Mom Arrested After Letting Son, 7, Walk to Park
The walk is about a half -mile, and the boy carries a cell phone
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 31, 2014 5:58 AM CDT
A Saturday, July 26, 2014, photo provided by the Port St. Lucie Police Department shows Nicole Gainey, 34, of Port St. Lucie, Fla.   (AP Photo/Port St. Lucie Police Department)

(Newser) – To all the parents who think it's OK to send their kids to the park alone, there is a new name to add to the list of those locked up for doing so. Florida mom Nicole Gainey was arrested and charged with child neglect after allowing her 7-year-old son to walk half a mile to a park to play last Saturday. NBC 5 Florida reports that the case is now expected to be dropped, but the mom was held on $4,000 bail after someone at a pool on the boy's route noticed he was alone and called the cops. There is no local law specifying at what age a child can roam alone; the cops have the authority to decide.

"Honestly didn't think I was doing anything wrong," says Gainey. "I was letting him go play." But last year, an Ohio father faced similar scrutiny after letting his 6-year-old daughter walk a few blocks to the post office alone, and just a few weeks ago a South Carolina woman was arrested for letting her 9-year-old play at a park while she worked at McDonald's. "Are we supposed to lock all our children inside for their safety at all times, and then we're negligent child abusers if we don't?" Lenore Skenazy, the author of Free Range Kids, asks the Huffington Post. The arresting officer, meanwhile, wrote in his report that "numerous sex offenders reside in the vicinity" of the park where Gainey's son was found. (Check out recent reactions to arrests like this.)

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Showing 3 of 268 comments
Sep 16, 2014 9:34 PM CDT
It's definitely not a world you would want your kids to... Nevermind, scratch that. It's definitely not a world that is fit for kids. Period.
Arthur Machado
Aug 1, 2014 5:51 AM CDT
We should be putting people in jail for driving with their kids, or not vaccinating them before we put them in jail for letting them go outside and play. Average of kids kidnapped each year by strangers 113 - of whom most are returned unharmed. Average number of kids injured in car wrecks each year 250,000 - of whom 2,000 die. Average number of children who get measles mumps and rubella as a result of moron soccer moms who listen to Jenny McCarthy about the mythical dangers of vacinations - 266.
Jul 31, 2014 9:54 PM CDT
It is ok for an illegal parent to send a child 1200 miles through dangerous terrain, with dangerous people to enter a country illegally and be rewarded with amnesty to stay here without a blink from the law, but an American child cannot walk to a park without a parent? I walked to school at seven , rode my bike, and played outside out of my mother's watch and it was perfectly fine. In sixth grade I had to walk two miles to school. Have we home grow more perverts or we importing a few?