Forbidden Parenting

South Carolina mom Debra Harrell worked at McDonald’s. She couldn’t afford day care for Regina, her 9-year-old daughter, so she took her to work.

But Regina was bored at McDonald’s.

One day, she asked if she could just play in the neighborhood park instead. “I felt safe there,” tells me in my new video, “because I was with my friends and their parents.”

“She had her cellphone, a pocketbook with money in it,” says Debra. “She had everything she needed.”

Regina was happy. Debra was happy.

But one parent asked Regina where her mom was, and then called the police. Officers went to McDonald’s and arrested Debra.

In jail, they berated her.

“You can’t leave a child who is 9 years old in the park by herself!” said one officer. “What if some sex offender came by?”

People interviewed by the media were also outraged.

“What if a man came and just snatched her?” asked one.

“This day and time, you never know who’s around!” said another.

But what are they talking about? Crime in America is way down, half what it was in the ’90s. Reports of missing children are also down.

If kids are kidnapped or molested, it’s almost always by a relative or an acquaintance, not by a stranger in a park.

Nevertheless, prosecutors charged Debra Harrell with “willful abandonment of a child,” a crime that carries up to a 10-year sentence.

They also took Regina away from her mom — for two weeks. “I would cry as night because I was really scared,” Regina told me. “I didn’t know where I was, or what was going on.”

Fortunately, attorney Robert Phillips took Debra’s case for free. He didn’t like the way police and media portrayed her.

“Here was this black female that society gives a hard time. ‘Welfare queens, living at home, not getting a job!’ Well, that’s what she was doing,” he said. “She was out working, trying the best she could to take care of her child. And now we’re beating her up because we didn’t like the way she took care of her child.”

The cops said that Harrell should have sent her daughter to day care. But even if she could have afforded it, it’s not clear that day care is safer. “We found 42 incidents of sexual molestations, rapes in day cares,” said Phillips. “We couldn’t find (in South Carolina in the last 20 years) a single abduction in a park.”

Philips blames people in my business for scaring people about the wrong things. “The media has brought up this ‘stranger danger’ to where, if you’re not under the protective wings of mom and dad 24/7, then you’re exposing your child to some unknown danger.”

That has frightened police and child welfare workers into taking absurd steps when parents leave children alone.

In Maryland, police accused parents of child neglect for letting their kids roam around their neighborhood.

In Kentucky, after police reported a mom who left her kids in the car while she dashed into a store, child welfare workers strip-searched the kids to make sure they weren’t being abused.

This doesn’t protect kids. It mostly scares parents into depriving their kids of chances to learn. “When you don’t let them spread their wings, that’s when they get in trouble!” says Debra.

She was fortunate that her case got enough attention that even Nikki Haley, then South Carolina’s governor, asked that Regina be given back to her mom.

Prosecutors finally dropped the child abandonment charge.

It’s just not right that when stranger kidnappings are increasingly rare, police and child welfare workers are more eager to punish parents who let kids play on their own.

“A Utah law guarantees that giving kids some reasonable independence isn’t ‘neglect,'” says Lenore Skenazy, of the nonprofit Let Grow, “More states need this!”

Of course, some parents are so neglectful that government should intervene.

But as lawyer Phillips put it, they should intervene “only if you are subjecting your child to a real harm. We should not have unreasonable intrusions by the government telling us every little detail how to raise our children.”

7 thoughts on “Forbidden Parenting

  1. As a kid growing up in inner city Chicago I was out of the house almost all the time and my Mom had no idea what I was up to. This was the case with every kid in the neighborhood. We ran the streets and alleys at will and only came home to eat, use the bathroom or when the street lights came on. I grew up learning street smarts. Of course that was in the 50’s when people still had common sense.

  2. Sadly not one self righteous person offered to help this mother out by offering to care for this child while she was working.. Not one! No, all they could do was judge her for not doing as THEY saw fit….. Caused nothing but grief and trauma to this family by making sure this mother and child were separated.

  3. We need sensible legislation that CURTAILS these VIOLATIONS of civil rights and the abhorrent behavior of those ‘moral grandstanding’ freaks by leveling accountability for their actions.

    Its not enough to say… oops. My bad I overstepped the boundaries of Public Service. There needs to be some level of accountability fir the trauma caused in order to deter this UNACCEPTABLE behavior.

    From the jerk off parents who called the police to the jerks that took the child from the mother, everyone of them needs to be taught an URGENT lesson in accountability. They must be held accountable for their actions and be held responsibile for the trauma, and violence perpetrated against this mother & child.

    There is no excuse.

  4. This is in line with the fear mongering tactics of despicable media types and politicians who want everyone in a constant state of fear and uncertainty so that they will accept a totalitarian “nanny” state. I believe that the police force and any other government agencies involved should be sued for millions to compensate this woman and her child for the horror they were put thru. As for the “nosey parker” who was so damned concerned, her photo and name should be put in the newspapers and tv news exposing her as the self righteous busybody that she is.

  5. The United States had a low tax, small, laissez-faire government in the 19th century time period known as the Gilded Age. It was great for people like John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie but it was not too good for the workers who had long work hours, low pay, no benefits, a very high poverty rate, and lived in tenements that were among the worst slums in world history. Workers fought for decades to get higher pay and shorter work hours. They rioted and went on strike.
    Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal delivered for the workers by raising the top tax rate, supporting unions, and regulating businesses. The high top tax rate put a cap on incomes so that the richest people couldn’t hog the money like they usually do. According to the spring 2018 issue of Sword & Scales, “When Franklin Roosevelt promoted early plans for the regulatory state, he suggested it would benefit ‘the forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid.’” And indeed it did. Over the next 45 years the regulatory state created the largest and richest middle class in world history.
    Then the people got conned out of it. Ronald Reagan promised that his Supply Side tax cuts would create economic growth, jobs, and prosperity for all. None of that happened, instead those tax cuts allowed unlimited top incomes so that ever since 1981 almost all economic growth has gone to the rich. The bottom 90% got no benefit from that growth as wages have stagnated. At least $12 trillion dollars has been diverted from the workers to the rich since 1981.
    Wage stagnation is a uniquely American thing. We have been told it is due to Globalization and Automation but it is not. It is due to Supply Side Economics. Wages have not stagnated in other countries that didn’t get Supply Side Economics.
    One method for conning people out of the New Deal is to complain about taxes, regulations, or “government overreach” to try to make government look bad like this article does. That way people are tricked into voting for the party that harms them (Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump are both talking about cutting Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security) and against the party that would help them. The purpose is to transfer money away from the workers to the rich elite that donate big money to politicians.

      1. What a load of hogwash Jeff. First off, he didn’t cap maximum earnings. He wanted to but even during that era when the Progressives destroyed key elements of the constitution, he couldn’t get that through. You have to be a moron to think anyone paid the top rate of income tax. Anyone who has studied it knows that NOBODY paid the top rate and were allowed to deduct all types of expenses. The actual tax rate averaged around 42% for the top payers. It was 35% but lowered to 28% during Reagan.

        The reason for the economic gains of the next 35 years wasn’t FDR’s plans. It was complete lack of competition. Russia, Europe and Japan were destroyed during WWII. China was a closed system… There were no major manufacturing or industries to compete with American made products during that era. We supplied the world. Unless you have some plan to wipe out all manufacturing around the world, you won’t be able to replicate the expansion of that era. Revenue doubled during the Reagan years.

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