A South Carolina woman was arrested after her 9-year-old daughter was found playing alone in a park near the McDonalds where her mother works. An adult at the park called the police after asking the girl where her mother was -- the woman was arrested for abandonment and the girl was removed the girl from her home.
The incident has sparked a debate among parents and experts about the parameters of safe play and parenting.
Critics argue that opening up a child’s boundaries at that age is perfectly safe, especially since stranger kidnappings are so rare. They say that giving a child a cell phone and sending them somewhere where other children are playing, supervised, is within a parents rights, and is even good for the child’s development.
Others contend that unsupervised children are at risk, and that times have changed -- kids can’t be sent out to play alone until they are older.
Where is the line for parents whose children may be on the cusp of playing unsupervised? What are the safest places and ways for kids to explore independence? Should parents who let their children play alone in a park be punished for endangering their kids?
Haley Hughes, News editor for the Aiken Standard, a daily newspaper serving Aiken County, including North Augusta
John Myers, Professor of Law and Director of the Criminal Justice Concentration at University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law