Nanny state in Georgia

Reason reports:

In August of 2018, the Widner kids—then ages 13, 11, nine, and seven—were members of a swim team at their local YMCA, which was about two blocks from their house. One day, after swim practice, the 7-year-old, Jackson, lagged behind while the rest of his siblings walked home, and stopped by the grocery for a free cookie.

A store employee thought it was so unusual to see an unaccompanied 7-year-old that a store employee called 911. Then, instead of letting him leave, the employee told Jackson he had to wait for the police to arrive.

This became part of a pattern; indeed, Jackson’s semi-independence attracted police attention on no fewer than three occasions, leading to two investigations by Child Protective Services (CPS). …

After the police finally brought Jackson home, they informed his father, Glenn, that it wasn’t safe to let a child his age wander around outside.

“You just can’t raise kids like that anymore—it isn’t safe,” said the cops.

Glenn begged to differ, reciting statistics that kids today face no greater risk from stranger danger than previous generations. Nevertheless, the police summoned child protective services.

Soon thereafter, Beth got a call from Jackson, using the new watch phone his parents had gotten him after the August incident. He said the police wanted to speak to her. Once again, cops had detained Jackson for being outside unsupervised.

Beth got to the grocery parking lot within a couple of minutes. She found Jackson seated like a suspect in the backseat of a cruiser. The complaining witness watched as the police let Beth take her son home. Beth wasn’t told what to expect further, and she didn’t hear from child services. But she later learned that child services had been informed about Jackson’s flagrant act of unaccompanied bike riding. …

One of the police officers accused Glenn of “breaking the law” by letting Jackson go out alone. “What law is that?” Glenn inquired.  The officer replied, “You can Google it.” The most senior officer accused him of neglect and “contributing to delinquency of the minor,” and told him not only could he be arrested, but he might face felony charges and spend time in jail.

This is awful over-reach. I live near a playground and sometimes I let my kids to go to it a few minutes ahead of me, while I clean up the dishes.

I’m actually pretty cautious and won’t let my seven year old walk or scoot around the neighbourhood alone, but will sometimes say yes if he has a similar aged friend with him. At some stage I’ll loosen the strings more.

These are decisions for parents to make, based on how well we know our kids, and our neighbourhoods. There is no role for the Police except where a child is manifestly too young to be outside alone, or is lost.

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