The time has come to rethink sleepovers


What kid doesn’t love a sleepover?

Whether it’s a slumber party to celebrate a birthday, the whim of best buddies who already spent a full day together at the pool, or even a night away with Grandma and Grandpa, sleepovers are staple of childhood.

But as my children grow up, I’m becoming wary of this youthful tradition, especially as my 12-year-old daughter meets new friends in middle school.

I have no reason to distrust her new friends or their families, but I also have to reason to trust them. I simply don’t know them, so I see no reason to put the welfare of my daughter in their care for an overnight excursion.

Even if we ask her new friends’ parents the basic questions about pets, siblings, adults in the house, movie ratings, guns, alcohol, among many others, we still wouldn’t know them. We would only know how they answered our questions.

We might as well allow our daughter to sleep over at the house of a girl she just met at the beach and with whom she spent the day building sandcastles. Good idea! 👍 👍

I’m growing just as wary of hosting sleepovers. I know I would never touch nor harm a child, but what’s stopping a misguided adolescent from claiming I did, even months or years after we hosted a sleepover? Nothing.

What defense could I mount? None.

I would deny it, of course, but if an adolescent girl claims to police that I did something to her during a sleepover at my house, they would knock on my door loaded with questions.

Who are they going to believe? A teenage girl who claims to be a victim of sexual abuse or the 45-year-old man at whom she’s pointing her finger?

I like to think police would believe me, especially since there would be no evidence of a crime that did not occur, but I don’t have that much faith in our criminal justice system.

In fact, I know of someone who is going through this exact scenario. A jury hasn’t heard his case, so no judgment has been handed down, but his life is ruined because a girl claims he touched her inappropriately during a sleepover with his daughter in his house several years ago.

Yes, the time has come to rethink the childhood staple of sleepovers.

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2 Responses to The time has come to rethink sleepovers

  1. Marsha Yahner says:

    It is sad to say, but this situation happens more often than people realize. I also know of a situation where this has happened.

  2. William Wallace says:

    There are more and more cases in which the defendant is being found guilty with pure circumstantial evidence. They may not have even had representation in the first place. Our judicial system is overflowing with “claims” of injustice to the point that defendants are frequently pushed into accepting a plea because they can’t afford a private attorney and the public defense system is way underfunded and therefore understaffed. Judges present defendant’s with an option of 18 months in jail if they agree to the plea without representation or the possibility of facing a ten year “Mandatory Minimum Sentence” if they wait for representation and due process.

    As a result, our society has successfully created a “business” out of the American judicial system. Many prisons and extraneous legal services have been privatized. That means private corporations have established contracts to manage such services. We all know private businesses are interested in one thing – the bottom line. Bigger profits come at the expense of Due Process, lack of care, services, rehabilitation, etc. for people of limited financial resources who cross paths with the law for whatever reason. These contracts often carry a minimum occupancy requirements. For example, should the criminal justice system be successful in rehabiliting criminals and prison occupancy fall below 90 percent they could have a contract requiring payment at 93 percent at all times. We, as a nation, are creating a subculture of people who have no future. Ex-cons can’t secure jobs because every employer (it seems) now conducts a criminal background check and they all want to avoide the potential for trouble in their business. Without a job, ex-cons have no financial resources. Without financial resources they slip back into a life of crime. I think it is time that the citizens of this country ask, “What is the end game?” Will just keep expanding our prison system? Will we repeat history and establish a penal colony?

    “Since 2002, the United States has had the highest incarceration rate in the world. Although prison populations are increasing in some parts of the world, the natural rate of incarceration for countries comparable to the United States tends to stay around 100 prisoners per 100,000 population. The U.S. rate is 500 prisoners per 100,000 residents, or about 1.6 million prisoners in 2010, according to the latest available data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).”1

    Read more about these issues and more at

    1Paul Guerino, Paige M. Harrison, and William J. Sabol, Prisoners in 2010 (Revised) (Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2011); and Sara Wakefield and Christopher Uggen, “Incarceration and Stratification,” Annual Review of Sociology 36 (2010): 387-206.

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