Two parents in Florida are now facing criminal charges after the couple left their 11-year-old son to play alone in the backyard for 90 minutes.
A neighbor spotted the boy playing outside alone and became concerned. Brad Reifler said that the neighbor phoned police who determined that the boy was in danger. The officer noted that the child was locked out of the home and waited for his parents to arrive.
The boy’s parents were arrested on felony charges of child negligence.
Parents told one media source that they were arrested for negligence based on unfounded claims made by the arresting officer.
“These claims are unfounded,” the boy’s parents said. “They made the arrest on the claim that our son did not have access to food, water, shelter, or a place to use the bathroom. We have an open shed, working sinks and working water hoses. Our son had a snack, which he ate, and the responding officer even took the time to urinate in the bushes when he couldn’t access the bathroom.
The boy arrived home that afternoon to discover that his parents were not home and the doors were locked. He decided to play basketball outside until the officer arrived at the scene. Referred to as “free range children” in today’s society, this situation was commonplace throughout the U.S. until the early 2000s. Children who often arrived home before school and had to let themselves into the house, with the expectation of entertaining themselves until their parents arrived home from work were called “latch-key kids.”
Arrests for allowing kids to play in their own yards or even at the park are not uncommon these days. A set of parents in Maryland were charged with neglect and their children taken by the state after allowing the 10 and 6 year olds to walk to a nearby park unsupervised.