Oh wow! I am yelling in surprise and awe!
There was a story tonight on our local news about the care of children. Parents in Maryland are being charged with neglect because they allowed their 6, 8 and 10 year old children to play at a playground and walk home from there alone. I’m shocked that there is a law in MD that does not allow children 8yrs old and younger to be out without a “responsible person” at the age of 13. I am paraphrasing here but that is the gist.
Now there are a few things wrong with that sentence. Let’s review the story. This story is about a family living in Silver Spring, MD which is a suburban part of the state. According to the story the children have been doing this for years. The playground is a five minute walk on sidewalks not a country road with no lighting. The children are usually together when they go to and from the playground to play. The parents have never been in trouble for abuse or neglect and the charges lodged against them do not include any charges for any abuse in their home. Looking at their home during the NBC4 Washington story, it looked like a lovely, clean well furnished and typical middle class home. The mother was reading emails of support to the reporter from her Apple lap top.
The MD law does not make sense. Who thinks at 13yr old is “responsible person”? What about all those parents who have to work double shifts or multiple jobs to take care of these children? This case happened in suburbia. A noisy neighbor called the police. I am sure that there are plenty of parents who care deeply for their children and because of that care they are working and away from their family. I would like to see how Baltimore, MD police department handles this type of call.
I grew up in another era. That was when we had what is called “neighborhoods”. Where children left their house when the sun came up and did not return until the sun went down. “You better be home before the streetlights come on!” Is what the mother’s yelled out to their children before they left. That was a time when the noisy neighbor was watching out for the community and kept the children in line. You had “Big Mamma’s” in every neighborhood and their job was to be the frontline for danger.
It was a fun time of roaming “the streets” with my friends. It was also where I made lifetime friendships and learned how to share, play sports and be independent. There were fights and arguments among the children and the parents stayed out of the drama knowing that next week we would make up and play as if nothing happened.
My friends and I took the NJ Transit to the mall, movies and even into Manhattan. I was about 10 years old when we started doing that. We traveled in packs so there were usually some children who were about 13 and they took care of us. We rode our bikes all around town and learned how to rely on each other to make sure we arrived home safely.
I am anxious to see how this case in Silver Spring, MD ends. It will be interesting to see if the charges are upheld and the parents are punished. If the state is unsuccessful with its punishment, these parents should sue Maryland for its lack common sense.
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