Free-Range Kids

Two Kids Spotted Playing on a Beach, Cops Arrest Their Parents for Negligence

Quick, before they get wet!



Parents who let their boys, ages 7 and 9, play on their own for an hour at a family beach will be arraigned later this month on charges of reckless endangerment of a child.

Charles Smith and Lindsay Pembleton of Niagara Falls were vacationing with their kids on Cape Cod. The boys wanted to stay at the beach for a little longer rather than walk back to the nearby campground (which is, according to one commenter, accessible via a car-free path). The parents said okay, but told them they couldn't go in the water, according to The Cape Cod Times.

By the time a lifeguard spot the children, they were—gasp—wet from the rain. What's more, they were "standing around a food truck with no adults in charge."

Thankfully, the police were called before any of that wetness and unsupervised food trucking could escalate into something worse—something potentially lethal (potentially):

"Although Head of the Meadow is a family beach with lifeguards, the Truro police have been called there for numerous calls related to dog bites, shark sightings, lewd conduct and people taking pictures of children," [Officer] DeAngelo wrote in her report.

Those couldn't possibly be parents taking pictures of their own children, could they? Never mind. Always throw in sharks. And dogs. And predators. Wait… did the cop forget predators?

"Through my training and experience as a sexual assault investigator young boys at the ages of 7 and 9 are prime candidates for sexual predators."


"This being a tourist community with a small year-round population, most people who frequent the beach are transients and unknown."

In other words: Most people at the beach are on vacation.

Even though over 90 percent of sex crimes against kids are committed by people they know, not random beach inhabitants, the cop decided to file reports of suspected abuse or neglect in both Massachusetts and New York. And, for good measure, she also "applied for criminal complaints against them in Orleans District Court."

Apparently it is a crime to let your kids do anything by themselves. After all, they could end up standing around a food truck! Or wet.

Can't have that.

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  1. This cop knows the truth about the Beast of Truro. He just knows better than to mention it in an interview. Predators… yes.

    1. I’ve been to HotM many times. Truro is about as safe and bucolic as you can get. I don’t doubt that they’ve had issues with townie trash from up Cape, but they don’t go there.

      It’s not a crowded beach, ocean side, and is flanked by beach houses. The only danger these kids were in, was from the over-imaginative pigs.

      1. That’s the problem: the safer, the worse cops have to be.

    2. “Through my training and experience as a sexual assault investigator young boys at the ages of 7 and 9 are prime candidates for sexual predators.” Is that a personal preference?

  2. What if the kids were witches, and they’d melt if they got wet? Do you want those children to die?

    1. Wizards. dumbass.

      1. Why do you hate witches? Hater!

      2. Maybe they identify as witches. Enough of the cis-wicca patriarchy.

      3. Warlocks, actually.

        1. Sexist.

  3. Officer DeAngelo failed to list the most obvious danger: gangs of roving youth.

    1. Officer DeAngelo was the most obvious danger.

      1. Now you’re talking.

  4. It is reckless endangerment to leave kids anywhere a cop might find them.

    1. +1000 thin blue woodchippers.

  5. At 7, my mom and dad let me ride my bike literally to the other side of town to play Pee Wee league baseball. That was…a couple miles (small farmtown). No adult supervision between home and the ball diamond. None on the way back. My dad died when I was 12. My mom left me overnight at home, on my own, a few times starting when I was about 13. Let the neighbors across the street know, and asked if I could touch base with them if I needed anything (they, of course, said yes). And they never checked on me or anything. And then my mom came home a couple days later.


    Fuck tha police and all the other pants-shitting pussies in this country anymore. Fuck ’em.

    1. I’ll see your “left you unsupervised” and raise you a “I used to babysit other kids until 2 am when I was 12 about to turn 13. One family had 3 kids aged 6 and under. They’d stay out until 1 or 2 am on Friday nights. I’d give the kids supper and get them bathed and into their pajamas and off to bed. Usually an hour later than normal.

      That was back in the scary, violent 1970’s. You know, when the violent crime rate was double today’s rate.

      But Ok, don’t let your 4th grader stay on the beach with your second grader for an hour. Being a 3 minute walk away is way, way too dangerous. I mean, there’s only a handful of lifeguards on duty.

