I grew up in the country and would play outside for hours on end. We didn’t have a lot of land, just about 25 acres, but with two tanks (tractor-dug dirt water holes), trees, big rocks for climbing and a pump-jack on our land, there was always stuff to get into. Plus, I’d ride my bicycle up and down the dirt roads filled with potholes which were fun to dip my tires in and out of. I tell you all of this because two Florida parents were recently charged with felony neglect after a neighbor saw an 11-year-old boy playing alone in his backyard for about an hour and a half, and reported it to the police.
According to the boy’s mother, he arrived home before her and the boy’s father and was locked out of the house, so he shot some hoops in the yard until their arrival.
Legitimately concerned neighbor or just nosey?
On the legitimately-concerned side of the debate, people are saying that the boy:
- Didn’t know where his parents were;
- Was locked out of his house; and
- Didn’t have access to emergency services, shelter, food, etc.
On the just-nosey side, people are countering that:
- The boy was not in danger;
- Felony charges may have been excessive; and
- There is no minimum age where a child cannot be left alone at home in the state of Florida.
The parents recently spoke with Reason Magazine about the incident.
“The authorities claim he had no access to water or shelter,” said the boy’s mother. “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.”
So readers, whose side are you on? What do you think about this incident? And, do you feel that felony charges were excessive?
Looking forward to your reactions, thoughts and opinions. Let’s talk!