Have you seen the article going around about the 3 moms whose lives were derailed because they had left their children/babies alone in the car for a few minutes? It seems to be popping up everywhere as it’s written from the perspective of one of those moms. The moms who were just going to be inside the store for a minute. Who left a child in the car to sleep when a good Samaritan called the cops to report it.
So many issues here. So many choices, some good and some bad.
The end point of the article seemed to be that the person calling the cops was in the wrong for doing so. That the cops were wrong for arresting. They every one else was wrong except the mother who left her baby in the car.
And I just can’t…
My heart breaks for these moms. A temporary lapse in judgement and they are facing criminal charges (because yes, it’s against the law in their states to leave your kid in the car).
But at the same time, I hate that this has become a viral news story.
I am all for supporting moms.
I will be the first to say that though we all parent differently, there is usually a lot more that unites us, than divides.
I love having those moments of supporting another mom, even when our choices are different.
But this isn’t about the moms. This isn’t about bullying or attacking another person’s parenting.
This is about the child.
Children must always come first. And when we see children in danger it is our job to speak up. To do something about it. If that looks like you standing next to the car for a few minutes before deciding to make a phone call, then do it. If that means going inside a store and having some one paged. Or if that looks like calling the police.
Sometimes the police may be called unnecessarily, but you know what? As officers of the law, they should be able to work that out pretty quickly if they are. Sometimes CPS might be required to do some checking. That’s okay. I would much rather CPS be called on a good mom every once in awhile, then for people to stay silent while babies die and children are abused.
In less than 5 months of 2014 twenty kids died because they were left in cars. Twenty. Kids. Died. In most cases, these were good parents, forgetting their kids, or leaving them in the car for “just a minute”. It makes you wonder…how many bi-standers walked by, saw the child and didn’t say anything because they had compassion for the parent who might be having a rough day. They figured the kid would be fine, and the mother would be right back. When in reality the child was long forgotten and life was lost that day. (See the stats on child deaths in cars from 1998-2015 here)
I can all but guarantee you there are 20 sets of parents out there who would give anything for the cops to have been called on them that day. To be facing criminal charges instead of funeral arrangements.
So while our hearts hurt for these moms whose lives may have been derailed, don’t let it keep you from speaking up. From standing with a child who may be in harms way. In cases of abuse, in cases of neglect, and sure in cases where you just aren’t sure. Approach the parent, stand by the car, or if there is no parent around, by all means call the police. Compassion and grace for another parent can never be more important than a child’s safety.
It could save a life. It could rescue a child from years of horrific abuse. As adults, it is our job to look out for the safety of those around us who are unable to speak for themselves. To care for children and love a strangers child enough to speak up, even if it’s awkward.
It’s not about judging another parent, or calling them horrible. It’s about making sure no young lives are needlessly lost in hot cars or to the hands of an abuser. It can even be about stepping in and asking that mom how you can help, because maybe she is in a tough spot and just needed some one to help her. Be that person, but don’t do nothing.
I agree. Plus, I watched an Oprah episode over the summer the broke my heart. A mom ran inside of a store (she was parked right in front of the door) to grab a drink and her 6 year old son was in the back seat. In a split second, her car was stollen, with the child in the seat. She ran out & tried to grab him, but couldn’t and instead pulled him down (trying to pull him out) and he head hit the street over & over as the driver sped down the highway. Onlookers said that he ‘looked like a rag doll’. That mom has said that she would do it all over again. I can’t even fathom that feeling, but I would certainly want the police to be called either as a reminder or as a wake-up moment because if I forgot or did it on purpose, the end result needs to be the same: a safe child.
I watched that one as well and that story haunts me! Nightmares!
One child abducted, twenty five died of heatstroke, and 9,000/year killed in car crashes. Nine Thousand. Fight a different battle people. If the car looks hot and the child looks like they’re literally in danger or distress, sure call 911. Otherwise just sit outside the car for a while and realize that the greatest danger to this family is the uprooting of children by fear mongers. Have you seen the foster system lately? It’s not pretty. Abuse, rape, neglect, seriously?? This is a better option than a busy mom who’s left her occupied child for a few minutes while she’s just a few hundred feet away??
