Recently a single mother was arrested and her nine year old child placed into foster care because she let her play at the playground while she was working at a nearby McDonald’s. As usual my stand-by for analysis and commentary, Slate, has weighed in and provided multiple links to additional commentary if you’d like to delve deeper into the issue. They’ve also just recently added a survey that I just took and I encourage my readers to take as well.
After taking the survey I realized that my parents, both of whom worked full time, granted me slightly more freedom than I will grant my children at a similar age. The reason I think I’m a little more cautious with my children is not because I think they’ll be snatched by a stranger, a statistically unlikely occurrence that has been further reduced since the time when I was a child. I’m simply afraid that in the car-oriented suburbia common in my area of the country I live in means the greater danger to my children is that they’ll get run over crossing the busier roads speckled with distracted drivers that my parents never had to worry about. I remember crossing a busy six lane divided road walking home by myself in the second grade. My children would also have to cross a six lane divided road to get back and forth to school but I drive them every morning and the bus brings them home.
This mother was a sole provider and care-giver and the unskilled work she was forced into by welfare work requirements doesn’t generate the income necessary for childcare. Now she’s an inmate and her child is in foster care. This woman was arrested because the state determined that a public park was no place for an unattended fourth grader and I’m afraid to let my children cross the street. If we don’t feel our parks and roads are safe enough for our kids, isn’t that the real problem? And how is locking up a single mother trying to make it through life as best she can going to fix that?