Free-Range Kids

Mom Arrested, Jailed for Letting 7-Year-Old Watch His 4-Year-Old Brother at Home Alone

Ironically, the kids were watching the movie "Home Alone" when the cops showed up for no good reason.

|

HomeAlone
Screenshot via Home Alone / Youtube

Last week in Muncie, Indiana, two boys—ages 7 and 4—were home alone watching, of all things, the beloved movie Home Alone, when their mom had to leave for work and couldn't find a babysitter.

But unlike Kevin McAllister's mother in the film, this mom was thrown in jail. Her children were placed under the supervision of a relative, and she faces a neglect charge and a $10,000 bond.

What, exactly, happened? The mom, Taylor Joann Cumings, had to go to work and struck out on a sitter, so she kept her older son out of school to watch her younger son, who was feeling ill. It's not clear how anyone else found out that the boys were home alone, but somebody anonymously called 911, and so the cops showed up, according to The Star Press:

When an officer knocked on the house's door, the older child looked through blinds and exclaimed, "It's the police!"

He then ran to a telephone and called his aunt, reporting officers were outside and he was scared.

The aunt quickly arrived and persuaded the boys to open the front door. The officer presented the youngsters with toys he had in his police car.

This reveals three important things: (1) the 7-year-old was quite capable of calling someone when he needed help, (2) an adult was nearby and could assist them, and (3) don't open the door for the cops!

Obviously, the situation for the kids was not ideal. But needing a job, having a sick kid, and not being able to find a last-minute sitter is far from ideal as well. This forced mom to make a seat-of-the-pants decision—something we all have to do from time to time. For this, Cumings is being treated like a criminal. But if it's a bad idea for a mom to leave her kids alone, why is it a good idea to take the mom away from her kids and lock her up?

What's more, the idea that a 7-year-old can't possibly take on some responsibility is also a bit precious. While we don't see or approve of 7-year-olds doing much of anything on their own anymore, 7 has long been considered "the age of reason." Sure enough, this kid behaved reasonably: He kept his brother company, found a movie they both could enjoy, and even knew not to blithely answer the door. (Whether he was capable of booby-trapping the house to deter bandits is unknown, though this isn't exactly an essential skill.)

Cumings told the cops she had made this same arrangement a few times before, but "rarely." Sounds like a mom stretched thin who was trying to do her best. Rather than help, the authorities chose the path of least assistance.

NEXT: Trouble in Paradise

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Elephant in the room: Auntie was nearby?

    1. “Able to break away if there’s a fire” is not equal to “able to spend all day babysitting.”

      It’s also a very fair point that this police response arguably didn’t advance any public interest, and inarguably did give these two boys and many of their family and friends a permanent bad impression of law enforcement’s role in their lives.

      1. A Department of Child Services official said the boys could remain in their home under the care of their aunt.

        Sounds like she’s all day babysitting now.

        And you know that authorities don’t really care about your impression of them, only your obedience. I don’t agree with it, but would be the public outcry if police had walked away without intervening and something bad had happened to the kids that an adult present would have prevented? Once called, police are in a bad spot.

        1. “And you know that authorities don’t really care about your impression of them”

          “but would be the public outcry if police had walked away”

          It’s interesting that you don’t see the contradiction between these too statements.

          Why should they care about a public outcry. It’s not like they can actually be held accountable for whatever happens.

      2. inarguably did give these two boys and many of their family and friends a permanent bad impression of law enforcement’s role in their lives.

        We can only hope.

      3. Well, if the impression is accurate (and it appears it is) bad impressions can be valuable lessons too.
        Never EVER open the door to a cop unless he has a warrant or can articulate exigent circumstances.
        Better yet, let them break the door down.
        If the kids had told the cops, “Go away. I don’t want you on my property.” what else could they have done? For all they know, mom’s in the shower – not out trying to make a living so she can feed her kids.
        As for the cops – what shits they are!
        Yes, if they got a call for a wellness check, they’re sort of bound to investigate. But that could have taken the form of knocking on the door and asking, “Is everything alright?” If the answer is, “yes”, then GO THE FUCK AWAY unless you think it’s your job to ruin someone’s life for no reason – in which case you justify being called “Gestapo”.

