Mom left 5-year-old home alone because girl was playing PlayStation

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HENRICO COUNTY, Va. - A Henrico mother is facing charges after police said she left her 5-year-old daughter unattended last week.

Tonyetta Harris was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, which is a misdemeanor.

The mother of four talked to CBS 6's Chelsea Rarrick on Tuesday to share her side of the story. She said she was home with her daughter when she ran out to get dinner down the street. She said she was only gone for about 20 minutes.

"She was playing her PlayStation 3, I asked her if she wanted to come and she was like, 'No, I'm playing the game,'" Harris said.

She said she told her daughter that if she needed anything or if anything were to happen, that her cousins were home just two doors down.

But while Harris was gone, Henrico police said that an adult reported seeing Harris' daughter outside with no supervision for around 30 minutes.

CBS 6 legal expert Todd Stone said there can be grey areas with these kinds of incidents.

"The law in Virginia doesn't specify an age when it comes to leaving a child home alone, but it's really about reasonableness and what's appropriate under the circumstances," Stone said.

Harris said she wants people to know that she is a good mother and cares about her children. However, she said this incident does serve as a learning lesson.


    • Kimmy

      Maybe he was AT WORK…….. on a fishing trip ……….. out of town ………. deceased …………… doesn’t live there ………in the hospital ………… people need to quit being so judgmental.

      • MamaBear

        Leaving a 5-year-old alone is not okay. There is no excuse…none! I don’t care how good of a person her friends say she is. A mother is supposed to protect her children. What would her friends say if the little one had died from an accident, was kidnapped and found dead, or the home had caught fire, or someone broke in and raped and murdered her. She is a bad parent period. Heck my kids are grown and I still worry about them. My grandchildren are ages 13 to 7 and none of them are left alone. She is lucky nothing bad happened. She is lucky all she has to deal with is criticism. She gives the impression that she has not learned a valuable lesson…children are a blessing and she is responsible for them!

      • Kimmy

        mamabear….you obviously replied to the wrong post because what you’re saying in response to my comment does not coincide…

    • Becky Blanchard

      What a stupid,ignorant thing to say,Becky. You don’t know her or her situation. For all you know her husband could be at work or out with friends.Or she could be divorced or widowed,or in a long term relationship.

    • SMH

      Becky I normally think of you as a bitter woman who lost her man or job promotion to a black woman or maybe yo mom liked the black caregiver better than she liked you. Whatever the reason you’re so bitter, I liked your analogy above. Kudos!

  • KG

    Since when does a mother ask a five year old if they want to come? That’s the whole problem; children tell the parents what they are going to do. Children no longer respect adults because they aren’t taught at home, just so long as they
    aren’t bothering the so called parent.

  • Becky

    Oh, please. Stop the Media Huff and Puff, then Fluff Over.
    Don’t know why Police try to Enforce Laws, when the courts don’t.

  • KB

    5 years old is way too young to be left home alone. under any circumstance. they do not have the capability to make decisions about who should be let in a house or other dangerous situations.
    i don’t know this mother and she may be a great mother that may a poor decision, but people need to think. There are bad people in this world and they are waiting for opportunities like this to take advantage of.
    Virginia law is unclear about age, but it does say that there needs to be a certain level of maturity to be left at home alone.

  • Belsma

    No way in heck a five year old should be left alone and no way that child should be making decisions for herself to be left home alone because she was playing a game. I am not a perfect mother by far because I am still learning the ropes and will be for the rest of my life, but I have some common sense.

  • Cindy P.

    Virginia law does NOT state age requirement on when a child can be left home alone. In this day of age I have seen five year olds way more advance then some twelve year olds. It also said her cousin was two doors down. For all we know the child could have been going back and forth between houses. But what concern me is, if there is no law against what she did, how can the mom be charge with a crime she didn’t commit? What if the neighborhood was a middle/upper class housing development? Did anyone even bother to ask the child if she had family or relatives near by? It seem to me the mom is being prosecuted on personal feelings. I have a seven year old and eleven year old and my seven year old is way more behave and responsible than my eleven. the question that need to be ask is did the mom commit a crime? And from what the legal representative said, she didn’t.

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