Mother Faces Jail Time for Forcing Son to Walk 5 Miles to School

February 20, 2012  |  

Remember the guilt trips grandparents used to try to give when they talked about walking X number of miles through the snow and over the hill to get to school? Well if that happened today, their parents might get locked up, as an Arkansas mother is facing up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine for making her 10-year-old son walk nearly five miles to school.

Normally Valerie Borders’ son, Nequavion, takes the bus to school but when his bad behavior forced him to lose his riding privileges for the fifth time, the mother chose to teach her son a lesson by making him walk to school. But one morning Nequavion happened to be spotted by a security guard while crossing a bank parking lot and when the police were called, they took the boy to school, then contacted the mother and charged her with endangering the welfare of a child. According to Jonesboro Police spokesman Sgt. Lyle Waterworth, Valerie’s punishment crossed the line.

“You ask yourself the question, ‘is that safe for the child?’ And if you wouldn’t want your child doing it, we probably don’t need somebody else’s child doing it,” he said.

‘There were a number of things that could have happened to the child. The child could have been injured or abducted.”

I’m assuming this spotting must have occurred in a mostly deserted area, otherwise there was no reason for the security guard to stop the boy and assume anything suspicious in the first place. It seems like the police are sticking their nose in where it doesn’t belong and that could have huge consequences for the mother. If Valerie didn’t discipline her child and he got into worse trouble, I bet the officers wouldn’t be so concerned about his well-being then.

What do you think about this case? Was the mother’s punishment out of line? Should she get jail time?

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Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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  • Penderland

     At what age are children old enough to walk down streets and parents not be charged with a crime?  How far can you allow, or make, a child to walk and not be ticketed, 4 miles, 400 yards, 4 blocks? Does America really want policemen randomly picking our children up off of the street because the kids are walking, and then ticket the parents for neglect? I have a daughter that wakes up at daylight in order to run 3 to 5 miles nearly every morning, before riding to school; because she loves to run. Am I in danger of facing charges? Possibly I should explain to my daughter, “that today’s society likely does not approve of her running that far, so she should instead, stay at home to burn her brains on video games while getting fat. Since that is acceptable to society, mom and dad will not get a ticket.” If you have ever allowed your child to walk 4 miles or 4 blocks, then possibly you should run on down to the police station and turn yourself in.  The charge is absolutely ridiculous and the public should be outraged at such police action. 

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  • cake211

    This is old school discipline. You can’t even call it “punishment”, it’s CONSEQUENCES and ACCOUNTABILITY training. Granted, the mother had a lapse in judgement because it ain’t like back in the day when we had communities that cared about each other. Back in the day, I could easily see an officer making that boy continue on his walk to school because he understood the importance of parental discipline as a prerequisite to respecting authority figures. 
    In this situation, the police are completely undermining that parental authority. I don’t think officials needed to “mind their business” because I’m glad that they did check on the boy- but they straight BSing to call this a level of endangerment that requires jail-time and $1000 fine. They need to save that jail-space for the undisciplined youths that are murdering each other and are still able to walk free.

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  • Youngdt1998

    What a crock!  My mom used to do this to me all the time cause I constantly missed the bus..

  • writingmomma

    The problem today with government officials or others stopping you from being a parent is, kids don’t respect your authority, or any other authority for that matter. These kids today have NO boundaries. They can do and say whatever they want and some nosy person gets involved and stops the parents from being able to parent. At 10 years old, this little boy was old enough to walk to school on his own. I am sure that at 10 years old, he knew not to be getting in trouble on the bus in the first place. So, why should his mother go to jail for trying to make him learn a lesson? If she would have whipped him, she was going to jail. If she makes him walk, she goes to jail. Send his little @ss straight to the Judges house and let him/her raise him then. I am sick and tired of people telling us how to raise our kids, then they want to stick them straight in a mens prison or kill them when they don’t “halt” or “spread’um to their authority. Yes, she should have trailed him to school in a car. But, baby by the time he got there, his feet would let him know not to get into any more trouble on the bus. But, sending this woman to jail for a year? I doubt it very seriously if that would help this child. That little boy would be so upset and lost at his mother being gone, he would really become a problem then for DCFS.

