A Texas mom of three was visited by the police and Child Protective Services after a neighbor reported her for letting her son play outside.
Children’s book author and blogger Kari Anne Roy’s youngest son, 6-year-old Isaac, had been playing up the street for about 10 minutes when there was a knock on the door, she wrote on her blog HaikuMama.
A woman she did not know was at the door with Isaac and asked, “Is this your son?”
Roy nodded to the woman and explained what happened next, writing:
“He said this was his house. I brought him home.” She was wearing dark glasses. I couldn’t see her eyes, couldn’t gauge her expression.
“Yes. He was all the way down there, with no adult.” She motioned to a park bench about 150 yards from my house. A bench that is visible from my front porch. A bench where he had been playing with my 8-year-old daughter, and where he decided to stay and play when she brought our dog home from the walk they’d gone on.
“You brought him home… from playing outside?” I continued to be baffled.
And then the woman smiled condescendingly, explained that he was OUTSIDE. And he was ALONE. And she was RETURNING HIM SAFELY. To stay INSIDE. With an ADULT. I thanked her for her concern, quickly shut the door and tried to figure out what just happened.
Attributing the experience to overreaction by a nosy neighbor, Roy was startled when there was another knock at the door. This time it was a police officer, who proceeded to ask about the child being outside unsupervised and wanted the names and ages of her other children as well.
Within the week, Roy was called by Child Protection Services. After consulting with a friend who is an attorney, not only was she interviewed by the agency, but so were her children, her husband and their babysitter.
“She asked my 12 year old if he had ever done drugs or alcohol. She asked my 8-year-old daughter if she had ever seen movies with people’s private parts, so my daughter, who didn’t know that things like that exist, does now,” Roy told Reason.com. “Thank you, CPS.”
The case was closed earlier this month, but Roy was afraid to write about it too soon. She was warned that the neighbor could call child services as often as she wants, with no fear of prosecution for false allegations.
Roy asked the child services investigator how to avoid another similar incident.
“You just don’t let them play outside,” she was told.