Calling the police for a mom going in for five minutes is not the answer. I don’t think any of you have a clue as to what kind if damage that actually does to a family. If your the person who wants to. All, use common sense. If it’s within reason than just be there to help that parent and let them know the concern. Call if the kids in trouble or the parents been gone too long. But use common sense. This knee jerk reaction of calling the cops is doing harm to families. That’s the problem with our world, lack of empathy and common sense. Be a decent person. a mom who runs in to get an ingredient to make her family, and her kids passed out cold, she could get arrested right there. And please people, grow a pair before thinking calling the cos makes you a hero or Good Samaritan in these cases. It doesn’t. Again, just help the mom or dad out, because clearly they need it.
Perhaps you missed the portions of my post that recommend standing by the vehicle for a few moments or going in to page the mother as two excellent first options?
For a variety of reasons those may not always be an option, so I also stand by the option to call the police. To me, that is the most empathetic thing to do if the other two don’t work. It’s also the option with the most common sense, rather than letting a child needlessly suffer and die in a locked vehicle.
And what if that car is locked. Car running (remote started) with at going full blast, in shade, near entry of a busy store. A responsible 8 year old whos no t going to drive off or get of the car and run around. And windows still cracked enough to get fresh air but not enough that someone could reach in. All this whil a parent runs in for less than five minutes to get something for their kid.
A real situation.
Would you seriously call the cops than?
Why does it go to the extreme of a kids going to die.
I’m an 80s kid. My parents did it. My wife’s parents did it. My friends parents did it. We’re all here today. We survived. Our kids will survive five minutes in a car within reasonable circumstances. But that’s what I’m saying with common sense.
People love to just automatically go to call the cops. Your article says call the cops anyways. So because of your fears you think it’s ok to come into a strangers life a possibly flip theirs and their child’s world upside down by calling the cops? Even though the kid wasn’t in actual risk?
Seriously, there’s just as much risk taking a kid into a store fir five minutes. Could be hit by a car in the parking lot by some moron. It happens. Or your distracted for two seconds and your kid runs off intje store. Is kid napped by a stranger. That happens too.
This is insane to me that people think they have a right to judge a parents ability to take care of their child based on irrational fear. And you could ruin this person when they could be mom or dad of the year.
this automatic response to call cops rather than taking a few minutes to consider the context and circumstances is dangerous. It makes parents afraid to be imperfect parents.
i agree that there’s going to be times where help is needed imideiately. But again. The second you see a kid in a car don’t go straight to call cops and get them arrested. I’m sorry but your article does kind of lack common senses.
AC on, not at
Rob, we are talking about very different situations. Leaving an eight year old in a car with windows cracked is not only legal, but obviously not cause for concern. The mothers who got in trouble and had the cops called on them had toddlers in a car with no air flowing. Personal opinions about what is *more* dangerous aside, its illegal. Multiple kids have already died this year from being left in a car unnatended. These are not 10 year olds with the windows rolled down. These are kids that were forgotten by REALLY good parents. Parents that I am confident would have wanted passers by to do literally anything to help them get their child to safety instead of burrying their toddlers. Those are real life cases too.
I also never said “call the cops the second you see a child in a car”. If you are going to bash me for a lack of common sense, please read the article more carefully first. You seem to be missing the majority of the points that I made while harping on one or two of them.
I’ve read your article. There are very good points that I agree with. But the title also says a lot about your message. Call the police anyways.
I’m not trying to attack but I am pretty frustrated with some of the message and I’m directing my comments to all readers. Not directly at you.
This situation happened to me. I returned to my car to find my son balling his eyes out with the look of shear terror on his face, not because of a predator trying to get him but because of a so called “Good Samaritan”. Police didnt see any harm or risk. They even told me the man who called, another parent, had”issues”. However, I was told they do have to still report it to CPS and to expect a call soon. I to god my situation may not be so drastic. But it could’ve been really bad. It could still be bad. Because of that idea of call the police anyways, this may do some serious harm to my family when I know I’m a loving and really good dad. And that’s what I’m saying is that like this guy some people will just knee jerk reaction call the cops. It’s that part of the message that really scares me and I find is dangerous.
