As a boy, I played outside for hours. Sometimes my older brothers or friends were there to play with, but on many occasions I played alone for hours on end. Between the ages of 10 to 12, I spent many hours alone exploring the desert right behind us. I built a small fort under a palo verde tree. We had a swamp cooler that drained via a hose out behind our trailer in the desert. I spent several weeks using my Tonka trucks and tractors building a series of small dams and lakes to collect the cooler water in.
No one thought much about me playing alone for hours and no one ever called the police on my parents, but a neighbor did call the police on the parents of an 11 year old boy in Florida for playing alone in his backyard for an hour and half.
The 11 year old boy arrived home before his parents and he didn’t have a key to the house, so he went around to the backyard and shot hoops with his basketball. When a neighbor saw the boy outside alone, he/she called the police. When the parents arrived home, they were met by police who handcuffed them and arrested them for child negligence. Arriving at the police station, the parents were strip searched, fingerprinted and then charged with felony child neglect.
The police claim that since the boy was locked out of the house, he had no access to shelter, food, water or emergency services if needed.
The Florida law the parents are accused of violating states:
“A person who willfully or by culpable negligence neglects a child without causing great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the child commits a felony of the third degree.”
In an interview, the mother gave her side of the story.
“The authorities claim he had no access to water or shelter. We have an open shed in the back yard and 2 working sinks and 2 hoses. They said he had no food. He ate his snacks already. He had no bathroom, but the responding officer found our yard good enough to relieve himself in while our son sat in a police car alone. In his own yard, in a state, Florida, that has no minimum age for children to be alone.”
Due to the felony charges filed against the parents, the 11 year old boy and his 4 year old little brother were taken away by child protection services and placed in foster care. The parents wanted the kids to be placed with relatives, preferably the mom’s mom. After learning that it would take social services many days to conduct a background check on the grandmother since she lived out of state, the parents select another relative that lived in Florida.
The boys spent two days in foster care until they were turned over to the relative. Since the relative lived in another county, they were not allowed to cross the county line to visit and the relative refused to bring the boys to visit the parents. But that was short lived because the relative soon tired of caring for the boys and turned them over to social services who placed them back in foster care. The parents were not informed this had happened.
At a court hearing on where to place the boys, there was a lot of arguing in court with the parents wanting their boys returned to them and social services wanting to keep them in state custody. That’s when the 11 year old boy spoke out, saying he wanted to talk to the judge. The mom explained what happened then:
“He went back there and spoke to the judge for about ten minutes, and then the judge came out and called the two lawyers to the bench and talked to them for about 10 or 15 minutes. And with that, our lawyer came to us and said that if we admitted that we didn’t know that it was wrong to [let our son] stay in the backyard, but that we know now that it’s wrong and we will never let it happen again, and that we will explain this to our son, he would let the children come with us.”
The judge released the kids to their parents and closed the civil case filed against them by social services, but the nightmare was not over as the parents still faced the felony charges in criminal court. The family also had to comply with a list of demands from social services including attending parenting classes and therapy. The boys are required to attend ‘play therapy’ and the older boy must go to day camp this summer and the younger must go to daycare during the day.
When they appear in criminal court, the parents, who have remained anonymous for a variety of reasons, will plead not guilty to the felony charges and are hoping that the case will be dismissed.
If the story sounds too far-fetched to believe, you can see a redacted copy of one of the court documents here.
This is an example of an out of control and overzealous system to undermine parents and the family structure. These two parents would never have been arrested or charged with felony neglect had this happened when I was 11 years old, but then, family and Christian values were the norm in America and central to the stability of our nation. Both have been villainized by a liberal system out destroy the Christian values that made America great. Undermine Christianity and traditional family structure and values and you can undermine an entire nation and that’s what we are witnessing today.