When I was 11, I can remember desperately waiting to get off the school bus, running into the shed, grabbing my bike, and heading outside to play with my friends without adult supervision until the streetlights came on or, in the Summer, until dinner time. We didn't have cell phones, but I wore a watch and would go home on time every night. I turned out fine and would love my children to experience this type of liberating — yet safe — freedom that shaped me into the independent, self-sufficient adult I am today. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like that will be happening.
In April, an 11-year-old boy played in his yard alone for 90 minutes — in broad daylight and on his own property in Florida (a state that has no minimum age for a child to be alone) — while he waited for his parents who were stuck in traffic, because he didn't have a key. He ate his snacks, played some basketball, and waited.
A neighbor saw the boy playing outside and called the police. When the boy's parents arrived home, they were arrested for negligence, handcuffed, strip-searched, fingerprinted, and held overnight in jail. It would be a month before they could take their 11- and 4-year-old boys home, as CPS took them and put them into foster care.
The boys were in custody for two days while an in-state relative was being cleared to take them. After the clearance and a custody hearing, the boys went off with the relative, who less than a month later put them back into foster care. During a contentious hearing, the boy asked to speak with the judge. He wanted to go home to his parents. In order for that to happen, they had to promise that they would never let this "negligence" happen again, go to parenting classes and therapy, and send their boys to day care and day camp in the Summer to ensure that the boys they are always accounted for. And they now must face criminal charges in the case.
Whoever called the police that day has changed the lives of all of this family's members. If you were that neighbor, would you have called the cops? Perhaps you would have just gone over to make sure he was alright? Let us know what you think.