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Child expert weighs in on controversial Portsmouth child neglect case

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Posted at 9:59 PM, Jul 18, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-18 21:59:09-04

Portsmouth mom Tamiko Jones could spend years in prison for locking her son outside of the home after he refused to listen to her orders to come inside after he got into an argument with neighborhood kids. 

Now, a Norfolk childhood education expert tells NewsChannel 3 she believes the mother had good intentions, but her methods were a little harsh.

"My heart goes out to [Tamiko Jones] because I believe [she] was trying so badly to teach [her] child an important lesson," said Dr. Katherine Kersey.  "But we don’t teach lessons by pushing children away. We teach lessons by bringing children into us."

Related: 

Portsmouth mom charged with neglect after locking son outside 

Sunday evening, Jones said her 8-year-old son wasn't being nice to some kids in their apartment complex.

"I said, 'Okay Derrick, you're acting rude. You need to go in the house,'" said Jones.  "So he took off. I said, 'Derrick, you need to get in the house now.' He kept running."

Jones and her husband have decided against spanking, so she chose to lock Derrick out of the home until 9:30 that night.  A few minutes shy of that deadline, Jones said Derrick knocked on the door.

"He said, 'Well, I urinated on myself,'" said Jones. "I ignored him because that determined what I was going to do. I was going to make him stay out for an additional hour so he can see that when you're told to come in the house, you need to come in the house."

An officer already on duty noticed Derrick and had Jones arrested.

NewsChannel 3 reached out to Portsmouth police about why they felt Jones needed to be charged with felony child neglect. They only responded by citing Virginia’s child neglect statute.  It reads, in part, "Any parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the care of a child under the age of 18 whose willful act or omission in the care of such child was so gross, wanton and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life shall be guilty of a class 6 felony."

"All of the charges are opposite of who I am," said Jones.

Jones will be back in court on August 6th.