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Daily Choice Turned Deadly: Children Left on Their Own

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flamingyouth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-18-03 02:51 PM
Original message
Daily Choice Turned Deadly: Children Left on Their Own
Last Sunday, as her night shift neared, Kim Brathwaite faced a hard choice. Her baby sitter had not shown up, and to miss work might end her new position as assistant manager at a McDonald's in downtown Brooklyn.

So she left her two children, 9 and 1, alone, trying to stay in touch by phone.

It turned out to be a disastrous decision. Someone, it seems, deliberately set fire to her apartment. Her children died. And within hours, Ms. Brathwaite was under arrest, charged with recklessly endangering her children.

The investigation is continuing, and an arrest in the arson may soon overshadow the criminal charges against Ms. Brathwaite, who is not a suspect in the fire, investigators say. But she is now facing up to 16 years in prison for a decision that, surveys and interviews with experts suggest, cuts uncomfortably close to some choices made every day by American families.

Nationwide, parents themselves report leaving more than 3 million children under 13 some as young as 5 to care for themselves for at least a few hours a week on a regular basis, according to a recent study by Child Trends, a nonprofit research organization in Washington, D.C., that analyzed census information and other data.
http://nytimes.com/2003/10/19/nyregion/19MOTH.html?hp
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patdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-18-03 03:05 PM
Response to Original message
1. I thought this was part of 'welfare reform'..work or be homeless
here is my take on this...I wrote during the Gingrich 'Plan America' was going down:

Screw it...I am posting it in its entirety:

Contract on America-remember?

This violence must at once be quelled!
(The politician from his podium yelled.)

No leg up! No head start! No affirmative action!
These surely cause their violent reaction!

More Prisons! More Jails! More Judges! More Time!
Less money with which those poor can dine!
So certain am I - the effect of nutrition!
To grow muscle on the non-patrician!
That I will with my own hand!
See their free school lunch be banned!

(A lull in the cheering occurred.)
(And the soft voice of reality was heard.)

But what of the fodder of kith and kin
laced like father Mathers gin?
With objects dchem that make them wild
A mother cant hold back her own child.

Feed Fruit! Feed Vegetables! (Let them eat cake!)
Advertising (cereal) neednt be progenys rake!
Study after study produce not a single conclusion!
ADDs a bleeding-heart liberal delusion!

And what of the vicious malicious intent
of the entire Saturday toon content?
The wildness left in my childs eye
makes my surely to be broke heart cry.

Thats not been proven - no studies confirm!
Just turn off the set - yall must be stern!
As long as the Good Guys ( WE have defined ) win violent confrontation!
Our own studies find no fault with vicious conflagration!

Working two jobs. You cant be home?
Its against the law to leave them alone!





Listen to me folks! Im free from vise!
Im rich and Im right. Take my advise!
Listen to me folks! Become one of us!
They have no money, no power, no impetus!

Its people like them whining and blaming!
No personal responsibility has them shaming!

Madison Aves job is to sell our - er - the product!
Not take responsibility for their childs misconduct!

The conclusions at which I have arrived!
Are Scientifically based facts Good Guys contrived!

Relative truth does not exist!
We know they give it a twist!
They call it nutrition, prevention, reciprocity!
Well prove being poor is a punishable felony!

KS. Welch 1995

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lcordero Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-18-03 03:11 PM
Response to Original message
2. I really feel bad for her
Edited on Sat Oct-18-03 03:15 PM by lcordero
I was a latchkey kid in a one-parent home all throughout the 80s in NYC. I was in my junior and senior years(HS) when records for murders were being broken on a daily basis. The stress was especially bad on my mom.
I don't have any children and I won't be having any because of stuff like this.
People have to rely on extended family more than ever. I suspect that the words "willing to relocate" will soon disappear from resumes.
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lcordero Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-18-03 05:12 PM
Response to Reply #2
12. When I was 14, I remember one day my mom saying something about
wanting to have one more child, keep in mind that this is a one-parent home where ends were barely met on a daily basis. I got really angry, I told her that if she had one that I was going to live in the streets rather than EVER take care of somebody else's bastard.
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InkAddict Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-18-03 06:21 PM
Response to Reply #2
16. Ummm...from personal experience
not all Grandmas/Aunts want to be bothered with watching their grandchildren of any age. There's also some thought that Moms "at home" should just jump at the prospect of watching someone else's kids, you know the ones that have those talk-back brats who bully the little ones around. Sometimes, the mix just won't work so matter how nice one's trying to be. And remember, no good deed goes unpunished! Wonder how I came to that conclusion???
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Boomer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-18-03 03:13 PM
Response to Original message
3. Set up for failure
This is a no-win situation. If she stays home to take care of the kids, society condemns her as a welfare bum. If she works, the kids suffer and she's condemned for being an unfit parent.

