Warning: Allowing your child to play outside alone could warrant a visit from Child Protective Services and the police.
That is reportedly what happened to children’s book author, Kari Anne Roy, when she allowed her 6-year-old son Isaac to play outside, just up the street from their Austin home, unsupervised.
Roy documented what happened on her blog Haiku of the Day, when she responded to a knock on the door and found a woman she did not know standing there with her son:
The woman smiled. My son frowned. And as soon as the door opened he flew into the house, running as far away from the woman as he could.
"Is that your son?" she asked with a smile.
I nodded, still trying to figure out what was happening.
"He said this was his house. I brought him home." She was wearing dark glasses. I couldn't see her eyes, couldn't gauge her expression.
"Yes. He was all the way down there, with no adult." She motioned to a park bench about 150 yards from my house. A bench that is visible from my front porch. A bench where he had been playing with my 8-year-old daughter, and where he decided to stay and play when she brought our dog home from the walk they'd gone on.
"You brought him home... from playing outside?" I continued to be baffled.
And then the woman smiled condescendingly, explained that he was OUTSIDE. And he was ALONE. And she was RETURNING HIM SAFELY. To stay INSIDE. With an ADULT. I thanked her for her concern, quickly shut the door and tried to figure out what just happened.
Letting the situation go would prove difficult, because soon her doorbell rang again -- this time it was a policewoman.
"She wanted to know if my son had been lost and how long he'd been gone," Roy told Lenore Skenazy of Reason.com.
Roy was also questioned as to whether she knew her son was outside and whether she thought it was okay for him to be unsupervised, reports Mommyish.
No report was filed by the officer.
Roy’s ID was taken and the names of her children.
Isaac was traumatized by the experience and had trouble sleeping that evening.
"He thought someone was going to call the police because it was past bedtime and he was still awake,” Roy said.
“We talked about how that would never happen, how this was an isolated incident, how much we love and care for each other in our family. We talked about how the neighbor thought she was doing a good thing and that it was an unfortunate misunderstanding and everything was all over now,” Roy wrote further on her blog.
The trauma was not over for Roy’s family.
Child Protective Services later visited her home and interviewed her children. Roy was not allowed to be present while the interviews took place.
According to Roy, her children were asked questions pertaining to drugs and alcohol, pornography, hygiene habits, and fighting in the home.
Roy was also interviewed, as was her husband. CPS even spoke with the Roys’ babysitter over the phone.
The case officer concluded that the incident would be marked as a non-event and the case closed.
Roy was warned, though, that CPS can be called again, as many times as someone wants if they believe neglect is occurring. False allegations are not prosecuted against.
“We could try to sue her for harassment. We could try to press charges for kidnapping if she approaches our son again and tries to get him to move from where he's playing. But in all reality, when children are involved, the person who makes the complaint gets the benefit of the doubt. For parents, it is guilty until proven innocent. I understand why the system works this way, but it makes me feel like we are prisoners in our own home. It makes me feel helpless and at the mercy of someone I don't even know,” Roy wrote.
Roy did ask the CPS investigator what she should do now.
"You just don't let them play outside,” the investigator responded.
Photo Source: Reason.com