Free-Range Kids

This Mom Lost Custody After She Left Her Kid Alone at Home for 90 Minutes

A Canadian court is set to decide whether to criminalize latchkey kids-or at least their parents.

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Latchkey
Kenneth Allen

In the summer of 2013, a Canadian mom left her 6-year-old boy home alone for 90 minutes while she ran some errands. No one disputes that the house was locked and that the boy had plenty of food and water (and TV), nor that the boy was anything other than fine. Nonetheless, the mom was charged with child abandonment. She lost custody and hasn't seen her son since her arrest. She has been fighting in Manitoban court to get him back ever since.

The judge's ruling in this case could set a harmful precedent for families with "latchkey kids" who spend some time by themselves at home after school while their parents work.

Prosecutor Nancy Fazenda has argued that "Even in a home environment, that child was endangered." But the mom's lawyer, Michael Law, warned the judge: "If you were to convict in this case, you would be bringing the law into a new realm, it would be unprecedented," according to The Winnipeg Free Press.

It would not be totally unexpected, however, in that our culture tends to believe that any child who is not supervised 24/7 is in danger. That's why the Maryland couple that let their 10- and 6-year-old children walk home from the park was investigated by Child Protective Services. It wasn't that something bad happened, or even was likely to. Only that the parents had allowed their children to be on their own for a bit. How dare they? Any childhood independence is considered dangerous by bullying bureaucrats, even though the actual crime rate has been dropping for decades.

free-range-kids

In America, latchkey kids have a long history dating back to World War II, when Rosie was busy riveting till suppertime. While a recent Census Bureau report found that the number of latchkey kids has declined of late, there are still plenty of children who come home, make a snack and do their homework on their own. Would they be better served by a parent in jail instead of on the job? 

Criminalizing latchkey kids is criminalizing busy parents who believe in their kids, and kids who are ready to take on some responsibility, knowing that their families are depending on them. Single-parent households are obviously even more at risk if constant supervision becomes the only legal option.

The bottom line is: "Latchkey" does not equal "neglected." In fact, many of today's adults remember their latchkey childhoods with fondness. As Tim Kreider wrote in The New York Times

I was a member of the latchkey generation and had three hours of totally unstructured, largely unsupervised time every afternoon, time I used to do everything from surfing the World Book Encyclopedia to making animated films to getting together with friends in the woods to chuck dirt clods directly into one another's eyes, all of which provided me with important skills and insights that remain valuable to this day. Those free hours became the model for how I wanted to live the rest of my life.

Why are we taking these hours away from kids—and parenting decisions away from their parents?

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  1. Why are we taking these hours away from kids?and parenting decisions away from their parents?

    Oh, I think we know the answer to that:
    “Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State”.

    1. Alt-answer: “FOR THE CHILDREN!”

    2. Children who don’t have to be watched over by their parents grow into adults that don’t have to be watched over by the government.

  2. seems legit

  3. The child’s parents are separated, and that’s likely to be the source of the problem.

    The article doesn’t explain who the mom came to the attention of the authorities. In all likelihood dad dropped a dime on her after the son told the dad what happened.

    Most of us escaped this shit because there was nobody to rat our parents out to the law. And the law and our parents sailed by each other none the wiser of the conflict between their conceptions of what ought to be.

    But when parents war with each other, a prosecutor is a powerful weapon; it can jail, and being nominally independent and being deferred to by the court system as seeking justice the person who unleashes the prosecutor need fear no blowback.

    1. So Guv Almighty in many-many cases, just turns into a “hit man” for petty people to get revenge on other people for petty grievances… I pissed a guy off in grade school 5 decades ago, hurt his baby feelings, now he can turn me in for huffing on an un-prescribed “lung flute”… A cheap plastic flute “medical instrument”…

    2. That’s an interesting proposition: that the great majority of us have long been in violation, and it’s just a matter of a contested divorce to hold any of our parents to a standard that everyone knows is rarely met. That’d mean acceptable parenting is a legal fiction.

