Mom Jailed for Letting 9-Year-Old Daughter Play at Park Near Job

Courtesy of North Augusta Department of Public Safety
Courtesy of North Augusta Department of Public Safety

Is letting your child play in the park a crime? The North Augusta, S.C., police department thinks so.


According to ABC 6, Debra Harrell has been charged with unlawful conduct toward a child for allowing her 9-year-old daughter to play in a park while Harrell worked at a nearby McDonald’s.

The 9-year old was approached by an adult at the park who asked her where her mother was. When the girl answered that her mother was at work, the adult called the police.

It seems there’s more to the story than blatant neglect. Reason magazine reports that Harrell gave her daughter a cellphone and that the girl would eat lunch at the McDonald’s where her mother works.

Harrell’s daughter usually came to work with her mother and played on the family laptop. Unfortunately, the laptop was stolen, and Harrell’s daughter asked if she could play at the park instead.

The girl was unharmed, but local residents say that she was still put in danger.

“I understand the mom may have been in a difficult situation, not having someone to watch the child, but at the same time, you’ve got to find somebody,” Lesa Lamback, whose family visits the park, told ABC 6.


Harrell’s daughter is currently in the custody of the Department of Social Services.

Read more at ABC 6.