  • Guest

    I walked to school when I missed the bus as a kid. So did my brother. When my sons started getting into trouble on the bus and were suspended, they walked to and from school every day they were off the bus. My youngest only did one 3 day suspension. My oldest did one 3 day and two 10 day suspensions before he’d had enough. We lived 9 miles from the school.

  • Earljones_jr

    The mom obviously wasn’t disciplining him correctly in the first place if his misbehavior caused him to be kicked off the bus five times!! And five miles alone for a ten year old is too much!! Especially in 2012. It’s not safe out here. People will snatch that kid up in broad daylight. But no the mom shouldn’t get jail time.

  • Earljones_jr

    The mom obviously wasn’t disciplining him correctly in the first place if his misbehavior caused him to be kicked off the bus five times!! And five miles alone for a ten year old is too much!! Especially in 2012. It’s not safe out here. People will snatch that kid up in broad daylight. But no the mom shouldn’t get jail time.

  • Emtnest

    No, the mother should not be jailed. But she also should not have made him walk that far alone. They should drop the case against her and chalk it up to a lesson learned the hard way for both mother and son.

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  • causeisaidso

    I think maybe she should have been walking with him, or following him in the car. Five miles is a long way to walk especially for a ten year old.

    On the other hand, he got in trouble FIVE times on the bus, and lost his privileges. Five times is too many times, when your only ride is the bus.

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  • mimi

    The mother should had walk with her son. No you can’t just punish a child with out you and the child talk about his actions are not ok. Parenting isn’t about just plain ordering.

  • Taylormade

    The mother was justified. These kids need to know who is running the show! And, if she is a single mother, her voice has to carry enough for two people. As for the potential abduction concerns, kids are being abducted Close to home these days. Look parents, discipline your kids!! This new generation is way toooo “entitled.” It sounds like there needs to be more of an investigation done…if this was strictly about teaching him a lesson, she should be supported, not incarcerated.

  • Kayla

    I’d have to disagree with the mom. Because if her son was abducted she would have never let him walk. while he does deserve to be punished him walking to school isn’t the way to do it. This is a crazy world we live in, you don’t know what can happen to your child. How do you know they don’t live in a bad part of town.?

  • AJ

    Mom did the right thing. Her son learned that there is a consequence for his actions. I bet he won’t act a fool on the bus again. Mom should not be punished for his foolish actions on the bus.

  • jborange

    I agree that the boy’s mother didn’t do anything wrong.Making him walk the 5 miles to school was absolutely the appropriate penalty for getting thrown off the bus multiple times.That’s what these kids need,some old fashioned,old school discipline.Obviously the punishment she gave him the first 4 times he got in trouble didn’t work.So the fifth time he got in trouble,she knew she had to be tougher on him,and that’s what she did.Both my parents are from the Caribbean,and they gave me the same kind of upbringing they had,and I turned out just fine.They believed in old school discipline all the way.

    I read another online article on this news story,and at the bottom of the page there was another headline about a 12 year old girl who was wandering around naked and hungry,and eating out of her neighbors garbage cans.The mother told police that she told the girl to wait in the car,and she took the girl’s clothes and shoes so that she would stay there.Now that’s a mother who should be locked up,and have her child and her parenting privileges taken away permanently.On the other hand,Valerie Borders did not do anything wrong to her son.All she did was try to teach him a lesson.The boy even said so himself,because he understood what his mother was trying to do.So the cops need to drop the charges,and let her go back to raising her son the way she sees fit.

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  • QnShebasince1979

    I didn’t mean six hour walk…I meant six mile walk. But, hey he walks to the mall and all over with his friends with no problems.

  • QnShebasince1979

    I think her punishment was justified. Personally, my son acted a fool one day at school and I had to check him out early…that boy had the nerve to act a fool in the car (he was 15 or 16) and open the car door while I was driving. I stopped my car and put his behind out and went back to was at least a six hour walk home. The police called me because some “concerned” citizen called them and reported me. That “concerned” person couldn’t see how crazy his but was acting and how he could have killed us both! He didn’t and never has acted up in the car again. My kids know to fear these words: try me.

  • kieraht

    Are they aware of how many children on this planet walk further than this to school or just get water?
    I’m sure this was not her permanent plan, but this mom was desperate to get her child’s attention. His actions have consequences.
    The cops should have asked what the issue was. Confirmed with the mom and followed the kid in their squad car on the way to school if they were that concerned.

