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Mother arrested after allowing 7-year-old son to walk to park alone

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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — A mom faces a charge of child neglect after she allowed her son to go to a local park alone. She says he’s old enough but Port St. Lucie Police disagree. Now she’s fighting back.

“I’m totally dumbfounded by this whole situation,” says Nicole Gainey.

It began last Saturday afternoon when Gainey gave her son Dominic permission to walk from their house to Sportsman’s Park .

“Honestly didn’t think I was doing anything wrong,” says Gainey, “I was letting him go play.

It’s a half mile from their Port St. Lucie home. Dominic says it only takes him about 10 to 15 minutes to get there. During the walk, the 7-year-old passed a public pool. Someone there asked him where his mom was.

“They asked me a couple questions and I got scared so I ran off to the park and they called the cops,” says Dominic Guerrisi.

Dominic was playing at the park when an officer pulled up.

“They said ‘where does your mom live,’ ” says Dominic.

Police took him home. That’s when his mom was arrested and charged with child neglect. Gainey says she was shocked.

“My own bondsman said my parents would have been in jail every day,” says Gainey who paid nearly $4,000 to bond out.

The officer wrote in the report that Dominic was unsupervised at the park and that “numerous sex offenders reside in the vicinity.”

“He just basically kept going over that there’s pedophiles and this and that and basically the park wasn’t safe and he shouldn’t be there alone,” says Gainey.

She believes Dominic is mature enough to go to the park alone during the day. Gainey adds her son always has a cell phone which she calls to check on him.

“That I’m here and safe,” says Dominic.

Gainey plans to fight the felony charge. But after this she won’t let Dominic go to the park alone. She’s afraid she’ll be arrested again.

The St. Lucie County State’s Attorney’s office says there is no law that specifies how old a child has to be before he or she can go somewhere unsupervised. It’s done on a case-by-case basis.

Source: WPTV/CNN


  • renae

    as a mom of a 7 year old, there is NO way in hell i’d let my kid walk around by herself because of all the perverts out there. Times have changed and as a mother it is your DUTY to protect and do what is best for the child. If you don’t feel like going to the park, don’t let your kid go alone b/c anything can happen. Even w/ a cellphone they are NOT safe w/ out your supervision. I believe the citizens did the right thing by calling the police. That mother needs to go to some parenting classes!

    • Fat Albert

      You, Dee, are a picture perfect “example” of what the fear mongering MEDIA has turned everybody into! … “OH MY GOD, THERE’S MONSTERS HIDING IN EVERY BUSH IN THE NATION!!!” this type of “paranoia” is really disturbing. And now, law enforcement has become so INSANELY punitive, and the resulting “rules’ so ridiculously strict that kids have no “freedom” at all, anymore.

    • Kp

      As you can see there is no age limit on letting your child go to the park alone. Parents should be aloud to parent their own child.. This kid probably gets great satisfaction from being independent. The fact that you think the world has changed so much shows your ignorance… Just because the news runs on the negatives does not mean everyone out there is out to harm your child. I will probably be with my daughters at that age when they go to the park, but every parent and child are different… As you can see when the child felt afraid he ran.. So he was obviously smart enough to stay away from strangers. I think the child was still to young, but I’m not his parent. Let’s focus on abusive parents and those that have no idea where their children are… This is just silly… There are always risks in the world, but we can’t live in a bubble forever.

      • lemondrop1

        I agree, if the news stopped using scare tactics, maybe kids would be more active outside. there aren’t bad people everywhere , and there are many people who if they saw someone try to harm a child would react and help them. people need to stop over reacting.

  • Terri Riley

    I think the mother should google nathaniel kibby he took a teen girl walking home from school and kept her for 9 months might change her mind but i doubt it

    • Kp

      Or maybe she google the millions of kids who safely walk to and from school… Or the millions of kids who are not harmed by creeps… Or all the kids who are looked out for by other caring adults… Oh wait those don’t get reported on. There will always be risks, but we also need to understand that those risks are not really likely. I will be with my daughters at that age, but that’s me… Let the parent be a parent..

  • A mom as well

    I remember walking to the park and swimming pool when I was 7-8 years old… I dont think times have changed just everyone has internet and cable and this information is more assessable to us now.. There were pervents and bad people in the 70 and 80’s you just didnt hear about it …

    • JT

      Dead on, Mom–when my sister and I were kids, our mom sent us to the pool (about the same distance as that described in the story) all the time. No problems. Ever. This whole situation is stupid. But it is Florida, so there’s that…

  • Sispossum

    It was not very smart of her to let him go alone but she shouldn’t be arrested for it. Just give her a warning. There is not law stating the age requirement so why not make one.

  • dee

    This is ridiculous…it is the mother’s decision. She knows better than anyone if the boy is capable of going to the park alone. I hope she wins the court case!

  • Dee

    if there is no law on the books as to what age… then how can they charge her.. HUH??? I lived in the states for 24 years and have to say children are very dependent…. I now live in Germany, and here, kids that age are riding the bus, subway and trams alone…. they get taught very early on to be independent. My son goes to the public pool with his friends and no adults…. I agree with a stmt made above, my parents would’ve been arrested every day, and bad people were around then as well…. children can get taken from your front yard… it doesn’t have to be a park, so that shouldn’t be an excuse… I hope she wins her case, because I don’t think she did anything wrong. Clearly this child was smart enough to run away when strangers started asking him questions. This is a decision each parent has to make for themselves.

  • Dee

    If the mother felt safe with her choice, everyone else should butt out. Since there was a school in the immediate vicinity maybe they shouldn’t let sec offenders live in that area. The government is slowly taking away our rights to parent our children. It is insane, as it says the laws are not specific on ages. It is case by case. And in this case this child sounds like he was ready to go on his own

  • sinner 3

    Fla. Again proof that you can duct tape and murder your child !!, but can not let them roam to the park !!

  • Joe

    When you say times have changed you must be referring to the dramatic decrease in the crime rate, so yes times have changed. The police have no right charging this women for something that all our parents did hundreds of times.

  • Lake County Parents

    How can it possibly be neglect to let a 7 year old walk 1/2 mile to the park, when the state forces a 5 year old to walk 2 miles to school and calls it reasonable? FL 1006.21 There is no way that this can be placed on trial without it also placing our entire school transportation policy on trial with it. Right, in our county, the goal is to reduce the two miles to 1/2 mile, because that is as good as we will get, and that is still the distance at which she was arrested. I hope she makes some serious noise about this on a local, regional, and state level!!!

  • cathy

    kids walk to school every day alone if this mothere is found guility then the school systems should be charged also

  • Mackie

    At that age I walked a mile to school. I walked to the park and the pool. I don’t agree the mother should have been arrested. Maybe talk about the possible dangers. The kids in my neighbourhood walk to school everyday through a wooded area… I guess that police office would be vey busy here arresting parents.

  • Sandra Lendaras

    Common sense tells me that this: “My own bondsman said my parents would have been in jail every day” should look like this: “My own bondsman said ‘My parents would have been in jail every day’”. Funny how writers forget how to write when they’re busy imparting bias.

  • Gustav Wind

    If the park isn’t safe why aren’t the cops cleaning up the park and arresting those that make it unsafe? The parents did nothing wrong.

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