The sight of an 8-year-old girl walking a Maltese named Marshmallow by herself was apparently alarming enough for one citizen in Wilmette, Illinois to call the cops.
They weren’t scared of the girl or even the dog. Instead, they expressed worry that the child was being neglected.
The incident in question happened earlier this month when Corey Widen’s daughter took the dog for a walk around the block. Police arrived but didn’t press charges, the Chicago Tribune reported. However, the anonymous police tip did prompt an investigation by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
“For something like this to happen to me, there’s something really wrong,” Widen, 48, told the Chicago Tribune.
She said her two children, the other a teenager, take turns walking the dog. Widen said that her 8-year-old is homeschooled and that these brisk walks are the only time her daughter is ever left unsupervised.
“The funny thing is … I’m a joke with my friends because my kids are around me all the time.”
The DCFS investigation found no wrongdoing, a spokesperson for the organization told NBC Chicago. Illinois law states that children under 14 cannot be left unsupervised for an unreasonable amount of time.
"Even if you're not 100 percent on board with your child walking around the block, most people are confident that a ... mom who stays at home with their kids, who's devoted their life to them, has got good enough judgment to decide when her child is ready or not ready to do that,'' Widen said on the TODAY show.
The incident has sparked debate over parenting, a debate that is not new.
Author Kim Brooks wrote an op-ed in the New York Times last month called “Motherhood in the Age of Fear.” She stated that “women are being harassed and even arrested for making perfectly rational parenting decisions.” She said that a warrant was issued for her arrest issued after she left her 4-year-old child in her car for five minutes on a cool day with the windows cracked open.
“I felt as though I’d been caught doing something very bad, even if I didn’t understand what the bad thing was, exactly, or what the rationale was for its badness,” she wrote in her op-ed. “I felt, I think, what just about every woman feels when someone attacks her mothering: ashamed.”
[Photo: Getty Images]
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