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Mom arrested for letting son, 7, go to park alone

Mom Arrested For Allowing Child to Walk to Park Alone

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) -- A Florida woman who let her 7-year-old son walk alone to a park has been charged with felony child neglect.

Thirty-four-year old Nicole Gainey's son was en route Saturday to a park about a half-mile from his home when he stopped and sat at a nearby pool, according to an arrest affidavit. Lifeguards said they had seen the boy five previous times and one approached him to ask where his mother was.

Apparently spooked by the questioning, the boy fled, running across a six-lane road toward the park, where an officer found him and asked if he was allowed out alone often.

"Yes. She gives me the phone and tells me to go," the child told the officer, according to the report.

Police then arrived at Gainey's home, in Port St. Lucie, and she was arrested. Police say she told them her son went unsupervised to the park once or twice a week.

The Rutherford Institute, a Virginia-based civil liberties group, received calls about the incident from some who see it as an overreach by law enforcement. The group reached out to Gainey, who is now being represented by the organization's attorneys.

John Whitehead, the civil rights attorney who founded the institute, said that if officials were concerned about the boy's lack of supervision, a warning would have been sufficient. He said Gainey will not allow her boy to leave unattended again.

"She's a good mother, obviously," Whitehead said. "She wasn't a neglectful mother. She's scared and she's fighting."

A message left on Gainey's phone was not immediately returned.

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mountainlora July 31 2014 at 2:28 PM

Is there a specific law stating at what age a child can be in public without a parent? Because if not, you now have to arrest every child walking to school alone, going to play with his best friend, etc.

This child ran when questioned which makes me think Mom probably taught him not to let strangers approach.

An arrest was too much.

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2 replies
Fran mountainlora July 31 2014 at 6:31 PM

I think kids have to be at least 13 before they can stay home alone.

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2 replies
emiller867 Fran July 31 2014 at 7:53 PM

Depends on the child.

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Cathy Sapp Fran July 31 2014 at 8:25 PM

In Florida the law states that a child has to be 12 before he or she is left home alone AFTER DARK....before dark, like in the middle of the day, it depends on the child......most daycare centers are too expensive for working mothers in the summer as the price is almost as much as that for an infant. And stop taking kids over the age of 11.

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Erik Baran mountainlora July 31 2014 at 11:38 PM

My daughter was babysitting at 12, and this was in 2007.

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grudgrime July 31 2014 at 1:29 PM

Seriously? When we were kids all the moms in the neighborhood kicked the kids out of the house at 10:00am and we came back for lunch and dinner. We rode our bikes to the park too. It was normally everyday business!

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7 replies
cathiehrdy July 31 2014 at 2:05 PM

Good grief!! Parents spend so much time protecting their children from the world that the kids don't get a chance to learn to survive in it.

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sun1045 July 31 2014 at 2:40 PM

Society is way too sensitive and "over the top" today. We would leave home early and get back home for super in the summers after hiking and other adventures growing up...

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3 replies
kindamara July 31 2014 at 2:01 PM

This is what the government wants. They want all of us to live in fear! I'll bet if the kid was 14 she would still be arrested for whatever reason. Arrest and jail is stupid. What will they do with the kid? Put him in foster care??????

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4 replies
Luna July 31 2014 at 5:03 PM

When I was a kid if this law applied then nearly ever single mother in the town I grew up in would be arrested. The park I played at was 4 blocks from where I lived. Other kids I played with lived much futher away. We were all between 6 and 8 years old. 7 was considered the age of reason. You were expected to know how to cross the roads safely and should not need constant supervision. I guess kids 7 years old now days are to be treated like 4 years old of my day or else it's a felony crime.

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2 replies
jmason7708 Luna July 31 2014 at 7:02 PM

its the only way anti gunners can get rid of gun if you are arrested for a felony no more guns so their object is to get everyone a felony charge hell i walked to school by myself at age 6

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Cathy Sapp Luna July 31 2014 at 8:41 PM

My parents and every parent in my whole town would have been arrested.....we have become a nation of paranoid people.

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mountainlora July 31 2014 at 3:31 PM

My youngest son's ELEMENTARY school discontinued bus service for children who then had to cross a busy street (DARK in the winter) and walk up to a MILE.

So should the single parents who had to work and support their families all be arrested on a FELONY charge? My son is grown now, but this school still has no bus service for up to a mile and a half, and the school is still on the opposite side of a very busy street ...

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2 replies
TR by ML Neal... mountainlora July 31 2014 at 10:40 PM

Then mountainlora the parents for that school need to do something about it. Vote out your school board and get people in there that will take care of the kids. That situation is unacceptable and the school district is taking your tax dollars and not providing for your school kids. Shameful that they are doing it and shameful that the parents are allowing it!

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2 replies
Nancy TR by ML Neal... July 31 2014 at 11:03 PM

TR by ML Neal, you don't know much about school busing. I live in Florida and not only is it dark in the mornings but in the afternoons it can be over 100 degrees in the hot sun with no shade while the kids who live less than 2 miles from the school have to walk home as buses are not provided for them. Age does not factor in. School board has nothing to do with it. People will not agree to have taxes raised to pay for more buses in school districts. Kids already have to share books because there isn't even money for that.

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exoray TR by ML Neal... August 01 2014 at 12:11 AM

TR by ML Neal, you clearly don't have a clue about how things work in the real world do you? In my area none of the schools provide free transportation for anyone within 1.5 miles of the school, and this is in full compliance with State law... You won't get the school to budge on a policy they and every other school in the area has been doing for decades... If you want transportation within that 1.5 mile radius you have to hire a private bus company to transport your children and pay fully out of pocket... And personally I find nothing wrong with it, my bus stop as a child was over 1/2 mile away from my house, and at that age I easily walked well over a mile from my house every single day to go to a friends house, the park or go hang in the woods... I used to walk to my grandmothers house 2+ miles away when I got permission, no big deal... It's a real sad state of affairs when people believe it's the governments job to hold their hands and babysit them in every regard.

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Elizabeth mountainlora August 01 2014 at 6:24 AM

Most schools do have crossing guards at intersections.

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vpginsc July 31 2014 at 1:45 PM

Mom wasn't arrested for park visit. Mom was arrested because of a profound lack of judgement by letting her child walk a half mile by himself over 6 lanes of traffic to a park, all while unsupervised. You should have to pass a test to breed.

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14 replies
Elizabeth July 31 2014 at 1:47 PM

How is it obvious that she is a good mother? It is a sad state of affairs, but it is not safe to let a young child go alone to any park anywhere in the country.

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4 replies
fullsrvlaw July 31 2014 at 2:24 PM

Why didn't she put him in summer day camp? She sounds to me like a mother who can't be bothered to find things for her son to do that are safe during the summer. The YMCA has numerous programs for children.

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2 replies
Erik Baran fullsrvlaw July 31 2014 at 3:14 PM

Why does every minute of a child's' life have be a supervised, scheduled activity? Kids need to just play, to come up with their own activities, you know, use their imaginations. You do realize summer camps cost money? Are you that out of touch with the world that you can't fathom people not being able to pay for camp? And the Y isn't everywhere. This woman has been charged with a felony for sending her child outside to play. How effed up is that?

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1 reply
margaret Erik Baran July 31 2014 at 4:42 PM

For heaven sakes pedophiles and sicko's are everywhere. It's ok teaching your children to be independent but 7 is to young to walk and play in a pakl alone. What is the matter with you people.!!!!

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BLONDIE & GRUMPY fullsrvlaw July 31 2014 at 4:51 PM

Yes, and they all cost an Arm & Leg, the days of free at the "Y" are gone forever...

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