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Quick, Call the Police, a Girl Is Walking Her Dog: Homeschool Mom Shamed and Harassed for Parenting Decision

08-24-2018
Illinois mother
Illinois mother
A mother in Illinois is facing repercussions for something she saw as a simple fun task: letting her 8-year-old daughter walk their dog.
 
Multiple news outlets are reporting that the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) launched an investigation after Corey Widen's neighbors called police when they saw her daughter taking their dog for a walk around the block in their upscale Chicago neighborhood.
 
Widen said shortly after her daughter got home, a police officer rang the doorbell and thus began the two-week legal battle to defend herself as a mother.
 
"Apparently whoever called the police didn't think the police were a good enough judge of what was OK and not OK. Then they called DCFS. The police did not call DCFS," Widen said.
 
Widen told CBS2 that the whole situation made her feel "mom shamed."  
 
"You never know who did this to you and it turns your life upside down," she said. "I'm a homeschooled mom and I'm always with my kids. You can accuse me of a lot of things, not supervising them, is not one of them. My entire life revolves around them."
 
For many, the incident brings into question exactly which circumstances are actual "neglect" and deserve investigation, and which are not.
 
Just this week, Psychologist Kathy Hirsh-Pasek released a new clinical report published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, that states children in today's generation play less, and have less free time, than in decades past.
 
The report suggested that pediatricians should stress the importance of adequate playtime to parents, educators, and policy makers. It also notes that so-called "enrichment activities," as well as rising homework loads and preparation for tests, often take priority over play.
 
In one national survey, only 51 percent of preschool-aged children went outside with a parent to walk or play each day.
 
Earlier this year, Utah went as far as establishing a new law legalizing "free-range parenting" in an effort to redefine the state's definition of "neglect."
 
The bill states that parents won't be considered negligent by authorities if they let their child participate in some unsupervised activities like walking outside alone, playing alone, or waiting in the car without an adult.
 
"Utah's 'Free Range Parenting' law is a good example of common sense legislation," Gov. Gary Herbert told ABC News. "We believe that parents know and love their children better than anybody. We also believe that absent evidence of neglect, danger or cruelty, parents have the best sense of how to teach responsibility to their children. Responsible parents should be able to let kids be kids without constantly looking over their shoulders for approval."
 

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