Caring, loving parents always have the safety and well-being of their little ones on their minds. The greatest fear of being a parent is that the children will be killed, injured or harmed in some way.
What the parents on this list have realized is that their greatest fears can happen…and they can find themselves in jail after their devastation.
Parents have the incredibly difficult job of deciding how to best raise children to become happy, healthy, productive adults. But when we become parents, we don’t become superheroes. We’re still humans, we still make mistakes.
Foggy minds from sleepless nights, stress over finances, or lack of time, support and education can all add to the challenges of parenting.
A mistake can happen so quickly, it may be from a single lapse in judgment. It maybe from a belief that is held and considered to be the best. A mistake could be made from a lack of education or information about how to raise a child.
The parents on this list appear to be like any other reasonable parent. They seem to be decent parents that don’t have excessive problems like drug abuse or other criminal histories. They’re parents who were trying to do the best for their children.
Law enforcement and child protection agencies have an equally difficult job of deciding when children need to be protected from parents. While we’d like to find the perfect balance that keeps all children safe, it’s not always easy to do.
Continue reading to find out what mistakes these parents made that lead to their arrest.
13 Mom Forgets Newborn In Cart
It’s every busy mom’s nightmare. You’ve in a rush to get to a birthday party with your four children. You have tons of things going through your mind. You quickly stop at a grocery store for a last minute gift. You load everyone and everything up…or at least you think you did.
You would normally put the cart away but this time you parked so close to the store you didn’t have to walk it back. Happy to be on your way, you jump in the car and rush off.
It’s not until you reach your house that you realize that you left your 2-month-old son in the shopping cart at the store. Your heart plummets as you realize the tragedy of your mistake. This is exactly what happened to Cherish Peterson of Phoenix, Arizona. Luckily right after she forgot the baby in the cart an off-duty police officer noticed him.
The mom returned to the store as soon as she realized her devastating mistake. She feels terrible for what happened. The baby was unharmed in the incident. Police decided to charge Peterson with a misdemeanor charge of child endangerment for her lapse.
12 Mom Arrested For Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
A young mother was arrested after her baby suffocated in a tragic case of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
The mom, Candice Semidey, swaddled her 4-month-old son then laid him down for a nap. Tragically, she laid him down on his belly while he was swaddled. She too laid down while the baby was napping. When Semidey woke up, she found her baby unconscious. She called first responders for help, but it was too late.
Police Sergeant Jonathan Perok explained that the combination of swaddling and placing the baby on his stomach lead to his suffocation. That’s why this mom was being charged in the incident.
It is recommended that babies are put to sleep on their backs in a crib without blankets, pillows or toys. These are the safe sleep guidelines set out by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
It’s an unimaginable tragedy that this young mom has had to endure. Over 3,000 babies die each year in the United States as a result of SIDS.
11 Arrested Because They Stopped Giving Son Medicine
Two parents, who were described by friends and neighbors as “good parents” were charged with medical neglect after their 11-year-old son died of heart failure.
Their son, Jason, had undergone eight open-heart surgeries and twenty medical procedures. He had a heart transplant and was on anti-rejection medication.
The parents gave him the medication but reported that it was, “giving him terrible headaches, chills/tremors, and is just not allowing him to be his happy self.” It would admittedly be challenging to give your child medication that had such dire effects on his day to day quality of life.
By August of 2016, his heart transplant was in complete rejection. Jason died in September of 2016.
Both parents were charged with endangering the life of a child. The parents watched for years as Jason struggled to survive. He was greatly missed by his community according to the Chicago Tribune.
10 Dad Arrested For Forgetting Baby In Car
A dad, Alejandro Vargas, of California had his hands full with his four children ages 4 months, 2, 3 and 4 years old. He was recently separated from the children’s mom and had the kids for the day.
At some point, he brought the children home. He brought the three older children in the house but forgot the baby. Someone passing by heard the baby screaming. This person called 911. When the authorities got there the baby, thankfully, was crying but okay. The dad reported that he forgot the baby in the car.
