A Maryland mother was arrested last week in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, for the horrible crime of leaving her children, ages 8 and 9, home alone while she ran out to get food.
It all started when a busybody called police to report he had “made contact” with the children after their dogs ran into the street in front of his car. After the “Good Samaritan” helped the kids get control of the dogs, he called the cops to report they had been left unattended while their mother, Susan Terrillion, went to get food—a whole five miles away. She had been gone for “at least 45 minutes” according to DelawareOnline.
When police arrived and learned that Terrillion, 55, had left the children alone at their vacation rental, they arrested her—I’m assuming there were fingerprints, Miranda rights, the whole nine yards—as if she had committed an actual crime. They charged her with two counts of endangering the welfare of her children and she was released on $500 unsecured bail.
According to reports, neither the children nor the dogs were harmed during the time the mother was out—although some would argue that the kids were harmed if the were dragged to the police station and asked a bunch of intrusive questions by authorities who were looking for something they could hang on the mother. Unless there is more to the story that hasn’t yet been reported, this sounds like a terrible abuse of authority.
According to the State of Delaware website, there is no law in the state regulating an appropriate age for a child to be left home alone. However the Division of Family Services “will accept for investigation any report of a child under the age of 12 being left alone.” The site goes on to explain that “it is best for parents and guardians to take in consideration their child’s comfort level, abilities and overall behavior and to talk to them about potential dangers…before making the decision to leave a child home alone.”
I’d advise that parents also take into consideration how many neighborhood busybodies are likely to be lurking about.