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07/17/2009 at 01:30 PM ET

Some stories to send you into the weekend…

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Christine on

Ok, dropping your 12 year old off at the mall with her friend- totally fine. Dropping them off with a 8, 7, and 3 year old?!?!? I would never! However, I think the courts took it too far dragging it out a year, and something like community service or parenting classes should have been agreed on within months.

Lisa on

I agree with Christine. This should not have dragged out for this long. But I do believe this woman made a mistake. Not because she allowed her kids to go to the mall, but because she made the older kids take the younger siblings so she could have a break. I say let the kids be kids. If the 12 year olds want to go to the mall, fine. But why should they have to be responsible for the younger kids?

Lorus on

Wow! Sending a 12 year old to the mall to watch her little siblings is insane. I have no problem with a 12 year old baby sitting in a house where the doors lock and there are no strangers around. But sending them into a public place who knows what could go wrong. I hate it when people say “Well, this has never happened to us/where we live…”! Just because it hasn’t happened once doesn’t mean it won’t ever happen!
If this lady wanted a break then she should have had the two older girls watch her younger ones in her home while she went to the Mall for a pedicure!

MZ on

In one of my college child psych classes we were taught that in our state it’s illegal to allow kids of a certain age to be home alone. I want to say it was 11 or 12, some age that I thought was pretty high. I agree that the city dragged it out too long.

However, the law also needs to be more clear. Where I live, there are signs all over the malls about the minimum age to be left unsupervised (16). Definitely a lapse in judgement on the mother’s part, but I can understand her confusion too. If people can hire a 12 year old to watch a 3rd year old in their home, why not have the 12 year old babysit at the mall? Not something I would do, but I can see why she might have thought it was OK…

Nicole on

Not all 3 year olds are unable to be managed by a 12 year old. When I was that age I babysat kids that age and took them to public places and everything was fine. Sure the girls shouldn’t have been trying on a shirt for 5 minutes, but the 3 year old wasn’t alone. There were 2 other kids there. Sure, we want our kids to be safe but by giving them the tools that enable them to be safe is our job. Over protecting them hurts them and turns them into unprepared children. I grew up being able to walk around without being watched every second of the day and I want that for my kids. I knew enough to scream and yell if someone scared me, and my kids know that too. I am a firm believer in “free-range kids” look it up.

Melissa on

I can’t count the number of times my mom had me haul my sister (7) to the mall, the park, the corner store, etc. when I was 12 or 13. I’m 22 now, so it wasn’t that long ago. Often I would be babysitting my sister while my mom worked, so if I wanted to go somewhere, I had to take her with me. It was pretty common. This story reminded me a lot of my childhood. I had friends with younger siblings (probably some as young as three), so there were plenty of situations exactly like this. Two or three older kids and a couple youngins. My mom sometimes dropped us off at the mall and usually picked us up later (often we walked–it was only five minutes away). We were never picked up by molesters or mall cops. And I was given a quarter to call home with, not a cell phone. Imagine!

My mom was also a very responsible parent in regards to following the law. I was never left alone in the house for a minute before I turned 11, and never left alone with my sister before I turned 12. At 12, the law trusted me to babysit, and, as I was a good kid, so did my mom.

I agree with the sentiment that if a 12-year-old is responsible enough to babysit in a house, she’s responsible enough to babysit at a public shopping mall.

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