In Longwood, Florida, Patricia-Ann Jackson Denault thought it would be funny to post pictures of her son, 7, drinking whiskey on Facebook, titling it “first shot.” Someone thought it was more alarming than funny, and called the police. Three uniformed officers and Child Protective Services came to her house and interviewed both her and her kids. Denault explained her humor theory, and said she wanted the children “to experience alcohol in a controlled setting.”
They were not impressed. She was arrested and charged with child neglect.
Apparently this is becoming a cause celebre in conservative circles, and example of the nanny state going too far. I don’t see it:
- A photo on Facebook showed an adult persuading a very young child to drink a substance that can be dangerous in large quantities. Was that the only sip, or the first of many? I think the inquiry was responsible.
- The mother used her child not only as a prop, but as a prop involving alcohol. I would be dubious about the judgment of such a parent.
- She said that she wanted a seven-year-old “to experience alcohol in a controlled setting” ??? Why? What else would she like to see a child experience in a controlled setting?
I think these were sufficient reason to check on the welfare of the children in that home, and to be concerned. Should she have been arrested? I don’t know what the children said, or what she told the police. The news reports make Denault sound like a fool, but being a stupid parent does not necessarily make one a dangerous parent. If this is all there is, the arrest is overkill.
I salute the Facebook non-friend who reported her, however, for the same reasons I supported the actions of the man who infuriated Jeff Gates by checking to see if Gates’ two teen daughters were being exploited rather than having their photos taken by a fond father who happened to be a photographer:
“We should all be proactive: not paranoid, hysterical or seeing monsters around every corner, but alert and ready to take action to prevent harm if there is good reason to believe that harm may occur…We all have an obligation to look out for each other, and along with that comes an obligation to be understanding, forgiving and to extend the benefit of the doubt when a well-considered intervention is based on seeing a situation from the wrong perspective.”