Single Mother Might Face Jail Time for Letting Her 14-Year-Old Babysit Her 4-year-old While She Went to Work

UPDATE: Melissa has received tremendous support – read it here.

This story is from Blairsville, Georgia, USA, and it’s been developing since 2020. It’s about a single mother who was put in handcuffs in front of her children because she let her 14-year-old daughter babysit her 4-year-old son while she had to leave for work.

Melissa Henderson is a mother of five from Blairsville. During May 2020, when COVID was at its peak and daycares were shut down, Melissa had to leave for work. She put her 14-year-old daughter, Linley, in charge of her 4-year-old brother, Thaddeus, while she was out.

Linley was getting online classes during that time, and she was studying when Thaddeus took a look outside the window and wanted to go out. Doing what a 4-year-old would do, he went out of the house without his sister noticing.

Around 10-15 minutes later, Linley noticed her brother was gone, and she went out to look for him. She found him in the neighbor’s house where Thaddues’ friend lives, and his friend’s mother called the police on Melissa for not being there for her child and leaving her 14-year-old daughter to take care of the little boy.

According to FOX News, police took notice of the incident and arrived at Melissa’s house two weeks after this incident had occurred. Five police cars parked outside her house and arrested Melissa in front of her children for criminal reckless conduct.

Melissa spoke to Reason Magazine about how it felt:

“I almost don’t have words for how low it made me feel,”

“To truly feel in the bottom of my heart that, if I’m anything, it’s a good mother and everything you do is for your kids. To be stripped of that to the point where you are handcuffed in front of them.”

They took her to Union County jail. She told Reason Magazine:

“I remember curling up in a ball in the corner and just wanting to hide,”

Melissa, traumatized and shocked, was later bailed out by her ex-husband. The charges she faces consist of one year in prison and a fine of $1000. Her case has been ongoing for the past two years, and her lawyer, David DeLugas, is defending this single mother.

According to David, the Georgia DFCS Guidelines state:

“Children thirteen years and older, who are at an adequate level of maturity, may be left alone and may perform the role of babysitter, as authorized by the parent, for up to twelve hours.”

David DeLugas has also started a GoFundMe campaign for the family, where they’re receiving massive support from all over the world. Davis is also the founder of ParentsUSA – which helps families fight such cases.

This is a developing story; we’ll keep you updated as things change. Meanwhile, you can donate to the cause by going to their GoFundMe here.

Share Your Thoughts

What are your thoughts on this single mother and the charges she’s facing? Talk to us in the comments below.


    1. This has got to be the stupides thing I have ever read and TWO weeks afterward. The laws in most states allow for a youngster between the ages of 14 and 13 to take care of their sibblings and also baby sit. What is this world come to when a single mother trying to provide for her children and not only that but during COVID too would be arrested, handcuffed and put in jail for being responsible! I have never been so angry to see anything in my life. She better not go to jail for this! This is beyond crazy!

  1. This is crazy! Lady should not be charged. Most teens babysit by 14 years old! Neighbor needs to mind her own business!!!
    I started babysitting when I was on only 11 years old. I bought my first pair of jeans from babysitting neighbors 3 kids. When I was 12, I was hired by family to babysit for to thier 4 kids! All under 7. They went out of the country for 5 days. I was 100% responsible for taking care of, bathing, cooking, walking to store with children and buying what was needed. I did not have younger siblings, but I understood responsibility, and I loved taking care of kids.

  2. A 14 year old young lady is more than capable in taking care of her younger siblings. This is ridiculous! The neighbor that called the police should be ashamed of herself! Instead of reporting her, she should have been helping out her neighbor.

  3. Blairsville cops arrive TWO WEEKS and FIVE CARS later, they have a dull day with nothing else to do, if such an arrestable offense and child in danger shouldn’t they been a little faster about going there? The neighbor is a real Georga peach also. They should be ashamed. I was babysitting 5 kids every day, all day during summer break at the age of 11. What is wrong with people today?

