In the Canaryville neighborhood, on the South Side of Chicago, unattended children under the age of 9 are endangered. These children are left alone. Parents are leaving children alone all day to entertain themselves. Parents leave their children alone while they are at work. Sometimes, parents don’t bother to take care of their own kids. This neglect is child abuse.
Child neglect is defined as “the failure of a person responsibility for a child’s care and upbringing to safeguard the child’s emotional and physical health and general well-being” from Webster’s New World Law Dictionary.
Dan Dowling is a Chicago Police Department officer, mostly working the South Side. He’s a graduate of De La Salle institute and lives in Canaryville. Officer Dowling stated, “As soon as a kid steps in the street by himself, someone is getting locked up.” Officer Dowling arrests parents who neglect their children. Parents need to take responsibility for their children. If not, the parents will be sent to jail. When asked officer Dowling how does he feel about parents who neglect their children, he responded, “It’s really sad, and it’s disappointing that this happens.”
Twenty-two year old Angelique Cromartie of Chicago is mother of identical two-year-old twin boys. She sees children by themselves all the time. Cromartie was asked what she thought about when she saw kids outside by themselves. “I am saddened that these children are left to roam the street freely without adult supervision.” Cromartie is worried for the children because something bad might happen to them. When asked when children should be alone, she responded, “It depends on the child’s maturity level but in my personal opinion, I would say 13 years old.” She said 13 years old because the children are more mature and know right from wrong.
Angelique Cromartie with her twin boys. (Photo by M. Scott)
What can Canaryville do about the unattended kids roaming the streets? First of all, check in with parents because if you see a child unattended try to contact the parent(s) because sometimes kids slip away. Second of all, stay with the kid because if a kid is left alone and you can’t find the parent(s), take them to your house or stay with the kid until you are able to contact their parent(s). It’s everybody’s responsibility to take care of or look after everybody’s children.
Data from The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, approximately 800,000 children younger than 18 were reported missing. An estimated 115 children were the victims of kidnapping by someone the child didn’t know or was an acquaintance. If the community doesn’t step up and help other parents, the rate of missing children could increase.