        1. > If the kids had told the cops, “Go away. I don’t want you on my property.” what else could they have done?

          Claim exigent circumstances (children in danger), break the door, and possibly arrest the kids for obstructing police work.

    2. Auntie called 911.

      1. Auntie was the one that talked them into opening the door. she didn’t need to call the cops to do that. not sure where you are getting that unsubstantiated statement.

        1. Suggestion: Adjust your humor detector.

  2. Now let’s all cheer about how empowering it is to be a single parent.

  3. Now that’s wise! Now the kids have about no one to watch them now mom’s locked up!!! Whatever happened to kids being raised to be adults and not infantilized until age 18??? 7 is a bit young to care for a 4 year old without an adult there, but it’s getting insane when 12 year olds now can’t be left home alone, when my relatives have walked to the corner store a black away alone at age 6 or went home for lunch in 1st grade off campus!
    https://aladyofreason.wordpress.com/

    1. I have an 8 year old and 5 year old (both boys) and they actually seem to behave better when we aren’t watching, if say, I am in the yard and my wife has gone for a jog-they will keep themselves occupied. Its when they are trying to get our attention that there’s trouble.

      1. when we aren’t watching

        NoVaNick is history’s worst monster!

    2. “Now the kids have about no one to watch them now mom’s locked up!!!”

      But they do have Government Almighty, which loves them dearly!!!

      Scienfoology Song? GAWD = Government Almighty’s Wrath Delivers

      Government loves me, This I know,
      For the Government tells me so,
      Little ones to GAWD belong,
      We are weak, but GAWD is strong!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      My Nannies tell me so!

      GAWD does love me, yes indeed,
      Keeps me safe, and gives me feed,
      Shelters me from bad drugs and weed,
      And gives me all that I might need!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      My Nannies tell me so!

      DEA, CIA, KGB,
      Our protectors, they will be,
      FBI, TSA, and FDA,
      With us, astride us, in every way!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
      My Nannies tell me so!

  4. Just use the Alexa babysitting app. It turns on Home Alone and blocks calls to 911.

    1. Does it block the neighbor’s 911 calls? Because I could see some use in that.

  5. It takes a village (to ruin a person).

  6. Perfectly normal for both the kids to be adult enough to determine what sex they are and homosexual or straight.
    Post modern world where even when nothing makes common sense.

    1. Started off with a moderately coherent thought and then trailed off into meaninglessness.

      They don’t think it be like it is, but it do.

  7. Funny that the 7-year old knows enough not to call the cops but Auntie invites the cops right in. Maybe the 7-year old needs to be babysitting Auntie.

    1. There are a lot of videos on the web about babysitting.

  8. Here’s a progressive solution: on-demand (long term) babysitting by CPS workers, simply call 911.

    1. The progressive solution would be to have the 7 year old identify as 35, and demand that the cops recognize him as such.

      1. Tried in Britain and failed.

        1. Just like their dentistry.

  9. Many of my friends growing up were latch-key kids, we would go to their house after school starting in about 3rd grade and watch TV until mom or dad came home. Some of them had older siblings who may or may not have been helpful in an emergency, or may have actually caused emergencies.

    1. Which is why there are after school programs now.

  10. I essentially started three weeks past and that i makes $385 benefit $135 to $a hundred and fifty consistently simply by working at the internet from domestic. I made ina long term! “a great deal obliged to you for giving American explicit this remarkable opportunity to earn more money from domestic. This in addition coins has adjusted my lifestyles in such quite a few manners by which, supply you!”. go to this website online domestic media tech tab for extra element thank you .
    http://www.geosalary.com

  11. I essentially started three weeks past and that i makes $385 benefit $135 to $a hundred and fifty consistently simply by working at the internet from domestic. I made ina long term! “a great deal obliged to you for giving American explicit this remarkable opportunity to earn more money from domestic. This in addition coins has adjusted my lifestyles in such quite a few manners by which, supply you!”. go to this website online domestic media tech tab for extra element thank you .

    http://www.Mesalary.com

    1. Looks like the spammers have gone full bot. They don’t even change the wording from post to post anymore.

      1. It sounds like a pretty good opportunity though.

        1. You could always ask Arthur Kirkland who set him up for his glory hole attendent job. He acts like he’s some kind of big shot.

