(NEWSER) – Should sending your kid to play alone at a local park land you in jail? Because that's what happened to Debra Harrell. The 46-year-old South Carolina mom repeatedly sent her 9-year-old daughter to a well-trafficked park while she went to work at McDonald's. When the parents of other children at the park found out, they called police, who arrested Harrell and charged her with unlawful conduct toward a child. The daughter has been placed in state custody.
Local news outlets first reported the story on July 1, but it's been getting wider attention lately thanks to an indignant post on Reason from "Free Range Kids" advocate Lenore Skenazy. And so far, pretty much everyone agrees that the arrest is senseless and wrong. Some reactions:
- Skenazy notes that the original news reports make it sound like Harrell "committed a serious, unconscionable crime," as locals speculate that the girl could have been kidnapped. "To which I must ask: In broad daylight? In a crowded park? Just because something happened onLaw & Order doesn't mean it's happening all the time in real life."
- "Since I'm a parent, Harrell’s arrest scares me: How can I appropriately parent my child when doing something that seems relatively safe, if out of fashion, can get you arrested?" asks Jessica Grose at Slate.