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Woman Jailed For Leaving Child at Playground Alone

Does Sending Your Child to a Playground Alone Warrant Arrest?

A South Carolina woman has not only been arrested but also had her 9-year-old daughter taken away from her after making a controversial decision that's sure to change the rest of her life. Debra Harrell works at McDonald's, and for most of the Summer, her daughter had accompanied her to work, passing her time by playing on a laptop. After the Harrell family's home was burglarized and the laptop stolen, the child found herself with nothing to do and asked her mom to drop her off at a local park instead of returning to the fast-food restaurant.

Harrell complied, and for three days straight, the girl was dropped off at the park, where there are swings, a splash pad for frolicking in the water, and plenty of shade. She left the daughter with a cell phone so that she would have a way to contact her. On the third day, a woman asked the girl where her parents were. Horrified by her response, she called the authorities, and the rest was history.

Harrell was arrested for unlawful conduct toward a child, and her daughter has since been put into foster care.

The story is sad on many levels, and no matter what your stance, it certainly makes you think. Where do you weigh in? Should Harrell have gone to jail for letting her child play at the park alone?

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lorolei9 lorolei9 2 years

Danielle, I'm no the one who needs a grip. I actually don't know if you're speaking hypothetically or not, but 1. Seeing parents with harnesses on their kids always made me sick. I watched my kids-didn't pull them around with a leash. To me it looked like you were dragging a pet around. On the other hand, my best friend at the time(when our kids were that little) used it for all her kids. I'm not talking about some dipshit either. She's an RN who works in the NICU of a leading teaching hospital in Boston. No matter how strongly I felt it was wrong, I would never say anything-why? Because in every other way I could think of she was an excellent mother, and also a true friend who would drop anything if I needed some kind of assistance. The bubble wrap, that's gotta just be somwething silly you threw in there, but the hand sanitized-well yup, ya got me. I do travel around with every kind of sanitizing foam, gel, etc, baby wipes, you name it, and yes, even in their 20's. However, my kids are beautiful, smart, responsible, and all those good things. It didn't happen by accident. Two out of three of those kids were reading at a first grade level by the time they went to kindergarten. Not because I forced them, because they enjoyed learning phonics (I had flash cards) and then picked right up-on the reading because they expressed that interest. My 12 year old who seems to have ADHD hates it (much to my dismay) and is below grade level. It's a struggle. Oh, just one more thing Danielle, my kids all loved getting dirty and were allowed to go out and have fun. I didn't care if they got dirty-it washes off. When they were going outside to play, they had play clothes on that I expected to get dirty. I was a firm believer in letting a kid be a kid. That's different than the arguments here on what ages are appropriate to allow different levels of independence. You're dead wrong about so many thing concerning me. You shouldn't be saying all this crap when you don't know what you're talking about. It's funny that a lot of things people criticize me about are wrong, and I am often in agreement with them! Lack of communication.

lorolei9 lorolei9 2 years

So Krista, given the way you start your post, it sounds as if you doubt my credentials to make a statement regarding brain development, and perhaps you don't believe what I said to be true. So, first of all I'd suggest that you consult a medical professional to confirm what I am telling you. It sounds like you may have some doubts, so I'd want to clear that up first so that you're comfortable that I'm speaking the truth to you.

Secondly, to answer your question, no, I'm not saying that parents need to supervise children 100% of the time and make all their decisions.You are coming to an incorrect conclusion about what I said, and quoting me doesn't change that. I am not stating or implying that someone under 21 needs 100% supervision and needs all their decisions made for them. That's a ridiculous conclusion and I'd appreciate it if you didn't try to put words in my mouth. I never said anything like that. In fact, I couldn't agree more with you and what you're trying to say I'm against! OF COURSE we should start teaching our children skills to prepare them for the world! Not only should we, it is our job, our obligation as parents. The big question here, and our only potential difference, (although I don't really know because you didn't address this part), is WHEN. We all know our own children best, but even so, there are general guidlines/age ranges as to what is appropriate for what age. And I don't even know that we differ there-who knows? Even parents who think they can make the judgements about their own kids and what their ready for, still are good decision-makers themselves, which is why there have to be laws in place to protect children if they have parents that don't make good decisions. In some cases I'd be the first one to say authorities should butt out. My daughter, who is almost 22 now has always been a quick study, smart as whip and good at everything she did-in and out of school. I swear if she had to, she could have ran the entire household by age 10. My oldest son, who is 32 now, was still asking me, "What drawer are the scissors in?" and What time I am supposed to be at such and such", "What day is it again"-at age 16! My 12 year old is somewhere in the middle.

