A woman in South Carolina is facing child neglect charges. She is being tried in the media now where polar opposite opinions fly, and issues as diverse as parenting, work ethics, Obama’s immigration agenda, poverty, and absent fathers are thrown into the mix.
The nine-year-old at the center of the controversy just wants to be a kid, and have some fun in the summertime before returning to school where she earns As and Bs.
The following excerpts come from Associated Press coverage:
Plenty of working parents can relate to the dilemma Debra Harrell faced when her 9-year-old daughter asked to play unsupervised in a park this summer. How do you find the time and money for child care when school is out?
Harrell’s answer to that question got her arrested. She spent the night in jail, temporarily lost custody of her girl for 17 days, thought she lost her job, and still faces 10 years in prison if convicted of felony child neglect.
But some of their neighbors tell The Associated Press that Harrell shouldn’t be vilified, because many nearby families also leave their kids at Summerfield Park. In the South Carolina summer, the park has obvious appeal to kids: there’s cool water on a splash pad, a playground and basketball courts, and a volunteer comes by with a free breakfast and lunch.
For the libertarian Reason Foundation, Harrell’s arrest is an example of how the government thinks it knows better how to raise a child than her mother. An opinion piece in The Los Angeles Times suggested it shows how society is predisposed, without evidence, to think black women are worse mothers. Bloggers cite her case in online duels, with some railing against “helicopter parenting” and others saying it’s just too dangerous for a 9-year-old girl to venture out into today’s world alone.
Despite the sweltering heat, Trina Thomas brings her children to the park for the free lunch and the playground. Her kids are 3, 5, and 11, and she can’t imagine leaving her oldest alone.
Harrell has no criminal record in South Carolina, where property records suggest she moved about three years ago, and the state’s child welfare agency said she wasn’t under investigation until now. She had a string of arrests in Florida, for drug possession, bounced checks, driving without a license and “nude or semi-nude acts.” But her last brush with the law outside of a traffic violation came in 2006, when she was found guilty of cocaine possession.
People sympathetic to Harrell’s plight have donated nearly $40,000 through an Internet site to a trust fund set up for the girl’s education.
To illustrate how varied are the reactions, below are some actual reader comments:
This country make up middle class laws for kids that poor families cannot meet, which is the problem. Then they make the parent look like a monster and her situation worst by adding to her troubles. The tax payer should be angry if this child in up in foster care which cost us money for what is just a slap on the risk situation.
Why is some one who is working trying to raise her child in a manner that makes work and self reliance a priority arrested YET SOME NON CITIZEN WHO ABANDONS THEIR CHILD HALF A WORLD AWAY TO THE ARMS OR DRUG TRAFFICING COYOTES AND ORDERS THEM TO BREAK THE LAWS OF ANOTHER COUNTRY IN ORDER TO LIVE OFF OF THAT COUNTRY’S TAX PAYERS CONSIDERED A HERO BY THE US PRESIDENT AND THE LIBERAL MAINSTREAM MEDIA. HYPOCRITES!!
Where is the father?
Very sad for mom and child. I’m sure mom didn’t wish her any harm. No way would I do this, but she must have desperately needed her job.
I may be an eternal optimist, but it seems to me that a conscientious, hard working mother could have appealed to her neighbors, the charitable adults who frequent the park, and the free lunch program administrators for help. Childcare rotating by mothers solves this problem, too.
A single mother whose past was full of drug possession, bounced checks, driving without a license and nude or semi-nude acts may, however, find it difficult to be trusted by other mothers. Still, I hope she finds a safe alternative to unsupervised play at the park for Regina.
by T.M. Burroughs
Sign up to get alerts from Joe!