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Terrible Florida Mom Arrested For Leaving Kids At Park While Getting Them Food

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The War -- or at least Squirmish -- On Poor Moms continued this week as police in Winter Haven, Florida, arrested Ashley Richardson for havingleft her four children by themselves at a city park while she went to a food bank. To get food. To feed her children. Whom she was obviously neglecting.


Ms. Richardson, 28, was arrested after an officer saw the kids playing in the park with no adult supervision, parked her patrol car, and saw the kids waving her over. What then, Bay News 9?

Police said she went to see what had happened and found the 8-year-old boy stuck in a swing designed for toddlers. His legs were caught between the seat divider and the boy was becoming increasingly upset, police said.

Police said the officer tried to free the boy but was unable to do so, so she contacted the Winter Haven Fire Department. Fire rescue personnel responded and took the swing off the frame, freeing the child, police said.

Police were unable to find an adult, and when the officer asked the children for information, they were initially unable to tell her where they lived.

Well, that's pretty much the definition of terrible parenting, kids doing dumb stuff and getting stuck in things. As kids do -- kids are designed to get stuck in things. Not that the boy was actually in danger; if he was stuck while mom was there, he still would have been stuck, and may or may not have needed the fire rescue team to get him out. And let's just remember that adults sometimes need adult supervision at the park, apparently:

The second time the cop asked the kids for some information, they were less upset and gave her their names and ages and their home address, and told her they'd walked to the park all by themselves -- even crossing a street! And to emphasize that these kids were in grave danger, the report also added that while the officer stayed at the park, she observed the children "ending up near a road, climbing on a five-foot concrete sign and playing in water along the lakefront."

When Ms. Richardson drove up to the park, roughly 2 1/2 hours after the cop first stopped there, she was arrested and booked on four counts of negligent child abuse without bodily harm. She said that her errand to the food bank had taken longer than she had expected, but Police Chief Gary Hester was pretty sure that she's a terrible, neglectful mother, and the cop was right to arrest her:

Our officer had great concern for the safety of these children ... She gave ample opportunity for an adult to come forward. For anyone to think it is okay to allow small children to walk almost a half mile alone across a heavily-travelled road, not to mention left in unsafe conditions, is criminal and will not be ignored.

Just to make sure there was no doubt about what an unfit mother Richardson was, Hester made it clear that people who left Facebook comments criticizing the decision to arrest her were just wrong, wrong, wrong:

"Six, seven and 8-year-old kids are not equipped to be left unattended, I mean period ... I met some pretty mature 6, 7, 8-year-olds but you don't leave them unattended. I guess the question we should be asking is this 28-year-old mother, should she be left unattended. Doesn't look like she's mature enough to be a parent. She's being supervised today in the county jail. Hopefully she learns her lesson."

Haw haw, should she be left unattended, even? Those kids probably would do better being raised in foster care, or maybe by wolves, than by a neglectful mother who went to a food bank to get food to put on her family.

Now, we can certainly argue about the wisdom of letting kids go to a park alone -- somehow, it wasn't a crime when Yr Dok Zoom did it all the time -- sometimes walking as much as three quarters of a mile, even! -- when he wandered around his hometown with friends pretty much every day during the summer. And yes, the kid did get stuck in a piece of playground equipment, which for some well-represented parents might mean a lawsuit against the parks department, not a parent in jail and dire hints from a police chief that the children --and maybe the mom -- belong in the foster care system. It would have been much better if Ms. Richardson had left a cell phone with the kids so they could have called her, although we should note that even that measure didn't help Debra Harrell, the other mom who was recently arrested when she let her 9-year-old daughter play alone in a park while she went to work. Then everyone could complain about the lazy poors with their food stamps and fancy cell phones.

We wonder if there's anything else these "negligent moms" have in common? You know, besides being poor and black, which couldn't possibly enter into it.

[Bay News 9 via ThinkProgress]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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