The temperature was 55 degrees. Had it been a little warmer or cooler the baby could have been in even greater danger.
The dad was arrested for child endangerment. He clearly had a lot going on with his relationship and his hands full with four children under 5 years. Many parents of multiple children can sympathize with his position and hope to not have the same bout of absent-mindedness that puts a helpless child in danger.
9 Parents Who Tried To Stretch The Breast Milk
A young couple watered down breast milk fed to their baby. In all likelihood, this was probably done to stretch the amount of the breast milk for the baby. Herbert Landell and Heather Fristed ended up being arrested for what happened as a result.
As a mother who was concerned about how much breast milk I could pump, this story breaks my heart. The couple probably thought they were doing the right thing for their daughter, but instead, they were depriving her of needed nutrients.
At just 10-weeks-old, the baby girl died of dehydration. The diluted breast milk caused the baby’s brain to swell.
According to a study done at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, more than 25% of families in poverty reported watering down formula or reducing feedings. This is known as formula stretching. It can cause problems with the babies’ developing brains including behavior, memory and judgment problems.
8 Daughter Not Treated For Pneumonia
Two parents, Jonathan and Grace Foster of Pennsylvania, turned to God when their two-year-old daughter became sick.
As members of the Faith Tabernacle church in Mechanicsburg, they don’t believe in using modern medicine, medication or doctors when someone gets sick. Instead, they relied on “God’s will” to see them through the health crisis.
Two-year-old Ella Grace became sick with pneumonia. Her parents didn’t seek medical attention for the little girl as it went against their faith.
Her parents explained to authorities that she began showing symptoms of a common cold just two days before she died. She was lethargic and had a sore throat. Eventually, her breathing became labored, then rapid and she died in her father’s arms according to Fox 29 News.
After an autopsy, the forensic pathologist reported that Ella would have had a 95% chance of surviving if she had been given antibiotics.
States such as Pennsylvania and Oregon do not recognize faith-based reasons as a defense in such cases.
7 Mom Accidentally Crosses State Lines
A young, single mom, Shaneen Allen, 27, of Pennsylvania took steps to protect herself and her two young boys.
Living in Philadelphia and working in the medical field, Shaneen had been robbed twice in the past year. She decided enough was enough and took the classes to get her concealed carry permit. She then bought a handgun and legally carried it with her—while in Pennsylvania.
Early one morning she was driving in New Jersey when she was pulled over for an unsafe lane change charge. She promptly told the officer about the handgun in the car and her concealed carry permit. She didn’t realize that the permit was not transferable to New Jersey.
Shaneen had no criminal record but faced a mandatory minimum sentence of three years in prison.
By taking measures to protect herself and her young sons but being unclear about concealed carry laws state to state she risks being taken away from her family for at least 3 years.
6 Mom Leaves 8 and 9-Year-Old Alone To Pick Up Dinner
A mom, Susan Terrillion, left her beach rental house to pick up food for the family. Assuming she wouldn’t be gone long, she left her 9-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter at the house. She left to pick up dinner from a restaurant just 5 miles away.
The children were out trying to get a hold of their dogs. Another resident of the Country Club saw the children trying to catch their dogs. The neighbor stopped to help the children and when he realized the children were alone, reported the incident to authorities.
The mom was gone for at least 45 minutes. When she returned she was arrested, charged then released on bond.
Parents can have very different ideas about when it is appropriate to leave children at home by themselves. It may depend on the neighborhood, maturity of the children and local or state laws. Being from out of state and on vacation, this mom found herself in a situation she didn’t anticipate.
5 Mom Arrested For Homeschooling Children
A mom, Kiarre Harris of Buffalo, New York, decided to homeschool her children. According to Kiarre, once she submitted her letter of intent to homeschool and began keeping her kids at home, she was arrested.
She said that while her children were in a Buffalo elementary school they weren’t. WKBW of Buffalo reported that it was a failing public school.
