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Nanny of the week: The out-of-control trend of arresting non-helicopter moms

By   /   August 15, 2014  /   News  /   No Comments

Part 16 of 61 in the series Nanny State of the Week

By Eric Boehm | Watchdog.org

MINNEAPOLIS — In this space each week, we try to zero in on a single politician, lawmaker or governing body using its power to limit individual freedom and choice in some way.

But, for this week, there is no singular entity or individual to blame. Instead, we highlight one of the more disturbing trends to emerge this summer — no, not Iggy Azalea songs — the widespread practice of arresting parents, usually moms, for letting their children play outdoors unattended.

Shutterstock image

LOCK EM UP: Hey, kids, where are your parents. We’ve got some new bracelets for them to wear. And that see-saw doesn’t look safe either, so we’re going to have to take that, too.

How widespread? A complete survey of news stories would be too long for this space, but here’s a few prime examples.

In mid-July, Deborah Harrell of South Carolina was arrested and charged with unlawful conduct after she confessed to letting her 9-year-old daughter play at a park for an hour.

The little girl is fine tonight, but some say an area the mother thought was safe could have turned dangerous,” intoned Deon Guillory, the reporter for ABC-6 news who first reported the story — slathering on the fear of the unknown as only local news can.

Harrell was fired from her job at McDonald’s after her arrest. The bright side of the story is that she’ll be able to go to the park with her daughter now, though the whole being-unemployed thing is probably a bit of a bummer.

But that was only the beginning.

Nicole Gainey, of Florida, was arrested on July 29 after letting her 7-year-old son walk to a nearby park by himself. The kid even had a cell phone to call for help, if it was needed.

Gainey told NBC’s Today she was “totally dumbfounded” by the incident.

I honestly don’t think I was doing anything wrong. I was letting him go play,” she told the news program.

Gainey now faces up to five years in jail for child neglect, according to KTLA.

In Georgia, police arrested Courtney B. Tabor and charged her with three misdemeanors for getting out of her car to smoke a cigarette and leaving her three kids inside. We can only assume the police would have preferred that she light-up inside the car with her kids.

In New York, Patricia Juarez was arrested after letting her son play in a LEGO store for an hour while she shopped nearby.

Back in Florida, Ashley Richardson was arrested this week after letting her kids play alone in a park while she went to a local food bank.

And just Thursday in North Carolina, Josephine Mamie Bombo was arrested for letting her 10-year-old daughter play unattended in a local park. A 10-year old!

Just a few minutes of Internet searching will turn up more examples, and that’s only the list of incidents covered by the local news that have gained some level of national attention. There are surely many other parents being put in handcuffs for similar “crimes” that the media misses.

And, yes, parents have to be responsible for their children. It might not be exactly A-plus parenting to let your kid play in a LEGO store for an hour or walk to a park unattended, depending on the child and their age and the neighborhood and a slew of other factors.

But is it a crime? We’re skeptical. So this week’s award goes to local cops across the country who are cracking down on the scourge of unaccompanied children in public places. Their collective prize is having to put up with the world of helicopter parents they are helping to create.

Boehm can be reached at EBoehm@Watchdog.org and follow @WatchdogOrg on Twitter for more.