Without child care resources, a single mother can't keep a job AND insure 24-hour safety for her kids. One way or another she will be punished.

--Boomer
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GCP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-18-03 03:17 PM
Response to Original message
4. That poor woman
No doubt the compassionate conservatives will be all over this - it's her fault yada yada.
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Demobrat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-18-03 03:28 PM
Response to Original message
5. And where's the father in all this?
Of course it's all the mother's fault because she couldn't mind her children and earn the money to feed them at the same time. That's a given. But there should be somebody helping her, one way or the other. Where is he? Or is it her fault she doesn't have a man, too? Guess so.
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bleedingheart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-18-03 03:29 PM
Response to Original message
6. This is not a new situation!
My grandmother used to leave my mother who was 12 in charge of a 9 year old, a two year old and an infant while she went to scrub floors at a bank from midnight to 6am.


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Demobrat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-18-03 03:45 PM
Response to Reply #6
9. I was a latchkey kid with three younger sibs,
one mentally handicapped, to mind from after school until my mom got home from work at 6 or so, starting from about age 12. When I got up into my teen years, I started having after school pot parties for my friends. I wasn't ready to be a mom at that age, and acted like a kid instead. Nothing really bad ever happened, but that's just luck.
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ikojo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-19-03 05:56 AM
Response to Reply #9
23. I worked with a woman who was one of the oldest of 13
She lived on a farm and her mom was at home. However, since there were SO many kids, this woman was forced to begin planning, and preparing, meals at age 8. She basically had no childhood to speak of. As soon as she got home from school she had to begin dinner. After dinner there were dishes to do as well as her homework. As often happens in large families the oldest kids are forced to be de facto parents to the younger kids and babies, especially if the older kids are girls. Boys, naturally get off easy in this regard, because it is assumed that the girls enjoy playing mommy.

This woman now is around 50 and is an alcoholic and drug addict. A younger brother ended up killing both parents and is now serving time in the state hospital. A mess all around. The sad thing is that this woman is highly intelligent and if she ever got help with her addictions she could go far.

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InkAddict Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-18-03 06:47 PM
Response to Reply #6
17. Times have changed and so have the kids -- TV???
I was babysitting at 25 cents an hour when I was 12 ("very mature for my age" - hah!)and expected to change diapers/heat bottles/call emergency numbers, etc...That was called "earning a badge" and getting "real world" experience.

I'd never in 1M years, come up with some of the wild/malicious things kids pull and get away with today at ever increasingly earlier ages.

I remember going to a movie with a co-ed party of friends (not even solo-that was not allowed) at age 16 against my folks wishes, and getting an appointment with my girlfriend's minister (who spoke to the girls about lust and disobedience) on top of a one-month "grounding" from events and phone. Movie: The Great Race Rated PG. When I got a part-time job after school, one of my first purchases was a pair of black patent hi-heel sandals which were promptly labeled my "whore" shoes. Ah...the 60s.

Surely you remember a time when allowing a child to walk home from school or a friend's house wasn't setting them up for kidnapping/rape/murder? I can vividly remember playing in the woods from dawn to dusk and coming home only for lunch - tree forts, tadpoles, blackberries, playing in the creek, walking the tracks - Never thought of being offed.
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speckledgator Donating Member (232 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-18-03 03:35 PM
Response to Original message
7. Oh
this is sad....my heart goes out to her...
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tlcandie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-18-03 03:42 PM
Response to Original message
8. I don't imagine she will be in need of being jailed or decried ..
If she lives it will be a miserable existence always in shame and guilt for the rest of her life :( :cry:

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David Zephyr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-18-03 04:01 PM
Response to Original message
10. Kick.
thanks for bringing this here, flamingyouth.
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XanaDUer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-18-03 04:34 PM
Response to Original message
11. Another Catch-22 situation too many working-poor mothers
find themselves in.