  • Jeniphyer

    Mind u they forget the fact that his bus privileges were revoked due to HIS ACTIONS, he no longer has a ride to school due to his own fault. Since he obviously doesnt want to take the bus, let his ass walk, and 5 miles isnt anything, i went to a private school when i was 9 and i lived outside the district, it took a 6 block walk and a subway ride to get me to school, and i was 9. My mother was never worried, she knew the blocks i walked cuz they were the same blocks she walked, half the kids that lived there went to the same school i did, and im sure thats the case with this young boy. The fact that police are trying to step in with the way the mother disciplines HER child is ridiculous, the kid was walking to school in a jacket and bookbag he wasnt abused and hungry with no clothes on, the police need to fall back

  • Nina Dashotta

    WTH??? I walked 5 miles to school when I was in middle school, 11yrs old. This is exactly what’s wrong with this generation and the government. Kids obese, disrespectful, and lazy because the law is screwed and gives their little behinds rights they don’t need.

  • Anita

    I see nothing wrong with her choice of punishment. Now if she was abusing or neglecting him…leaving him at home for hours and days at a time, no food, etc., I bet the authorities would take their time to step in and do anything. I’m so sick of local and government officials always trying to dictate how a child should be disciplined. There’s nothing wrong with some tapping on his litttle butt either. There’s a grave difference between discipline and abuse, and having him to walk, which the exercise may have done him some good, should have taught him a lesson about having priveleges to riding a bus. She shouldn’t be jailed or fined. That’s utterly ridiculous!

  • gmarie

    I see nothing wrong with what she did. She knows her neighborhood better than most of us do, I’m sure if she did not feel it were safe for him to walk she wouldn’t have put him up to it.

  • klynn

    What! Way out of line. So the police don’t want to patrole the streets any more? That’s what wrong with kids now. Crime did not just start in the 20th centry, kids walked to school through 3 and some time 4 neighborhoods to get to and from school, but the police patroled the streets during those times. The kids are running the parents now days, and they are lazy and don’t want to listen half the time. We had rules when we were out without our parents, and you better had followed them! What kind of message are you giving the kid to send his mother to jail for trying to teach her child something? Twisted!!!!!

  • Wtf?

    Imma keep saying this, this generation of American born and raised children will be the down fall of the U.S. economy. So unproductive! why, lack of DISCIPLINE! a 10 year old walking to school for 5 miles is considered punishment in the U.S.??? This is a major problem, the government telling parents how to raise their children. These children are so spoiled. The children from Korea, China, India, are well discipline and will grow up to be extremely productive towards each of their countries economy. I didn’t realize this until i was older, being raised in an all African home, with African values is the best thing that ever happened to me and i’ll definitely pass it on to my kids. If i have to travel to Europe, South America, Africa to ensure my children are well disciplined and raised with productive values, then so be it. smdh!

  • lawtoya

    I’m torn on this one.. She had to teach him a lesson but could have made sure he was safe on his walk.

  • Velvet Staccato

    ” If Valerie didn’t discipline her child and he got into worse trouble, I bet the officers wouldn’t be so concerned about his well-being then.” – You’ve got that right! This woman is trying to teach her young son how to be responsible and follow rules before it’s too late for him in this society, which already is a brutal place for our sons. This might not be the way I’d discipline my son only because he’s much younger than this young man, but I get exactly why she did this and the police/security guard intervention is of no help whatsoever. I would, however, made him carry an emergency phone just in case but after getting kicked off the bus FIVE times, it was high time he learned that being able to ride the bus is a privilege. He can either walk or ride – the decision is up to him and how he chooses to behave.

  • smc

    i think the police were right to press charges. “If Valerie didn’t discipline her child and he got into worse trouble, I bet the officers wouldn’t be so concerned about his well-being then.”….what about if the child was kidnapped, then she would be crying to the police to help find “her baby”. In chicago, two sisters disappeared 10 years ago because the mother left them at home alone, they were 10 and  3, they were never found. she lied to police about where they were because she thought her other kids would be taken away. They were right to step in. There is a such thing as tough love, but she went too far. 

    • Tee

      i was in tears watching that story on TV one when it aired about Diamond & tionda bradley… Five miles is entirely too far for a 10 year old to be walking by himself, especially in the times we are living in! this isn’t the 40s & 50s, when folks weren’t bused to school because they were black or lived too far out of the district. I understand him getting in trouble & she was frustrated, but certainly there was another way of doing things! This was definitely not it!

