One of the best (and as it turns out, most timely) things I did was to reach out to Lenore Skenazy, a journalist and New York City mom who operates an informative and thought provoking blogsite called Free Range Kids (http://www.freerangekids.com/).
You may have heard of Lenore in 2008 when she allowed her then-9-year-old son Izzy to take the bus and subway alone from Bloomingdales to their home and then wrote about it—whereupon she was roundly criticized as “The Worst Mom in America” for exposing Izzy to the supposed dangers of being an unsupervised kid in New York.
“Half the people I’ve told this episode to now want to turn me in for child abuse,” she wrote at the time. “As if keeping kids under lock and key and helmet and cell phone and nanny and surveillance is the right way to rear kids. It’s not. It’s debilitating—for us and for them.”
Now she operates her website, has written a book, and hosts a TV show on the Discovery/TLC network (“World’s Worst Mom”), in which she encourages parents to raise kids to be smart, strong, self-reliant, and safe.
This morning I discovered this story which happened recently in La Porte TX, near Houston. It illustrates the ludicrous lengths our society is going to in order to criminalize responsible parenting—and justify the intrusion of the state in family matters which are no business of the state.
From YouTube (September 13, 2012): A stay-at-home mom from La Porte TX has filed a lawsuit against the city’s police department, an unknown officer and one of her neighbors.
Tammy Cooper said she was wrongly accused of endangering her children and was even forced to spend the night in jail, all because she let her kids play outside.
She said her children, ages 9 and 6, were riding their motorized scooters in the cul-de-sac where they live while she watched from a lawn chair in her front yard just a few feet away.
“I was out there the entire time,” Cooper said. “I never left that lawn chair the entire time.”
Cooper said a little while later, a La Porte police car pulled up in front of her home.
“I went out there to see what he was here for and he said, ‘Ma’am, we’re here for you.’ I said, ‘Oh really? Why?’ He proceeded to tell me he had received a call from one of my neighbors that my kids were riding their scooters unsupervised.
Cooper said she was handcuffed, put in the back of a police car and forced to spend the night in jail.
“Orange jumpsuit, in a cell, slammed the door, for 18 hours,” Cooper said.
The charges against her were eventually dropped but she still describes the ordeal as humiliating and said her children were even questioned by police and terrified.
“My daughter had him (the police officer) around the leg saying, “Please, please don’t take my mom to jail. Please, she didn’t do anything wrong,'” said Cooper.
This is not an isolated incident. Parents are being charged with neglect for allowing their kids to play alone in fenced back yards or for being fed raw food diets. It seems the only lawful way to raise kids anymore is to keep them indoors in front of the television, fattening them up on Frito-Lay products, and helping kids develop dependency anxieties, diabetes, and ADHD so they can be medicated.
This has all really got to stop. We are losing sight as a society of what real child abuse and neglect are all about and, in the process, allowing truly awful parents like Monica and Jefferson Sanders to continue on their merry ways.
Groove of the Day