When the pandemic started due to COVID-19 a lot of schools and daycares have to close. This made one single mother Melissa Henderson decide to have her 14-year-old eldest daughter babysit her 4-year-old son.
Ms. Henderson, 41 works as an administrator at a health spa 37kms (23 miles) away in Blue Ridge. She went to her job when she left her five children at home under the care of her 14-year-old daughter Linley.
Henderson said that “There were no options, literally. So I asked my almost 15-year-old to watch over her younger sibling while I went back to work.”
Linley was reportedly engaging in online learning and did not notice that her four-year-old brother, Thaddeus, had slipped out of the house when he saw his friend outside and went to play with him in Blairsville, Georgia.
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Within about 10 to 15 minutes, Linley noticed he was gone and found him at his friend’s house down the street. The child got out of the house for a brief 15 minutes to visit his friend, the parents of his friend called the police.
According to the Reason Magazine report:
Now Henderson, a single mom in Blairsville, Georgia, is facing criminal reckless conduct charges for letting her 14-year-old babysit. The charges carry a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a fine of $1,000. The arresting officer, Deputy Sheriff Marc Pilote, wrote in his report that anything terrible could have happened to Thaddeus, including being kidnapped, run over, or “bitten by a venomous snake.” (When Henderson protested that the kid was only gone a few minutes, Pilote responded that a few minutes was all the time a venomous snake needed.)
The police came to the family’s home two weeks later, handcuffed Henderson, and charged her with criminal reckless conduct.
“It was the most embarrassing and humiliating day, honestly, of my life,” Henderson said.
David DeLugas, Ms Henderson’s lawyer who is also a founder of advocacy group Parents USA, told The Independent the charges were a gross overreach of police powers said that “That whole irrational fear, as if that’s a clear and present danger in our lives, all the time. It’s fearmongering.
“Just because they have concerns, doesn’t mean they need to rally the troops, send out the national guard, just because somebody doesn’t agree with you.”
Mr. DeLugas says he often sees similar cases often in his advocacy work and believes that law enforcement is unnecessarily seeking to insert itself into how parents raise their children. Mr DeLugas has filed a motion to dismiss the case in July, which is still pending.