Once again, a single mother of color got arrested for leaving her children unattended. This time, an eight-year-old, a six-year-old, and two seven-year-olds went to the playground while mom went to a nearby food bank to wait on line.
Unfortunately, 28-year-old Ashley Richardson’s kids got into a scrape while she was gone. Bay News 9 reports reports Winter Haven, Fla. police got involved when the children called them over to help, because the eight-year-old had climbed into a toddler swing and got stuck. They couldn’t get him out and had to call the Fire Department.
When Richardson finally pulled up to the park in her car — over two hours after the incident — police arrested her and charged her with four counts of child abuse without bodily harm.
The thing is, though…what, exactly, did they arrest her for?
Florida has no laws against letting children play without an adult at the park, nor — for that matter — any age restrictions on leaving children at home alone. And how do these police officers think they’re helping keep these kids safe and secure by throwing their mother into jail?
And this is just one of many similar news stories that keep making headlines: In July, South Carolina mom Debra Harrell got thrown in jail because she let her eight-year-old daughter play at a park near the McDonald’s where she worked. Then the McDonald’s fired her, so now she has no job. Back in April, Shanesha Taylor from Arizona got arrested for leaving her kids in a car while she was on a job interview, because her child care arrangements had fallen through.
Taylor attracted wide-spread sympathy and $89,000 in donations from well-wishers, but most of these struggling moms wind up further in the hole and get nothing but grief and condemnation. Reporters rarely even seem to seek points of views that are more sympathetic to these mothers.
It seems like this whole thing is more about punishing low-income single mothers — especially ones of color — and less about what’s good for their children.
What the hell are single moms supposed to do with their children?
If we’ve got single mothers getting arrested and thrown in jail because they have no safe place to put their children while they’re at work, trying to get work, or trying to get food, then here’s the big question… What the hell are single mothers supposed to do with their children?
When did it become against the law to ever leave children alone without any adults around? And why didn’t the people who passed this law — if such a law even exists — bother to ensure affordable childcare?
This writer is married with only one child, but got a tiny taste of single motherhood when her husband got laid off, and then had to take a job three hours away. It sure was an eye-opener. No matter how caring and conscientious you are, it simply is NOT possible to be “on” 24-7 with your kids. If you have no life partner, no reliable friends and relatives nearby, and you can’t afford hildcare, then you are seriously screwed.
Even the most evil of companies don’t force employees to work 24-hour shifts day-in-and-day-out, yet our society demands this from our mothers. Especially low-to-middle income mothers who have little or no help and can’t afford childcare. Can you blame an exhausted, stressed-out mom — whose kids are begging to play at that playground where the “normal,” not-poor kids seem to be having so much fun –one day relenting, instead of dragging them along for her shift at McDonald’s or her long wait at the local food bank?
A minimum wage job pays $7.25 an hour (unless you live in a city or state that’s raised it). Assuming your employer isn’t a scum bag and actually lets you work a full 40-hour week, that’s $290.00 per week, or $1160.00 per month. Meanwhile, BabyCenter.Com reports the average cost of daycare in the U.S. is $11,666 per year, or $972 a month. That leaves our single mom working full-time for minimum wage just $188.00 per month, and we haven’t even factored in rent, utilities, and food.
Meanwhile, good baby sitters (or even bad ones) are hard to find, and cost $5-$15 per hour depending on where you live.
And regardless of whether the mom is working or not, why must so many of America’s mothers rely on food banks to feed their families?
WAKE UP AMERICA! These kids are the ones who will be running things, paying for our social security, and maybe even wiping our sorry, old infirm butts at the old folks’ home when they grow up. So we’d better start taking better care of them — and doing more to help their mothers.
Here’s the video from WFTS ABC Action News.