In conclusion Krista, it sounds to me like I basically agree with you, so what you said early on in your post is not only offense it really is ridiculous and condescending to talk to me that way.

LillyEstrada1379278873 LillyEstrada1379278873 2 years

To talk*

LillyEstrada1379278873 LillyEstrada1379278873 2 years

Here you go again! Everyone here , just like you , is entitled to their opinion. I would never sit down with you to sit. I know pple that have been in worse situations than you have. I could care less. That yours barley scratches the surface? Please! I don't want to know. You're the one with your 'poor me' story . So don't you dare say that I'm trying to make pple feel sorry for me. I just know what it feels like. The mom doesnt deserve such a harsh punishment. Any child could be in danger or could be kidnapped by some creep or pedophile, while being supervised or being with their parents or with a relative. And if you're happy now, good for you. You 'were' a single mom. Youre no longer. And stop trying to make yourself sound 'superior' when it comes to making 'intelligent' comments. Pfft. Please!! I haven't even told my entire story..and I'm not going to bother. You are judging pple on here for having their own opinion or for not agreeing with the matter. It is annoying. So...stop! !

lorolei9 lorolei9 2 years

Who do you think you are telling me that I don't know anything, implying that you do because you've been in foster care. I know plenty. It's you that doesn't have a clue. Maybe you should first learn how to read. After that, read my that elaborates a little on what I have gone through in my life. You shouldn't be criticizing someone when it's clear you don't know what you're talking about. You don't have the facts here to make an intelligent statement. Also, you, along with some others, seem to think giving a 9 year old a cell phone is the end all in safety. Why don't you sit there and give your self sometime to think and see how many different scenarios you can come up with in which a set of circumstances could arise with that little, where having a cell phone wouldn't make any difference. Don't you think an experienced manipulative pedophile could do certain thing to lure that girl a way and get that cell phone away from her? I won't even start to explain all the things that could happen, and that's only the danger concerning a pedophile. There's just so many things, and you're obviously not bright enough to figure them out. Ya. "just give 'em a cell phone" and go about your day. Hopefully everything will be just fine. Just keep telling yourself that-better yet, I just hope that you, and people like you, don't have children depending on you as their parent to make good decisions to ensure their safety.

