After making a common parenting joke, a mom faced a human trafficking investigation
Be careful with your Internet jokes, folks. After making a common parenting joke on Twitter, a Mississippi mom found herself in the hellish nightmare of a human trafficking investigation. That’s right, her innocent parenting joke triggered an actual human trafficking investigation.
Alex McDaniel is the Director of Content and Audience Development for Magnolia State Live, a digital news source in Mississippi. Like lots of parents, McDaniel said she’s been quoting her 3-year-old son on Twitter for a while now and cracking jokes about the madness that is parenthood.
“He says the sassiest, smartest, most ridiculous things when I least expect it, and it’s one of my favorite things about him (and parenting, in general),” she wrote on the website. “I’ve written about it a handful of times before and am always so tickled by how many people keep up with our mother-son adventures.”
After recently posting a conversation with her son that was both funny and frustrating (as most conversations with threenagers are), she followed up in the way many exasperated do — by making a funny joke about the trials and tribulations of parenting.
“3yo for sale. $12 OBO (or best offer),” she tweeted.
Seriously, what parent hasn’t, at one point, made a joke like this? Most parents get chuckles in response or a “me too” fist bump of solidarity. Because parenting is hard AF, y’all. Some days, the shit show that is parenting is so bad that humor is the only thing that keeps us sane. We have to laugh to keep from crying.
McDaniel’s joke wasn’t just met with Internet giggles, however; there was also a knock on the door a couple days later by Child Protection Services after an anonymous male tipster reported her for suspected child abuse and human trafficking. Umm…what?
McDaniel was told she needed to get her son out of school, so she retrieved him from preschool — during naptime no less! — so he could be interviewed by CPS.
After a brutal few days, the charges were ultimately dropped thanks to the help of a good attorney, but the impact of what happened isn’t over. Although McDaniel doesn’t blame CPS and acknowledged that they have a difficult job, she’s outraged someone with a personal vendetta against her could use this to harass her family. Though she has no proof, she doesn’t believe this was an innocent misunderstanding.
Twitter hit a new low for me this week and I'm not about to stay silent about it. Here's why. pic.twitter.com/PkknLD3WV1
— Alex McDaniel (@AlexMcDaniel) October 2, 2017
“What upsets me more is the idea of anyone using an agency designed to protect Mississippi’s most vulnerable children as a weapon to take someone down for no legitimate reason,” she said. “Time and resources that should have been spent on children and families who genuinely need it were instead dedicated to a tweet, and all because someone out there probably got bent out of shape that I don’t see the world the way he does.”
McDaniel questioned whether to share her story with the public, but ultimately decided to do so to help others who might be dealing with similar struggles.
“It is one thing to come after me, a grown adult woman who enthusiastically signed up for a career that comes with a large amount of exposure and criticism,” she wrote. “Coming after my son is utterly despicable.”
Despicable indeed. Because there’s nothing funny about using a CPS investigation to harass an innocent family.