “Another Mom Arrested for Letting Kid Play in Park”, because the “first mom” was arrested for abandoning her kid while she was at work.

    Jesus, if you want to publish nothing but misleading headlines and lies, just go work for the liberal media.

    1. Both kids went to okay in the park. Where Mom was is incidental. The headline us in no way inaccurate.

      So chill the fuck out.

  34. “The more kids running around outside again” will NOT prevent children from being molested OR abducted by sexual predators who prey on children. There is NO safety in numbers, although this myth is perpetuated. The unpleasant fact is, that we have a lot more nut case people running around now in our society than we did decades ago. Sorry folks, but the police were right in arresting this Mom for child neglect. What was it that this Mom had to do that was so important that she sent a 7 year old child to a playground unaccompanied.

    1. “The unpleasant fact is, that we have a lot more nut case people running around now in our society than we did decades ago.”

      I deny your “fact” to your face and await your statistics that show otherwise.

      I’m waiting…

      (Wait, so as civilians carrying guns correlates to drops in violent crime, does that mean that civilians carrying guns is OK if it’s “for the children”? Please discuss.)

      1. Fair enough. Forget my unsubstantiated statement about more nut case people running around.

        Do you think it is OK for 7 year old kids to run around unsupervised? I don’t. That’s my opinion. If you don’t agree, that’s fine.

        Thanks. Have a nice evening.

        1. I and all my friends did so at that age. At least after school during daylight hours.

          I am sorry you have the incorrect opinion.

        2. Do you think it is OK for 7 year old kids to run around unsupervised? I don’t.

          Then I hope you never have any kids. You’ll suffocate them.


          1. jcr,

            I do have kids, and they turned out great. Sorry to disappoint you.

            Have a nice day, you asshole.

        3. Do you think it is OK for 7 year old kids to run around unsupervised? I don’t. That’s my opinion. If you don’t agree, that’s fine.

          If you truly think that it is fine then you would object to a parent being arrested for disagreeing with your opinion.

          1. But its evident that you do approve of her arrest:

            Sorry folks, but the police were right in arresting this Mom for child neglect.

            To be brief – Fuck off, slaver.

            1. Roger,

              To be ever so brief – Ram it up your rectum, you fucking moron.

              1. Ah, now we see the violence inherent in the system.

  35. And yet those who will send their children off on solo journeys to illegally enter the US are hailed as good parents. We are truly a screwed up nation.

  36. Guilty as charged. I have a 9 year old son who is intelligent and aware, but I barely let out of my sight in town at an age when I walked in the woods alone for hours with a .22 looking to bag a squirrel or rabbit or fished on the lake for dinner. I fear what will come when he thinks that someone else must provide his direction or security. Fuck this shit.

  37. The child should assume that an adult they don’t know asking the location of their parent is a pedophile and run away and report the adult as a pedophile.

    Many teachers are also pedophiles, but parents are encouraged to sent their children to school unsupervised.

  38. I bought my stepsons (13 & 15 yo at the time) sweet airsoft rifles for Christmas. They picked out their own, and they both were modeled after real “assault” rifles in black plastic, albeit with the orange tip.

    We were all excited on Christmas morning, and they wanted to run across the street to the park to play. While they were there, it occurred to me that some busybody might call the cops, cops would show up and end up mowing down my kids. Thereafter we restricted them to the backyard to play with the airsoft guns (bummer).

    Makes me sad that we weren’t being paranoid about “bad guys” but instead justifiably paranoid about busybodies and cops.

  39. Here are some relevant facts to consider when judging the risks this parent was taking:

    (1) Annually, more than 1,000 children under the age of 14 die in traffic accidents in the US; more than 150,000 are injured. (Source: National Center for Statistics & Analysis–read here:

    (2) More than 700 children under the age of 14 drown each year, and an additional 3,500 require ER treatment from submersion events. (Source: CDC (can’t post the link–limited to two links per comment, but you can Google this.)

    (3) About 50 children under the age of 12 are kidnapped by strangers each year. 45% of stereotypical stranger kidnappings resulted in the death of the child–which means approximately 25 children under the age of 12 die each year as a result of a kidnapping. (Source: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children–read detailed report here:…

    Put differently, a child under the age of 12 is about 20 times more likely to be killed in a traffic accident than to be kidnapped by a stranger, and 15 times more likely to drown. So why is everybody so extremely worried about the kidnapping risk–yet few people think twice about driving their children in their cars, or letting them play in the waves or swim in a pool?

    1. Not to nitpick, but without the denominator or the amount of time exposed to the “threat”, the numbers are without context. Also, the events aren’t mutually exclusive in terms of “free ranging” children, at least in terms of drownings or being kidnapped since both could be occurring while unattended, and unattended is what is the bee in the bonnet of those who interest themselves in matters in which they have little to no interest.

      I have a seven year old son, and I have little doubt that he could navigate himself to a park or the convenience store up the street and back. But he hasn’t shown much desire to do so. But I certainly wouldn’t want some asshole in between butting in unless they saw my son in distress or being hauled off kicking and screaming.

  40. Suddenly we are not limited to No Child Left Outside. Last Sunday, I went to the mall with my 2 Labradors. They like sitting in the car and watching the world go by. It was 83 and cloudy and I parked on the second level of an indoor parking structure. When I came back to the car, I found two LA PD officers standing there. They told me that someone had made and endangered dog call so they responded. They agreed the dogs were perfectly safe in the car inside the parking structure. However, they said that do-gooders were a greater threat because they might break the car windows to “rescue” the dogs from a non-existent threat to their well being.

  41. ____ 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.

  42. When I was five (around 1964) I walked to school, about a half mile, back and forth every day. So did almost every other kid. When I was about ten I was traveling around about a 20 mile circuit on my bicycle. When I was 14 I took a three day bike trip with friends. Did it the following year too. They are two of my best childhood memories. My parents were not considered neglectful. Indeed, when I got older when my mother’s anxiety led her to come look for me when I was out at night even though I was a goody goody. Maybe it is safer for kids in the short run to be watched all the time. But, it is not healthier and they develop less ability to fend for themselves. You know what is far worse for that kid than going to the park by himself? Being terrified about his mother and the tremendous guilt he feels that it is his fault. We do need to make sure that kids are not abused or neglected. Of course. But,this doesn’t qualify. The punishment far, far outweighs any benefits. I wish every official who does something like this would lose their jobs. The damage they do to these children cannot be easily eradicated.

  43. “the cops bought into the idea that predators are everywhere, always waiting to pounce,”

    Projection. Where ever cops go, there they are.

  44. I was free range kid. I support free range kids.

    However, do any of you have a standard for neglect? Is it a hard standard or one that is purely arbitrary?

    For instance, if mom let 8-year-old spend the night at the park in a tent alone, is that okay and a MYOB sort of thing?

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