Nicole Gainey gave her son Dominic permission to go play at Sportsman's Park in Port St. Lucie on a Saturday afternoon. The park is around a half mile from their home. He says it only takes about 10 to 15 minutes to get there and that his mom believes he is mature enough to go alone during the day. Dominic carries a mobile phone with him in case of emergency.
Along the way to the park, he passed a public pool where someone asked him where his mother was.
"They asked me a couple questions and I got scared so I ran off to the park and they called the cops," he says.
Dominic was found playing at the park when an officer arrived, who asked him where his mother lived and then took him home.
This might have been the end of a seemingly common, benign contact between the officer and the child, but after arriving at the residence, the officer proceeded to arrest Nicole, charging her with child neglect.
The police report said the cause for arrest was because Dominic was unsupervised in an area where numerous sex offenders live. His mother plans to fight the felony charge.
The State Attorney's office explained that there is no law specifying an age a child must be to go places unsupervised. It is done on a case-by-case basis.
Nicole claims she won't let Dominic go to the park alone anymore because she's fearful of being arrested again.
Robert Demond of Kilauea, Hawaii, was fined $200, ordered to take a parenting class and sentenced to one year of probation for endangering the welfare of a minor.
His offense? Making his son (age unclear) walk a mile home along a highway with a pedestrian sidewalk as punishment for not answering his questions. He said he did it to give his son time think about his actions and to teach him a lesson.
The Judge disagreed, and deemed the "old school" form of punishment unacceptable. The prosecutor said it was an inappropriate way to correct his son's behavior.
Mr. Demond has no criminal record, nor any history of violence.
Off The Cuff - My Take:
I see so much fail in both of these stories. Articles like these do not fill me with optimism for America, Land of the (alleged) Free.
It would seem the basic concepts of common sense have been ripped out of our society's collective brain and we're slowly filling the ensuing gap with fear. Why?
One could attribute multiple arguments depending on the individual who is asked, I suppose. I truly believe few of them, by the way, would likely have anything to do with addressing 7-year-olds going by themselves to parks or boys of indeterminate ages walking a mile alone.
Probable argument #1: The country was safer back in 'the good 'ol days!' Yep, it would seem the U.S. has become a darker, more dangerous place. Oh, wait: according to WolframAlpha computational knowledge engine, that's not true at all. The violent crime rate (as of 2012) is pretty much at the same levels as it was 40+ years ago. In fact, all violent crimes in the United States have been in steady decline since the early 90s.
Probable argument #2: There are more sexual predators nowadays. An interesting argument, but is there any actual support for this, or is it simply confirmation bias? This has always been a taboo subject where laws have evolved over periods of time. If anything, I believe we've become ever more aware and vigilant about it.
Probable argument #3: 9/11 - Never forget. Trust me, we haven't.
Probable argument #4: It's all the media's fault.This argument has some merit. The internet and social media coupled with a 24-hour cable news cycle allows today's average individual access to more instant information than at any other time in our existence. Naturally, some individuals do begin to believe certain kinds of incidents are happening at higher frequencies. Then, see #2.
Probable argument #5: We are living in a police state. Another argument with baby teeth, but I more or less feel it is a symptom of and overreaction to #4.
I suppose I'm putting on my old fogey pants by saying this, but these stories are particularly distressing to me because by today's standards, my own parents might be considered monsters!
I was a part of a "latch-key generation" (Gen-Xer). This meant that it was quite common to see both of my parents (and about 90% of all my friend's parents) still working long after I got home from school. Thus, I had only myself to unlock the house and make the after school snack/start homework/etc. when I got home.
Kids in my neighborhood also had to depend upon ourselves to get to and from school (a half-mile away, I might add) at an early age. Heck, we walked and rode our bikes to get anywhere, went home just before the streetlights came on and there wasn't a mobile phone in sight. We brought change for pay phones, just in case. Getting a ride in a car someplace was an infrequent luxury considered only after all other options for methods of transportation were totally exhausted.
Some believe "it takes a village" or community to raise a child, but I'm sincerely not convinced the world has fundamentally changed all at that much in those respects since I was a teen. It is WE AS ADULTS that I feel have truly transformed into something a bit nefarious, and the line between being concerned adults and overprotective, nosy busybodies seem to get blurred more and more everyday.
Collectively, we seem to have become much more alarmist as a society these days, and no good deeds will go unpunished, citizens. Accountability and common sense now take a backseat to tolerance and procedure. We call the cops on kids when they won't behave. People would rather sue than talk things out. It's depressing.