      Another old fart point: We used to ride our bikes down to the pool for swim practice at 6:30 every morning of the summer, starting when I was 11. My 8 year old sister and 5 year old brother would join me two hours later when the pool opened. We’d play there all day until practice again at 5 pm. But we were on bikes, and only a mile away from home. So…. I dunno. Maybe they should have put all of our parents into a SuperMax prison or something….

      1. Yeah – I grew up in the 70’s (allegedly). I will acknowledge it was different. Mostly because disco came out, we had Nixon, Ford and Carter, and the kids beat the FUCKING RUSSIANS IN HOCKEY MY SENIOR YEAR IN HIGH SCHOOL!!! (I think technically that was 1980).

        USA! USA! USA! USA! USA!

        God, the cars from the late 70’s/early 80’s are the WORST EVAR. Just horrid. I thought it was all downhill. Now we have 430HP Mustangs and 700hp Chargers, my motorcycles are faster/better handling than the RACEBIKES of just a decade ago….and stuff. WOO!!

        1. It is hard to beat and old Triumph for stability. Those old 650s and 750s were rock solid. See Steve McQueen in “The Great Escape”.

          The new ones may be as good. Haven’t tried one out.

          1. I much prefer the new bikes. Actual brakes that work, STUPID acceleration, superior handling.

            The old ones are fun around the block – then they just remind me how much they suck compared to new bikes. Kinda the same with older cars. I sold my ’93 Mustang when I got the ’12 – not even close. I was spoiled. Have had a new one every year since – I got 420hp AND 25 MPG in my convertible. And it handles like a skateboard compared to my ’93. Don’t get me started on the comparison to 70’s and 60’s vehicles…

            1. Yeah, the old standards are way cooler in my book. That’s why I am drawn to the new “muscle bikes” like the VMAX.

              But you can’t argue with the engineering of the new bikes. You can get over 150 hp on a tossable frame that weighs in under 500 pounds dry. That’s just nuts. But then anything that comes with the caveat: “electronically limited to 185mph” is a-priori nuts.

              We really are living in a crazy future. A nice sports sedan from today outperforms the supercars of the early 70’s. That’s nuts.

              Remember when the AC Cobra was the baddest thing you’d ever seen? 0-60 in 4.2 seconds. On a 4.7 liter v8. Wow. But living in the future, a 2009 factory tuner Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X FQ-400 will do it in 3.5 seconds. On 4 cylinders – 2 liters. And it was cheap enough to be in reach of regular folks at only double the price of the standard evo.

        2. That’s true, but the late 70’s was a great time for used cars. I had a black 65 GTO with a 327 Chevy, a blue 68 Mustang fastback, and a couple of Chevelles. I still have my Panhead.

      2. it seems children cannot be allowed to bicycle now, because bikes instantly take them away from their parents.

      3. When I went to kindergarten, I walked 6 blocks unattended every day. My parents went with me the first few times so I would know the way, but after that, I was on my own. This was c 1960. And of course the same all the way through grade school.

    2. I was about the same age as you. I’d ride my bike 3 miles one-way into town. The route was a combination of secluded wood path and shoulder of a state highway. This would have been mid-late 80s. I was babysitting neighbor’s kids starting at age 12.

      It just boggles my mind how pants-shittingly scared parents nowadays are. It’s like they see no possibility that the sheltered, protected life kids lead now could lead to them being disfunctional adults.

  6. What’s more, they were “standing around a food truck with no adults in charge.”

    Just a doggone minute! Who was running the food truck?

    1. More kids obviously in violation to our child labor laws.

      1. This calls for more government regulation, clearly. We need oversite panels and inspectors to verify that the regulators are regulating the restrictions because poor citizens can’t walk two steps without tripping over their osha-violating shoes without oil-resistant soles and falling on an illegal child laborer.

      2. So that’swhere my orphans ran off to!

        Ungrateful brats – not wanting to polish monocles any more…

  7. I wonder if all this safe space nonsense at colleges are a result of a generation raised by helicopter parents. I’ve always wondered if there was any long term damage from not letting your kids play on their own.

    1. It has to be related. The ingrained feelings of special self-esteem and entitlement factor into the time-bomb, too.

  8. Smith and Pembleton] will be arraigned Nov. 23 on one count each of reckless endangerment of a child

    “One count each”? There were *two* children. WTF?

