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Mom Jailed For Leaving 9-Year-Old Daughter at a Nearby Park While She Worked

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Debra Harrell has been charged with unlawful conduct toward a child.

Debra Harrell

Reported by April V. Taylor

ABC 6 is reporting that Debra Harrell has been charged with unlawful conduct toward a child for letting her 9-year-old daughter play in a park while she was at work at a McDonald’s nearby.  The child was discovered by an adult at the Summerfield Park in North Augusta, South Carolina.  The adult asked the girl where her mother was, and police were called after the child revealed that her mother was a work.

Harrell is being charged despite the fact that Reason Magazine is reporting that she had provided her daughter with a cellphone and that she was to eat lunch at Harrell’s workplace.  Harrell reports that her daughter usually came to work with her and occupied herself playing on the family laptop.  The laptop was recently stolen, so Harrell’s daughter asked to be allowed to play in the park.  The girl was not harmed during her time at the park, but she has been removed from Harrell’s care and placed in protective custody with the Department of Social Services.

Lesa Lamback, a local resident whose family frequents the park, stated to ABC6, “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.”  Tonya Cullum, who works at Sara’s Childcare and Preschool, stated to ABC6 that some parents see the park, “as a babysitter.”  She also mentioned that attendance at the daycare declines during the summer months due to parents not being able to afford to keep children in daycare when school is out.  Regarding Harrell’s daughter being allowed to play alone at the park, she states, “What if a man would have come and just snatched her because you have all kinds of trucks that come up in here so you really don’t know.”