      1. Truly proper IRS tax compliance is also a legal fiction… PLEASE do NOT tell anyone, but I did NOT pay taxes on the $5.15 I collected for turning in some aluminum cans for recycling… OK, I made that one up, in case the IRS is listening in…

    3. Most of us escaped this shit because there was nobody to rat our parents out to the law.

      I “escaped this shit” because leaving your kids alone at home used to be understood to be a normal and safe thing to do. You know, like measles also used to be considered not a big deal.

  4. Oh Canada,

    if you pussify everyone, where will hockey players come from?

  5. Better drop the slogan “Friendly Manitoba” if you are gonna go ahead and prosecute this gal.

  6. Ingrain the concepts of total observation and control at child stage and they won’t revolt against you at voter stage.

  7. BFYTW

  8. So if the child was endangered in his own home simply because he was left alone, how long before we see a case where endangerment is defined as “not in the same room as the kid”?

    I’d be a goner for sure. My basement is like Vegas, what goes on down there stays there. Parental law does not apply there. When the youngest complained to me about something his older brother did to him in the basement, I told him “sounds like what happens to tattle tales”. Youngest and Wife were both appalled, but the older siblings were happy.

  9. Shit like this just tells me that governments have grown so large that it hires more and more people whose job it is is to just sit around and come up with new ways to fuck with people. People who are busy with earning a living and don’t have the time, or want to devote the time, to fight back or deal with the hassles. They never seem to focus on the non productive classes. Their efforts there seem intent on making the non producers lives easier and the payoff larger while impeeding the path of those who are trying to accomlish something productive with their efforts.

    I can’t get over the fact that some people relish hiring more and more of their neighbors just to make laws and tell them how they should live their lives.

    1. “People” don’t hire more and more of their neighbors just to make laws. The people already in government do. It’s an unavoidable fact that government grows its human ranks (public employees) because that increases the power of government; the more people in it, the more people who will vote to give it more money and the more money it needs, so budgets go up (as well as taxes and borrowing, of course).

      And this results in just what you said: people sitting around with an appalling amount of power over others, and nothing to do. Who would want that job? Someone who wanted the power and didn’t care about the boredom (because they’ll alleviate the boredom by exercising the power).

      This is all easily predictable and is an inevitable and unavoidable aspect of government itself. It will always grow, inexorably.

      1. So why don’t we all just get gov’t jobs & get on the gravy train?

        1. More to the point, since this seems like a self-accelerating process, why hasn’t every gov’t grown to encompass 100% of everyone & everything? Of course then the process would have to start over, but you’d be seeing things go thru this end point regularly, all over the world.

          1. It’s like ol’ Maggie said, eventually you run out of other people’s money.

        2. So why don’t we all just get gov’t jobs & get on the gravy train?

          Because some of us actually like to do something meaningful with our lives.

    2. There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.

      1. +1 Floyd Ferris

  10. Those free hours became the model for how I wanted to live the rest of my life.

    Bug, not feature. Independant minded children usually grow up to become responsible, independant minded, free thinking adults who can take care of themselves, not hopelessly dependant wards of the state incapable of thinking or taking care of themselves. Which would the State prefer?

    Question: how the fuck did the cops get involved? I’m guessing, as it usually does, this all started with an asshole busybody neighbor who couldn’t mind their own fucking business.

    1. PArents are separated.

      My money is on the dad.

      1. The mother has lost care of her child, who is being raised by his father.

        Yup. I agree that it sounds like the dad ratted her out.

      2. That’s a definite possibility too. Starting to sound like dad might have sicked the State on his ex so he could get custody. What a shithead.

        1. “What a shithead.”

          Actually it hard to accurately assign “shitheadedness” without knowing what may have preceeded his decision to do so, if he indeed did call the popo. Maybe his wife has recently become a crack addict and is pimping the children to buy crack ? Of course that’s just a wild statement but in that were the case do you think his call would then be justified ? I do.

