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Another mother jailed for "neglect"

Carol Nelson was jailed for leaving a 10-year-old in charge of an 8-year-old and an infant, while she was at work. Guess what the color of her skin is?

Now, I'm not going to be all "in my day" about this because I think there is a lot of nuance to this discussion; but that is almost exactly the age setup when I started babysitting my siblings - I was 10, my brother was 7, and my sister an infant. This wasn't so my parents could work - it was so they could go do stuff and get a break, or maybe run errands, etc. I know that is young - and I know that I was mature and I proved myself capable. We never had a problem.


Now, in the linked story, the children were found in filth, and the baby was in a dirty diaper. In addition, CPS was called because Nelson was supposed to be evicted. Obviously, these are no conditions for children, although there is no previous pattern established, and neighbors say that this seems to be a one-time occurrence. So, luckily, it looks likely Nelson will get her children back.

I just can't help but think about how no one ever would have checked to see if my parents gave us appropriate care. It's against the law for her to be too poor. She has to make choices that will always produce a loser - a problem my family was too privileged to experience. No one EVER said to me, "are you guys old enough to be home alone?" No teacher, no neighbor, no one. I even called the police, once, when I thought someone was breaking into the house, and I was nervous. No problem. This was before my parents had cell phones so they didn't find out until they got home, and the police stayed until they did and were very friendly about the whole thing.

Unsurprisingly, Nelson has the common sad story of working a ton of jobs, a dad not helping out, and probably couldn't find someone to watch the kids right then. She is literally doing exactly what society wants her to - working her ass off to support her family - yet she can't catch a break.

I want to be clear that I do think that if the kids were found in filthy conditions alone, it is cause for alarm. I just think that she is not getting cut the same kind of break someone else would be - because the focus seems to be on whether the kids should have been alone, and much less about the "conditions."


Either way, I hope that this family gets what they need to get on their feet, stay together, and be healthy and happy.

If we want healthy, happy families, we have to subsidize childcare, or raise the minimum wage, or something. Something has got to give - because what's happening is that families are just getting destroyed - they're the thing giving.

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