News & Politics

McDonald's Fires Woman Arrested for Letting her Kid Go To the Park Alone

The idea that children should never be more than five feet from their parents is getting ridiculously out of control.
A disgusting, terrible story, just got disgusting-er and terribler: McDonald's has fired Debra Harrell, the woman who was arrested for letting her nine-year-old daughter play alone at the park while she was at work. Because what else is a working mother who can't afford expensive summer camps do?

Harrell originally had her daughter come to work with her and play on a laptop during her summer vacation, but their home was burglarized and the laptop stolen, so she allowed her daughter to go to a well-populated park with a cell phone for emergencies. And for that she was arrested. Now:

While Robert Phillips, the attorney representing her pro bono at McGowan, Hood & Felder, said that she was released from jail the day after she was arrested on bond, he confirmed that she had been let go from her job. He didn’t have any information as to why. A spokesperson for McDonald’s declined to comment, saying it is inappropriate to discuss a human resources issue. She also said the company is cooperating with local police in their investigation of the situation.

The good news is that Harrell has been reunited with her daughter, as Phillips confirmed. But the case from the Department of Social Services is still ongoing. “Whenever there’s an allegation of a crime, and in this case the child is considered the victim even though she wasn’t harmed…allegedly perpetrated by a family member, DSS has a mandate to come in and remove the child from immediate harm,” he noted. “They were just doing what the law requires them to do.”

Immediate harm? Going to the park with a phone in case of emergency is immediate harm? The idea that children should never be more than five feet from their parents is getting ridiculously out of control, and, of course, poor women and especially poor black women are being made the victims of this overprotective parenting ethic. Bad enough for all mothers (because you know it's overwhelmingly mothers bearing the brunt of the over-parenting requirement) that kids are now supposed to be closely watched at every moment to the exclusion of all else, but of course it's the women who can't afford nannies and summer camps, and especially the women who are viewed with suspicion and doubt, who actually face the choice between making a living and having their children taken away.

If you're making less than $8 an hour at McDonald's, just what are you supposed to do with your child during summer vacation? Not working makes you a bad mother in the eyes of too many, because you're then a welfare queen blah blah blah, but working makes you just as much a bad mother in the same sets of eyes because your child is either sitting in McDonald's all day long or, heaven forbid, playing at the park. It's a vicious catch-22 laid on top of an oppressive ethic of parenting that has mysteriously taken over the country over the past decade or two. And now this woman who was clearly fighting like hell to take care of her daughter the best she could has been arrested, has lost her job, and is under investigation by the Department of Social Services.

 

 

Laura Clawson is the Labor editor at Daily Kos Labor, and a contributing editor at Daily Kos.