Is twelve too young to go to the mall with a friend of the same age –and without a parent? And does your answer change if the mother in question sent her 12 year old daughter, her best friend of the same age, and her three younger siblings ages 8, 6 and 3 to roam alone for more than two hours?
And more importantly, does that mother deserve to face criminal charges of child endangerment for her act?
Here’s what happened: Bridget Kevane, a college professor and mother of four, sent her kids to the mall with a friend on Saturday afternoon because, as she puts it, “they wanted an activity and I wanted a rest.”
Her daughter and her friend were given strict rules — no making a ruckus, no leaving the other kids, and no letting the three year old out of her stroller. Well, surprise surprise, two twelve year olds didn’t follow the rules, and left the other kids unattended while they tried on shirts. Store employees got worried and called the cops, who ordered Kevane and her husband to come to the mall right away and informed her when shegot there that they’d already called protective services.
She got several months probation, which sounds a little harsh. An essay she wrote about the incident (which happened a few years ago) in the latest Brain, Child is making the rounds.
I think criminal charges sound a little harsh, but sending five kids into a public place supervised only by preteens is asking for trouble. Kevane says she thought the kids would be safe –and she’s probably right, especially if she trained them well in staying safe. But requiring two twelve-year-olds to be solely responsible for other kids in public is a lot to ask of them. And I find her martyrish tone in her Brain, Child essay pretty annoying.
That said, I think sending the two twelve-year-olds to the mall alone is fine. Add in three little siblings, though, and you’re getting into “spectacularly bad idea” territory.
But, I say, not a crime. How about you?