Disgusting.

If you don't want to have kids, you're supposedly a freak of Nature.

If you have an abortion, you're a "murderer".

If you have them, you should not work and spend time with your kids,

BUT, take no public assistance.

Then you're a leech on society.

Poor woman.
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UpInArms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-18-03 05:26 PM
Response to Original message
13. but the conservatives were all around loving toward a
woman that drowned her kids in the bathtub because gawd told her to do it.

This just breaks my heart :(
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-18-03 05:33 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. But a lot of conservatives were NOT sympathetic
to Andrea Yates. Remember that Texas considered going for the death penalty.

This is reminiscent of a British film called Ladybird, Ladybird, based on a true story about a single mother in a similar situation. In the film, the children don't die, but the mother is forever "tainted."
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cally Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-18-03 06:16 PM
Response to Original message
15. What a horrible conumdrum
If you don't go to work, then you will not be able to feed your kids so you decide to leave them home. I think most 9 year olds are reasonably responsible in most circumstances. Then a crisis occurs and the kids cannot handle it. Who knows if the mother could have handled it or if she would die.

I love Hillary's book, it takes a village. We all have to raise kids together and create a community around us.




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flamingyouth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-18-03 10:29 PM
Response to Original message
18. please read if you haven't already
:kick:
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MountainLaurel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-18-03 10:51 PM
Response to Original message
19. Libraries are seeing a lot of this
Parents working two jobs each will drop their kids off at the library, or have them go after school. According to a colleague in TN, thy're seeing younger and younger kids coming in with siblings, including a 6-year-old with a toddler.

What are they to do?
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Tatiana Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-18-03 10:54 PM
Response to Original message
20. So sad :(
And now maybe some will see what Senator Kennedy and others meant when they said true welfare reform could not be carried out until adequate funding for childcare initiatives for low-income people were in place.

My heart goes out to the poor woman. It's a damn shame that she was forced to make such a decision.
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Scairp Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-19-03 12:49 AM
Response to Original message
21. What a terrible situation
She has to choose between keeping her kids safe and putting food on the table and a roof over their heads. How in the hell was she suppose to predict some psycho setting the place on fire? She should not be sitting in jail. I think under the circumstances she should get a pass on being prosecuted, but under the not-so-compassionate legal system we have I highly doubt that she will.
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ikojo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-19-03 05:45 AM
Response to Original message
22. It's not only the poor and working class who leave their
children unsupervised for long periods of time....

Further down in the article is a story about an affluent woman in Greeley, Colorado who left her SIX children (the oldest was 14 and the youngest six) alone for 17 days while she vacationed in Italy. She was not charged because she had left a home stocked with food as well as a debit card and numbers of people to conatct should there be problems. Of course the outcry would have been different if this woman was poor or working class..she would have been called selfish and irresponsible (one for having SIX children and two for leaving them unsupervised for half a month) and would have faced hard prison time. This woman had access to money and could buy a lawyer so no charges were filed.

"A district attorney in Greeley, Colo. declined to prosecute Jennifer Farrell, a more affluent mother who left her six children home alone for 17 days while she vacationed in Italy. He found no evidence that the children - aged 6, 8, 10, 11, 12 and 14 - were harmed or faced imminent danger when the single mother left them with a stocked kitchen, a debit card for buying more food, and a list of friends and relatives to call if they needed help, The Denver Post reported."

Isn't it great how class dynamics work in the USofA? Only poor/working class single mothers are demonized, wealthier single moms are held up as heroes.
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argyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Oct-19-03 07:10 AM
Response to Original message
24. Single mothers are real heroines. I don't know how they do it with
so many of them receiving no financial aid from the fathers and having to get by on jobs that pay so little.Day care should be subsidized for those many who simply can't afford it.

Tens of billions for Halliburton and no compassion and financial aid for the nation's neediest.Compassionate conservatism.Screw it.
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