Free-Range Kids

Court Upholds Dad's Conviction for Making 8-Year-Old Son Walk Home Alone

Every parent be concerned when the state makes it illegal for parents to trust their kids.

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Mike Tang, the California father convicted of child endangerment after making his 8-year-old son walk a mile home alone, has lost his appeal.

Tang left his son outside a local grocery store as punishment for cutting corners on his homework. He told the boy he had to walk home. The child was familiar with the route. "I just wanted to reinforce that money is hard to earn and that, if he doesn't do a good job at school, he could end up sleeping…[with] the homeless" outside grocery stores, Tang told Reason.tv.

In his appeal, Tang challenged a provision in California law that criminalizes placing a child "in a situation where his or her person or health may be endangered." (Emphasis added.) That vague and sweeping language, Tang argued, effectively means that a parent could be arrested simply if "there was a crack in the sidewalk where the child could trip and fall."

But the appellate court saw no problem with the broad language of the law and rejected Tang's appeal.

David DeLugas, the executive director of the National Association of Parents, a non-profit whose mission includes fighting for the rights of parents to raise their kids as they see fit (so long as the kids are not harmed), told me that the California law at issue in the Tang case is unconstitutional.

It is unconstitutional, DeLugas says, because the law takes the decision-making rights from parents and gives them to the state, permitting the authorities to charge any parent, at any time, under almost any circumstances. For instance, DeLugas points out, "a parent who permits a child to play tackle football is subject to being charged under this same statute because the child 'may' be injured."

DeLugas has experience fighting these sorts of overreaching laws. He previously took up the case of Susan Terrillion, the Maryland woman who was arrested while on vacation in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, after she went out to pick up dinner, leaving her kids, ages eight and nine, home alone. In Delaware, DeLugas notes, child endangerment charges kick in only when a child is "likely" to be hurt, not when they "may" be hurt, as is the case in California. DeLugas gathered enough evidence on Terrillion's behalf to make it obvious that the children were not "likely" to be hurt, and the prosecutor ultimately dismissed the charges.

When the law allows the state to prosecute parents who trust their kids, DeLugas warns, "every parent should be concerned."

Unfortunately for parents like Mike Tang, the law remains against them.

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60 responses to “Court Upholds Dad's Conviction for Making 8-Year-Old Son Walk Home Alone

  1. But the appellate court saw no problem with the broad language of the law…

    Of course it didn’t.

    1. Does knowing that the kid has been murdered over 45 times change your opinion, Mr. E?

      1. Look at that screen grab. That kid’s glare could stop a pedo in his tracks.

        1. If you’re into messing with kids, you probably ignore screaming, tantrums, flailing, and staring contests.

          1. I suppose you would know…

            For the rational among us, the odds of being struck by lighting are the real worry.

    2. “saw no problem with the BROAD language of the law…”

      So we’re just going to ignore the blatant sexism written into the legislation?

      1. I am curious, what is the language used in the statute?
        That alone might get him some federal review.

      2. Agreed.

        The Bitches Be Trippin’ proviso contained in the “Ho’s Up” clause was particularly damning.

  2. Of course they did.

    He directly challenged the power of the state to know what is best for you and your children.

    The fact that kids have been walking home by themselves for years is….IRRELEVANT.

    Courts call what might happen a parade of horribles unless it benefits the state.

    Let’s just start over.

  3. In his appeal, Tang challenged a provision in California law that criminalizes placing a child “in a situation where his or her person or health may be endangered.” (Emphasis added.) That vague and sweeping language, Tang argued, effectively means that a parent could be arrested simply if “there was a crack in the sidewalk where the child could trip and fall.”

    But the appellate court saw no problem with the broad language of the law and rejected Tang’s appeal.

    Of course they saw no problem with the language. They love broad and vague language because then they can use the law to fuck over whoever they want at any time they choose. If the law had to be specific they wouldn’t have that kind of power.

    the law takes the decision-making rights from parents and gives them to the state

    We have to break through out kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents…

    1. Agreed, since children MAY be harmed LITERALLY anywhere at anytime it gives the government supreme control over us and our children. I can certainly see The Peoples Democratic Republic of California using it to take kids away from parents who have a gun in the house, or teach them things they deem harmful like boys can’t be girls or any other infinitely expandable excuse. This simply codifies, in law, that we are merely allowed to raise our children at the benevolent goodwill of the government. The government owns our children.

      1. Gos, she’s an idiot.

        Hmmm. Could it possibly be that kids belong to themselves?

