Single Mom Of 5 Faces Jail Time For Leaving 4-Year-Old With Her 14-Year-Old To Go To Work

A single mother of five from Georgia is facing jail time for something that many parents are guilty of.
Melissa Henderson needed to go to work. Her youngest son, Thaddeus, was in day care, but his day care was closed for a COVID-19-related reason. After exhausting all her other options, Melissa asked her oldest child, her nearly 15-year-old daughter, to babysit her younger sibling while mom was at work.

The 14-year-old was working on schoolwork when the 4-year-old managed to slip outside of the house. He was playing outside for about 15 minutes before Melissa's daughter brought him inside. What she didn't know was that during that time, a neighbor had seen the little boy outside alone and called 911.

There were no further incidents that day, but two weeks later, police came to the family's home. Melissa was handcuffed and arrested for criminal reckless conduct.

"It was the most embarrassing and humiliating day, honestly, of my life," she told Inside Edition.

The police report about the incident outlines some of what could have happened to the little boy in his time outside alone, including being "kidnapped, run over or bitten by a venomous snake." Many people believe this to be an overreaction, however. If convicted, Melissa faces one year in jail and $1,000 in fines.

"Thirteen years old and older can be left alone and take care of others for up to 12 hours," attorney David DeLugas said of the matter.

The Red Cross also offers babysitting classes for children as young at 11 years old.

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