Mom Arrested for Letting Son Walk to Park Alone

August 10, 2014  |  

A Florida mom faces up to five years in jail for letting her seven-year-old son walk to the park.

Nicole Gainey’s son, Dominic, frequents the route he took, often traveling it by bike to go to school and take walks with his family. On the way to the park, which is less than a half-mile from his house, he passed a nearby public pool and was asked where his mother was.

“They asked me a couple questions, and I got scared, so I ran off to the park and they called the cops,” Dominic told a local news station.

The boy ran on to Sportman’s Park to play. A little while later, police arrived and questioned him about his mother’s whereabouts.

Gainey was in contact with her son throughout his walk and time at the park through a cell phone he carried with him. According to her attorney, she new exactly where her son was going and gave him permission to walk there alone.

“Dominic checked in with his mom a few minutes before the police came and was getting ready to go home for dinner,” attorney John Whitehead said.

Gainey says she “honestly didn’t think she was doing anything wrong.” Adding, “I am totally dumbfounded by this whole situation.”

Police arrested the mom charging her with child neglect for allowing her son to walk to and play at the park unsupervised.

This isn’t the first case of its kind. Last July, Debra Harrell was arrested and lost custody of her nine-year-old daughter for allowing her to play in a park alone.

These incidents are proving confusing for many parents, including the two arrested, who unknowingly committed crimes when allowing their children to walk to and play in parks alone.

Whitehead echoed these parents concerns, “Something has shifted and now we’re in the middle of a dangerous societal trend of arresting parents for noncriminal activities.”

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