A California mother faces jail time after neighbors reported her four-year-old son playing alone at the nearby apartment complex playground.
“He was outside and the neighbor called the cops on us,” the mother told Fox40.com.
Sonya Hendren says her 4-year-old son Tomahawk was ready to start playing on his own, so she began allowing him to use the playground inside their gated community located 120 feet from her home.
Hendren says on one of those days a neighbor told Tomahawk to go home, but he responded that he wasn’t ready yet.
That’s when the neighbor called police on Hendren, who now faces charges of felony child endangerment and neglect.
“We have a CPS [Child Protective Service] case now and every time he’s not in my visual site we’re in violation,” Hendren lamented to KTXL.
For four months, Hendren’s been fighting to get the charges reversed, but has only so far succeeded in getting them reduced to misdemeanors.
“We’re being terrorized,” the self-described “free-range” parent told Fox News’ Fox & Friends.
“This is an abusive thing that they’re doing. There is something wrong with this system, when kids are being taken from their yards,” Hendren said Monday.
The neighbors who called police say they just wanted Hendren to learn a lesson, and never intended things to go this far.
“I just thought she would get a warning, and then she wouldn’t let him be out alone again,” the neighbor told Fox40.com.
“I’m not mad she has to do things now to teach her, because what if someone did take him?” another neighbor said.
The mother says it’s ironic neighbors worried Tomahawk might be taken by strangers, even though that exact thing played out when police took him.
An attorney representing Hendren says prosecutors will have to prove the mother willfully put Tomahawk in harm’s way.
“If this happened 20 years ago, we wouldn’t be here. There wouldn’t be a criminal case filed,” Hendron’s attorney said.
The mother faces up to six months in jail and three years of probation after rejecting a plea deal which would have reduced her punishment to 30 days in jail and one year of probation. She is fighting to get the charges dropped.