Part of 61 in the series Nanny State of the Week
  1. Nanny-state state of the week: MD may become first to ban Vaportinis
  2. Nanny-state city of the week: Minneapolis wants to ban take-out trays
  3. Skim is in: CT lawmakers want to ban whole milk in day cares
  4. Nanny state of the week: Fairfax, VA, wants to limit the right to assemble
  5. Nanny state of the week: SC — and Schumer — for duplicative efforts to ban powdered alcohol
  6. Nanny of the Week: Virginia hoses down car wash fundraisers
  7. Nanny of the Week: Even a summertime trip to the beach can’t be nanny-free
  8. Nanny of the week: Federal authorities think feral cats can read signs
  9. Nanny of the week: Cambridge wants to ban ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft
  10. Nanny-stater of the week: NY lawmaker wants to ban photos with tigers
  11. Nanny-stater of the Week: Who needs cupcakes and candy? Here, have a pencil
  12. Nanny-stater of the week: Fargo limits kids to less than four shots of juice per day
  13. Nanny-stater of the week: Wisconsin towns fight repeal of bow ban
  14. Nanny of the week: No fun in the sun, thanks to Congress and FDA
  15. Nanny-stater of the week: DOT to ban cell phone use on planes
  16. Nanny of the week: The out-of-control trend of arresting non-helicopter moms
  17. Nanny of the Week: Vermont city could ban ‘human activity’
  18. Nanny of the Week: Mississippi makes bird feeders illegal – by accident
  19. Nanny of the week: MO town bans breastfeeding near pools
  20. Nanny of the Week: School bans lip balm, 11 year-old girl fights back
  21. Watchdog.org blows lid off Vermont’s bake sale brownie ban
  22. Nanny of the Week: Seattle imposes fine on residents who throw away food
  23. Nanny of the Week: California bans plastic bags
  24. Nanny of the week: Maybe this time it will be different for Chicago
  25. Nanny of the Week: Florida growls at craft breweries’ growlers
  26. Nanny of the Week: Massachusetts town seeking to ban tobacco faces uprising from residents
  27. Nanny of the Week: Proposed bans on Thanksgiving Day shopping
  28. Nanny of the week: U.S. government bans ‘Comfyballs’ underwear
  29. Nanny of the Week: Better take down those holiday decorations
  30. Nanny of the week: Towns ban sledding
  31. Nanny of the Week: New York City plans to ban out-of-state cars
  32. Nanny of the Week: Snow-shoveling teens get in trouble with the law
  33. Nanny of the Week: Get caught wearing yoga pants three times, go to jail for life
  34. Nanny of the Week: Georgia lawmaker wants to ban mermaids, werewolves, other fictional creatures from real life
  35. Nanny State of the Week: Endangering manatees in Florida
  36. Nanny of the Week: Christie caves to protectionist gravestone proposal in N.J.
  37. Nanny of the Week: Don’t mix beer and ice cream – because of the children
  38. Nanny of the Week: Is the minimum wage a nanny state policy?
  39. Nanny of the Week: Republican in NY backs cat declawing ban
  40. Nanny of the Week: NJ continues ban on self-serve gasoline, because sometimes it snows
  41. Nanny of the Week: Bernie Sanders is coming for your deodorant
  42. Nanny of the Week: Will babies confuse beer for their binkies?
  43. Nanny of the Week: Weeds will prevail in Maryland lawn care ban
  44. Nanny State of the Week: FDA bans trans-fats
  45. Nanny State of the Week: L.A. plans to jail unlicensed street vendors
  46. Nanny ST8 of the Week: Anti-government messages not allowed on license plates
  47. Nanny State of the Week: Helicopters, horses and New York City
  48. Nanny State of the Week: Lawsuit challenges Seattle trash snooping
  49. Nanny State of the Week: Town officials mandate mowing
  50. Nanny State of the Week: Florida county sends environmental specialist to investigate BBQ
  51. Nanny State: Despite menu nannies, Americans still fat!
  52. Nanny State of the Week: New York City’s ban on Styrofoam hurts businesses, consumers
  53. Nanny State of the Week: Colorado Springs may ban sitting in public places
  54. Nanny State of the Week: New York’s soda ban could be back — but for kids only
  55. Nanny State of the Week: D.C. flexing licensing muscles at personal trainers
  56. Nanny State of the Week: Hammock bans mean no hanging out on college campuses
  57. Nanny State of the Week: County can use same lawn treatments it banned residents from using
  58. Nanny State of the Week: Pols want to ban daily fantasy sports
  59. Nanny State of the Week: Bay Area bureaucrats ban fireplaces, wood stoves
  60. Nanny State of the Week: Halloween for the politically correct only
  61. Nanny State of the Week: Governments lag behind the public on orca captivity ban


Eric is the national regulatory reporter for Watchdog.org. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. His work has appeared in Reason Magazine, National Review Online, The Freeman Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Examiner and Fox News. He was once featured in a BuzzFeed list-icle. Follow him on Twitter @EricBoehm87.