A single mother in South Carolina was recently arrested, causing her nine-year-old to be taken into protective custody. Why? It was discovered that the mom allowed her daughter to play at the local playground for hours...alone.

Local news station WJBF reported that 46-year-old Debra Harrell — who works full-time at a North Augusta McDonald’s — decided it would be better to let her daughter play at a park about a mile and a half away from her work, than to have the child sit in the fast food restaurant all day.

Witnesses told the authorities that the mother had left her daughter alone at the park for hours at a time on more than one occasion. Lesa Lamback, a mother who frequents the park with her family, told WJBF, “I understand the mom may have been in a difficult situation, not having someone to watch the child, but at the same time, you've got to find somebody.”

Earlier in the summer, Debra’s daughter would accompany her to work and play quietly on a laptop, until the family home was robbed and the laptop stolen. When her daughter complained of being cooped up in McDonald’s all day with nothing to do, the mom started dropping her at the park with a cell phone.


On the third day of playing at the park, a witness asked the child where her parents were, and promptly called the police when she found out the mother was working. Authorities even stated that the little girl was essentially “abandoned.”

Debra is currently in custody and being charged with Unlawful Conduct Toward a Child. As for her daughter, she in now in the care of the Department of Social Services and will be put into foster care.

Do you think the mother should have been arrested? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

Sources: WJBFThe Atlantic