  12. The officer presented the youngsters with toys he had in his police car.

    A real life example of stranger danger….

    1. That’s why I came to post – – – –
      So are all cops issued kid bait toys?
      Or do we need to keep a very close eye on this particular officer? What might have happened if Auntie did not show up?

      1. Just a guess but a lot of police departments have officers designated to handle child related issues. Often females.

        1. Yeah. Clergy is trained to handle child related issues too.

          So, there’s that.

          1. It just explains why the cop has toys in the car.

            A teddy bear would be equipment.

  13. “Rather than help, the authorities chose the path of least assistance.”

    You didn’t mention whether or not she ASKED for help.

    If the aunt was close enough to “lend assistance”, why wasn’t she close enough to watch the boys? (Or conversely, if she wasn’t willing to watch the boys, how can you consider her proximity to be a positive?)

    1. Perhaps she was being held in stasis at another location, only to be reanimated in the event that she was needed.

      You have no idea what the aunt was doing, how far away she was, or whether she could watch them under non-emergent circumstances. All you know is she could lend assistance if it was needed.

      1. “You have no idea what the aunt was doing”

        Did you fail to notice that the sentences in my prior comment end with question marks?

        “All you know is she could lend assistance if it was needed.”

        Actually, I don’t know that.

    2. Or why were the kids not over at aunties house for the day if she was there anyway?

      1. Well, I love my grandkids. But I really don’t want them here all day.

        1. You would take them though if one was sick and mom needed to go to work. The older child could have gone to school then.

          Besides sitting on the couch with some popsicles and snacks watching Home Alone sounds like a pretty good day.

      2. My guess (guess!) is that the aunt was also at work but maybe closer, so the 7 year old was instructed to call her ‘if he needed anything.’

        That’s probably the arrangement I would make, not anticipating the cops being involved. I’d probably Uber it though so at least my car was in the driveway. Can’t take any chances.

  14. I’ve spent maybe 30 seconds around children in the past 20 years, so I don’t really know what a typical 7 year old is capable of, or a 3 year old for that matter. What would be nice is a well-funded public service campaign to educate nosy neighbors about how putting anyone in the custody of cops is to probably make their lives much worse than whatever problem you called about.

    1. Just one problem with that, Tony – nosy neighbors are convinced that they know best, and no amount of proof to the contrary is going to change that.

      1. That does not preclude the use of a Louisville Slugger to the occiput to adjust some attitudes.

        1. Clue X 4

      2. Nosy neighbors are also fickle as the wind, and an anti-“see something/say something” campaign could probably convince them that being ‘that guy’ is embarassing.

        There you go, Reason, fund that as campaign and make more ground for libertarians than the last 50 years combined

    2. I have. A 7 and 3 year old are capable of anything you can imagine and then some. I do not see where there needs to be legal charges. However it is not ok to leave them home alone for eight hours.

      1. My mother left us with a nanny until I was like a teenager, which I felt was a bit much, but I figured 7 was a tad too young.

        1. Damn, Tony. Check your privilege!

        2. Nanny and teenager…

          I think I saw that one.

    3. 30 seconds? You don’t last long in them, do you?

    4. > educate nosy neighbors about how putting anyone in the custody of cops is to probably make their lives much worse

      Quite possibly that was neighbors’ goal.

  15. Interesting; I found this bit of wording in the US Constitution; does it mean anything?

    “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”

    Something about a bill of rights and anonymous accusations?

    1. Government override. To protect the victims and all. Like Title IX proceedings on campus. Accusation without face to face testimony is all that is required.