    1. They each recklessly endangered one of the children.

    2. it willl be fun watching the court, in two separate trials (one of them needs to move for a change of venue to make sure) proving which parent endagnered which child. It would be hilarious if both parents endangered the same child and neither the other. Funnier still would be to borrow a half dozen kids similar looking to each of their two, sit them all in the courtroom, on best behaviour, and have the copper identify the two that were endangered.

      I wonder about the legality of filing in two states for the same alledged offense, too. That is double jeopardy. Each court has an action filed over the same offense. Which state’s laws were “violated”? This whole debacle sounds like something out of a Franz Kafka novel…. “the Trials” (plural).

  9. A criminal history check conducted by DeAngelo showed that Pembleton faces a charge of failure to exercise reasonable control of a minor, related to an alleged domestic July 9 in Niagara Falls.

    That Pembleton is a damn *monster*!


    1. “most people who frequent the beach are transients and unknown.”



    2. Ban Sugar free’s ass sex truck!! If we can’t have any food trucks, no nasty ass sex trafficking for you!

      I heard the hot dog truck rammed right into your grille.

      1. Corndog truck. I practice safe sex and always coat my weiner in sizzling hot cornbread batter.

        1. How long do you deep fry it?

          *checks recipe card*

  11. They’re lucky to be alive.

  12. By the time I was 12 my brother and I would wander off into the woods with no adults and we each had a 12 gauge. Sometimes we would camp out for a night or two.

    I probably spent the majority of my childhood free time alone and without adult supervision and look how I turned out.

    1. look how I turned out.

      I think that’s what “the authorities” are worried about.

  13. They need to put these kids in foster care and quick. Nothing bad will happen to them there.

  14. (about a decade later)

    A Congressional Committee is looking into the shameful defeat of American troops in the Battle of Khartoum in the Sudanese War.

    Though they had a 4-1 advantage over the Russian Expeditionary Force, and superior weaponry, the American soldiers blew their advantage by standing around waiting for orders, and asking their officers to hold their hands while they went into battle. Some of the soldiers texted their parents asking permission to take part in the offensive. The Russians pounced on the dithering American troops and defeated them.

    Officer DeAngelo of the Youth Readiness Project, a lobby group dedicated to training young people, said that parents were raising “a generation of wimps.”

    “We don’t know how it happened,” said DeAngelo, “it’s like parents are terrified of letting their kids out of their sight, or allowing them to do anything involving initiative or risk-taking. What’s wrong with parents these days?”

  15. I note that the police didn’t say anything about any actual child predation happening on the beach. Just taking pictures of children. Which I’m pretty sure is legal. And difficult to avoid if you are taking pictures on a beach with people on it.

    1. Anyone who takes pictures of children on a beach/at a common vacation destination is definitely some kind of criminal

    2. I note that the police didn’t say anything about any actual child predation happening on the beach.

      I note that an officer of the law lists four things for which they are ‘called’ to the beach, doesn’t mention any actual crime and two, maybe three, of the reasons aren’t even really police matters at all.

      And somebody needs to smack the moron who sees a shark and thinks “Quick! Call the police!”

      1. “How do you fit the zip ties on these fins…aaah, stop resisting! BANG BANG BANG”

        1. Fortunately the shark was Jewish and didn’t eat pork.

      2. Remember “Fish Police” on SCTV & later their own cartoons?

  16. “young boys at the ages of 7 and 9 are prime candidates for sexual predators”


    1. Hey-seuss takes care of the 8 year olds, Dude.

      1. Well – someone’s gotta do it, now that Jerry Sanduskey’s outta commission

    2. Actually they were wrong… only the age 7 boy was a “Prime” candidate…. 9 is divisible by 3, so is not prime…

      1. User name checks out

      2. Please be a recurring joke.

  17. “By the time a lifeguard spot the children…”

    Please hire someone to proofread. Having typos and mistakes in practically every other article calls Reason’s professionalism into question; and probably rightfully so, considering how much the magazine has declined over the past few years.

    1. Blog post =/= magazine article. You might as well ask why commenters don’t hire editors to proofread our comments first.

