RICHMOND, Va. -- Mug shots of Virginia mommies headline the news recently and police said their alleged crimes are against their own children. One Norfolk mom is accused of leaving her infant and five other children home alone while she volunteered at a school bingo event. Police said her 10-year-old child was left in charge of the family. Another mom was reportedly two states away while her eight-year-old son was left alone in their Suffolk home. The headlines have left many people shaking their heads.
Deon Wright, a Central Virginia father with children ages eight and 10, said he could not wrap his mind around it.
“I’m not here to pass judgment, but I don't think it's right. Now you’ve got to face the consequences,” Wright said.
Steve Neal spent more than three decades in law enforcement and has seen plenty of cases like these. He explained that there’s no law in Virginia that specifies what age a child can be left alone. He said it should be a heavy decision for parents to weigh.
“But if a parent decides to leave a young child, then law enforcement will have to assess whether or not it can take care of itself. Does the child have food or water? Is it in a safe environment? Is there a danger that there's a criminal that could be around to hurt him or her? If police believe the child is in need of services, then they're going to act and involve child protective services," Neal said.
In one of the Tidewater cases, a concerned neighbor called police. Wright believes it pays to have vigilant neighbors watching out for the children, and for criminals. He says there’s one on his block.
“She is always watching. She’s calling our house asking, 'Whose car is that? Should they be here? Can they move their car?' I love it because that’s what you need,” Wright added.
Neal agrees and hopes more neighbors will said something if they see something that’s not right, especially when it comes to children.