          Divorce can bring out the beast within.

          1. Why would he call about 90 minutes safe at home if he had something much more obvious and reasonable to call about?

            It’s logically conclusive that 90 minutes safe at home is the best ammo he had. Which makes it likely (not certain, but likely) the guy acted not for the net benefit of his kid, but for his own net benefit. Fucking douche.

            1. Sounds like you’ve never been through a divorce court with child custody involved.

              Men do not get the benefit of the doubt in regards to child coustody. Far from it in fact. He could have made the claim and yet her lawyer convinced the judge it was bullshit without proof. Maybe this was the only claim he could make stick. If you have ever been through divorce court before I don’t think your stance would be so forcefull. Experience makes a wonderful teacher.

              We don’t know all the facts and I’m just saying that without those facts it’s presumptious to determine who the real shithead is.

              I have been the victim of a false accusations of a henious nature by a scorned woman so maybe I’m just a little more sensitive when it comes to false accusations vs. facts.

              1. “Sounds like you’ve never been through a divorce court with child custody involved.”

                HAHAHAHAHAHA.

                “We don’t know all the facts and I’m just saying that without those facts it’s presumptious to determine who the real shithead is.”

                I was quite clear in that Shithead status was likely but not certain. Read for comprehension.

                Besides, that there can only be One True Shithead is a logical fallacy. It’s entirely possible that she is a bitch AND that he’s a shithead. Also, and I think this is essential, that the bad behavior of one does not excuse the bad behavior of the other.

            2. Because 90′ safe at home can easily be proven.

              1. Even marginal evidence of, say, crack and pimping, on the other hand, and cops be all “mens rea” and “rights of the people”, amirite?

    2. Which would the State prefer?

      The state is like some kind of blind idiot god. It has no intentionality or preferences. The sort of people who go for the jobs that allow you to fuck with people, on the other hand…

  11. What’s worse for the kid–a mother who leaves him at home in safe circumstances, or a kid who is forcibly taken from his mother and not allowed to see her?

    Is the dad the legal custodian now, or is the kid with foster parents?

    1. Whoa, whoa. You can’t expect the judge to consider the best reasonable outcome for the child ahead of guaranteed jobs for child welfare employees and government income as civil administrative fines. He’s an employee of the State.

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  13. Maybe if there were some standardized home-monitoring system, where someone could keep an eye on the kid, you know it would almost like having a big brother around the house.

    1. As long as big brother is over 18 and properly licensed to provide child care.

      1. You’re not big on literary references, are you?

        1. Send him to Room 101.

        2. Normally I am. For some reason I thought he was referring to an actual big brother and not 1984. I think the problem is that 1984 has become so relevant that it is almost becoming invisible.

      2. WTF?! We used to be encouraged to start babysitting (with contact phone numbers available, but WITHOUT adults on premises) from about age 12 on upwards to earn our spending money. My friends and I had stay-at-home moms, but we were tasked to walk two blocks to the supermarket (UNACCOMPANIED!)

        1. Dang thing posted before I finished. At age 8, we were doing shopping errands for our stay-at-home moms while they prepared dinner for our working dads. We were expected to walk home from school ourselves, count change correctly from the supermarket cashier, and return it penny-for-penny along with whatever Mom sent us to purchase. TODAY, kids aren’t allowed in a store unaccompanied if they are under 16 — and forget about babysitting!

          And by the way, after school and on vacations, we used to play outdoors with our friends, while our moms were indoors cleaning and cooking and all those other “mom” things. I’m sure the adults kept a bit of an ear out, but playing with others independently of adults was a normal part of being a kid (and growing up).

  14. When I was six years old my parents would let us sail a Sunfish sailboat by ourselves and I could leave the house by myself

    1. Did they make you stay in the lagoon?

      1. The pond’s for old ladies!

  15. Its about time the government started rounding up all children to be raised in “incubation camps” by government workers. After all, ordinary parents cannot be trusted to raise children – who belong to the state anyway – as future providers of government revenue.

