The parents were stuck in traffic and running late. So, as instructed, he hung out in the back yard until they got home. What happened next defies the imagination.
As big government gets even bigger, Americans are realizing that their nation isn't what it used to be. Case in point: An 11-year-old Florida boy waiting alone in his backyard for an hour and a half while his parents were caught in traffic was enough to land him in custody for more than a month and put his parents behind bars.
"There was a time not too long ago that parents could let their kids walk to school alone, take a solo bike ride around the neighborhood, and, once reasonably old enough, stay home alone," Townhall.com's Leah Barkoukis recollects from decades past.
"Those days are gone, and gone with a vengeance," he continues. "This type of parenting, which was once considered the norm, is now getting kids taken away from their guardians, and parents locked up and treated as negligent criminals."
This isn't George Orwell's 1984 … it's 2015 — a year when the mother of the "neglected" 11-year-old shines a little light on what happened before Florida police arrested her and her husband and kept her two sons in state custody for more than a month.
"My children are not free range children … [t]he younger one has always had a baby sitter [and] the older one — who just turned 11 a couple of weeks ago — always had a baby sitter as well," the boy's mother recently explained on FreeRangeKids.com. "This school year that changed. The 11-year-old comes home and is met by his dad who lets him in the house. In the event dad isn't here on time, his instructions are to wait in the backyard until I come home about 20 minutes later."
Government takeover of the home
But one day, things didn't turn out as planned, and the police were anything but understanding.
"On this particular day, a little more than a month ago, both dad and I were both running late due bad traffic and rain," the working mom recollected. "We were about an hour and a half late. When we arrived, the police had been anonymously called and we were arrested for child neglect."
A month later, the mother explained that she and her husband continued a legal battle to stay out of jail while trying to get their sons out of state custody — all while losing her job.
"We still do not have our children, we are fighting for our own freedom, and due to the nature of my employment, I am no longer employed," the besieged mom wrote. "My son was in his own yard playing basketball — not in the street or at the park."
To make matters worse for the parents, police reported that the boy was left in a perilous situation, even though the parents maintain he was well provided for.
"The authorities claim he had no access to water or shelter," the mother continued. "We have an open shed in the back yard and two working sinks and two 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."
More than a month after the two boys were taken into custody over the incident, they were finally reunited with their parents, who still have legal problems of their own over the matter.
"Our sons were returned to us on Tuesday/Wednesday in the children's court/DCF with adjudication withheld," the mother wrote in an update last week. "However the criminal prosecutor is not dropping the charges as of today. We have to appear in the criminal court on June 11 to put in our plea."
And because she is a state employee, the troubled mom is being threatened to keep quiet if she wants any chance of getting her job back.
"I would love to speak to someone, however, due to my job (which is still on the line), I don't know if it will make it better or worse" the mother of two pleaded with Lenore Skenazy, who runs FreeRangeKids.com. "I am a state and county employee with the school system, and I was made to sign a paper stating I would not speak with teachers, parents or students regarding the matter."
United States or nanny states?
Unfortunately, it is reported that incidents such as this power-grab usurping parental control with state control is more common than many would like to believe.
"Similar incidents are happening all over the country, and as Matt Walsh over at The Blaze points out, the problem is just as bad, if not worse, in public schools, where parental rights are virtually nonexistent," Barkoukis reports. "This is the epitome of the nanny state, and the worst part about it is that it's not even to correct a problem in society — there has never been a safer time to be a child in America."
Skenazy, who the Florida mother contacted, agrees, arguing that in lieu of this recent breach of parental rights, legislators need to enact laws that will serve as a system of checks and balances to ensure that the state cannot take parents' children away unjustifiably at will.
"If this doesn't convince lawmakers that they had better start revising the child neglect laws — and convince politicians that supporting Free-Range legislation would be a great, vote-getting platform — I'm not sure what will," Skenazy contends.