Julia-ParkerWeber1386691690 Julia-ParkerWeber1386691690 2 years

I agree the about the fine of warning instead of Jail but alot parents do this all over kinda not fair if there were other kids there unattended don't you think but I agree I wouldn't let my boys go alone, my boys have disabilities and they would have problems, off the this topic i trust my Savannah because she's more mature but it was earned and she learning to be more mature now in her choices that she never learned with her real mother who never let her outside and never taught her and nourished her. i'm thankful i met her at age 11 when she needed a mother figure most in her life and We have pretty close relationship though she has teenage moments that drive her dad and i nuts lol but what parent doesn't with teenager daughters. We teach Savannah the dangers but she doesn't always want to follow, so we hope she learn sooner then later in life. Our kids were sheltered alot and I had to learn to be mom and teach our kids alot of things. The biggest things the kids have learned from foster care was lying boy did it take a year for Savannah and now the boys have learned from her and so it's getting better. I had to teach my husband not baby Savannah because she was becoming a young woman much faster after all they went through in the past, present and our new family was alot to take in. For along time they didn't call me mom and i understood that I may never be called mom and it wasn't until jaylan and Savannah were sick with bad fever and I had no money and my husband was at work and i remember somethings my mother taught me and cloth dipped cold water to calm them down several times until help arrived. I told them my mom did it for me and I do it for them because that's what mommy's do and because I loved them. They kinda always remembered that and visiting their birth mom she sat there but didn't talk to her kids. She would demand their attention but she never gave it them, I let them come to me when they were ready. I warned her she would lose her kids if she didn't start asking them questions, playing with them, pushing them at the swing, playing a game with them finding out who her kids were today, but she doesn't and now her kids don't want to see her because she doesn't even talk to them like I do that they know what a real mother is now and change happened within my kids and they call me mommy and mom. I like the sound of hearing it after watching my kids in pain at visits, i love them and my husband and i are always truthful. I wouldn't mind visiting her if i trusted her, so many lies she would tell to her kids about their dad at visits and from her family that wasn't true. She did drugs and gave up jaylan to foster care because he bit her on the hand which she lied to everyone and said it was another place she gave jaylan to foster care without talking to their father first and then tried to hurt Savannah and Savannah called 911 and they picked up the kids Jesse was truck driving in only three months it was so difficult to come home to empty beds and find out in court that your wife lied to you and you had find out the truth in public court so she crazy and now you ask why do we do visits so our kids can find the truth themselves and they did so they won't be angry with their daddy for not seeing their mom. their birth mother dishonesty and betrayal to her children will not forgotten no matter how much she tries to cover it. she has not wanted to get better yet and her kids are disappointed and want to be noticed for who they are and they are not happy and don't feel good around her as my jaylan would say to me. so we will have to do letters or e-mails for now on. The judge gave all rights and disc-ions on visits left to their father and for the safety and well being of our children to see her or not. All recorded and documented and signed by law. i have feeling they may one day see if she has changed when they are older but She lied and abused her husband Jesse emotionally all the years they were married and tried to use it on me lol I didn't fall for it and trying use him again. I'm glad he was strong to walk away from her. Our family is so happy he is happy, our kids are growing and happy and feel safe today because of the choices he made. I love my jesse we are best friends and love life and our children. I know our kids need to leave the past in past and look for the good today. the first thing i taught my kids was pray individually and now my kids know what to do when their sad or angry or scared to pray to god and he'll always be with them. I think being a parent is not easy but worth it. I never been a parents and have been blesses with three kids, wonderful in different way and so talented.My boys and savannah have come along ways and I'm proud of them. I'm proud of my husband because changes had to happen to bring order and we both found a common ground what to teach our children. I'm thankful for my life right now at this moment.

Julia-ParkerWeber1386691690 Julia-ParkerWeber1386691690 2 years

not everyone get help my husband and i was able to get ssi for our son who has grandma seguieres and has medicine for it but couldn't get food stamps to help our family so not everyone gets on that list. Some single mom can't get the help they need.If there are programs then my friend has not been offered these programs by the state.

Julia-ParkerWeber1386691690 Julia-ParkerWeber1386691690 2 years

Wow I believe there's the lesson here we watch out not only for our kids safety but but for other children so true but careful, not to accused though people today will take you to court over anything even if your helping be cautious disqus okay you have good heart.

Julia-ParkerWeber1386691690 Julia-ParkerWeber1386691690 2 years

I've seen a three old knock on our door in apartments at 9:00 pm to play with my kids to young knowone was watching him and still he wonders. he's so young.

Julia-ParkerWeber1386691690 Julia-ParkerWeber1386691690 2 years

I have noticed from watching my friend who raises her children herself her children are more mature and clean then some children and their great kids.

Julia-ParkerWeber1386691690 Julia-ParkerWeber1386691690 2 years

yea I'm so glad thank you for up date asperfermom013

Julia-ParkerWeber1386691690 Julia-ParkerWeber1386691690 2 years

I agree to education first since it was her first time. why would you put someone in jail for something small when everyone makes mistakes as parents. I knew someone who owned a pool and was watching her child so she thought and her child drowned in her own backyard. That's a mistake she lives with everyday and i don't think the first time a parent makes that mistake should have their children taken away and sent to jail for years. I respect policeman but there are still good parents out there and to much negativity towards being a parent nowadays no wonder people don't want kids because of fear. I love my kids and give rules and if they are responsible enough they earn more. I wouldn't let them play after dark lol like some parents have been doing in my apartments. I'm not single mom and i know someone who is and her oldest are independent children and help their younger brother grow up fast and have responsibility. I think singles mom rock and they do need help with daycare or programs for their kids in the summer. This mother needs to be counseled and educated no different then every parent today.

