My Take on the Arrest of the Mom Who Let Her Kids Go to The Mall

Hi! Lenore here, feeling it is time to weigh in on the Montana mom case still causing a commenting frenzy.

This is the case where a mom named Bridget let her 12-year-old daughter and her daughter’s friend, both experienced babysitters, take their siblings, age 3, 7 and 8, to the mall. After a morning of shopping and lunch, the group went to Macy’s. The 12-year-olds tried on some shirts while the other three waited in the handbag department — the 3-year-old now in a stroller. When the 12-year-olds returned a few minutes later, all five of them were scooped up by mall security, which called the cops. The cops arrested Bridget for child endangerment. Three hundred or so comments later I must say, first and foremost: Let’s try to keep the debate on a nicer, friendlier, agree-to-disagree tone, please.

But personally? I don’t think Bridget did anything wrong. Her kids were not in any danger unless a band of machete-wielding pedophiles happened to be parachuting into Macy’s that day, intent on that ever-popular crime of kidnapping three children at once while store employees look on.

The assumption that the 12-year-olds were wildly irresponsible for telling their younger siblings to, “Wait here,” while they tried on some clothes is strange to me, too. It’s normal to ask kids to wait for a little bit and that’s exactly what the kids were doing, in a safe place, not the Newark bus terminal at 3 a.m. (Sorry, Newark.)

And while I can understand that some people think 12 is too young to be responsible for younger kids — that’s certainly what the Bozeman authorities believed — somewhere between 40 – 80% of the world’s population is raised by older siblings, according to anthropologist David Lancy. Many a 6-year-old is in charge of her younger brother(s) and all the kids are expected to rise to the occasion, which can mean anything from helping to plant seeds, to running errands, to manning a shop.

This is not to say I’d send a 6-year-old to the mall with a gaggle of younger siblings, just that our current assumption of total kiddie incompetence until age 18 or so is new and unprecedented. Twelve is old enough to look after younger children — and the 12-year-olds we’re talking about did. To turn one’s back for a few minutes is not the invitation to instant death we have been lead to believe by CNN and CSI. To assume children are in danger from strangers every second of every day is to assume the only way to keep them safe would be with the kind of surveillance employed at maximum security prisons. Or, better still, to keep them IN maximum security prisons.

I have stated this before: We live in safe times that are represented as very UNsafe in the media, because that’s what drives ratings. We are squandering the incredible gift we have of living in 21st century America, where all crime has been declining for the last 15 years, and four times more children make it to their first birthday now than did the year that I was born. We are not in a famine, we are not engaged in a war at home, our children do not have to dodge bullets, militias and malaria-bearing mosquitoes to drag water home from a brackish well.

Free-Range Kids does not say there is no evil in the world. But our movement believes our children are more competent and more safe than the worst-case-scenario chorus. We believe children don’t have to do everything exactly right – and neither do parents – for them to still be extremely safe.

The bottom line is not just that nothing bad DID happen to those children, it’s that it was extremely unlike TO happen to those children. As I state in my book, if you actually, for some reason, WANTED your children to be kidnapped by a stranger, how long would you have to keep them outside, unattended (or in a mall!) for that to be statistically likely to happen? For them to be abducted, I mean?

Guess before you look at the number.

 In fact, I will let you guess now, below. And tomorrow I’ll tell you. (Or if you can’t wait – get the book!)

 Speaking of tomorrow, I will be on the Fox & Friends show at about 7:30 tomorrow (Tuseday) morning debating, “Free-Range Kids.” You may hear the answer then!

Yours – Lenore

86 Responses

  1. My problem is not that the younger ones went to the mall with older ones. There are 12-year-olds whom I know to be responsible enough for this. My problem is that going into a dressing room and trying on clothes–and leaving the younger ones out there–isn’t watching the kids. This doesn’t, in my view, rise to the level of arresting the mom. But, I would be unhappy, as the parent of the younger kids, if they were just left outside a dressing room while the older ones tried on clothes. Why couldn’t the younger ones come into the dressing area? I have a seven-year-old and could trust her–to a point–with her four-year-old brother. Yet, if he wanted to run away, there’s nothing she could do about it! It’s asking a lot of those elementary-aged children to look after the even younger ones, even for such a short time. And, that wasn’t the job of the older ones–the older ones were supposed to do it.

    Yes, a 7- and 8-year-old could probably wrangle a 3-year-old in a stroller, very effectively. But, that wasn’t their role for the day. If this were a sitter who was paid to be with those kids, trying on clothes isn’t exactly doing that.

  2. I’m going to guess 42 years, because I really have no idea, and 42 is the meaning of life, the universe, and everything.🙂

  3. One million years!

    I will admit I would have an issue with my daughter if she were watching such small kids and left them out there. It’s not that I would worry someone would get them, but rather that the three year old could run off, or start screaming, etc. making it an uncomfortable place to be for the other customers. However, I simply would have made it more clear going forward – please take them in with you. Not arresting!

  4. Sorry, I think the mom was dead wrong. I do think arresting her is over the top though.

    From what I read they were NOT ‘experienced babysitters’, just that they had taken the course.

    I can see a twelve year old babysitting a three year old in a home, yes, but not at the mall, especially with two other younger ones to watch over as well.

    I also think allowing two 12 year olds to go to the mall alone is wrong.

    This mom wanted quiet time…don’t we all? But she chose the wrong way to get it.

    Also, the mom misjudged her daughter’s (and her friend’s ability) which is evidenced by the fact that the two 12 year olds left the younger ones alone to try on clothes.

    The mom’s idea was a bad one, and her confidence in the two 12 year olds was unfounded.

  5. Years? Decades? Seven minutes? Not the last one unless you wait to leave your kids until there is a kidnapper on the block.

    Not only do I not think Bridget was in the wrong, but I think she was very much in the right. The only potential misstep was not in leaving 12-year-olds responsible (I started babysitting when I was 12, and I cared for INFANTS) but in leaving two 12-year-old girls responsible together. And that is totally biased and unfair and based only on my experience of once having been a 12-year-old girl and knowing that while one alone is extremely responsible, add in a friend and there is an awful lot of giggling.

  6. The thing that makes the 12 year olds irresponsible for leaving the younger ones is that they were TOLD NOT TO. It doesn’t matter if it was “only seven minutes” or it was “typical, harmless 12 year old behavior and the kids were fine.” If a young babysitter is given instructions and does not follow them in a non-emergency situation, she is showing herself to be irresponsible.

    Also, what Laura said — fear of life-altering disaster is not the only reason that leaving children inadequately supervised isn’t a good idea. Just because I can rationally be sure that my kids will be safe in a certain situation doesn’t mean that it is advisable to put them in that situation.

    Fully agreed that arrest was WAY, WAY over the top, and I’m not even sure it was necessary to involve security or any other “measures” to be taken to resolve the situation, but I stick to my position that it was a non-criminal, non-disastrous, but ill-judged decision.

