Posted: Jul 31, 2014 10:00 AM
 
Florida mom Nicole Gainey didn't think she was "doing anything wrong" by allowing her cell phone-toting 7-year-old son, Dominic, to walk to a nearby park to play. Officials thought differently and charged her with child neglect.
Photo credit: vgajic/Vetta/Getty Images

It's a different world

Remember the days when your parents would let you roam the neighborhood with your pack of friends without little more instruction than "be home before the streetlights come on?" OK, I don't remember that either. But my husband swears those days are what make up his fondest childhood memories. Letting kids run free didn't used to be a crime. Should it be now?

The scene of the "crime"

The officer noted that Dominic was alone and that 'numerous sex offenders reside in the vicinity' of the park.

After speaking to Dominic, a person along the boy's route to the park found out he was alone and called the police. A policeman picked up Dominic, returned him home and cited the mother with child neglect for allowing her son to go to the park unattended. In the report, the officer noted that Dominic was alone and that "numerous sex offenders reside in the vicinity" of the park.

Taking a stand

Gainey told WPTV, "I honestly don't think I was doing anything wrong. I was letting him go play." She admitted she was "dumbfounded" by the charge.

And to be honest, so am I. My son is going to be 7 in less than three weeks. He is my eldest child, but in many ways still my baby. He is pure and innocent and gets freaked out if I so much as ask him to sit down five feet away from me while I order his sandwich at our local Subway. There is no way I would send him to the park by himself. But even if I allowed it, he probably wouldn't leave my side. But that doesn't mean I think it's a punishable crime. I believe the policeman was simply responding to a call and trying to keep the boy safe. And that's where the incident should have ended. But charging an otherwise capable and caring mother with neglect? That's going too far.

I love the many conveniences in our modern world, but I often long to raise my children in a simpler time when the world was less cluttered with evil. I wish I didn't have to explain to my kids why their elementary school is building another gate around its exterior and why they need to ask for the "code word" in case anyone besides me, their dad or their grandparents ever has to pick them up from school in case of an emergency.

Despite my secret freakish attempts to keep my kids safe in this crazy world, I have this woman's back. She knows her kid better than anyone.

I don't consider myself a helicopter parent. I've come a long way in forcing myself to step back so my children do not feel hindered by a constant shadow looming over them. But letting them head out on their own to even the neighborhood park is not something you'll find me doing for another few years… at least. And still then I might secretly follow them in the car stakeout-style and hide in the bushes on the lookout for kidnappers. I kid, I kid. (Maybe.)

Despite my secret freakish attempts to keep my kids safe in this crazy world, I have this woman's back. She knows her kid better than anyone. She knows how she has prepared him to handle a solo trip to the park (equipped with his cell phone) and I certainly don't think that she should be charged with a crime for letting her son go play.

Luckily, Gainey is not taking the charges lying down. She has fought back against the charges and told WPTV that a Florida Department of Children and Families Services official told her that she can expect the case to be dropped.

Tell us!^

Do you think Nicole Gainey is guilty of "neglect" for letting her son play at the neighborhood park unsupervised?

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