Cory Widen, a mom in suburban Chicago, asked her daughter to take their puppy, Marshmallow, for a walk around the block. It’s a nice safe suburb, and Widen could see her daughter, Dorothy, for almost the entire route of the walk. No big deal, right? Apparently not for one of their nosy neighbors, who called the police to report child endangerment.
A local Fox station reported that the nosy neighbor’s bizarre overreaction caused a lot of stress for the family. Walking the dog is a completely normal activity for a child of that age. “We did something that was perfectly normal on the North Shore and in parenting and I still got investigated by DCFS,” Widen said.
Whenever a call like reporting child endangerment comes in, understandably, it has to be investigated. So, when the police were called, it ended in a Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) investigation. “They found it unfounded, but it took a lot to get to that point,” Widen said. The question is- why were the police called at all?
Dorothy was frightened to answer the door after her walk and find the police there. “It really scared her to open the door and see the police there,” Widen said. Dorothy added “I was like really scared. I saw the police just there, like the police’s car and I heard the like sirens going off.”
Neighbors agree that whoever made the call went too far. “Most of us made the comment that if somebody had a concern, that the proper thing would have been to knock on her door and say something to her directly,” said neighbor Jim Eisenmann.
What happened to communities? What happened to people looking out for each other (and each other’s kids) and talking to each other if they had a concern? Why go directly to the police instead? How can anyone think that’s appropriate behavior? Shouldn’t we celebrate the fact that, not only is this child getting some fresh air, exercise, and responsibility, she actually likes it? Instead, these neighbors have made it so other parents will be extremely wary to do the same. Fortunately, the Widens aren’t deterred.
Who is going to walk Marshmallow in the future? Dorothy wants to keep doing it herself.