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The Dunkin' Donuts Case

Lenore Skenazy on

It was Super Bowl Sunday in February 2019. Cynthia Rivers and her husband decided that their kids, 7 and 9, deserved a long-promised treat for cleaning their rooms: the chance to walk to Dunkin' Donuts, a mile away, by themselves. (I changed her name to protect the family's anonymity.)

This was in a suburban town in western Connecticut. The kids gathered $7, and off they went.

A few minutes later, the Rivers heard a knock at the door. It was the police.

The first cop to show up "said he didn't think it was safe for the kids to walk by themselves," said Rivers. "We told him that while we did feel it was safe, we agreed to not allow them to walk around town unsupervised."

"We thought that would have been the end of it," Rivers added, "until three more officers showed up." (I have read the police paperwork, which confirms all this.)

The first cop sent Rivers' husband to retrieve the kids, who had only made it a couple blocks. Then mom, dad and the kids faced a barrage of questions.


"They told us that it wasn't safe for kids to walk down the street... that drug dealers were going to give them drugs, and that it was 'a different world now.'"

When Rivers said she didn't think that was true, "One of them responded, and I quote, 'Don't you watch the news? I mean, I know it's all fake, but still!' That made my head spin," Rivers said.

Upset, she went back inside. She found out later from her husband that at that point the arresting officer said to him, "'If she talks to me again, I'm going to arrest you both and take away your kids.'"

Rivers' husband was back home quickly after the arrest, and they began searching for a lawyer. But a few days later, a police sergeant visited the house and let the Rivers know that they were dropping the charges. He admitted that the law concerning child negligence was open to interpretation on the question of letting kids walk by themselves. Happily, the Rivers told the lawyer that his services wouldn't be necessary after all because everything was settled.


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Copyright 2023 Creators Syndicate, Inc.




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