      My wife and I visited the Palace of Inquisition in Cartagena last year. An accusation was all it took for the church to clean out your wealth. It worked effectively for 200 years!

      https://tinyurl.com/yb6nj28e

    2. The Constitution is no longer used or abided by unless it benefits the government oppressors and their minions.

    3. “Something about a bill of rights and anonymous accusations?”

      The accusation isn’t anonymous. It will come from the police officer who responded and found the kids alone.

      1. Which is why you never open the door for cops.

        1. Well, the closest analog events in my youth involved Johnny Law picking me up on the side of the highway a couple of miles from home. So if mom HADN’T opened the door for the cop, the cops wouldn’t have given me back.

  16. My mother told me she would babysit five children under seven years old – when she was thirteen. Maybe that’s why she was such a great mom.

  17. The workings of OFFICALDOM, which some would aptly describe as OFFICALDUMB are sometimes passing strange, to say the very least. As for these anonymous informants, they haveI assume even in the wilds of Indiana, Caller ID, especially at the police dept.

  18. Some day these fucking “do-gooders” are going to push John Citizen over the edge and he’s going to start hunting cops. If he’s smart, he can do it for a long time and not get caught.
    Just recall the DC Sniper case. Cops were profiling the suspect as a white heterosexual middle aged protestant male “lone wolf” driving a white truck. Turned out to be two gay, muslim niggers in a blue 1990 Chevrolet Caprice. So the only factor the police profile fit was “male”. Sort of. And while one was in his early 40s, the other wasn’t yet 18.
    Chief Moose could have looked a LONG time for the two suspects – if they hadn’t been unbelievably stupid.

    1. The cops aren’t the problem. Blame the leftist trash that make all these laws and agencies that direct the cops.

      I’ve been saying for a long time that the only way to fix thins is to,excise the progressives from this country. They need to not be here, and I don’t care how they go. Riding their horse, or slung over the back of it.

      Their choice.

  19. My brother and I were often left alone when young. Often overnight. The difference was the neighbors did not call 911 as it did not exist, and they knew we were alone so kept a watchful eye on us for our parents. Helpful neighbors, wow.

  20. Those aren’t “your” children!! They are children of the State. When those were your children they could ride in a car without bondage or even ride in the back of a pickup. They could do things to learn and learn how to work and be responsible for must I say ( their siblings??? ) and themselves.

    That was a HORRIBLE time though; so now Children of the State can ONLY learn from books written by Children of the State in a State Building. Can only be medicated by the State (universal healthcare??). Can only be sited by those verified by the States Human Services. When they grow up they’ll have to be assisted by the State.

    But somewhere down the the road there won’t be anymore responsible people left to assist the Children of the State.

    1. “Those aren’t “your” children!!”

      I thought we settled the question of whether or not one person could own another person back in the 1860’s.

      1. And that premise was entirely destroyed in the 2000s by Democratic Socialists using government to ever so increasingly enslave everyone and their children to someone else’s majority voted politicians opinion. In utter violation to the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing individual rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by means of an enumerated and limited government scope.

        Which Constitutional right of the children was violated in order for the State to step in??? Was someone killing kids? Was someone binding the kids against their will? The only “bondage” in this case was by the State and their unlimited powers to interfere with parents and their children on things they should have any power over.

  21. I essentially started three weeks past and that i makes $385 benefit $135 to $a hundred and fifty
    consistently simply by working at the internet from domestic. I made ina long term! “a great deal obliged to
    you for giving American explicit this remarkable opportunity to earn more money from domestic. This in
    addition coins has adjusted my lifestyles in such quite a few manners by which, supply you!”. go to this
    website online domestic media tech tab for extra element thank you .
    http://www.geosalary.com

  22. I made ina long term a great deal obliged to you for giving American explicit this remarkable opportunity to earn more money from domestic.

  23. Thanks admin for giving such valuable information through your article . Your article is much more similar to https://www.moschinooutletonlinestore.com/ word unscramble tool because it also provides a lot of knowledge of vocabulary new words with its meanings.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.