  7. In before people comment on a third post now, how irresponsible they think the mother was.. oh.. wait.:/

    But my guess for a kidnapping? A really really really long time. My kid would probably get fed up and walk home before he got stolen. Anyone who DID kidnap him would bring him back the next day, “PLEASE!! PLEASE TAKE HIM BACK! I HAVE WATCHED SPIDERMAN WITH HIM 12 TIMES, AND HE KEEPS PUTTING PENNIES IN MY BELLYBUTTON WHEN I SLEEP. NOW I KNOW WHY YOU LEFT HIM OUTSIDE” and then run away, crying.

  8. Who’s going around arresting all the parents who severely misjudge the capabilities and responsibility of their children in the other direction? And thus are turning their kids into a generation of wusses who don’t know their own power? That’s child endangerment too, if you ask me. Yet hundreds and hundreds of times more parents are making that mistake than the reverse. Sad.

  9. I get this image of the Bozeman police officer hitching up his belt and announcing, “This is a real city, this isn’t Mayberry.” When did it become a source of pride to have a crime problem in your city? How is that a “real” city is automatically a dangerous place for children? I’m thinking the biggest lapse of judgment Bridget showed was not in her assessment of her children. It was in her assessment of her city. How did she not realize that she was living in such a hotbed of immorality and danger? With the rampant drugs, potential kiddie snatchers, and recent disregard for the privacy of potential city employees, I’m surprised anyone wants to live or work in Bozeman, and I’m surprised that the people who do dare to go outside regardless of their age!

  10. Thanks for giving us your two cents, Lenore.

  11. I think I commented on the original post – but just in case… I do not think that Bridget did anything wrong.

    Allowing two 12 year old girls to care for three children is not a crazy concept and Bridget obviously thought it through – which pretty much rules out her being “neglegent”. First of all – the 3 year old was strapped into a stroller. So, the worst that the child was going to do was throw things out of the stroller and possibly pitch a fit – which would have brought the older girls running I bet. The 7 and 8 year old were more than appropriate ages to be able to accompany their older sister to the mall. I won’t even begin to tell you the places that my brother took me when he was 12 and I was 6 – I wouldn’t want my mom to get arrested (20+ years after the fact!).

    Now, should the older girls gotten in trouble for leaving their young charges alone? ABSOLUTELY – but they should have gotten in trouble by Bridget – NOT THE POLICE! The girls didn’t “endanger” the three youngsters any more than Bridget did! They just disobeyed Bridget’s rules – so they should be given a concequence. Lesson would be learned and they would likely have come out better for it. Instead – they won’t get to babysit again until they’re 25 – and with all of the trauma of being picked up by the police and resulting family drama, they may never want to be responsible again!

    But again – Bridget did not do anything worth arresting her over. If we all got arrested for misjudging the responsibility of our babysitters or for our children not following our instructions – I’d have a lot more work in Child Welfare and, trust me, we don’t need it!

  12. I don’t think that there was a high likelihood of the kids being kidnapped, but I still think that it was a very irresponsible decision to drop the kids off at the mall. I have taken teenagers on vacation with me as helpers (ones with younger siblings) and can say without question that they still will underestimate how closely a small child should be watched. Yes, it is done in other countries. Those kids are raised under different circumstances and with much more responsibility from the very beginning. If that were the case here, maybe I would feel differently. But leaving the younger kids alone displays a lack of judgment, plain and simple.

    Honestly, my biggest problem with the whole thing isn’t the chance of someone being kidnapped. My issue is with how inconsiderate it is to the staff and other shoppers at the store. There is just no way that a group of kids that young and that large would act the way they should in a department store. And, yes, I get annoyed by parents who think it is acceptable to leave their kids in situations where they will drive other people nuts just so they can get a break.

  13. In many times and places in human history 13yrs has been considered a reasonable age for a young woman to marry and potentially start bearing children herself. I’m not saying that I think that is a good age of consent presently, I just want to add some perspective of history, since we are contemplating the capabilities of 12 year olds.

  14. ” Her kids were not in any danger unless a band of machete-wielding pedophiles happened to be parachuting into Macy’s that day, intent on that ever-popular crime of kidnapping three children at once while store employees look on.”

    Well put, exactly my sentiment. Just couldn’t put it in words. Macy’s should be the one at shame here. (or maybe the 12 year-olds for shopping there!)

  15. What worries me is that these children were considered old enough to take a babysitting course but not old enough to babysit. Does this mean that any parent allowing a child to babysit could be held legally accountable for neglect if the local authorities decide arbitrarily that the babysitter is too young?

  16. The girls were irresponsible in leaving the little ones unsupervised, but wouldn’t the sane reaction be paging them over the loudspeaker rather than calling the cops?

  17. For the commentor who said 12 year olds should not be allowed to go the mall by themselves:

    I went to the mall by myself when I was 12. I went to the movies by myself when I was 12. I also went both places with friends on occasion. I walked around my neighborhood alone and even rode my bike alone, to the local lake to go swimming. Yes, these two 12 year olds made a mistake and THEY are the ones who should be punished by the mom, not anyone else.

  18. I’m going to guess that I would have to leave my child outside, unattended for 10 years in order for him to be kidnapped. Statistically speaking, of course.

  19. Thank you, Lenore. Thank you so very much. Words cannot express how much I appreciate this site and so many who comment here – but especially you for being the fearless leader!🙂 Your article was eloquent and lovely and I will be sharing it.

  20. Leah, try longer.

  21. Wait a minute?! Where were the police when I worked at Wal-Mart and parents just left their youngins in the toy section while they shopped? And left them there without any older siblings?

    I mean seriously people, this paranoia that all things bad are going to happen is just down right out of control. How our kids are going to grow up and survive is beyond me.

    And frankly 7 and 8 watching a 3 year old while the older girls tried on clothes, although stupid of the 12 year olds, it’s not exactly all that bad. I mean come on my neice is 11 and she watches her 2 year old sister by herself and goes places with her by herself.

    Sometimes we have to give them a little freedom.

  22. While I have plenty to say on this topic – and what a brilliant topic it is – I’ll keep this reply to address one point.

    “…four times more children make it to their first birthday now than did the year that I was born…”

    That stat can’t can’t be right. That means for every four children who make it to one year old today, three of them would have died just a few decades ago?

    I think you mean the child mortality rate has dropped 75% – I’d guess from a few percent to less than one percent?

  23. I’m guessing around 500 years – and I think that that still might be low.

  24. Isn’t it about 400 years? It’s in the book, darn it – wish I hadn’t lent it out.

    I babysat 3 year olds at the age of 12 (or maybe it was 13). Even took them for walks around the block, and to a park – ooh, scary. And that was by myself, not with another 12 year old, an 8 year old, and a 7 year old.

    I have an 8 year old, and I would trust her to stand by a 3 year old in a stroller for a few moments while I tried on a shirt.