Kiarre filled out the paperwork need at city hall and informed the district she was going to homeschool. She says, “I spoke directly to the home school coordinator and she told me from this pint on, my children were officially un-enrolled from school.”
In less than a month of having her children home, Child Protective Services (CSP) had come to remove the children from her home.
Kiarre is a single, college-educated mother. Her case has caught national attention. Some sources say that CSP was called several times prior to the homeschooling incident which led to the arrest. Others say that a lack of communication between the school and the district and policies mixed with racism was the cause.
4 Arrested Because She Didn't Understand American Customs
In a confusing clash of customs, a mom from Copenhagen, Annette Sorensen, was arrested. This story broke in 1997 as the world learned of very different customs found in Copenhagen, Denmark, and New York City.
The couple left their baby in a stroller outside of an East Village restaurant while they went inside to dine. A passerby was astonished to see a crying baby outside. The authorities were called and the couple was arrested.
Although shocking that a parent would leave their child unattended in New York, it is commonplace in Copenhagen. Copenhagen has a low crime rate and few child kidnappings.
Line Vang, a Copenhagen mother of a 7-month-old, told the associated press, ''Come on, we do this all the time. We go in for a cup of coffee, sit so we can see the stroller, go out and check once in a while and that's it.''
Should we be astonished that a mother left her baby in a stroller or that the US is too dangerous to do such a thing while other cities in the world are much safer for children?
3 Dad Arrested For Taking Daughter's Cell Phone Away
For any parent who’s tried to teach their children right from wrong, this story will leave a bad taste.
A Dad in Texas was checking up on his then 12-year-old daughter. He found a text message that he thought was rude. To teach his daughter right from wrong, he took her cell phone away. In a time where cyberbullying is so intense, we should be applauding this dad for monitoring his daughter’s cell phone and then actually taking action when he finds something.
Instead, he found himself in jail.
His ex-wife called the police when the dad refused to give the phone back to his daughter. The police came to his house to get the phone and he refused to give it to them. He wanted to make sure his daughter learned her lesson.
When he didn’t hand the phone over, he was arrested.
A year and a half after the incident he was charged with misdemeanor theft. The judge found him not guilty and he was allowed to keep his daughter’s cell phone.
2 Mom Arrested For Letting 9-Year-Old Play In Park Alone
A mother, Debra Harrell, found herself in a difficult place as she decided what to do with her 9-year-old daughter while she worked at McDonald's in the Summer of 2014.
Debra had saved enough extra money to buy her daughter a laptop so that she could use the computer at McDonald's with free Wi-Fi. This kept the girl close and busy while mom worked. Unfortunately, the laptop was stolen. The mom didn’t want to leave the daughter home alone but she no longer had something to keep her busy at McDonald's.
Instead, she let the little girl play at a local park while she worked. Understandably, none of these options are incredible for the 9-year-old girl. But one can clearly see that this mom is struggling to make ends meet and do the right thing for her child.
After a park worker noticed that the little girl was alone, the authorities were called. Debra was arrested and put in jail where she couldn’t take care of her daughter or provide for her family.
1 Mother Has Children Taken Away For Co-Sleeping
One of the worst things that can happen to a parent is having their children taken away. Especially for parents who are described as loving. A judge in England reports that they love their two children and wouldn’t deliberately hurt them according to The Sun. Then he also noted that this mother “always thinks that she knows best.”
Children services were concerned that the mother was “continually ignoring their advice against having them in bed with her.” The children were both under 4 years old. Following that, the judge removed the couple’s children from the home and placed them for adoption, saying adoption was the only realistic option.
A frightful statement for any parent who thinks they know what’s best for their children (I mean aren’t parents supposed to believe they are doing what is best for their children?)
The judge also noted that the mother was “brusque and physically forceful” calling into question both her discipline and other parenting choices such as co-sleeping.
It’s a heartbreaking situation for the family that will now be broken up.
Sources: Chicago Tribune, Yahoo News, USA Today, The Sun