    Don’t laugh too hard – there are plenty of socialists, liberals progressives who would agree wholeheartedly with the above absurd statement. Hillary Clinton with her ‘It takes a Village” book comes to mind.
    Remember, if you send your children to Public Schools(government indoctrination centers) this is exactly what is happening 6-8 hours, 5 days a week. And what a wonderful education these kids get!

  16. Feminists should be appalled.
    Criminalizing latch-key kids would make it impossible for both parents in a family to work full-time jobs.

    Of course most of them will probably just campaign for free daycare instead. because socialism is a feminist pursuit for some reason.

    1. Yeah, in the world of Two Approved Parties, the arguments will go….

      CONS: The mother needs to quit her job and stay home with the kids!

      LIBS: The family needs government-subsidized child care!

      Of course, no one’s saying “let the parents judge whether or not they should leave the kids alone for a few hours”. Remember that boardroom meme graphic? That would be stated by the guy that later gets thrown out of the window.

  17. If I left my work station unattended for 90 minutes, I’m sure my employer would understand.

    1. Yes, being a mother is a full time job. So women shouldn’t be allowed to do anything other than take care of kids, all day long. if you can’t earn enough money to pay for a college-degreed day care worker, you shouldn’t be allowed to have a career. Women exist to take care of babies.

      1. In many cases, childcare costs do cancel out any financial benefit to both parents working.

    2. A child isn’t a drive-thru window, Ymmarta.

  18. Nancy Fazenda. what an evil cunt

  19. I see. The Little Rascals films were movies about child abandonment. I did not know this.

  20. It’s funny – I’m re-reading Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” and “Little Men,” two books I adored as a child. At the moment, I’m almost halfway through the second book, in which Jo and her husband run a boarding school for boys. I’ve just read a scene where two of the children – 9-year-old twins – tell her they’re going down to “the big rock,” which happens to be next to a pond, with her 5- and 2-year-old sons in tow and an armful of toys. Does she show any concern at all over this? No, she just tells them to keep an eye on the baby.

    Once at the big rock, the older children build a fire and summarily burn all of the toys as a sacrifice to an imaginary demon/demigod they call the “Naughty Kitty-Mouse.” When they throw on the 2-year-old’s favorite doll, he runs back to the house – alone!! – and cries to his mother, who rushes down to see just WTF is going on.

    When the kids explain to her what they’ve done, do you know what she does? She not only laughs, she literally sits down on the ground and laughs until she cries. As I read this, all I could do is think, “Today, after she freaked out that 1) these children built a fire unsupervised and 2) made a sacrifice of their toys to an imaginary something, she’d be in jail so fast it would make your head spin…”

    1. Fun game idea!

      Watch old re-runs of Little House on the Prairie or Leave It to Beaver. Take shots every time a social worker would clutch their pearls in horror.

      1. The moms didn’t have careers on any of those shows.

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  22. I really had no idea that a democratic government could be so invasive. I had been thinking it was just our form of government that could do that.

  23. Someone make a new Cat in the Hat where cops break down the door in the middle, shoot the Cat and the things dead, and then arrest the mother when she gets home.

  24. I remember a discussion decades ago?might’ve been radio talk, letters to the editor, IDK but before there were more than 5 people on even a BBS so not the nets?after the term “latchkey child” had been around a few yrs. and everyone who didn’t think about it much, myself included, thinking, oh, those poor children, when somebody pointed out what a commonplace it was: she’d been a latchkey child, and so had I & most people at some age. All it means is your parents trusted you enough to give you a set of keys, and you got home from school before your parents. At that point came the realiz’n that latchkey kids weren’t particularly bad off at all, and that the term therefore didn’t even deserve to exist.

    So what’s happened? Did someone turn the logic around, taking for granted that being a latchkey child was an evil, and therefore that getting home before your parents was an awful state of affairs?