    Another story – our house backs onto a park, and on the other side of the park (about 4 houses away from us) is a family with a 9 year old boy and a 7 year old daughter – I have an 8 year old daughter and a nearly 6 year old daughter. The kids play together really well, and this summer they’ve been moving back and forth between our houses and the park. Just packed them a picnic lunch today, actually, which they had at the park. We occasionally touch base by phone (“so, are our children at your house?”), but other than that, they can range back and forth all day.

    I love it. I can’t imagine what I’d do if someone tried to arrest me for negligence because of allowing my children to do that.

  25. A lot of people seem to be equating the fact that Bridget’s daughter & friend didn’t follow her instructions to keep an eye on the younger kids with irresponsible parenting. It was perhaps a bad choice, but frankly, trusting your kids at any point entails some degree of risk and it seemed that Bridget had sufficient reason to trust her daughter & friend to look after the younger kids – twelve years old is quite old enough to understand responsibility and obligation and as such, it is those girls who should bear the consequences for their actions, not the mother. This is how children learn as they grow up – parents give them increasing levels of responsibility and autonomy, as long as the children demonstrate that they’re worthy of their parents’ trust; if they screw up, then they lose that freedom until they can prove that they’ve learned from their mistakes and won’t repeat them.

    I have a brother who’s 3 years younger than me and from the age of 6, I was expected to keep an eye on him because “that’s what big sisters do,” especially when her mother is sick and physically impaired. As I got older, I was given more responsibility in proportion to what my parents believed I was capable of – which on occasion, included being allowed to go to the neighborhood park (starting around age 9) or even the mall (around age 11) with just my friends and without adult supervision as long as I promised to keep an eye on him when he came along (and he did, a lot). I may not have liked having a tag along kid brother around all the time, but I was old enough to understand I was responsible for him and that if I messed up, not only would I lose my privileges, I would also have to live with being responsible for letting something happen to him. You know how I learned that? Because on the occasion that I did screw up, I got lectured/grounded for it.

    Never once did anyone suggest it was my parents’ fault for being “negligent” in trusting their child who normally exhibited good judgment with occasional lapses. And you know what? It buoyed my own sense of self-esteem that adults treated me as someone capable of looking after myself (and my brother) and able to learn from my mistakes, rather than assume that because I was under 18 I was obviously an incapable idiot who had to be coddled and protected from every possible risk.

    How does anyone expect children to learn anything if their parents aren’t even allowed to give them the chance to do so?

    Yes, the girls messed up. Since the older girls broke the rule they had been given, it should have been left to Bridget to discipline the older girls for their lapse in judgment; a simple call to Bridget for her to pick up her children would have sufficed – being arrested on child endangerment charges is completely over the top.

    Not to mention, Bridget isn’t the only one to suffer from this – what is an incident like this going to teach her kids, and her older daughter in particular? Sure, you could argue that this has demonstrated the consequences for her decision not to follow her mother’s instructions, but knowing that your single stupid decision resulted in a trumped up charge and criminal record for your mother is a ridiculously extreme lesson in responsibility. If I were in her shoes, I’d be paranoid about being given responsibility for anything for quite some time. That girl’s chances of having an opportunity to redeem herself seems rather slim if her mother can’t give her a second chance for fear of being hauled up on charges again. And that’s a damn shame.

  26. “four times more [American] children make it to their first birthday now than did the year that I was born” -Lenore

    Check your statistic. Assuming 98% percent of American children make it to their first birthday today, you are saying less than 25% lived that long when you were a kid?

  27. I have to say this is my worst nightmare. My 12 year old daughter babysits regularly…for me own children and for others.

    And someday…is someone going to knock on my door and tell me that I am going to jail for bad parenting?

    I would say that i am doing a heck of job…in that my 12 year old is responsible enough to baby sit. She has handled herself well in difficult situations and I trust her.

    Does that mean she will never make a mistake? no. But then again…I make them all the time.

    I like the earlier comment about parents who leave their children unattended in a store. If the mom had wandered off to try something on and left the children standing there — would the police have been called?

    No…I think not..

  28. Lenore,

    Thank you for the wonderful post. You really hit the nail on the head. I agree that watching a 3-year-old for five minutes is not too much to ask of a 7-year-old and an 8-year-old. Sure, the 12-year-olds were wrong to violate the rules but that is between them and their mothers. (Where is the other mother in all this, by the way? Bridget says she agreed with the plan, so why wasn’t she charged as well?)

    Not to be nit-picky but, having read your book, I know the two bits of statistics you are referring to. The first is that infant mortality is down four times since the 1970s. This means that four times fewer children die in their first year. It does not mean that “four times more children make it to their first birthday”. That’s a big difference.

    As for how long you’d have to leave your child unattended before he is kidnapped, it’s obtained by dividing the number of children alive in America this year by the number of kidnappings. The result is thousands of years. It is a nonsense number that has nothing to do with real statistics. Now if someone gathered extensive data on parental practices and incidence of kidnapping and used it to calculate, for example, the relationship between how many hours a 10-year-old child spends unattended each day and that child’s likelihood of getting kidnapped before their 11th birthday, that would be a useful bit of statistics. My guess is it will show that the chance of stranger kidnapping goes up slightly for each hour the 10-year-old is left unattended while remaining extremely small. For 5-year-olds or 15-year-olds, that relationship may be different. The hardest part of doing such a study would be getting enough data points to establish any correlation at all, since we are dealing with a crime of such low incidence.

    Again, I am sorry to be so nit-picky. But I think statistics (how safe the world actually is) is an important part of your message. By being more careful about how you present it, you make it that much harder to dismiss.

  29. What MFA Grad Student said.

    The 12-year-olds screwed up by not following instructions. There should have been consequences for that — delivered by the person who gave the instructions (Ms Kevane), and in proportion to the actual offence (along the lines of not getting to go to the mall next time).

    It is NOT unreasonable or irresponsible to expect a 12-year-old to look after younger siblings for a couple of hours. It’s not unreasonable to expect a mall (or a municipal park in broad daylight, or a school playground, or the toy department at Zellers, or the kids’ section of the public library) to be a safe place for kids. It’s not unreasonable to give kids more privileges and more responsibilities as they get older. What’s unreasonable is keeping them wrapped in cotton wool until they’re 18 and then affecting surprise when they go completely batshit in their first year at university.

    And I think the answer to Lenore’s question is several thousand years — but I haven’t looked it up in the book yet😉

  30. You know I’ve done the same thing ‘wait here and do not move’ while i raced into a different department and raced back. Do you think 4 year old was still there? – no way. She was wondering about the store looking for me. You can’t ask little kids to wait and expect them to do it and now those girls know that they will be better babysitters. I wonder, if the mother was paying them would she still be being held responsible?

