Maria Hasankolli, the Connecticut mom who was arrested after police found her eight-year-old son walking to school while she overslept, had her court appearance yesterday. Here is what she wrote to me:
So I just left court. I was informed that "risk of injury to a minor" (my charge) carries with it a ten year sentence, five thousand dollar fine, and five years probation. My case was continued to January 6th, 2016.
Thank you all for your support and words of encouragement. I'll keep you informed as I go. Perhaps someone reading is struggling my struggle and will find comfort knowing they're not alone.
Anyone think Hasankolli would be able to supervise her son a lot better from a jail cell?
The idea that a mother should go to prison for failing to incessantly shelter her child is based on the two corrosive beliefs of our time:
1). Children are in danger every second of every day from everything and everyone, which means the moment they are unsupervised it's as if they've been left to die.
2 ). If only the authorities could micromanage our lives, they could do a much better job of saving our kids from this constant danger.
Put those together and you get a society second-guessing every parenting decision that isn't "Keep them inside with the A.C on."
Hasankolli was not the only mom I heard from this week. There was also a mom in rural Utah who told me she left her 8-year-old (with a cell phone) at McDonald's watching his 2-year-old brother in the play area while she dashed across the strip mall for a hair trim. She was back in 15 minutes, but by then, a cop had already appeared. As she told me over the phone, "He was talking about there being charges, and how [child services] was going to come to my house and file a report or something and do an investigation and all this stuff."
She sounded beside herself.
Now I know this will elicit some cries of, "Eight is too young!" or, "That's something I would never do!" Which is fine. You can feel that, and you can parent as you see fit. But I hope we can agree that escalating this into an actual "case" is beyond the pale.
Around the world, according to anthropologist David Lancey, between 40 and 60 percent of children are looked after by their older siblings. We have forgotten this. We have forgotten that 15 minutes is a blip in time. We have forgotten how safe we are in America. We have forgotten that 8-year-olds can take on some responsibility—especially a task as undemanding as playing with a brother at an indoor playground where there are plenty of adults around if he seriously needed any help. And we have forgotten that not every parenting decision needs to be investigated as if it's a crime scene.