  4. The mother did nothing wrong. She didn’t do anything that the majority of us wouldn’t do. I was babysitting by the age of 14.
    I am so tired of the government putting their nose where it doesn’t belong🤨😡

  5. That neighbor is a jerk. Honest to God. I was babysitting for short periods of time when I was 12 back in the 70’s – I was perfectly capable. The little guy slipped out and went to his friend’s house. Too bad his mother isn’t a good friend. She would have offered help instead of calling the police and unleashing this uncalled-for mess in these good people’s lives. She should be ashamed of herself.

  6. When I was 14 I use to watch my siblings while my mom was working.
    This is terrible what they are doing to this mom. She is working to support her family and teaching her young children about being responsible at a young age.

  7. What in heavens name is going on?? Geez, I was babysitting at 12years ago. She should be capable of babysitting. Not to mention, the lady was going to work, not bar hopping. Get real.

  8. As a policy, a 14 year old is old enough to babysit. The problem is that she was distracted and the child left the home. That is the issue.

  9. I am a single mother of 3 girls. To think that anyone, let alone a neighbor, wants contribute their opinion when the world already has when it wasn’t warranted, is an absolute disgrace. This mother is trying to do everything she can for those kids. It says a lot when the ex bails you out. My 14 year old works, and is taxed. She cant watch a child? I have been watching kids since I was 9 years old. I couldn’t imagine what this poor family is going through. Shame on that neighbor.

  10. If this mother was arrested for allowing her 14 year old to babysit, then all mothers should face jail time who has or had their14 year olds work as babysitters. This is so ridiculous! As for the inconsiderate neighbor, it’s not hard to walk the child back to his house. Smdh!

  11. Prison! That’s a little excessive. 14 is old enough to know if your transgender or whatever but not babysitting? This works is screwed up! Should have patenting classes at the most!

  12. My heart broke for this family when I read this story. The COVID pandemic put many families into situations they never thought they would find themselves in. What is a parent supposed to do when daycare is shut down and they have to work to keep food on the table and a roof over their head for their children. I cannot even believe they arrested her and in front of her children. The situation was scary for everyone involved and I am sure the 14-year old daughter feels horrible right now. I think that was enough of a lesson.
    The mother doesn’t need to go to prison because she did nothing intentionally wrong.
    What has our society come to?

  13. this is just terrible. i have 4 kids and my oldest often had to take care of his brothers while i worked. the neighbor is a disgrace. i feel for this poor mother just trying to take care of her family, what if she was home and the same thing happened would the neighbor still call the cops? im thinking no. This mother certainly does not deserve to get into any trouble at laws were broken.

  14. Her as a mother knows what her children are capable of doing and what levels. Don’t punish a mother who has done nothing wrong. Even the best of parents have seconds where they misplace their children for a few seconds around the home/neighbours kids are fast and can’t be caged.
    Give this mum a break she’s done No Wrong

  15. After reading the article my thoughts on the subject. Completely ridiculous!!
    All that comes to mind right now.

    All charges need to be dropped immediately and the DA’s office needs their heads examined.
    My heart goes out to this mother and her family.

  16. This is some bull when there are some young ladies who are mothers at 14! Why is this an exception? It’s like they have made a case out of a non-case. Who does this? I babysit younger than this as I was responsible enough to watch my siblings. Of course a 14 is not an adult but this is bogus b/c I don’t see what law she broke (and it was during the pandemic when circumstances were strained). I am appalled.

  17. That is just some crazy a** shit right there. I don’t even know where to begin. I babysat younger than 14. What that mother was doing was something that I am sure all us mom’s in the same situation would do. Shoot, I was working a paper route 7 days a week and had myd olest daughter keep an eye on the kids at night. She really didn’t have to babysit cause it was in the middle of the night and the kids were sleeping anyway. Why she was arrested is beyond me and shame on that neighbor. I sure hope they just toss this case out cause it is a waste of time and money really.

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