  31. Mom did nothing wrong. 12 year olds have long been considered old enough to babysit. The 12 year olds broke the rules, but the mall and police over-reacted. Why didn’t the salespeople just tell the girls that they needed to tend to the younger ones more closely? Why did they call security instead of reprimand the older girls? I feel for the mom, and the kids, and for all moms who will be scared to let their kids roam the mall unattended now.

  32. When I was 14/15 and my sister was 12/13 1/2, my mother dropped us off at the local “beach” (a series of man made lakes w/a baby pool, adult pool and others) a couple of times a week in the summer. We were to watch our sibs, ranging in age from 9 yrs to 5. I’ll tell you what, there were a few times when we were terrified the youngest had drowned. “Where is Barb?’ was the anxious refrain of the other 4 of of us. Was my mother negligent? No, heaven help her, she just needed us out of the house for the day and we got to do something we wanted. OUR job was to be responsible. After about the 4th time our baby sister disappeared and then reappeared alive, we learned to make sure to assign responsibility for her. And that certainly included my 9 and 8 year old sibs. Nobody called the cops on us or my parents. We all lived and we learned to be responsible. (Although my mother still doesn’t we lost her a few times!!)

    I’m in my 50s now and work in education/psychology. Kids need to learn responsibility and will only do so w/some real experiences. A mall is not exactly a dangerous place, no matter what the “sky is falling” folks think. It seems like the perfect place to learn these lessons, w/o cops being called.

    Though in defense of the salespeople who “should have” talked to the 12 yr. old girls, parents are so overbearing and overly defensive of their little darlings these days, that I would have been afraid to say anything to them, too. But that’s all a part of the Non Free Range Parenting philosophy – my child will be raised to be perfect and I’ll make sure by overseeing everything he/she does.

  33. Karla – Yours is an insightful comment, especially the last paragraph. I think you have a great point and I agree it’s a part of the non Free Range Parenting philosophy!

  34. Lots of interesting comments, some even productive of new insights. Thanks for all. I am kind of interested in the fact that this conversation – and the other one – have almost entirely focused on whether the MOTHER was right or wrong to make a choice (which could be defended or attacked with it seems to me equal reason in the abstract), and not, as I took the issue originally, about whether the POLICE were right or wrong in refusing to allow the mother to make that choice.

    In other words, as in most of our (parents, that is) internal dialogues about our parenting, our first instinct seems always to be to blame the mother (not the father, even, usually). We are so willing to blame mom that we will side, even half-heartedly, with police who arrest her for making a (good/fine/iffy/terrible) choice.

    Hmmmm.

  35. @Annika:

    I thought your point was great — one twelve year old may be responsible, but two 12-year olds together means a lot of giggling. So true, so true!

  36. […] Child endangerment saga of mom who left kids at Montana mall is now a national story [ABC News; earlier post with many comments; Free Range Kids and more] […]

  37. “21st century America, where all crime has been declining for the last 15 years, and four times more children make it to their first birthday now than did the year that I was born”

    Uh, just how old are you? ‘Cause, well, it’s been a while since less than a quarter of the kids born in America made it to their first birthday.

    Or did you mean, “one quarter as many children die before their first birthday than the year I was born”?

  38. I’m definitely on the mom’s side with this. She made a choice to trust her daughter. Her daughter screwed up and should have been disciplined in whatever manor she thought justified. That should have been the end of the story. But, no, the police had to get involved and show the girls that they aren’t expected to be responsible for anything and if they do something wrong their mother is to blame. What a great lesson to learn.
    For the person that said a 12yo can’t possibly be responsible enough to watch younger children because they don’t learn that…they do learn to be responsible if the parents are constantly letting them have responsibility. My older children are 9, almost 8 and 6 1/2 and I expect them to be responsible for each other and their 3yo sister. They play outside together all day long, up and down the block. My 7 1/2yo son is especially good at watching her. I have left him in charge of her at restaurants while I use the bathroom and he holds her hand while we walk around in the store, sometimes in different aisles.
    My kids are quite capable of taking care of themselves. Today at Target they were in the toy aisle and I just walked away and went over to where the books were about 30 feet away. They saw which way I went and knew their dad was in the music section just on the other side. I didn’t even think twice about it. And, OMG, they were still there 5 minutes later when I went to check on them. Several times they wandered off to look at stuff in different sections and I never worried.
    They older 3 have graduated to using public restrooms on their own and could probably handle taking their little sister in one if she wasn’t so freaked out about sitting on those toilets.
    The older they get the more responsibility I test them with. If they fail to live up to that responsibility they are disciplined and we take a step back. If it had been my daughter in that mall she would have been grounded and lose her babysitting privileges (which means her limited income) until she could prove to me she could be trusted.
    Which is what happened with my own kids. When I first started letting my 3yo out with the older kids they didn’t keep an eye on her and she wandered off down the block and crossed the street. She was 2 1/2 (and they were supposed to keep her on the porch). So we took a step back and she wasn’t allowed out unless I was there. A couple weeks later they wanted to try again. My youngest was willing to follow the rules and stay on the porch, the other kids watched her. Lesson learned for all of them.

  39. To clarify something I said: I didn’t say that it was “irresponsible parenting.” I didn’t say she was a “bad parent.”

    I said it was a poor decision. The BEST of us make poor decisions. She might be a great, generally responsible parent — who made what was, in my humble opinion that’s worth what y’all are paying for it, a poor decision. Like I do frequently.

    The only reason I even bring up my opinion of this is because I think it’s really important to distinguish what could be, in some people’s opinion, a poor decision, from a criminal act. Admitting that she could be wrong and still not criminal actually protects us from excessive police interference, because it upholds the idea that not everything that’s a bad idea is or should be a crime. I don’t think it’s necessary to defend the decision in order to defend her freedom from prosecution.

  40. Yeah, the proper way to word the child mortality thing is “the proportion of children who don’t make it to their first birthday is a quarter of what it was the year I was born.”

    BTW, guessing we’re fairly close in age, that amazes me. Even a decrease from 4% to 1% is huge — it’s the difference between everybody having a close friend or family member who’s lost an infant, and it being a truly rare event. To think how recently it has changed that much!

  41. Yeah, the proper way to word the child mortality thing is “the proportion of children who don’t make it to their first birthday is a quarter of what it was the year I was born.”

    BTW, guessing we’re fairly close in age, that amazes me. Even a decrease from 4% to 1% is huge — it’s the difference between everybody having a close friend or family member who’s lost an infant, and it being a truly rare event. To think how recently it has changed that much!
    Sorry… forgot to say great post – can’t wait to read your next one!

  42. Great post Lenore,

    Thank you for providing us with a level-headed perspective in this age of hysteria.

    Ross

  43. Since I don’t live in the US, I cannot comment on this deeply, but the parents should not have allowed 3,5 year old kids along with 12 year old kids! They could have allowed the 12 year old kids to go separately to the mall, but prey why? If the parents are so busy, then they need to take a second look at their careers which is not even letting them spend quality time with their kids!! When we were young, we (12 years to 6 years) went for a movie. But, our relatives came with us till the bus stand (boarding) and some friends of theirs came with us to the movie. There was no way we would have been allowed to go alone!

