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Single Working Mom Faces Prison After Leaving 14-Year-Old Daughter To Babysit Kids When Daycare Closed

Photo: GoFundMe / Facebook
Melissa Henderson and her kids

Melissa Henderson, a single working mother of five from Georgia is facing possible prison time after letting her 14-year-old daughter, Linley, babysit her younger children.

Back in May 2020, when Henderson went back to work, she left her eldest daughter, Linley, alone to babysit her younger children. 

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, daycare centers and schools were shut down. At the time, Henderson had no other option but to leave her younger children in the care of the eldest.

However, Melissa Henderson was later arrested for leaving her children home alone.

During the time Linley was watching the kids, her 4-year-old brother, Thaddeus slipped out of her sight and left the house when he saw his friend outside. 

Linley noticed this and searched around for Thaddeus for 10-15 minutes before finding him at their neighbor’s house, playing with his friend. 

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Soon, the neighbors called the police and told them about the mother’s reckless behavior of leaving the kids alone.

Henderson returned home and explained her situation to the police. At the time, nothing seemed out of the ordinary as the police took her statement and left. However, they came back two weeks later and arrested her in front of her children.

"They handcuffed me, drove me to jail, booked me, had me put in a cell. It was awful. It was embarrassing," says the distraught mother.

Henderson was charged with criminal reckless conduct 

She was later bailed out by her ex-husband, however, the case is still ongoing.

Melisaa Henderson could face a year in prison.

If she is charged, she could end up facing a year of jail time along with a $1,000 fine.

David DeLugas, the attorney on the case, brought up a case from 1997 where a similar situation occurred.

A mother had let her 11-year-old child babysit her younger child, who died in an accident. However, the court stated that what the mother did was take a parenting decision and charging her for that isn't fair.

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He also mentions that Georgia’s child policy states that children 13 years and older can babysit younger kids with the consent of their parents. So DeLugas hopes that the charges against Henderson won't stick.

He also mentioned that Thaddeus had been found outside of his home before as well. 

Many have shown their support for Melissa Henderson and deemed the charge unfair.

Henderson mentions that Linley has ADHD, however, she is a responsible student with a GPA of 4.45 and is certified in CPR.   

Some people even tweeted about this on Twitter claiming how unfair the mother’s arrest was.

Knowing her daughter, Henderson felt comfortable and assured with leaving her in charge of her younger kids. However, this situation has changed everything as she no longer feels comfortable with leaving the kids home alone.

DeLugas mentioned, "It has such a chilling effect where now Melissa is afraid she can never leave her children home alone, even for a short period of time, even with the now 15-year-old daughter in charge of the other kids, because she could get arrested again,"

Henderson's brother has set up a GoFundMe page to support Henderson and her family in this difficult time.    

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Sanika Nalgirkar, M.F.A. is a writer who covers entertainment & news, lifestyle, and pop culture topics.