This is to think, that men are so foolish, that they take care to avoid what mischiefs may be done them by pole-cats, or foxes; but are content, nay, think it safety, to be devoured by lions.
Locke, Second Treatise, para. 93.
Cops Arrest Mom Working Evening Shift at Pizza Place for Leaving Kids, Ages 10 and 2, Alone
An Ohio mom has been arrested for leaving her kids, a 10-year-old and a 2-year-old, in a motel room while she worked her shift at a pizza shop.
A tip to the police led officers to a Motel Six in Youngstown at about 6:15 p.m. on Thursday night. The 10-year-old explained that her mom was working and would be home at 10:00 p.m.
The officers went to the pizza shop where the mom, Shaina Bell, 24, told them she usually has someone look in on the kids every hour. She was booked into jail on two counts of child endangerment and the kids were sent to their father. She got out on bail.
There may be more to the story, but as reported, this is a sad excuse for law enforcement.
The premise behind the arrest is the assumption that a ten year-old can’t adequately take care of a toddler. The assumption happens to be wrong. All over the world, children as young as nine or ten (usually girls) take care of toddlers and even infants without incident, and have done so for centuries. We seem to be unique in our anxiety-ridden belief that the best way to raise a child is to treat her as a perpetual incompetent.
So here’s the result, in a town called “Liberty,” no less. A mother leaves her kids in that most terrifying of places, an ordinary motel room, probably indistinguishable from a lot of living rooms in a lot of cheap apartments. Some of the reporting suggests that someone was checking in hourly, not that no one’s checking in hourly strikes me as that big a deal in this, our post-Alexander Graham Bell age of the telephone. Someone calls the cops, because they have nothing better to do with their time; the police come, exercise that “discretion” for which cops are so well known, and decide to ruin the mother’s life. Presumably Mommy will do a better job of mothering from some combination of jail cell and custodial supervision than she did before she entered Le System. Sounds like a plan–a seriously fucked-up plan designed to accomplish nothing but misery, but a plan nonetheless.
Cops keep demanding our “respect.” It’s hard to have respect for any of this–for the cops who made this pointless arrest, for the people who support laws enforced this way, for the broader conception of child-raising presupposed by the whole episode. Maybe you wouldn’t leave your ten-year-old alone to take care of your two-year-old. Fine. So don’t. But can you know, from an armchair, that someone else’s ten-year-old can’t? I doubt it. That’s not knowledge. It’s a bluff at someone else’s expense.
To see danger in leaving kids alone in a motel room but not to see danger in forcibly separating children from their mother, is a nearly perfect inversion of moral priorities. So here’s one more proof, if any was needed, that law enforcement without justice is injustice armed. Either we resist it, or it destroys us. Not much room for maneuver, or for unearned respect.