    Destination Infinity

  44. Thanks Lenore,

    This seems like just another case where so much depends on the kids themselves. When I was 12 I babysat a 6 month old and a 4 year old. That included trips outside the children’s house. Maybe both 12 year olds shouldn’t have been in the dressing room at the same time leaving the younger ones alone, but that’s a learning experience – not criminal. To me it sounds like an awfully big trip for a group of kids, but these days they were probably using a cell phone to check in every hour, or more often! And it all depends on the kids. The fact that there were store employees there is a very good point. No, they are not there to babysit, but there are adults around providing general supervision should something go wrong.

  45. For me there’s several things to it.

    1) The 12-year-olds got the permission to go to the mall under the condition that they do not leave the younger kids alone. Regardless of what one thinks about leaving them there and about the necessity of that condition, they broke that instruction, which seems to suggest that these particular 12-year-olds are not responsible enough to be trusted to stick to their part of this kind of an agreement. Nevermind that very possibly a lot of adults would not be, either, I still think overlooking that is not fine.

    2) 12-year-olds going to a mall alone should not be a problem in the case of a typical 12-yo and a typical mall. People who call their 14-yos every half an hour when they are out on their own during daytime either must live in very dangerous places or seriously need to relax a bit.

    3) 12-year-old babysitting younger siblings where they can easily call for adult help should not be a problem either.

    4) People who saw young kids alone and went to ask them if they need help and called the help that they felt was necessary did the right thing. Even if you feel that they overreacted, the opposite where they saw a children they figured might need help and looked away would be worse. What makes places safe is people looking after each other. We should not blame them for trying to help.

    5) Arresting the mother over this is totally over the top to the point of being comical. It would be completely hilarious if it had not caused so much suffering to one family.

    6) On the ohter hand, telling her that the 12-year-olds broke the agreement and left the smaller kids alone is fine and even necessary, and asking her to not leave the kids alone in the mall is ok’ish if that’s the mall’s rules (the mall is a shopping place, not a public entertainment place — the kids can go to a park to play the next time).

  46. “My issue is with how inconsiderate it is to the staff and other shoppers at the store. There is just no way that a group of kids that young and that large would act the way they should in a department store. And, yes, I get annoyed by parents who think it is acceptable to leave their kids in situations where they will drive other people nuts just so they can get a break.”

    My thoughts exactly. I’d guess the kids were probably safe, but just because our little darlins are safe doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to leave a three-year-old in a department store under the watch of kids who are of an age where even the best behaved can still get pretty darn obnoxious. If the three-year-old weren’t in the picture, it would be different.

    She could have had her older kids watch the little ones at home while she got her quiet time at a coffee shop. Not her ideal on that day, obviously, but much more considerate to the hard working folks at Macy’s.

    I don’t think she should have been arrested, charged and made an example of, but I don’t think it was all about leaving the kids at the mall. Having read the piece, she was obviously entitled with everyone she met in every step from arrest to conviction, from the police to the jury. There’s a reason she wasn’t getting any sympathy from the people she encountered, and I don’t think it was all about the fact that she left her kids at the mall.

  47. I have a twelve year old and a 20 month old. The twelve year old walks her twenty month old sibling (in her stroller) on her paper route on some days. She also will take her to the park which is two blocks away. The only thing I make absolutely sure of on those days is that my daughter has a cell phone so she can call if she needs me. My daughter uses a cell phone better than I do, she is more computer literate, she takes so much pride in her sisterly responsibilities that sometimes I have to remind her who is the mom. People who think that twelve is too young – what is the right age? I guess I need to be careful that someone isn’t going to call the authorities on me. My thinking on that is the only reason no one has reported me is that my daughter is now taller than me and looks older than twelve.

  48. I am amazed at all of the comments this situation has generated. I think that stands out to me is that the 3 year old was NOT left alone when the 12 year olds were trying on clothes… the 7 and 8 year old were watching him. I have complete confidence that I could trust my 7 year old to watch a younger kid in a stoller outside the dressing room while I spent 10 minutes trying on clothes.

    The girls showed a lack of judgement by not doing what they were told; mom said to stay with the younger kids, so under absolutely no circumstances should they have stepped away from them for a moment. Trying on clothing while shopping with kids in not inherantly a dangerous or wrong thing to do, though! I’d never have been able to buy anything for myself in the past 7 years if that were the case.

    Obviously kids who yell, run indoors, break things, and otherwise create havoc shouldn’t be in a mall without a parents. There is no indication that these kids did any such thing. Noone asked mall staff to babysit them. If they caused trouble, calling mall security and having the parents called would have been appropriate. Even calling the parents when the kids were seen in the mall alone would have been ok, particularly if there were posted rules not allowing unaccompanied minors (but again, there is no indication that there was any such rule). Calling the police was absolutely unnecessary, though.

    This was a parenting decision, and I think it is absolutely appalling that when all 3 parents agreed, *anyone* else feels the need to get involved. Those people who don’t think 12 year olds can babysit, or don’t think they should be allowed in a mall without adults, or don’t think they should be able to babysit anywhere other than at home have a very simple solution: don’t let YOUR kids do so. I just don’t understand why we can’t all grant each other the freedom to do so without fear of criticism or in this case legal consequences.

  49. I generally agree with your philosophy, Lenore, but I don’t know I can in this particular case. I’d let the 12-year-olds watch the kids at home while I went somewhere else, but watching even well-behaved kids, three of them, in a mall takes a bit more concentration and attention than your normal 12-year-old should be expected to have.

  50. “to assume the only way to keep them safe would be with the kind of surveillance employed at maximum security prisons. Or, better still, to keep them IN maximum security prisons”

    Isn’t that how our modern public schools are modeled? Whenever I see the Charlotte School Police cruizer, I think how we are raising such great inmates.

    Anyway, I would not let my 11 (soon to be twelve year old) son watch my 4 younger boys at the mall. I do let them have the run of the neighborhood, and they are responsible for watching out for each other, and watch out for each other.

    The only time they are really in danger is when the 3 year old chases the older boys with a wooden sword, intent upon bashing them with it.

  51. Lenore, thank you for sharing your opinion on this matter, after such a mixture of feelings expressed in the comments. I still feel the same way I did when I first read the story. I wouldn’t go so far as to call the mother’s actions “bad,” but it is not something I would have done – it goes beyond my comfort zone. I’ve never even used a 12 year old babysitter and would probably not let my daughter start babysitting that young. However, what matters the most to me was the idea of someone being arrested who as far as I can see committed no crime. If there was a city ordinance or even a posted mall policy forbidding these children from being in public under the care of a 12 year old, then the mother should not have done this. Even if she thought the law was wrong, she would have no choice but to follow it or face the consequences. But as it is now, the police had no reason to arrest her. This charge of “child endangerment” or whatever could mean any damn thing a person wants it to mean. And all of you who can’t get past that you think her actions were “wrong,” doesn’t it frighten the hell out of you that she got arrested? Is this really the police state you want to live in?

