Melissa Henderson, who is a Georgia single mother of five, is facing a year in prison and a $1,000 fine after she left her children under the care of her oldest child, age 14, while she went to work amid the pandemic. Some people are calling her decision “reckless” while others are defending the mother’s actions.
Henderson said despite facing prison time, she will not accept a plea deal: “I’m just gonna take each day as it comes because you can’t let things weigh on you like that. … I don’t feel that I did anything wrong.” Henderson’s attorney says her case should be dismissed due to Georgia’s own child protection guidelines, which states children 13 years and older can take on the responsibility of babysitting. Henderson was left with very few options for child care when her children’s nursery was shut down in May 2020 due to the pandemic. In order to go to work, she decided to leave her daughter Linley in charge of her other siblings. Linley was participating in remote learning when her 4-year-old brother Thaddeus slipped out of the house and went to his friend’s house down the street. About 10 to 15 minutes later, Linley noticed that her brother was gone, but quickly found him at the friend’s house. The mother of the friend called the police to report the incident and Henderson was arrested two weeks later. She has been charged with criminal reckless conduct.
To pay for Henderson’s legal expenses, a GoFundMe has been set up for her. The account so far has raised over $46,000.
Someone on Twitter wrote: “COVID was going on. No sitter was available. America doesn’t provide protection for mothers that have to work. The oldest has a 4.4GPA and is First Aid / CPR trained. Why was the mother jailed?”