Lenore Skenazy, president of the childhood independence advocacy group Let Grow, elaborated on the circumstances of the arrest in a Jan. 23 article for Reason magazine. The incident happened back in February 2019, when Killingly, Connecticut resident Cynthia Rivers (a pseudonym for the children's mother) and her husband decided to reward their two children. Their children aged seven and nine were entitled to walk to a nearby Dunkin' Donuts after cleaning their room, which they did.
Minutes after their children left, however, the Rivers parents heard a knock at their front door.
They answered the door and were greeted by officers from the Killingly Police Department (KPD). One of the cops sent Cynthia's husband to retrieve the children, who had only made it about two blocks. When the children were recovered, the rest of the officers peppered the family with a barrage of questions.
The KPD officers warned that "it was a different world now," given the presence of sex offenders and drug dealers that made the streets unsafe. While Cynthia tried to dispute the claims, law enforcement were adamant in insisting on the children's "safety" – even pressuring her and her husband to search the sex offender registry. (Related: Helicopter parenting hurts children's mental health, study finds.)
Moreover, the KPD officers also claimed that they had received a dozen 911 calls about the children's unaccompanied foray toward the doughnut shop. Cynthia thought this was unlikely given that her two children had only made it past four other homes.
Both the Rivers were charged with risk of injury to a minor, and Cynthia's husband was arrested. He was quickly freed from custody, and both parents sought a lawyer to defend themselves. But days later, a KPD police sergeant visited the home and informed the Rivers that the charges would be dropped – leading to the couple informing the lawyer that representation would no longer be needed.
While Cynthia and her husband were in the clear with the KPD, the state government was only beginning to up the ante on them. The Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) pursued its own investigation on the matter, sending a caseworker to the Rivers' residence two times.
During the DCF caseworker's visit, they interviewed all the family members about their complete history. "She was looking for problems," Cynthia remarked.
While the mother tried to explain that KPD officers had overreacted, the caseworker insisted that she and her husband had somehow jeopardized their children's safety. The caseworker used Cynthia's revelation of having received therapy for depression against her and recommended that she return to therapy.
The DCF eventually closed the case, but not without a lasting negative impact. Cynthia waited three years until her nine-year-old daughter turned 12 before letting her walk outside without supervision.
Skenazy pointed out on her group's website that the Constitution State takes a punitive approach toward children's independence. Connecticut law defines inadequate supervision as "being left alone for an excessive amount of time given the child's age and maturity."
"Unfortunately, this vague law specifically identifies unsupervised children as neglected simply for being left alone, without requiring any showing of harm and without giving guidance for parents to know what an excessive time," the website noted.
"I've lived in this area most of my life," says Rivers. "I've gone walking and jogging all around this town, by myself, at all hours of the day and night, and met and talked to many local people. I have never felt threatened by a single person in this town until meeting those officers and the social worker."
Listen to this interview with Lenore Skenazy, the author of the Reason magazine piece, as she talks about raising children in modern society.
This video is from the True North channel on Brighteon.com.