  52. I haven’t read all the comments…but I’m curious. What if the Mom went in the dressing room to try on a shirt and left the three little ones outside to wait. Would she have been endangering her children? I don’t think so….

    There’s no way I’d take a 7 or 8 year old (boy, especially) in the dressing room with me…so maybe I’ve endangered my kids at Macy’s?? Hopefully our Mall Cops in Texas are more sane than the ones where Bridget lives.

  53. my guess is 18 years. I think it would be funny because assuming the child would survive for 18 years, after 18 years, they are technically an adult and should be able to handle themselves.

    I dont think there was anything wrong with this situation. The only reason something was done was probably because macy’s didnt want to be liable in case something did happen to the kids at their store. which i can sort of understand, but i still dont think anyone should have been arrested.

  54. actually retracting what I just said, I do think the mom was slightly irresponsible:/

    Play this out in your head. Youre a macys employee and you see some infants all by themselves. You come to investigate, and find that they dont have anyone over 18 with them (as I’m sure adult supervision is required in most public places like a mall). Then you find out that they are only being watched by a 12 year old who wasnt even around. The 12 year old tells you that their mom said it was ok.

    I think I would call the cops. Just to be safe.

  55. […] My Take July 21, 2009 — Aisosa Hey this is a series of messages between me and a free range mom who put up an article about some mother who was arested… follow this link to get the original story […]

  56. I don’t think anyone sensible who objects to the situation actually does so because they believe that the kids were in any danger. I believe the 12 year olds demonstrated that they weren’t reliable when they left the younger kids alone. It doesn’t matter that nothing happened. Also, anyone who honestly thinks it’s okay to leave a three year old strapped in a stroller for 3 hours has nothing in common with me parenting-wise. To me, free range is all about empowering children. In this case, there was no benefit to the younger children at all and the three year old was downright neglected.

  57. Play this out in your head. Youre a macys employee and you see some infants all by themselves. You come to investigate, and find that they dont have anyone over 18 with them (as I’m sure adult supervision is required in most public places like a mall). Then you find out that they are only being watched by a 12 year old who wasnt even around. The 12 year old tells you that their mom said it was ok.

    Infants? Infants????

    8, 7, 3. The youngest of them hadn’t been an infant for over two years!

  58. Play this out in your head. Youre a macys employee and you see some infants all by themselves…

    OK, so, with this comment I think you’ve done more for the “it was really overreacting and asinine to call the cops” argument than anyone else.

    Because when I “play this out in my head” and pretend I’m a Macy’s employee. I imagine I’d say “Hey, are you guys cool?” to the kids, find the older older girls and check in. If something felt amiss or if the body language of the 12 year olds seemed off – remember that? body language? intuition? – I’d ask for the parents’ phone to call and check in he/she was cool with the kids doing what they were doing. MAYBE I’d call the mom because I’m guessing just by being a friendly and interested adult checking in with the 12 year olds they’d pull it together and start doing a better job with their task.

    But calling the cops? Overkill, ridiculous, and as has been pointed out – is this the kind of police state we want to live in?

  59. All I know is I wouldnt let my 7 year old and 3 year old be chaperoned by a 12 year old.

    At first I was with you guys thinking that it was a harsh reaction, but realizing what I would REALLY do in a situation like that, I think I would call the cops too. And the cops would probably agree with me that a 12 year old is not allowed to chaperone other kids by themselves at a mall.

    Maybe as a macy’s employee, thats too harsh in some peoples mind, but imagine you are a police officer and have just been told by a mall employee that kids are wandering around with no supervision. Do you just tell them to relax and that theyre probably okay?

    Do you want to live in a world where police are like that?

  60. Do you want to live in a world where police are like that?

    Well, I don’t want to live in a world where police threaten to take children away from their parents *in front of the children* when the parents hadn’t broken any laws and the children weren’t in any danger. Nor do I want to live in a world where my kid can’t call me when she gets in trouble. How about you?

  61. Also, anyone who honestly thinks it’s okay to leave a three year old strapped in a stroller for 3 hours has nothing in common with me parenting-wise.

    Two hours and 15 minutes when I worked it out. Which is still more than I’d want a kidlet in a stroller, admittedly, but it’s a far cry from three hours. (It’s a whole 45 minutes shorter! I can do basic math!)

  62. Technically, the mother did break a law. Its called child neglect.
    http://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/state/index.cfm?event=stateStatutes.processSearch

    “Physical neglect means: …Exposing or allowing the child to be exposed to an unreasonable physical or psychological risk to the child …
    Physical or psychological harm to a child means the harm that occurs whenever the parent or other person responsible for the child’s welfare:

    Exposes or allows the child to be exposed to an unreasonable risk to the child’s health or welfare by failing to intervene or eliminate the risk ”

    Keyword is RISK. The children were at risk and the mother didnt intervene. As I said before, if it were my neice, I wouldnt want the macy’s employee to ignore her so im glad they called the cops. Then I wouldn’t want the police officer to do nothing so he had to do something.

    In fact, I even had the police pick me up as a child because my brother and I were playing in the lake unattended. I dont think anyone should just ignore unattended children and assume they are responsible and safe.

  63. See? This is just the kind of thing I was talking about!! Unreasonable physical or psychological risk – for letting these children stroll around the mall? So with people with wild imaginations, what ISN”T child neglect, other than keeping your kids at arm’s length until they are 18 (or 25, or 40)? How many readers of this site could be guilty of this crime under the wrong person’s interpretation? Certainly Lenore herself. And this “risk” you speak of – how many nervous nellies are there who believe that a child walking to school alone is a huge risk – or playing in the front yard for that matter?

  64. Well as my friends and I used to say, its not illegal until someone calls the cops. Once the cops are there, they have to do something. They can’t just ignore the fact that 12 year olds have been left in charge of other children in public, and those 12 year olds weren’t even with them the whole time. Had the 12 year olds shown more responsibility, I’m sure there would be less risk.

  65. And for the record, I’m not against the whole free range kids idea. If I had a 12 year old, I would let them and their friend go to the mall unattended. I just dont like the idea of my 3 year old niece going to the mall with just 4 other children, none of which have hit puberty. I think that the mom in this case actually was irresponsible for allowing this and actually did put her younger children at risk. The 12 year olds might have been fine, but the others were neglected by the 12 year olds, and therefore the mother in my mind (since you can’t charge a child with child neglect).

  66. “I dont think anyone should just ignore unattended children and assume they are responsible and safe.”

    Right. So the options are A. Ignore unattended children categorically, or B. CALL THE COPS AND ARREST THE MOTHER.

