Mommyish Poll: Is It Okay To Leave Young Kids Alone At The Park?

By  | 

helicopter parentingA father who left his two children alone at a Pittsburgh park – a 6-year-old girl and 9-year-old boy – has been charged with two counts of child endangerment. As the story goes, Govindaraj Narayanasamy went shopping at Walmart and showered at LA Fitness for around two hours as his children played at the park, unsupervised. A woman noticed the children playing without a guardian and called police (she told them she had been keeping an eye on the kids and became concerned).

Not surprisingly, parents are split over whether or not this father is guilty of a crime. On the one hand are those like Lenore Skenazy from Free-Range Kids, who finds the whole thing ridiculous. Skenazy, who in 2010 created “Take Our Children to the Park & Leave Them There Day,” explains on her blog:

A woman noticed this unusual thing: Kids playing without an adult around! That this fact was “disturbing” to an onlooker is what is so disturbing about our culture. For millennia, kids kept themselves occupied while their parents were otherwise engaged. A 9-year-old watching a 6-year-old was NORMAL, not a REASON TO CALL THE COPS.

But call the cops she did. And when they got there, they charged the dad with two counts of child endangerment. Meantime, of course, child protective services is investigating, too. Because any time you trust your children or your community, YOU cannot be trusted.

On the other side are people like Scott Township police Chief Jim Secreet, who had defended the charges despite a wave of backlash. He said the father lied to officers about how long he was gone and that the children did not have a way to contact anyone in case of emergency. “He tried to shorten the time, so that tells me he must’ve been uncomfortable with what he did,” Secreet told Chartiers Valley Patch. “There was no contingency. They had no recourse if something happened.”

Personally, I would never leave my 6-year-old alone at the park. You can label me a “helicopter mom” or “bubble wrap mom” or anything else you find fitting – that doesn’t change the fact that a 6-year-old should not be alone at the park. I’m all for parents stepping aside and letting their kids play on their own, take risks, gain independence – all that stuff that comes with giving up (parental) control and letting your kids grow as people. But two hours is a long time to be gone and, well, the whole thing comes off as irresponsible to me. That said, I’m on the fence about Narayanasamy and am still not convinced he deserves to be charged with child neglect, which seems a bit harsh given the circumstances.

Clearly it’s a hot topic and I’d love to hear what you think. Take our poll below and weigh in in the comment section below.

[b5poll id=”f56db8d11db9c38a8291af45ae756bbe”]

(Photo: Christopher Robbins)