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Is 9 too young to play at a park alone?

Posted by on Jul. 18, 2014 at 10:46 AM
  • 30 Replies

Mom Thrown in Jail for Letting 9-Year-Old Play at the Park

by Maressa Brown

playground swing setA mother in North Augusta, South Carolina named Debra Harrell went to jail earlier this month, charged with "unlawful conduct towards a child." Whatever she did must've been well-deserved, right? Not so much. Harrell's alleged crime: Her daughter was "left behind at a nearby park, for hours at a time," according to the local news. This all because Harrell works at a McDonald's, and for most of the summer, her daughter had stayed there with her, playing on a laptop that Harrell had saved up to buy her. But when their home was robbed, and the laptop was stolen, the little girl asked her mom if she could stay at the park that was practically adjacent to the McD's to play.

Harrell said yes, equipped her daughter with a cellphone, and allowed her to play at the park, surrounded by about 40 kids at any given time, three days in a row. But the third day, an adult asked her where her mom was. When she said she was at work, the other parent called the police, who declared the girl "abandoned."

If the story sounds a bit absurd to you, you're not alone. In the days following the story breaking, the general reaction has been of shock, disbelief, and frustration at this news. Sure, there are some who think Harrell was putting her daughter at risk. But most believe it's nothing short of ludicrous that a mom could be thrown in jail for allowing her 9-year-old to play like a normal kid at the park instead of keeping her cooped up inside, staring at a laptop all day -- while she's working. 

This culture of fear-mongering and distrust some parents have for other parents and their children are really frightening. We need to give kids room to be kids and trust them to look out for themselves by a certain age. Parents who think they're doing others a favor by calling out moms like Harrell need to take a step back and assess what exactly they're "blowing the whistle" on. If there are really any dangers present to warrant an over-the-top reaction like this. And if the parent in question is actually doing something unlawful -- or maybe just parenting differently, perhaps in a way that's more trusting and less helicopter-like.

More from The StirHow Young Is Too Young For a Kid to Travel Alone?

At least it's heartening to see most parents are siding with Harrell. With hope, they'll continue to stand up for moms like her, in turn preventing parents like the one who called the cops here from sticking their nose where it doesn't belong.

How do you feel about what happened to this mom?


Image via fredrocko/iStock

by on Jul. 18, 2014 at 10:46 AM
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Replies (1-10):
Moonbabylove
by Silver Member on Jul. 21, 2014 at 12:21 AM
1 mom liked this

Making sure your 9 year old child or some one elses 9 year old doesn't get kidnaped and raped isn't helicopter parenting. I think people need to focus less on labeling parenting choices and more on what is healthy and safe for children.

You can give your child independence and freedom without dropping them off at a freaking playground with no supervision for hours.

Anonymous
by Anonymous 1 on Jul. 21, 2014 at 12:27 AM
1 mom liked this

If the child is not old enough to know what to say in this situation, he or she is not old enough to watch him or herself without supervision. Hours at a time at a park is not okay. She needs to find childcare. 

snarkius
by Member on Jul. 21, 2014 at 1:07 AM
1 mom liked this

I was riding my bike all over town (including going to several playgrounds and the pool) when I was nine.  I would have gone mad if I had been cooped up with a daycare or a sitter all day when my parents worked in the summer.  After googling the distance between the park and the McDonald's, I am shocked this happened.  

Anonymous
by Anonymous 2 on Jul. 21, 2014 at 2:19 AM

by the time i was 9 i was letting myself into the house after school, making myself a snack, and sometimes starting dinner for my mom while she was at work. 

The amount of helicopter parenting these days is getting out of hand.

jenerica.
by Silver Member on Jul. 21, 2014 at 2:21 AM
Naw
Anonymous
by Anonymous 3 on Jul. 21, 2014 at 2:21 AM
This. 100% agree!!!!


Quoting Moonbabylove:

Making sure your 9 year old child or some one elses 9 year old doesn't get kidnaped and raped isn't helicopter parenting. I think people need to focus less on labeling parenting choices and more on what is healthy and safe for children.

You can give your child independence and freedom without dropping them off at a freaking playground with no supervision for hours.

Anonymous
by Anonymous 3 on Jul. 21, 2014 at 2:22 AM
1 mom liked this
Have you not seen what our world has come to since then??

Its not helicopter parenting. Its called smart parenting

Quoting Anonymous:

by the time i was 9 i was letting myself into the house after school, making myself a snack, and sometimes starting dinner for my mom while she was at work. 

The amount of helicopter parenting these days is getting out of hand.

Anonymous
by Anonymous 2 on Jul. 21, 2014 at 2:41 AM
1 mom liked this

LOL look it up dear. Our world is SAFER than it was back in the day. However, that did not stop me from playing outside with my friends, from morning, until mom yelled out the back door for us to come home for dinner. 

This is why we have teens, and young adults, unable to grow up and care for themselves. They need mommy there constantly to take care of them. 

Since we are talking statistics, 1 in 8000 children are killed each year in car accidents. 


1 in 1.5 million, are abducted (killed or not) 

So...do you keep your kids out of the car? completely? I mean, its smart parenting right? 


Your child is more likely to die from illness, than to be abducted and killed. 

Not to mention the fact that this child was FAR Less likely to be molested or raped while at the park. Compared to now. In the foster system she is almost CERTAINLY going to be abused in some way. Its simple statistics.


Quoting Anonymous: Have you not seen what our world has come to since then?? Its not helicopter parenting. Its called smart parenting
Quoting Anonymous:

by the time i was 9 i was letting myself into the house after school, making myself a snack, and sometimes starting dinner for my mom while she was at work. 

The amount of helicopter parenting these days is getting out of hand.


catngabsmom
by Gold Member on Jul. 21, 2014 at 2:47 AM
When I was nine, I was at the park without my heli-mommy by my side, the park was 10 blocks away. I grew up in the city of Detroit, there were no cell phones then, hell if I needed my mom, I either needed to run the 10 blocks home, or go to the corner bar one block over to use the pay phone...that's assuming at 9, that I didn't spend my two dimes at the penny candy store on the corner of block 5!!!
Anonymous
by Anonymous 4 on Jul. 21, 2014 at 5:13 AM

The child was not playing in the park like a normal 9 year old.  Normal would be either the mom or somone older there with her, or at age 9 she could play with the other kids for an hour, then race home to check in.  The child was at the park un accompanied by an adult and left there to fend for herself while her mom was not watching her or had someone keeping an eye on her but instead at work.  No matter how close, qat work.  Thqat is how the prosecutor and judge looked at it, just like it was which sounded kinda bad.  The mom had the park (not ahuman) babysitting gfor her.  That will not work in court.

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