    Or one could use one’s brain, just walk over, check things out. I’m a parent and have done this many times – with my own children, other people’s – with ADULTS who look stranded and worried at the side of the road.

    It’s called being in and creating community.

    It doesn’t require overkill, criminal accusations, or trumped-up “neglect” charges.

  67. Exactly, Kelly. There are very few cases where I would call the police on a parent – if I saw a child getting beaten by a parent, or a toddler walking alone down the middle of the street. In other words, immediate physical danger. A few years back, I was working in an office that was part of a small factory. I went out to the parking lot for a break, and I saw a van with three kids, the oldest one maybe five. I went in to find the mother, and she was filling out a job application. Now this in my mind was certainly neglectful and putting her children at risk. But I did not call the cops or even confront her. Instead I went back out to the parking lot and watched her kids until she was done, about 15 minutes. I figured she was probably desperate for a job and was stuck with no babysitter. Calling the police would have done nothing but destroy her life just to make me feel like a hero and inflate my ego.

  68. I’m sure that once the mall security AND the police officer who took the kids talked to them, they both decided that things were not as they should be. You lumping call the cops and arrest the mother is misleading as well as the mall security didnt have the mother arrested they only called the cops like they should have (imo). Youre making it seem like the mall security and the cops were working together in a plot against the mother when really, they did the logical thing in my mind. The 12 year olds werent very responsible.

    As I said before, I wouldn’t let my 3 year old neice be chaperoned by other kids who weren’t past puberty just because the kids wanted to go to the mall and in my opinion, someone that would isn’t very responsible. My neice doesn’t want to go to the mall. The 12 year old does. Instead of being “watched” by a preteen who just wants to shop, the 3 year old should have been with the mom. Babysitters shouldnt be allowed to take field trips to the mall while on duty. Their primary duty is babysitting not shopping.

  69. Calling the police would have done nothing but destroy her life just to make me feel like a hero and inflate my ego.

    @Karen – This is a good point. I do believe that many of us have “our” childrens best interests at heart, even those who hand-wring over minutia, even the fear-mongerers. But there also seem to be a lot of people who want to hate on parents – um, especially moms – judge them, call them neglectful, get on the high horse of I Would Never Do This Because I Am Such A Better Parent and lump, “This is what’s wrong with Society Today” junk on top of all that!

    I for one grow nauseated at the idea that if someone saw me at my Mom worst, or my most mediocre, and didn’t offer me one scrap of curiosity of compassion. But of course, if I was unfortunate enough to be caught on camera or brought up in any way, I could count on this kind of intense judgment and vilification – from some. Thankfully, not all!

    The woman in the van story is interesting and I’ve helped out in similar situations. Did you talk to the woman when she came back out?

  70. You know…I am going to have to disagree with Jordan. I have a twelve wear old who watches my 20 month old. She is responsible enough to do this and she enjoys it. She even walks with her to the corner store to get slushies as a treat.
    I have two boys who are now 25 and 22. I remember that I used to live in a condo that had a very large yard. One day the boys we out playing in the yard and the neighbor came to me and said she had a problem with their playing. They were playing cops and robbers and had a set of those cheap plastic handcuffs that you get a dollar store. They were handcuffing each others hands around their back. She told me that I needed to tell them that they could only handcuff their hands in front of them because it was dangerous for them. My response was for once they are playing and not arguing leave them alone and a half an hour later I have the cops on my doorstep. This lady had called and reported me! I had to go to court over this! If you do not know the child that the responsibility is being given to then I think that you cannot judge how capable the child is at handling the responsibility. My neighbor, who had no kids, was free to sit in judgement of me. I think too many people who have not experienced the day-to-day stress of raising children sit in harsh judgement of those who have children.

  71. It turned out that she did not speak English very well, but she did thank me. That was pretty much that – I did not give her some lecture on parenting skills because I think people who do that are pretty much jerks.

  72. I find it hard to blame a single person, even the one who called the cops, with this kind of idiocy. I’m not such a terribly bright guy, but I’ve been around long enough to see poor decision making skills in the retail world. And this is just another example of people making bad decisions even though they had the best intentions to start with.

    If I had to guess, I would bet that this particular mall as well as the individual stores have some sort of “unaccompanied minor” policy. Most places do. And when the store is as big as Macy’s, chances are they have well-established rules about how to handle situations like these. Unfortunately, the rules never go something like this:

    “If an employee finds an unaccompanied child, call the manager over to make an intelligent decision”

    Instead they’re hammered out by committee, catering to the worst case scenario (abandonment) and their sole purpose is to limit the store’s liability. So of course the default last-resort decision, if the store can’t locate the parent, is to call the cops. Seems to have nothing to do with actually looking out for the kids (or god forbid, talking to them), and everything to do with shuffling blame.

    I don’t feel it is my place to criticize the mother here, and I have to wonder about the people who do. Did the older girls demonstrate some poor judgment? Sure! Personally I think that it is now the mother’s job to turn this into a learning experience for them, and not a job for the criminal justice system to handle.

    The actual dangers present in the mall are almost non-existent, and the opportunities for learning things like how to handle cash, how to make decisions as a group, how to find activities that everyone enjoys and the like are HUGE! (financial responsibility, teamwork, delayed gratification, etc). It’s hard to imagine a better place for kids to learn these skills or a safer place for them to make mistakes, like what happened here.

    Someone above mentioned how unpleasant it must have been for the toddler in the stroller. I don’t know how many toddlers that person has met, but the ones I’ve spent time with have NO PROBLEM letting you know when they’re unhappy. The only unpleasantness in this situation was a direct result of a single mistake made by teens learning how to become responsible, and butt-covering overreactions made by staff and police.

  73. In response to the people saying the mall security shouldnt judge the mother/call the cops/ruin the mothers lives:

    As far as I read, they didnt judge the mother. If they have a police regarding unattended children, they have to follow it. If unattended children arent allowed, I dont know what “intelligent decision” a manager can make about the situation.

    There probably would have been no situation in the first place if the 12 year olds werent irresponsible. I see kids walking the mall all the time, but if I see a 3 year old alone, and then find out that they are being left with another kid, then yes, I would call the cops just to be safe if only for MYSELF as I’m not sure if the store would be liable if they just ignored the kids and something did happen.

  74. I’m sure that once the mall security AND the police officer who took the kids talked to them, they both decided that things were not as they should be. You lumping call the cops and arrest the mother is misleading as well as the mall security didn’t have the mother arrested they only called the cops like they should have (imo). You’re making it seem like the mall security and the cops were working together in a plot against the mother when really, they did the logical thing in my mind. The 12 year olds weren’t very responsible.

    I disagree that this constitutes child neglect. Even if it did, there was another option besides confiscating the child’s phone and not allowing her to call her mother to explain the situation.

    There was also, once the mother showed up (much later, because her daughter had not been allowed to call her), there was another option besides charging her. Not every crime needs to be tried. As I said on the first thread about this, the best option probably would’ve been to say “Do this again, and we’ll charge you – you can’t leave your young kids alone at the mall” and left it at that.