  18. people taking pictures of children


  19. When government conspires to hurt, inhibit or cause your family any form of distress it is time to remove that government of its power.

  20. This is absolutely insane. If the police are so concerned with the dangers of that beach, why not close it (also insane) or have a regular patrol (more reasonable) instead of charging normal parenting with a crime.

  21. 7 and 9? In my opinion, kids that age do need supervision, especially at a public beach. Lifeguards on duty are great, but be responsible for your own kids. “But we told them not to go in the water!” Please. How many 7-year-olds do you know listen to everything their parents tell them to do, especially when they’re out of sight? It’s baffling to me to hear others remark that statistically there is just a small chance that your kid could be abducted or molested. Why take any chance at all?? Either spend more time with your kids at the beach or tell them “We’re leaving now” and take your kids with you. Experienced swimmers drown every day in the ocean. Adult, strong swimmers. You’re going to trust your 7 and 9-year-olds to not dare venture into the water? I have two 7-yr-olds, and they mind me, but kids have short-term memories. I do not think these people should have been arrested, but it’s definitely careless to leave two small children unattended on a beach. Too young.

    1. Survival of the fit, moma. It should be a parent’s decision on freedom. Only the parent knows what their children can handle.

    2. “Why take any chance at all??”

      Right, keep them locked up in the house. Feed them bread and purified water. No school. No Sports. TAKE NO CHANCES OH MY GOD WESA ALL GONNA DIE!!11

    3. I personally know a few dozen kids in the five to fifteen year old range that DO listen to parents, other responsible adults, and older siblings, and DO what they are told to do. Note well, the only “wet” these kids got was from the rain. They DID obey and DID NOT go into the water. Maybe your kids don’t….. they DID trust their 7 and 9 year old to NOT go into the water, and their trust was well placed. I know families where the nine year olds (eldest) are often left responsible for the younger ones (down to less than one year old) for extended periods of time… sure, an adult is handy, but the 9 year olds handle everything well, are fully capable, and the younger ones listen and obey. What falling apart world do YOU occupy where a nine year old is incompetent, not to be trusted, irresponsible by definition?

    4. Don’t ever read your kids a classic book series called ‘Swallow & Amazons’

      I don’t want to give too much away, but a whole bunch of kids (none older than 11 or 12) go out in boats…by themselves. And camp on an island, also by themselves. They’re pretty much unattended for the whole book. As you can imagine, it’s pretty horrifying.

      But I’m sure that your own kids will be prevented from having any kind of even mildly independent adventures for years to come. I’m sure that could never have any effect on their ability to become self-confident, independent adults.

  22. The world is lucky I didn’t grow up during these days of total surveillance of children. I would have driven a pick up truck through a parade long ago if I had grown up with adults in my face 24 hours a day.

    Some people are introverts and need a little alone time to stay sane.

    1. This x 1000.

      I don’t and won’t have kids but my older brother does. We were raised in the 70s and 80s which as we all know meant lots of free time. Now he’s raising two kids and they’re totally helicoptered. Programmed activities morning noon and night – I don’t get it. Sometimes I wonder if my generation is reacting to some perceived “lack of attention” growing up and now they’re totally going overboard with the opposite.

  23. Free range kids & a food truck! What, no transhumans, ferrets, or Mexican ass w pot?

  24. A good use of this would be to start compiling a database of places that routinely arrest people for…being people and post it up on various sites used by vacationers.

  25. How about an action, brought by the parents, against the police? A claim of Abuse of Authority and or False Arrest sound like good openers.

  26. Seems the most dangerous predators lurking about that beach that day were wearing blue uniforms, carrying mace and sidearms, and probably a head basher of some sort, and a pair of handcuffs. Oh, and don’t forget their tin badges and ticketbooks. Meanwhile, how many burglaries are on the waiting list to be investigated?
    A good runner up for most dangeous predator that day would be the nosey neer do well who actually rang the bobs….

    I know people with large tracts of land, multiple young children, who are assigned various tasks involving self-management, making significant decisions, and at times suffering the consequences of bad decisions or miusjudgement. I know nine year olds who know first aid, survival, firearms handling (they ARE accurate as well as safe), and never have any problem. Government as god never goes well for long.

  27. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go? to tech tab for work detail,,,,,,,


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