  • MommaJ1086

    When did we, as parents, lose our rights to discipline our children as we see fit?  I believe there is a line to be drawn, between punishment, abuse and neglect, BUT sometimes drastic measures need to be taken.  Five miles may have been a bit much, however, I can almost guarantee it would have taught him a lesson.  The government needs to stay out of a parent’s business when it comes to disciplining our children, it’s OUR right as parents to raise OUR children the way WE see fit.  When a government official can prove to me THEY got pregnant with MY child and gave birth to MY child then I’ll shut up.  That day will never come, and I will never shut up about it.  Maybe if parents would discipline their children more these days respect and politeness would be more abundant than disrespect and rudeness!

  • I’m kinda amazed at how extensively the black community supports reckless behavior when raising children. “Oh, let me let my 10 y.o. son walk 5 miles alone.” Yeah…I bet if that boy had gotten snatched up or missing you guys would be mad at the mother. Grow up.

    • Youngdt1998

      Holy cow!  Why pull te race card.. I’m a white mom and I damn well would have made my kid walk… I would’ve walked behind them so they couldn’t see me, but they WOULD have walked.  I did it many a time for missing my bus and I learned that if I didn;t want to walk to shape it up!

  • Lagos4us

    Five miles is nothing. it takes a healthy person 20 minutes to walk 1 mile. Give me a break! She should file a law suit against the judicial system. We have fat, dis-obedient kids. She is keeping her kid healthy and correcting that behavior. The next time the child misbehaves then what? Who will want to deal with this kid who sees the punishment his mother gives him as powerless.. They made a serious mistake that will have immeasurable consequences.

  • Sgregg817

    I think she shouldn’t get any jail time, maybe help with family counseling.  Because I understand what she was trying to do, but anything could have happen to her son walking to school by him self.  My son in 9 years old and I walk him to school every day and we live only a block away.  I don’t know what the neighborhood is like where she lives, but there is an apparent danger in my.  I hope things work out well for her.  Keep praying for sister.  

  • Guest

    It’s truly sad that there are so many interferences in a person raising THEIR child. When I was brought up a spanking from your parents was the norm and the thought of that kind of punishment kept me all the way in line. Nowadays a spanking is child abuse and you can be arrested if you’re even seen spanking your child. I believe the reason why some children are so unruly and on a completely different behavioral level than my generation is because the parents are afraid of physical discipline because THEY will be punished for it. Was 5 miles a bit extreme? Yes and maybe she could have trailed behind him BUT I’ve also come to realize that some children don’t learn until they are forced to hear what you’ve been saying and telling them all along.

  • I think this is one of those cases where people should mid there own business and let the parent do what needs to be done to raise her child. period 

  • Health2012

    I believe in discipline. The mother should have thought it through clearly, I would have sentenced him to walk to school, but I would have been driving behind him in my car.

  • Natalynn25

    His “bad behavior” caused him to “lose his riding privileges for the FIFTH time” so, the school system decides that they don’t care how he gets to school because they’re tired of dealing with his badness and when the mother tries to instill some discipline by making him walk, she’s endangering his life?  First of all, where do these people live, out in the boondocks?  Did he take a route that was unsafe because that was the ONLY route to take, or was it because that’s the way he decided to go?  There is too much missing from this story to fully define “endangerment”.  Maybe the mother should have called the police to have them escort him to school in the first place, but then she would have gotten in trouble for making a non-emergency call.  RIDICULOUS!

    • Tamirra B

      she should have called the non-emergency number. Mind ya business folks.  When children are disciplined it’s called endangerment,when children aren’t disciplined it’s called neglect. Who is the real winner is a situation…

  • MissDiva05

    No ma’am… Not in today’s world. Have we learned nothing from these horrible cases we see on the news? Our kids can’t even play in their own yards anymore without supervision…. And FIVE MILES… c’mon, that’s ridiculous. Mama shoulda thought that one through.

  • abc123

    ” I’m assuming this spotting must have occurred in a mostly deserted area,
    otherwise there was no reason for the security guard to stop the boy
    and assume anything suspicious in the first place.”
    Exactly! …and this sounds like a frustrated mother. Either way, she’ll be blamed!