This mum was arrested for letting her 9y/o play in a park.

A little girl playing alone in the park. A mother at work, checking in by phone. It’s a disastrous combination for a school holiday child-care arrangement.

And now that mum is in jail for leaving her daughter alone at a park while she went to work during the day.

Debra Harrell from South Carolina in the US has been charged with “unlawful conduct towards a child” and her nine-year-old daughter has been placed in state care.

Under South Carolina law, no child can be left home alone before they are 8 years old. So strangely, if Debra had left her nine-year-old daughter at home alone she wouldn’t be in jail right now.

Debra works at McDonald’s in North Augusta and for most of the summer her daughter stayed in the restaurant, playing on a laptop that they’d saved up the money to buy. However, reports that the family were robbed and the laptop stolen. So the girl asked her mum if she could play at the local park  instead. Her mother reluctantly agreed, giving her daughter a mobile phone to keep with her. Each day the girl would walk back to McDonald’s to have lunch with her mum.

Debra Harrell has been charged with “unlawful conduct towards a child”.

While Debra’s choices aren’t ideal and some say they are even negligent or dangerous, many are sympathising with her because she didn’t have any family members who could help her care for her daughter and couldn’t afford to pay for care. This is a problem many working parents face.

Authorities were alerted when a woman at the park noticed the girl playing by herself, questioned her and then called the police.

A news station interviewed locals about the story with a parent saying, “What if a man would have came and just snatched her because you have all kinds of trucks that come up in here so you really don’t know.”

Another parent said, “You cannot just leave your child alone at a public place, especially. This day and time, you never know who’s around. Good, bad, it’s just not safe.”

This post was originally published on, and is republished here with full permission. 

At what age would you leave your child alone to play at a park? Have you ever been in a position where you couldn’t find childcare for your kids during the holidays?