‘I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong.” Mom arrested for allowing 7-year-old son to walk to park alone

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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — A Florida mother is facing a child neglect charge after she allowed her son to walk to a local park alone.

“I’m totally dumbfounded by this whole situation,” said Nicole Gainey, who on Sunday gave her son Dominic permission to walk from their house to Sportsman Park. “I honestly didn’t think I was doing anything wrong, I was letting him go play.”

The park is one-half mile from their home, about a 10- to 15-minute walk. Along the way, the 7-year-old passed a public pool and someone asked him where his mother was.

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

The boy was playing when Port St. Lucie Police pulled up.

“They said where does your mom live?” he said.

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

“My own bondsman said my parents would have been in jail every day,” she said.

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,” Gainey said.

But Gainey says she believes Dominic is mature enough to go to the park alone during the day. She adds he always has a cellphone, which she calls to check on him.

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.


  • Ron Melancon

    Let’s see illegals let their kids travel all across Mexico all by themselves and nobody gets arrested. Send a legal American does the same thing on a smaller scale and she gets arrested. Something is wrong

  • Robbie

    It is sad that a child is not safe to play alone on a playground without fear of harm. To not be able to walk alone to the store to buy a pack of baseball cards or a soda. These are the things I did when I was a child. What a terrible world we live in today.

  • Krock

    I agree Robbie. It was no big deal in ’78 when I was his age to walk to the store 5 blocks away to get stuff for mom for dinner. AND get .50 for candy too for going! And your neighbors (who knew who you were) kept that invisible eye on you the whole time.

    • Angela

      Did you see what you just said?? In the 70’s!! The world was safer. Today it’s not and there are a lot more sick individuals out there. Parents need to watch their kids. 7yrs old is absolutely not mature enough to make any decision.

    • Stephen

      There are NOT more sick individuals out there today than there were in the 70s. You just HEAR about them more thanks to 24/7 news media and social media. People haven’t really changed – there have always been pedophiles and murderers around us. We just see them more often and more easily now, which apparently is the key to freaking everyone out.

  • Reasonable Man

    So this begs the question……what age of a child can you let them walk to a neighborhood location alone without fear of being arrested?

  • Edward Pope (@RFRStormer)

    I agree with Robbie as well. When I was a child, walking several miles to a store to pick up something was not unusual. And I certainly was never stopped by anyone expressing concern. I had friends who knew me along the route and I would often talk with them, and then when I arrived at the store I would talk with the Sales Lady as well. It was no big deal. I am waiting for the day that when we send our children to the bathroom by themselves, that we will be arrested as well. The rate that we are going in this society, this is going to happen at some point.

    We need to step back and figure out what is really bad and should be allowed. Right now, we have people who are just reacting to issues in society and taking their reactions too far.

  • Nina

    Now if she KILLED her son in Florida, she’d be acquitted. What is wrong with the State of Florida? When did it become illegal to allow your child to walk anywhere alone?

  • Belsma

    Wow! My parents would probably just be getting out of jail now if that used to be the case! (70’s child myself as well). But, the times, they are a changin’. I would not let my kids do it, but that was by my choice because I am paranoid about the “boogie man”, not because I thought I would get arrested.

  • Mary Lou

    Who the hell lets a seven year old walk to a park alone? In this day you can’t because of perverts out there. If he was kidnapped and killed, she would be truly heartbroken n living with guilt I would think. I have two grandchildren almost 5 n 6 yrs. old n they are never allowed to play outside without supervision!

    • Carl

      It depends where you live. Sounds like you live in the ghetto. My kids walked home from school in K-5 just a few years ago and somehow they survived. A man was just recently walking with his daughter on a beach and they were killed by a plane. You can’t protect them every minute. If that girl had been alone in a park she wouldn’t have been killed by the plane that day. You might be causing them more harm then good.

      • robin

        sounds like you live in the ghetto? are you serious? most kidnapping happens in the suburbs and rural areas. Not in the “ghetto”!

  • Bob

    Welcome to Florida. The mom could have gone to the park and shot someone because he looked at her kid and the police would have been happy.

  • Carl

    Port St Lucie’s new motto: Your kids are not safe here. Or better yet: We stop crime by arresting law-abiding citizens before they become victims of a crime. Its the latest police invention.

  • Mika Newton


  • Blackbeered

    Hopefully, this story is fake.

    At age 7, I got my first paper route [I grew up in a very large metro area, you could call me an ‘inner city kid’]. I got up at 4:45 am, rode the first bus of the day to the dealer who loaded me up with 35 papers and I walked my route [2.5 miles] back home, got ready for school, walked to school and was at my desk at 7:30 am. After school, it was a similar routine for the afternoon papers; and then there was Saturday and Sunday.

    And, no, my mother didn’t come with me.

    I earned ~ $7/week plus another $10 in tips [mostly from selling papers at two churches from 6 am to 12 p].

    Another wonder why the typical 15-yr old today has trouble counting change, is obese?

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