Julia-ParkerWeber1386691690 Julia-ParkerWeber1386691690 2 years

I agree aspergermom013

Julia-ParkerWeber1386691690 Julia-ParkerWeber1386691690 2 years

Good parents suffer for the poor choices of other parents and in this case this parent made a mistake and the law is jail time what harsh punishment if it's the first time. amazing

Julia-ParkerWeber1386691690 Julia-ParkerWeber1386691690 2 years

I find it funny that some many mothers point fingers and yet none of us are perfect parents ether. Have you ever watched 911 there's no way you going to watch your child 24 seven lol. My boy broke a closet door mirror and I watched closely and not enough lucky he wasn't hurt from jumping off the bed into it. I'm not a single mom and I know many that have to raise their own kids, even if they are married watching is tough. I think for this woman to have a punishment of jail and have her child taken is stupid. My step kids have been in foster care and it changes them and they are not the same, their father fought for them and was treated horribly because of foster care. I have now been their mother for over two years and with all the problems their birth mother put them through and foster care I still have a long road ahead but they are happy children now because they feel safe. That little girl was safe with her mother and she was taken just like my husband kids but his ex never went to jail for her crime and hers was alot more harmful and our kids then then this mother for leaving her child in public park with a cell phone which i add was signed she cared and loved her. The mother who found her couldn't called her mother first or resolved it a different way now she will have to live with thought of separating and daughter and mother forever. I personally think i couldn't sleep if i did that. It's hard to trust people today, Even my daughters friends I want to talk to their parents first in person and on phone and have their address. I trust my daughter to walk in daytime to her friends house in apartments because she knows the consequences already and dangers. You teach your kids their smart. My boys have learning disabilities and I must go out with them, If we go visit family and they house i let them go outside in back and around because they have been their before. You have to let kids breath but they need to know the rules. Someone said times are different lol their were murders, kidnappers if not more when I was growing up too. i think the only difference is today kids don't go outside enough and when they do it's against the rules for kids which is dumb again and second kids do whatever they want because their are parents who don't watch their 3 and up and let them play at 10:00 pm at night instead of putting them to bed. So we parents who make a bad choice suffer more and go to jail for it what 's wrong with this picture. I for one think people are more scared today and kids don't get out enough and families don't spend enough time together and they need to have programs that help single moms with their kids.

KristaRegier KristaRegier 2 years

So gingerino9, to quote you "and the last part of the brain to develop fully (at about age 21!!!), is
the part responsible for decision-making, judgement, etc." Does that mean that all parents need to 100% supervise and make all decisions for their child until they reach the age of 21 and decision making and judgement is developed? Based on your statement as quoted above, no one under the age of 21 should be left without parent supervision because the development and maturity is not there. If that is the case, we are going to have a world full of 21 yr olds who are lost because they have never had the opportunity to learn independence. Just because it is not fully developed, does not mean as parents we cannot start teaching our children these skills to prepare them for the world.

KristaRegier KristaRegier 2 years

There are too many variables that are not shared, the biggest question for me is how far away from McDonald's was the playground? And how big is the community. At 9 we need to start allowing our children some freedom, otherwise how will they learn to be on their own and to take care of themselves. When we were kids we were alot younger than 9 and riding our bikes to school, to friends houses, and to the swimming pool by ourselves where - gasp - our only supervision was a few lifeguards! Granted that was in a small town, but still, kids need the freedom to be on their own and to be able to learn how to take care of themselves. Was it an ideal situation, no, but parenting does not always allow for the ideal situation. And we do not know, was she left there all day (neglectful) or was she allowed to go for an hour or two at a time (teaching independence)? And some 9 year olds are ready for the responsibility, even though society now dictates that children younger than 12 are not capable of being responsible or of making good decisions. Kids are not stupid! The likelihood of her being kidnapped from that park is so miniscule, that is not even a good argument. Yes it does happen, but not as often as people might think - and most kidnappings involve someone known to the family, not strangers.
This makes parenting extra hard these days, kids want the freedoms and the chance for independence we had as children; as parents this is hard to give them. Who knows when some do-gooder is watching and decides that having your child out of sight for 10 minutes (like allowing them to go for a bike ride, walk to school, or play at a playground) is neglectful.

tiffanyshank tiffanyshank 2 years

i just wanted to point out that she said she was a stay at home mom that watches other peoples children for free. i have to halfway agree with her. it is dangerous to leave your children with someone. what about those babysitters that put sleeping meds in the childrens pancakes? or molested or harmed the children? it has happened way more than it should but it does scare us moms into wanting to be a stay at home mom so our children dont have to go through anything like that. yes there are good people but there are bad too. then again you can do a background check on people.

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