17 July, 2014

Mom Arrested for Letting Daughter Play Outside -- NYMag

Mom Arrested for Letting Daughter Play Outside -- NYMag:

Debra Harrell is currently in jail
because she let her 9-year-old daughter play, unsupervised, in a public
park. Almost everything about this story (which I noticed courtesy of Lenore Skenazy)
is horrifying. Harrell works at McDonald's. Her daughter used to tag
along and stare at a screen at her mother’s workplace during the day.
She asked to go to the park instead, was discovered to be without an
adult, and her mother was arrested. Compounding the horribleness is the
news coverage, in which reporters and onlookers alike are united in
disgust at Harrell:

The story is a convergence of helicopter parenting with
America’s primitive family policy. Our welfare policy is designed to
make everybody, even single mothers, work full-time jobs. The social
safety net makes it difficult for low-wage single mothers to obtain
adequate child care. And society is seized by bizarre fears that
children are routinely snatched up by strangers in public places. The
phenomenon is, in fact,
nearly as rare
as in-person voting fraud. But when you watch the report above, you can
see everybody involved believes such a thing plainly happens all the

Obviously, leaving a child unattended in a park is not an ideal
child-care arrangement. It is, however, a perfectly sensible balancing
of risks.