    What’s the alternative? Staying out in some public place until your parent(s) get home, so you’re never alone?

  25. I might be inclined to agree with you if the child was 10 years old. A 10-year old can reason at a much higher level than a 6 year old. A 6 year old still acts on impulse and will do what he/she wants without thinking things through. A quick google would tell you the developmental skills of a 6 year old: “wants it all; has difficulty making choices”.

    You would by signing a different tune if something did happen. Suppose this child decided he wanted to eat toasted marshmallows, turns on the gas stove, pours a bag of marshmallow on the fire, and ends up burning the house down? That’s not at all outside the realm of possibilities the things a 6 year old might decide to do.

    Just because the outcome was that nothing happened in this instance doesn’t mean that there was no child abandonment/endangerment that occurred. It sucks for the mom, but she really should have brought her 6 year old child with her errands run.

    1. Chances are he’d’ve had to stay out of school to do that, & probably never go to school. Say she’s at work. She can’t take time off work to travel to school to pick him up & return to work.

  26. Six is too young; 90 minutes is too long. Poor judgment. But hardly bad enough to lose custody!

  27. Is government prepared to step into the breach and supply “emergency baby-sitters”?
    Yeah, I thought not.

  28. I think the government should have total control! They are so good at not screwing things up!…?? Like everything else they take over!

  29. It’s time people use the 2nd freedoms to defend the state stealing their children.

    1. Wrong country. Canada does not recognize a right to bear arms.

      1. It does, however, recognize the right to bare breasts.

        I believe the feds are working on a “bare breasts save lives and deter criminals” as part of it’s efforts against ISIS.

  30. It’s all about the organic growth of customers for the criminal justice system. The more people they can turn into criminals, the more courts, jails, prisons they can build and the more government employees they can hire..

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  36. I mean, IMO 6 is too young to leave home alone. Pre-10, you’re basically cataloging every thing your parents tell you not to do and saving the list for when they’re not home, but at 6 you’re not even with it enough to be bad. You’re just doin’ whatever comes up, with just the slightest vestiges of common sense or fear of punishment whispering to you that pouring a bottle of Windex on the TV to “clean” it isn’t what mom had in mind. The average 6-year-old can get into all kinds of shit in under five minutes, never mind 90. Of course, the same can be said for the average 16-year-old, but they’re better equipped to handle the consequences. Your typical 6-year-old doesn’t have the wherewithal to, for instance, put out a kitchen fire he’s started, or not lick an electrical socket twice, and calling someone for help is typically not in the wheelhouse, either.

    With that said, the best judge of a child’s capabilities is his/her parents. Canuckistani CPS agents cannot possibly know better than the kid’s mother whether or not this was a bad idea. Besides which, assuming you even want government to be involved, do the people of Canuckistan really want their government to get in the business of punishing people for things that *might* happen? I mean, the answer is yes, of course, because it’s Canada, but still.

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  38. Just a question for the author or public in general? Do we have any statistics about how many fatal or serious injuries occur when these children are left alone? Is the actual rate of injury significantly higher for latchkey kids? Isn’t this a fairly important thing to know before we go criminalizing an entire population of parents (because, lets be honest, this is basically just an attack on poor families)

  39. Don’t ever forget that the State not only owns you, it owns your children…

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  42. With that said, the best judge of a child’s capabilities is his/her parents. Canuckistani CPS agents cannot possibly know better than the kid’s mother whether or not this was a bad idea. Besides which, assuming you even want government to be involved, do the people of Canuckistan really want their government to get in the business of punishing people for things that *might* happen? I mean, the answer is yes, of course, because it’s Canada, but still.
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  43. With that said, the best judge of a child’s capabilities is his/her parents. Canuckistani CPS agents cannot possibly know better than the kid’s mother whether or not this was a bad idea. Besides which, assuming you even want government to be involved, do the people of Canuckistan really want their government to get in the business of punishing people for things that *might* happen? I mean, the answer is yes, of course, because it’s Canada, but still.
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