Two Florida parents are being charged with third degree felonies for "neglecting" their 11-year-old son, according to Reason.
The neglect? Leaving their son playing in the backyard for 90 minutes without adult supervision and a key to get inside.
His parents couldn't get home in time to let him into the house due to rain and traffic, so he played basketball in the backyard until they got home.
A neighbor called the police to report the parents. Not long after the parents returned home were they arrested by police for negligence. They would not see their children again for over a month.
Because the state chose to pursue charges of felony neglect against the parents, both their 11-year-old and 4-year-old sons were taken away from them by Child Protective Services and placed into a foster care home.
In foster care, says the mother, the eldest son ate nothing but cereal for days at a time. According to the report, the sons were then taken in by a "problematic" relative, who just a couple weeks in, gave the sons back to the state.
The Reason story reports that the family showed up to civil court where, after the eldest son asked to speak with the judge and the lawyers, the family was allowed to reunite - but under one condition:
"Our lawyer came to us and said that if we admitted that we didn't know that it was wrong to [let our son] stay in the backyard, but that we know now that it's wrong and we will never let it happen again, and that we will explain this to our son, he would let the children come with us."
The parents are still due in court for the criminal charges of neglect, and must attend parenting classes, therapy, and place their kids in "play" therapy. The oldest is set to attend summer camp to help keep him accounted for, so nothing as awful and destructive as playing outside can happen again.
The problem at hand is not solely the government that chose to charge these parents. Sure, the state's laws may go too far in some capacities, but there is another factor in play:
While he or she may have had good intentions, the neighbor who called the cops has potentially ruined this family forever.
It is not clear if he or she even attempted to talk to the parents' eldest son before getting involved. The entire situation could have been resolved before the police and Child Protective Services were asked to step in if the neighbor had just spoken to the family and asked why he was waiting outside in the first place.