Dave Lieber is a columnist for Fort Worth Star-Telegram who has found himself in a bizarre situation where he has been criminally charged for telling his 11-year-old son to walk home a few blocks from McDonalds. It began with an argument in McDonald’s and Lieber leaving his son to walk home. Lieber would return a short time later to find police speaking to his son and thought that the matter was closed by an amicable reunion and mutual apologies of the father and son. It wasn’t.
Lieber wrote about the experience in an August 15th column, describing how he returning after cooling off to find officers speaking with his son. He described his actions as “stupid and quite serious mistake” despite support from his readers who said that they have taken the same approach with disrespectful kids. That is when it got weird. Lieber, 51, was arrested by detectives of Watauga, Texas for child abandonment and endangerment, according to Detective Tiffany Ward.
State law defines abandonment as intentionally leaving a child younger than 15 “in any place under circumstances that expose the child to an unreasonable risk of harm.” Walking home a few blocks from McDonald’s is exposing a child to unreasonable risk of harm? How dangerous are the streets of Watauga? Yet, Lieber (who has been suspended by the newspaper) accepts that his actions “could have exposed my son to grave danger. I do know that. But in the moment of anger, I didn’t think clearly.”
I am probably the most protective, risk-adverse parent on Earth. My wife accuses me of wanting to turn the four kids into bubble babies. I would not use this type of punishment or scared straight technique. However, it is an example in my view of how we have criminalized every aspect of our lives, here.
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