Be a parent, go to jail?
Should it be normal for parents to get arrested for making normal parental decisions — just because someone else believes it’s a mistake?
I’m not talking about demonstrable child abuse. I’m talking about the kind of decisions Radley Balko cites in a column on “the criminalization of parenthood.”
In one case, a South Carolina working mom was jailed for “unlawful conduct toward a child” — for letting her nine-year-old play in a well-attended park while she worked at McDonald’s. Social services took the child.
In another case, an Ohio father faces six months in jail because, unbeknownst to him, his eight-year-old son skipped church to play with friends in the neighborhood.
In a third, an Illinois woman was arrested for leaving a stubborn eight-year-old in her car for a few minutes while she dashed into a store.
We may disagree with what the parents did here (to the extent they could have done anything different). But arrest? Jail?
For six months?
In the world that these incidents prefigure, the only way for parents to be “safe” in using our judgment will be to stop using it.
This would be life under the tyranny of “experts” and busybodies: to always project what the most skittish and punitive “authority” would require — and to do that instead of what we ourselves consider appropriate given all relevant, sometimes difficult circumstances.
Final question: What lesson does this brave new regime teach the children?
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.