        1. Right on, Zeb

    2. I signed in to post the same clip, Cynical. Well done. I doubt that we can overplay it on H&R.

  4. The real crime is the haircut.

  5. It is unconstitutional, DeLugas says, because the law takes the decision-making rights from parents and gives them to the state, permitting the authorities to charge any parent, at any time, under almost any circumstances.

    And why does that make it unconstitutional? Unjust and ridiculous, sure, but unconstitutional?

    1. Parents have a constitutionally based right to parent their children without state interference.
      This is established SCOTUS law.

      This guy has an argument available in federal court.

      I know this, because I went through it, and am currently litigating a case of state overreach in parental discretions, in the NDNY federal court. Treistman v. Wacks 12-cv-1897

    2. Because it’s not a power delegated to the states or the fed?

  6. California law that criminalizes placing a child “in a situation where his or her person or health may be endangered.”

    Like making them go to a government school?

    1. Or driving them somewhere in a car? Or pretty much everything else?

    2. Or eating government food

      Or riding on government roads.

      Or being around police which is the worst danger of all!

  7. “a parent who permits a child to play tackle football is subject to being charged under this same statute because the child ‘may’ be injured.”

    Now you’re catching on.

    1. But that won’t happen. As long as the parent is doing the same thing many other parents are doing, they’re not going to be charged. It’s only unusual behavior, like novel punishments as in this case, that they’d single out. If everybody were doing the same thing, it wouldn’t be.

  8. This was an appeal. How was he convicted in the first place? Did he plead guilty like a moron? Did he waive a jury trial like a moron? Was he not allowed one? Surely a jury didn’t convict him, right?

    1. Gosh like a jury of 12 Tony’s?

      1. Funny, Jury of 12 Tonys is the name of the new gay orgy flick I’m directing/starring in.

        1. The judge knows one thing for sure

          [dons sunglasses]

          It won’t be a hung jury.

          1. So many William Hung fans

  9. Only a mile this time? Heck, Tang went w the astronauts to the Moon!

  10. This same shit happend to me.
    Except for me it was weighing my daughter on a bathroom scale, asking her about her medication, and bringing her to McDonalds.
    I wasn’t charged with a crime, but my daughter has been effectively taken from me and given to her mother at a custody trial, them citing this as improper parenting warranting losing custody.
    See my stealth video of CPS interrogating me for this:

    https://youtu.be/NIsnbUxAPhs

    1. For reasons that I can’t explain, I watched some of your video.

      I have no idea who you are, or why you are on the losing end of a custody battle, but holy crap. Dealing with that lady was really, really tough. Just sitting through 5 minutes of a video was more interaction than I’d every like to have with her. And no, I don’t trust her to make decisions about other people’s lives. And I don’t doubt that she reported inaccurate information to the court.

      I pray that none of us ever have to deal with these people.

      1. Ok, for those who wisely avoided his video – an actor of the state is “interviewing” him about his interactions with his child in the format of berating and lecturing about every little thing you can imagine.

        I didn’t and won’t watch the whole thing, but here’s the money quote, in reference to allowing his 8 year old daughter to have a something Zero soda:

        “The sugar content alone in that is not…”

        It’s zero. It’s zero calories.. It’s zero sugar…

        “But they are using some other sweetener, which is also sugar. It’s a sugar substitute, which is also sugar. So it has the same effect on an 8 year old.”

        This is the mind of the state, in action. It has vast power over your life.

        1. It’s a sugar substitute, which is also sugar.

          A ? B
          Therefore A = B

          Government logic at its best.

          1. Really, honestly said. With great condescension and disdain. At just after the 9:00 mark.

            1. Total sympathy for Gary, who should not be lumped into the same category as Tang,

          2. direct result of too many years in gummit skewlz. The upper limit of safe time in those places is one week.

  11. I wish the law included those in loco parentis, the whole LA school district, along with many others, would be guilty. Seems cities have bigger problems than kids walking home.

    1. It is not so much the action done, as much as it is who did it.
      When a parent does it, the apparatchiks go after them
      When the state employees do it, it is perfectly reasonable, and immune from being charged.

      Simply, the state should not be micromanaging parental decisions, using a “what-if” standard of danger.
      If the action is not inherently abusive, then state should and has no right to tell a parent how to raise his kids.

  12. I suggest that the state apparatchiks watch this movie. It is the true story of an 8 year old girl and her two young companions who walked 1,500 miles across Australia’s outback desert to get home. Of course it was the state that took them so far from their home, but it still demonstrates that walking a mile in a modern American city isn’t all that horrific.

    1. Of course it’s not horrific, but it sticks out as unusual. You’ll notice they’re not picking up one kid out of a crowd of them walking home.

