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Single Mother-Of-Five Faces Prosecution For Letting Teenage Daughter Babysit Her Siblings During Pandemic

Single Mother-Of-Five Faces Prosecution For Letting Teenage Daughter Babysit Her Siblings During Pandemic

If convicted she could face up to a year in prison for leaving her children unattended during the COVID pandemic.

A single mother is facing up to a year in prison after letting her 14-year-old daughter babysit her siblings while she went to work during the height of the Covid pandemic.

Melissa Henderson, a single working mother-of-five from Georgia, USA, has been charged with reckless criminal conduct after leaving her children under the care of her eldest child, 14-year-old Linley, after their daycare centre was forced to close due to Covid in May 2020.

However, trouble arose one day when Linley, who was participating in online learning at the time, failed to notice that her four-year-old brother Thaddeus had slipped out of the house unattended to play with his friend, who he had seen outside.

Although Thaddeus was found to be playing safely at his friend’s house shortly afterwards, in the 10-15 minutes it took for Linley to notice her brother’s absence and locate him, the friend's mother had called the authorities on Melissa and informed them of her reckless behaviour.

Two weeks later, Henderson was arrested in front of her children and charged with criminal reckless conduct. If found guilty, she faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a fine of $1,000.

The view from Melissa's house.

According to an incident report by the Union County Sheriff, the arresting officer claimed Thaddeus could have been kidnapped, 'got lost in woods or been bitten by a venomous snake', The Independent reports.

A GoFundMe page has since been set up in order to assist Melissa with her legal fees, and has raised more than $48,000 at the time of writing.

The GoFundMe claims that the arrest and prosecution of Henderson was unwarranted, particularly as the Georgia DFCS Guidelines purportedly state that: "Children thirteen years and older, who are at an adequate level of maturity, may be left alone and may perform the role of babysitter, as authorised by the parent, for up to twelve hours.

"Why then arrest Melissa, an arrest that included booking, fingerprints, mug shot, and being placed in a holding cell?" the GoFundMe questions. "Why then a year later bring the Accusation and require defence of the charges in the Superior Court?"

One signatory responded to the fundraiser, writing: "I am a single mother and I understand that sometimes we have to make the hardest decision either to work and support our families or don't work and not pay the rent. It's not much but I pray it helps."

Another said: "As a single mother of 3 kids, I had to make tough decisions about child care at times. I’m sorry this happened to you. I hope the woman who called the police regrets that decision. She could have offered to help instead. Good luck to you."

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Featured Image Credit: @11Alive/YouTube