Mother Charged with Felony for Letting Seven-Year-Old Son Go to Park Alone

by Ian Tuttle

They call it the “Nanny State” for a reason.

Last Saturday, Nicole Gainey, of Port St. Lucie, Fla., let her seven-year-old son walk ten minutes to the local park on his own. He returned in the front seat of a police cruiser — and she left in the back seat.

Gainey was arrested and is being charged with felony child neglect for allowing her son to go to the park alone. She was released on $4,000 bond. Gainey tells WPTV, which broke the story, that her son is sufficiently mature to go to the park on his own, and he carries a cell phone she uses to check on him.

According to WPTV, St. Lucie County has no laws regulating these types of situations. Each is handled on a case-by-case basis.

Gainey’s arrest resembles recent situations elsewhere. In Florida, Debra Harrell was charged with a felony for leaving her nine-year-old daughter at a park while she worked at a nearby McDonald’s. Harrell’s child was temporarily removed from her custody. Meanwhile, in Connecticut, Christina Williams was arrested after leaving her eleven-year-old daughter in a car while she went into a store; she was charged with a misdemeanor.

Gainey has been told by a Florida Department of Children and Families official that the department expects the case to be dropped. However, if it is not, she plans to contest the charge.

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