I Feel For This Mom Accused Of Leaving Kids In Storage Unit

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red-storage-unitMy initial reaction to this news story about Sheena Johnson, who was jailed Wednesday for leaving kids (alive) in a windowless storage unit, was horror. There are far too many parents out there who are too distracted by drugs, relationship problems or their own emotional issues to properly care for their children. One of my friends is ex-friends with a woman who has three children by three different fathers, with the current man of the house being a drug dealer who cooks meth in the home. In place of holding legitimate jobs, they coast along on government assistance. And their children have been left outside for hours alone after school because adults aren’t around to care for them.

That’s neglect. Those people have the capability of giving their children a house key, regular meals and a clean, warm place to sleep, but they don’t always bother to do it. This story, however, feels a little different. From ABC News:

Johnson is accused of leaving her 5-year-old and 10-year-old sons unattended in an unlit, sealed storage locker in Ewing with no heat or running water.


The discovery of the children was made April 18 after Johnson was accused of slashing her ex-boyfriend’s tires and was arrested in Trenton.


Police say they checked the storage unit after Johnson evaded questions about who was taking care of her children.


Johnson remains free on $50,000 bail, raised by community members. Johnson has said they lived in the unit for a month because they had no other options.

It’s the last part that makes me wonder if this woman really did have her children’s best interests in mind, but didn’t have the resources to seek an alternative option. If her community really raised $50,000 to bail her out, there must have been more to her story.

I would never encourage anyone in a bad spot to “keep” any living thing in a storage unit for an extended period of time, not even an animal. But it seems that Johnson needed shelter for herself and her family, and this seems to have been, in her mind, the only alternative to living on the streets. If a family needs help immediately, there’s the National Coalition For The Homeless, which offers resources like temporary assistance and government housing for people who are homeless or about to become homeless. Or, for runaway teens, there’s the National Runaway Switchboard (800-621-4000), a number you can call to talk to someone and get help.

(photo: sunlover / Shutterstock)