Suburban mom jailed for making young son walk half a mile home; ‘paradigm has shifted,’ says Kaine Fisher, Rose Law Group partner and family law director

By Lenore Skenazy | Reason

Heather Wallace’s oldest son, eight-year-old Aiden, was driving his two brothers crazy in the car as they all returned from karate one afternoon in October 2021. Wallace asked Aiden to walk the rest of the way home—half a mile in quiet, suburban Waco, Texas—so that he could calm down.

For this she was arrested, handcuffed, and thrown in jail.

She was charged with endangering a child, a felony carrying a mandatory minimum of two years in prison.

“It really brought us into deep trauma,” says Wallace.

She is finally able to speak out after completing a six month pretrial diversion program to get the charges dropped. But her arrest remains on the books—easily searchable by employers—which is disastrous for someone with a Bachelor’s degree in education.

Here is how the events unfolded.

Aiden agreed to walk home; after all, it was something he had done many times. There are sidewalks the entire way, and practically zero traffic.

But 15 minutes later, two cops knocked on Wallace’s door. Her son was in their patrol car. Another officer was parked across the street.

A woman one block away had called the cops to report a boy walking outside alone. That lady had actually asked Aiden where he lived, verified that it was just down the street, and proceeded to call nonetheless. The cops picked up Aiden on his own block.

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“Each parent has their own style of parenting that’s for sure.  But, as is shown by this example, there’s a fine line these days between whether a particular form of punishment is acceptable or constitutes abuse. The conclusion is heavily dependent upon the facts (which we don’t have all of in this case) and usually it boils down to a judgment call.  We even see this play out in this example.  Here we see a difference in opinion between child protective services and law enforcement.  We live in a different time.  The paradigm has shifted significantly over the past couple decades and is in stark contrast to how parenting was done decades ago. The outcome here was harsh.  Parents should keep that in mind in today’s climate when deciding appropriate punishment for their children.”

Kaine Fisher, Rose Law Group partner and family law director

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