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.)