    Nothing did happen to the children, and we can look at the stats and the evidence and the facts to show that they *weren’t* at great risk.

  75. Ah well. I dont think much is coming out of this. As it says above, we will all have to agree to disagree.

  76. Good Gracious. When I was 12 (back in the dark ages of the mid 1980s) I was already babysitting a toddler and a very young infant – at the beach!

  77. I can see this happening at a mall in a bigger town, like Pittsburgh, Chicago, Washington, DC, etc., but this was in BOZEMAN, MONTANA!!!!

  78. >>Also, anyone who honestly thinks it’s okay to leave a three year old strapped in a stroller for 3 hours has nothing in common with me parenting-wise.

    >>>>Two hours and 15 minutes when I worked it out. Which is still more than I’d want a kidlet in a stroller, admittedly, but it’s a far cry from three hours. (It’s a whole 45 minutes shorter! I can do basic math!)

    Thank you so much for your rude and condescending comments, Uly. I did not reread the original article before I posted, but instead relied on my faulty memory. But, hey, thanks for treating my like a huge dumb ass nonetheless. Goodness knows that anyone who doesn’t agree with you in even the smallest resepct deserves to be treated like dirt.

    I will rephrase my original thought to:

    “Also, anyone who honestly thinks it’s okay to leave a three year old strapped in a stroller for 2 hours and 1/4 hours has nothing in common with me parenting-wise.”

    Happy? It’s people like you who cause the rest of us to be perceived as a bunch of self righteous twats. I’d imagine the only time you’d see lack of supervision as an issue was if the parents allowed a baby’s toes to be gnawed off by rats! Up until that point, some of you all will defend anything.

    So tell me again, how did this trip to the mall benefit or empower the younger children in this story? Oh right, that doesn’t matter that it didn’t. Mom needed a nap.

  79. Well, I certainly wouldn’t have a couple of 12 year olds babysitting young ones like that at a mall. I have no doubt they are good babysitters, but come on let’s be real here.

    They are still kids.

    The mom should get in trouble for not being the adult of the bunch.

  80. […] website Free Range Kids has a great post on this […]

  81. Those kids were in more danger of being traumatized by do-gooders, rent-a-cops, and actual authorities than they were from abusers, pedophiles, abductors, and whatever.

    Yesterday, at the mall with my three tots, I came upon a woman and two large, uniformed security chaps with a sad little girl of about two. They were calling in a lost girl on their walkies, so I knelt down in front of her (holding my three year-old daughter) and drew a smile on my face with my fingers. Mr. Security asked, “Do you know her?” When I nodded no, he abruptly stepped between us.

    Instead of nodding no, next time I am going to say, “Why YES! She lives in my village!”

  82. Thank you so much for your rude and condescending comments, Uly. I did not reread the original article before I posted, but instead relied on my faulty memory. But, hey, thanks for treating my like a huge dumb ass nonetheless. Goodness knows that anyone who doesn’t agree with you in even the smallest resepct deserves to be treated like dirt.

    You call a minor factual correction rude and condescending? Seriously? Let’s review my actual comment here:

    >>>>Two hours and 15 minutes when I worked it out. Which is still more than I’d want a kidlet in a stroller, admittedly, but it’s a far cry from three hours. (It’s a whole 45 minutes shorter! I can do basic math!)

    So I laugh at my propensity for stating the obvious (the basic math) and I’m treating you like dirt? No, that’s how I always speak when I’m saying something clear and plain – because I’m teasing myself

    I say I would not want to leave a child in a stroller that long, and all of a sudden I only care if the kid has their toes “gnawed off by rats”? Did you *read* my comment?

    Now, I know you didn’t read the 200+ comments on this article in the previous posts by Lenore, and I wouldn’t expect you to. (No, seriously, I’m still not sure why *I* read them all!)

    However, had you done so you would have realized that I would not “defend anything” – and neither would most anybody else posting here. The general consensus (which I agreed with) was that the woman made a non-criminal error in judgment… and that not every decision (even the good ones) had to be made with the thought of benefitting or empowering your kids, although that’s a nice bonus.

    But of course, you don’t know what I think, and you don’t care to. All you care about is getting pissy at people who haven’t even done anything wrong.

  83. When I was 9 my mom had a baby. My Dad worked during the day, my mom worked most nights and my sister (11) and I were left, at times, to take care of my little brother. He turned out just fine.

    Sometimes my sister (who was older and cooler and had better things to do) had to be gone as well and I, from the age of 9 watched my little brother alone. I was responsible. My parents knew that. I babysat around the neighborhood from the time I was 10 because, again, I was responsible and people knew that.

    Leave the decision to the parents. You can’t mandate parenting. Spend the taxpayer dollars on legitimate negligence claims.

  84. It’s amazing how paranoid we’ve gotten. When I was 12 I was walking to the mall alone, window shopping (and not causing any trouble), and walking back safely. Statistics show kids today are NOT in a huge danger, but the media keeps trying to spin this story.

    I have one friend in her 40s who has watched TV news so much she won’t let her kids out of the house without her 5′ away. This means no playing. On mild summer evenings, she won’t open her home windows because someone might reach in and grab them… except she’s in an area where that sort of crime is unheard of, and her home is set back off the road. For the school bus, she puts them in the car and drives them to the end of the lane (only 3 houses away) and they’re not allowed out of the car until getting on the bus — no talking to neighbors especially kids. As a result the kids are withdrawn and socially inept.. They’ve become her “friends” in place of adults. They never get the chance to make friends their own age. And she’s not unusual — if you drive my county roads when the schoolbusses go through, there is a mommy keeping their kids in their car, at the end of every driveway and lane, rain or shine. Parent’s are so conditioned to be scared of *everyone*. And kids end up not playing with others, not getting exercise, and not getting that kind of learning.

    And shouldn’t it be the parents choice how to raise their kids?

    In a world where drug addicts can’t get parental rights terminated and keep blaming the drugs when the kids go unsupervised and get hurt or in trouble… is letting responsible kids go to the mall a top priority as a crime?

    That said: the only mistake I can find in the above story is leaving a 3, 7, and 8 yr old alone outside a dressing room. BAD judgment…. but then again I’ve seen (adult) parents letting toddlers and 7-8 yr olds run loose completely unsupervised in a store, no adult anywhere around. Betcha if it was mom in the fitting room, security would only have fussed at them and dropped the topic.

  85. You are in MAJOR denial Lenore. Denial about your irresponsibility and selfishness, and denial about the reality of evil in the world. Teaching your children that they have the competence of adults when they’re children isn’t preparing your child for the real world. Teaching your children that there are no dangers in the world will not serve them in the end.

  86. Sources…

    […]check below, are some totally unrelated websites to ours, however, they are most trustworthy sources that we use[…]……

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