As policing parents goes, or criminalizing a parental mistake, this story is not horrific. This is nothing compared to taking a single mom’s daughter away from her and trying to put her in jail because she let her daughter play at the park. In this case the woman has not lost custody. She was simply charged to appear in court.
But I still have questions about the role of the police in this incident.
Here is the story from WHAM in New York state: “Toddler Escapes Home; Mother Charged.”
A mother is being charged after 2-year-old was apparently found on her neighbor’s porch. The neighbor contacted police after being unable to track down the child’s parents, leading to an endangering the welfare of a child charge for Stephanie Pool, 33, of Canandaigua. Police said they eventually found Pool 30 minutes later, sleeping inside her home. Police said her child unlocked the back door and exited the home. The child was not hurt.
Why does this warrant a criminal charge?
Yes I know she should not have fallen asleep. If she did that intentionally, then I understand the police reaction. But what if she sat down and closed her eyes and fell asleep without intending to do so? If this was an accident, then the proper response is to learn from it and be thankful nothing really bad happened.
If the woman really doesn’t care about the safety of her child, then she needs to be confronted by the law. But if she fell asleep by accident, then she hates the fact that she fell asleep. She is thankful that her child is safe and is making sure that never happens again.
What can the court system do to make her more motivated to take care of her child? If she cares more about a civil punishment than she does about her child wandering out in the neighborhood, then we are facing a big problem.
So what would be wrong with the police simply returning the child, waking up the mother, and explaining to her what had happened? Why did this have to involve the legal system? Maybe this woman had a really hard time and needs help getting past this one day intact.
It would be nice if we were more like neighbors to one another, rather than prison guards.