SANTA ANA ( — A Santa Ana woman accused of wrapping a chain around her 10-year-old son’s ankles to prevent him from leaving home while she was at work pleaded not guilty to child abuse Monday.

Irma Jacobo Navarro, 37, was charged with felony and misdemeanor child abuse and endangerment after police found her son lying in the courtyard of his family’s apartment complex Friday with his ankles in padlocked chains.

Police removed the chain with bolt cutters. An officer noticed redness and slight bruising around the boy’s ankles. He also complained of pain in both of his legs.

Navarro, a single mother who reportedly works as a janitor, told police she was struggling to discipline her son. She said he had started to leave the home and not return until 9p.m. or later, and she feared he would become involved with the wrong crowd.

“By all accounts she’s a good, caring mom, but she has a 10-year-old with discipline problems and, unfortunately, as sympathetic as we are to a discipline problem the answer is not to commit a criminal act,” Santa Ana police Cpt. Anthony Bertagna said Friday.

“What if he was cooking and there was a fire, then it becomes a tragic event and the child dies?”

Navarro told police she had left her son at home with a video game Friday, but the boy grew “frustrated” and tried to leave.

All three of Navarro’s children were taken into protective custody Friday. Her youngest child is cared for by a babysitter and her oldest is a teenager who attends school. It was unclear why the 10-year-old was not in school.

Navarro was released on her own recognizance with an ankle bracelet to monitor her movements. She is due to return to court July 30.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

Watch & Listen LIVE