Home Alone

07.16.14

Was She Abandoned?

A mom was arrested for leaving her nine-year-old daughter in the park while working. Was more harm done by the state?

In South Carolina, a 46-year-old black woman was arrested for leaving her nine-year-old daughter at a park while she went to work. Though the daughter had been staying at work with her mom and playing on a laptop, when the laptop was stolen she asked her mother if she could play in the park instead. Her third day there, an adult asked where her mother was, then called the cops, who declared the girl "abandoned" and proceeded to arrest the mother. The Atlantic points out 1) that putting the daughter in foster care caused the girl more trauma than she was likely to suffer in the park and 2) the decision to do so comes at a time when the state’s child protective services are overwhelmed by serious allegations. The author also questions whether the safety of the girl was actually in danger, arguing that “state employees … wouldn't think of preventing many statistically riskier parenting decisions so long as those decisions jive comfortably with social norms.”