Police Put Toddler In Cell With Mom, And That Just Isn’t Okay Never Ever Ever

toddlerThere aren’t a lot of black and white issues in this world. I would, however, argue that one of them is that toddlers don’t belong behind bars. The only exceptions to this are cases of demonic possession, or a Benjamin Button-type situation where a baby with the mind of a grown man commits multiple homicides.

But that isn’t what happened when a mom in Ohio was arrested for shoplifting with her three-year-old daughter. Latonya Bass was arrested for stealing $558 worth of goods from a Walmart and stuffing them in her child’s stroller. She was taken to jail, where she was booked and fingerprinted with her daughter next to her. Bass and her daughter were then placed together in a holding cell for 30 minutes while police waited for the little girl’s father to pick her up.

Nope. Nope nope nope. Watching the video of this little girl dancing around a holding cell with her mom makes me sick to my stomach and heart-broken — that’s two different organs that are having a negative response to this. Clearly there are some issues going on in this little girl’s home, but does she really need to not only watch her mom get her mugshot taken and fingerprinted, but also experience the inside of a cell at the age of three?

Police are saying that they made this choice because they wanted to keep the little girl with her mother. I can understand that. Trying to take her away from her mother wouldn’t have been a much better option. But can we be a little sensitive, here? We’re talking about a shoplifter, not a murderer. If you’re just waiting for someone to pick up the kid, isn’t there a conference room they can wait in with an officer? Or someone’s office? Can she get booked after her daughter has been picked up?

When my twins were two, I worked out of the home and my kids had a nanny. One day my phone rang, and it was a police officer asking if I knew anyone by my nanny’s name. I nearly passed out because I assumed there had been a car accident. It turned out that she had been stopped for shoplifting at a Target with my kids after putting something in the basket underneath their stroller and trying to leave the store with it. They took her to the infamous back room with the police and my children. I heard later that my daughter was terrified and cried the entire time. I was horrified, to say the very least, and that was just the back room at Target! (PS, Nanny McStealsalot was fired.) Little kids don’t belong around that kind of thing. Sometimes that can’t be helped, but if it can be, we do it.

What we don’t want is to normalize jail for children. Jail should be a remote, scary place that they imagine the worst about; it shouldn’t be that little room where they ran around and played one time. And the more we can keep kids away from their parent’s bad decisions, the better. At the age of three, a child’s parents are their whole world. This girl’s mother may not be the best role model, but we don’t need to make things worse for her daughter.

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