Sonya Hendren describes herself as a "free range parent." She rejects the notion of helicopter parenting and lets her 4-year-old have a fairly long leash in their day to day life in Sacramento, California.
Kids Will Be Kids...Except In Sacramento
Hendren's neighbors spotted her son Tomahawk (the desire to make this entire article about how amazing of a name that is was strong) playing by himself on the playground that sits just 120-feet away from his families apartment door.
Feeling that a child playing in what is essentially his own backyard without a parent glued to his side, neighbor Sonja Horrell felt it best to call the police and child protective services immediately.
The police arrived and arrested Hendren on felony child endangerment charges and neglect and removed Tomahawk from her custody.
Hendren's charges have since been reduced to misdemeanors and her son has been returned to her care, but the stigma of the incident still hangs over her and her family.
"We have a CPS [Child Protective Service] case now and every time he's not in my visual site we're in violation," Hendren said in an interview with KTXL.
Hendren's attorney says it's now up to the court to decide whether or not she will face any sort of punishment for the misdemeanor neglect charge, which in California can be up to one year in a county jail or up to $10,000 in fines.
The Street Lights Are Always On In 2015
This incident is less of a story about nosey neighbors and neglecting parents and more of a story about how much more sinister the world has become for kids in recent years.
Many children in the 60's and 70's operated under the "street lights" rule. Their parents would allow them out to play and go where they please as long as they were home by the time the streetlights came on.
This can still be glimpsed in period movies or old tv shows and it seems downright dangerous to modern eyes.
In this world of amber alerts and missing children posters at every Walmart and Post Office around the sphere of exploration for today's kids has become virtually nonexistent.
Whether this is right or wrong is not the issue, but the fact that a mother could be considered criminally negligent for letting her child play a few feet outside without direct supervision is a chilling example of just how bad things have become.
On a final note, to all the neighbors out there, try talking to a parent directly about a perceived problem directly first before calling the police and creating such an awful memory for the child.
Banner Image Credit: @newser on twitter