    2. The ironic thing about this is how many SJWs that would do these sorts of things today “for the good of the children,” would be appalled at this movie and how horribly they treated the aboriginal minority.

      1. That is one of the reasons it is such a great movie. The villain is absolutely convinced that he is doing the right thing and helping these people. He does great evil with a pure heart and charitable intentions.

  13. RE: Court Upholds Dad’s Conviction for Making 8-Year-Old Son Walk Home Alone
    Every parent be concerned when the state makes it illegal for parents to trust their kids.

    Now who should be in charge of disciplining children?
    The State does an excellent job of indoctrinating children into the politically correct ideals necessary for a successful socialist slave state via the State sponsored re-education camps. If The State is wise enough to show the children the many wonderful ways socialism can further oppress the unenlightened masses, then The State should have the power to enforce much needed party discipline on not only the lowly plebian class but their offspring as well.
    Such humane and wise visionaries as Lenin, Stalin and Mao would not disagree.

  14. He wasn’t “trusting” his kid, he was forcing him to walk home alone. Had he done this to his wife, she could press charges and the asshole would go to jail. No excuses about “trusting” his wife to walk home. I disagree with the court’s ruling, but for different reasons. Lenore isn’t making a good case for this low life.

    1. You are right. Walking a mile is an inhuman punishment.

      I mean, if the kid had taken it at a slow jog it still would have taken him 15 minutes to get home!

      I didn’t know that bit about the wife going to jail though. My wife left me at church this spring and I had to walk the two miles in the rain. At night. I didn’t know I could have had her arrested.

      1. If she forced you out of the car you could. This kid didn’t volunteer to get out of his dad’s car. I’m all for LETTING your kid walk home, FORCING is another matter. Or is everything that is not mandatory forbidden?

    2. What charges could the wife press?

      1. I refer you to the 9th Circuit’s decision, Paloma v. Common Sense and Established Law, 2017.

      2. If you force her out of your car and tell her to walk home, it’s abuse.

  15. Eventually, this will escape California, and get to a federal court. Then the dad’s odds go way up to maybe 50/50.

    Standard CA comment; Secede already, and take Hawaii with you.

    1. Also take New York, Illinois and New Jersey…please!

  16. Maybe we need to end the quaint practice of parenthood. Just take all children from their biological parents at birth and rear them in state run creches.

  17. Abolition of the family! Even the most radical flare up at this infamous proposal of the Communists.

    On what foundation is the present family, the bourgeois family, based? On capital, on private gain. In its completely developed form, this family exists only among the bourgeoisie. But this state of things finds its complement in the practical absence of the family among the proletarians, and in public prostitution.

    The bourgeois family will vanish as a matter of course when its complement vanishes, and both will vanish with the vanishing of capital.

    Do you charge us with wanting to stop the exploitation of children by their parents? To this crime we plead guilty.

    But, you say, we destroy the most hallowed of relations, when we replace home education by social.

    And your education! Is not that also social, and determined by the social conditions under which you educate, by the intervention direct or indirect, of society, by means of schools, &c.? The Communists have not invented the intervention of society in education; they do but seek to alter the character of that intervention, and to rescue education from the influence of the ruling class.

    The bourgeois claptrap about the family and education, about the hallowed c-relation of parents and child, becomes all the more disgusting, the more, by the action of Modern Industry, all the family ties among the proletarians are torn asunder, and their children transformed into simple articles of commerce and instruments of labour

  18. My “abusive” parents actually let me walk a mile to and from school each day starting in 1st grade, first with a small group of older (8th grade) kids, then with a buddy a grade older than me.

    By third grade (i.e. 8 years of age) I trekked that mile to and from school alone each day until the end of 8th grade…

  19. No time like now to push for the Parental Rights Amendment to be passed in the House (expected to be presented soon) and Senate (S.J. Res. 48).

    https://parentalrights.org/amendment/

  20. So what’s the answer here? How should the law be written? The obvious intent is to prevent parents from deliberately endangering their children (i.e. punish them by putting them in scalding water or confining them in the tool shed for a week in winter). Obviously children merit protection from abuse and endangerment (I sure as shit hope nobody disagrees with that).

    Everyone seems to agree that this law is *wrong*, so what would the *right* law look like?

  21. Ms. Skenazy, you didn’t say what level of appellate court this is. Can he appeal farther?

  22. My Mom forced me to walk by myself to school when I was five. I must have done it more than 2,000 times after that, 4,000 if you count walking home by myself! And she became a high school vice principal!
    This is just another reason I hope Reason readers serve on jury duty every chance they get.

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