In Tuesday’s Three For All on Middays with MFB, Tim Benz, Lou Merloni and Christian Fauria discussed a story about a woman being arrested for leaving her 9-year-old daughter alone at a park, and they debated when a child is old enough to be left to play outside alone. To listen to the segment, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
Debra Harrell of North Augusta, South Carolina, was arrested and charged with unlawful conduct toward a child for allegedly leaving her 9-year-old daughter at a park for hours while she worked at a nearby McDonald’s restaurant.
“So she let her daughter go to the park by herself, a six-minute walk to their house. She has a key, she has a cell phone, and apparently the cops arrested her,” Merloni said. “She could face 10 years for this.”
Said Fauria: “If you’re doing your job as a cop you at least say, ‘Where’s your mom at?’ And you grab the kid if you think the situation is dangerous, bring it to work and say, ‘Listen, either you get off work right now and take control of your child, or I’m going to arrest you.’ You don’t arrest the mother.
“That’s asinine. That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. You don’t tell me how to take care of my kid and what is safe for her. If you see a scary situation that isn’t safe for that girl or boy, it doesn’t matter. Just grab the kid, put them in the car and take them to where they were.”
The story inspired a discussion amongst the guys about how old a child should be to be allowed to go outside alone, and when it’s OK to be without parental supervision.
“Obviously there’s a lot of factors in there,” Merloni said. “My neighbor has two kids, 12 and 10. My son is 4 1/2, 5. Obviously I would never do that right now. But I’m looking at the neighbors I see a 12- and a 10-year-old. I’m looking at the 10-year-old, he’s out there playing in the yard by himself, and I’m thinking, would I be comfortable letting him go to the park and shoot hoops there instead of in the backyard?”
Said Fauria: “If my kids want to roll out to the parks and shoot hoops, I’ll see you when I see you. Together, yes. Or even if they were with their friends I would let them go to the park.
“My daughter who’s 10, I don’t really feel comfortable about it even if I have a cell phone.”
Benz added: “Where I grew up in Guilford, Connecticut, no big deal as a 9-year-old by yourself. But going down to New Haven?”