Frivolous litigation has already ruined many things in this country, and John & Jane Q. Public seem to do 'just enough' in their personal and professional lives to avoid a lawsuit. Others game the legal system for personal or monetary gain. Both scenarios should be considered sad and shameful, but we now consider them normal.
I suppose my biggest gripe in the above examples are that they both might have been avoided with plain, old fashioned clear communication. Even sadder yet is we can't even seem to manage that in "The Information Age," where we have countless ways to communicate right at our fingertips!
I hope we can wake up soon, before these types of stories become the new normal.
Thanks for reading, and as always, your candies and flowers (or pitchforks and torches) are very much appreciated.
Posted: Friday, September 12, 2014
Article comment by:
Not A Fan
Truly sad how children are barred from developing self-reliance. Independence is such a hard thing to "teach" young adults to the point that we grow up like oversized infants.
I walked miles to school. It was only when a teenage boy sexually harassed me when I stopped for awhile. My mother didn't blink an eye and drove me to school until said boy was no longer in the neighborhood.
I started walking to school again and when I grew older. What could've been traumatizing didn't stop me, and my mom didn't let it be.
Posted: Monday, September 1, 2014
Article comment by:
NO- It takes a committed FATHER AND MOTHER to bring their CHILDREN up as GOOD CITIZENS and Loving People --with Faith in GOD. NO teenage pregnancy, NO school drop-outs, NO tattoo's, HARD WORKING AMERICAN VALUES. START WITH THEM-- GOOD THINGS COME IN THE FUTURE.
Posted: Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Article comment by:
This area is still the sort of area that could be a caring village environment. A village raised me.
My village was on the South Side of Chicago in what is now an area torn apart by gang violence. Residents are trapped inside their homes to avoid being killed by the continuous gang gunfire.
Back then, we walked blocks to school under the gaze of dozens and dozens of grandmas watching from their porches or windows. If we were out of line, a grandma would run down her porch, grab and ear or a lock of hair and promise to tell your parents. There was no gang violence back then, but plenty of grandma violence. And, it kept us in line.
If you fell or got hurt on the way home, you were ok. People ran to you and tried to help. Someone sent someone else to run to your home to tell your mom. At the end of the ordeal, everyone within a several block radius knew you skinned both knees and sprained a wrist. There were no secrets.
Kids were respectful. If they weren't, grandmas galore would complain to the parents. Out of sheer peer pressure, those kids figured it out. The grandmas were relentless. Babushka headed, sensible shoe wearing fighters for a civilized neighborhood.
Maybe we lost what's needed to have those good old days now. If so, I feel sorry for our kids.
Posted: Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Article comment by:
Keeping known sex offenders in prison!
Posted: Saturday, August 2, 2014
Article comment by:
I think it's a reflection of the "nanny" mentality we now unfortunately embrace. My friends and I also walked or biked every where as youths and unless you came home minus a limb, it was ok. We quickly learned the limits of acceptability. You always knew when you, or a buddy was going to be in trouble, not so now. The lines are blurred, parents refuse to accept the responceablity of parenthood. Everyone expects perfection , but won't provide, nor allow the learning cycle to take place.
Today the good parent is punished for doing the right thing. CPS is a disaster stirring up resentments and entitlement has created narcissism in children as well as adults. Nefarious is the perfect description of the approach taken to raising children.Once upon a time a "village" could raise a child, but today there is too many differences in how a child should be raised to be successful in a world falling a part.
Posted: Friday, August 1, 2014
Article comment by:
It has always "taken a village" to raise kids. The difference is that people lived in neighborhoods where we took the time to know each other. If kids misbehaved, the eyes of neighbors were monitors. They were also our support if we, as parents, couldn't get home as expected. There was always the house where the kids congregated after school. Today, complete strangers "think" they know us and judge our parental skills. I was spanked as a child and did some swatting to my own. NOT beating, NOT abuse, just a reminder of proper behavior and NOT to small children under 7. When I think of the things I did as a parent, I always analyze and wonder "what was I thinking?" But, my children turned out to be fine men with good moral and civic skills. Certainly we, as a society, have a duty to be vigilant and safeguard our children. If you truly see a child being beaten, you should step in. But to scare a child who is being taught self reliance by walking alone to the park - not so much. Have we forgotten how important it was when WE were allowed to go somewhere unescorted by parents? Maybe that mother used poor judgement, maybe not, but these are NOT criminal offenses. There is a fine balance between providing information and judging. Hope we can find it!