Tot Sauce: Locked Up

by Amy Nance

I just read this article yesterday about a Texas mom who was actually arrested, handcuffed and all, and thrown in jail for 18 hours because her neighbor called and complained that she was letting her children (ages 9 and 6) play outside unsupervised.

In the article, the mother states that they weren't unsupervised, that she was outside on the porch watching them the entire time. But even if she wasn't, since when is it illegal to let your kids play outside by themselves? Some might argue that it's not advisable. But the last time I checked, it's not against the law.

Still, the officers took the neighbor at her word without any investigation and slapped the mother with a child endangerment charge (which was later dropped). Now she's suing, the neighbor and the police.

I am not for frivolous lawsuits, but in this case, I hope she wins. And if she doesn't, I hope she at least gets one good slap in at that busybody neighbor. Kidding, of course. Violence is never the answer. That's what I'm supposed to teach my kid anyway. :)

So, rant aside … the bigger question is, do you let your kids play outside by themselves? If so, at what age?

Like many of the commentors, I remember the days when I'd leave the house at 10 am and my mom would tell me to "be back for dinner." Luckily, I was never kidnapped and murdered. And I wasn't a trouble maker, so I wasn't wreaking havoc across the neighborhood either. Unfortunately, those things happen sometimes. So do we keep our children locked up inside until they go to college, or do we just hope for the best and set them free? Is there a middle ground?

It's a tough one.

Photo by Flickr member Brain Fitzgerald, used under a Creative Commons License.