Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Mom Faces Jail Time for Letting Son Play Outside

ParentalRights.org logoSonya Hendren of Sacramento, California, was arrested for letting her four-year-old son play outside. The mother was charged with felony child endangerment and child neglect when a neighbor saw the child outside alone and called Child Protective Services (CPS).

YIPES, Has the CPS gone too far??
Felony Charges for a child playing outside in a GATED community

More thoughts from the Parental Rights Organization to Consider:
-- December 15, 2015
Tomahawk Hendren was playing on a playground inside their gated apartment complex, approximately 120 feet from his front door. But that was too far from his mother, in the opinion of neighbor Sonja Horrell, who placed the call. “How would she feel if he was on an AMBER Alert?” Horrell reportedly asked. “Then what would she be feeling?”
Yet even Horrell did not expect such charges to be filed. “I thought she would just get a warning… and she wouldn’t let them be out alone again,” she told reporters later.
Instead, Hendren faces up to 6 months in jail and 3 years probation. She was offered a plea deal of 30 days in jail and 1 year of probation, but turned it down through her attorney, Sacramento-based Alin Cintean. (Note from Blogger: Most of the time a Plea and/or Consent is like saying you are Guilty in the eyes of the Agency. Think hard, before pleaing.)
The prosecution will have to prove that Hendren willfully placed her son in danger if they want to make the child endangerment and neglect charge stick, Cintean says.
This is not the first time Tomahawk has played outside alone, but it is the first time it has gotten his mother into trouble. “She said he would occasionally go outside, within their gated apartment complex, only to return moments later to tell his mom he was okay,” according to a Fox40 News report. In some communities, letting a child play outside unattended could be a very dangerous decision – but that doesn’t sound like the case in this instance.
The Supreme Court in 1979 stated what was once (and still should be) obvious: “Simply because a decision of a parent…involves risks, does not automatically transfer the power to make that decision to some agency or officer of the state.” Parham v. J.R., 442 U.S. 584 (1979)
Whether or not it is safe for a child to play alone outside depends on a wide range of variables which generally parents are best able to gauge for their own families.
In short, CPS’s over-reaction violates Sonya Hendren’s fundamental right to direct the upbringing and care of her son. And it probably will make Sonja Horrell think twice before calling CPS again, too. Her effort to be a good neighbor has led to more than she bargained for.
But this trend toward overreach is only ramping up, not cooling down.
Background Checks for All Parents?
According to a report from HSLDA, Ohio state Senator Capri Cafaro has introduced a bill that would require school officials to conduct a background check on every family enrolling a child in a public or private school. The checks would be to determine whether there is an open or former CPS investigation involving that family. This removes the presumption of innocence while opening CPS records to school officials unnecessarily.
The bill is proposed in response to the tragic death of Teddy Foltz, a child kept from school by his abusive parents. In that case, local CPS workers were aware of the abuse and failed to act in the child’s defense. But a background check such as the proposed would have changed nothing in that instance, since the abusive parents did not register him for school.
The response of CPS workers and lawmakers to treat all parents as suspect is simply unacceptable. As I have quoted many times, the Supreme Court in that Parham decision declared, “The statist notion that governmental power should supersede parental authority in all cases because some parents abuse and neglect children is repugnant to American tradition.”
Children must be protected. But we cannot protect the children whose parents are negligent or abusive by treating all fit parents like criminals. To do so is to sacrifice the principles, freedoms, and ideals on which our nation was founded while distracting social services workers from areas of real need.
The Best Solution to Fight Overreach
The proposed Parental Rights Amendment is the best legal weapon parents can have today to turn back the tide of government overreach. With its passage we can halt the trend of lawmakers and agents to rob parents of the right to make healthy decisions for their children.
You can support this effort by sharing this article with family and friends and urging them to sign up at parentalrights.org/petition. That way they, too, can lend their voices to this vital effort when it’s time to contact lawmakers for parental rights.
You can also support us with a generous gift to parentalrights.org/donate.
However you choose to give – whether it’s your money, your effort, or your time – we thank you for standing with us to restore reason and balance to the laws impacting families in our society.
Michael Ramey
Director of Communications & Research

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