Mom Lets 4-Year-Old Play 120 Feet Away, Faces Jail
Tomahawk was found playing alone at a playground in the gated complex
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 2, 2015 7:42 AM CST
In this Oct. 2, 2015, photo, students play on a school playground during morning recess in Laramie, Wyo.   (Nuria Mathog/Laramie Boomerang via AP)

(Newser) – A mom who lives in a gated apartment complex in Sacramento, Calif., and describes her parenting style as "free range" faces up to six months in jail for letting her 4-year-old son play alone in the complex playground 120 feet from her front door. She was charged after two neighbors watched the boy, Tomahawk Hendren, playing by himself at the playground and then went outside to ask him to go home. When he said he wasn't done playing, they called the cops, and Child Protective Services took over, reports Fox40. Sonya Hendren's attorney says it's now up to the prosecution to prove that Hendren willfully put her son in danger to proceed with the child endangerment and neglect charges.

While she was initially arrested for felony child endangerment and neglect, Hendren's charges have been reduced to misdemeanors and she has been offered a reduced sentence of 30 days in jail and one year of probation. However, she rejected the plea deal in order to fight the charges and now faces a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a three-year probation, reports People. "I just thought she would get a warning," says one of the neighbors who called CPS, adding, "I'm not mad she has to do things now to teach her, because what if someone did take him?" For her part, Hendren says, "Of course I love him, I do everything for him. I breastfed for 28 months. I cloth-diapered, you know, obviously I'm avoiding helicopter parenting." Meanwhile, Tomahawk, an "outdoors" boy, says, "I love her like 20 times—maybe a thousand." (See what happened when this couple left four young kids home alone.)