Like I said, there are things I agree with and of course saving a kids life is the number one thing. Yes those parents would’ve wanted someone to do something. But I also bet that people didn’t actually see these kids. The ones who died. It was just really tragic and unfortunate. I doubt people would see a kid in a sweltering hot car and just ignore it. But like I said, context. This article can reach millions of people and Unfortunately i bet people will take this message out of context because they lack common sense. And that is what I experienced personally. And it’s been a tremendous eye opener. I will never forget the lesson I learned. I’m more afraid now of other parents. It’s sad.
At the Dr’s near my work I saw a boy, about 6, strapped into the front seat of a car. Left on his own. To make matters worse, it was a convertible, with the roof DOWN!!! I didn’t do anything, but I’m wondering if I should have.. I feel awful now. There was a lady sat in the car next to him,I am hoping she,stayed there till the parent got back. I was shocked!! Who would do such a thing! I admit I have left my son in the car at petrol stations when he was a baby, but I
always locked the car and was never out of eye sight. But now I know that was wrong of me. sorry son xxxx
While I understand your line of thinking, do you realize the severity of what youre suggesting? CPS involvement is no laughing matter. Why not encourage your readers to stand by for a few minutes first, and make sure of the situation before involving the authorities? To urge the police called immediately is to deepen the distrust between parents, as everyone reaches for 911 instead of the neighborly approach of being the true good samaritan and watching over the child a minute or two and possibly looking for help first.
I do realize the severity of it. I have been in a home where CPS was called as a child (it was a two family home), and while it was a stressful time every one ended up being fine and there were no long term negative affects because every one was in the clear in that family that lived with us at the time.
I have ALSO been on the receiving end of years of abuse, where no one spoke up even though many suspected. Sure, standing by the car is a valid option too. My point here is that we should not be afraid to speak up for children for worry of offending another adult. A child’s safety must always come first. Already that is not the case in countless situations and I feel like articles such as the one linked above only do more to discourage people from speaking out and helping children that are in unsafe situations be it kids left in a car or kids in an abusive home where no one (friend or stranger) said anything for fear of upsetting some one.
True. But if you read that article you know that in one mother’s case, a woman stood by, filmed the mother leaving, AND RETURNING, within a few moments, and then sent the video to the police. That looked like vindictiveness to me, police called just to make a point.
Someone called CPS on my family once. It was a false allegation made by a vindictive neighbor who didn’t like that the neighborhood kids whose parents were at work would play outside my apartment while I watched them. The case was closed. However, my husband was undergoing a background investigation for a new career he was pursuing, and just the fact that CPS was called was enough to cost him the job and any future in that field. Every time he interviewed after that he had to explain why he was denied the first time and it always came back to that CPS call. So no, it isn’t harmless to call CPS on a decent family, it cause trauma to the children and parents. The system is broken. It’s better than nothing and I have called myself after very carefully watching a parent over an extended time, but not something to do flippantly, without an awareness of the potential consequences.
Right! Let’s call the police on criminals! Not on busy, hard working moms. For clarification, criminals pull guns or knives on people with intent for harm, they steal things of value, they hurt people purposefully. Moms are not criminals.
Agree! Thank You for the voice of reason.
I agree. Yes, we most definitely need to do everything we can to keep our children safe first and foremost, but that article sounded like vindictiveness to me as well. In my opinion, calling the police should be a last resort. Stay with the child. Go inside and page the parent. Tell them about your concerns. And if you suspect abuse or apathy, THEN call the police (you have plenty of time to write down the license number in this case).
Compassion for parents AND, most importantly, protectiveness for kids can go hand-in-hand if we take the time to do what is right and not just what is momentarily convenient for us.
Right on! If you feel you must meddle, than meddle personally – don’t hide behind “the cops” or “CPS”.
I agree with this. I think people are really clueslless to the damage it causes, especially when cops is involved. I’ve met parents that I thought were not good parents, and I felt sorry for their kids. Some days I felt like I wanted to just to make a point for the parent to try harder. But I didn’t because there was no actual abuse, no real danger for the kid. You don’t do that. It could actually ruin that person, ruin the kid. Who knows, a parent may even commit suocide over it. I’m sure it’s happened. I think these people who go to automatically call police are not very intelligent. It’s so easy to just see a moment of imperfection and assume that parent isn’t fit to have kids when they could possibly be better parents than you.
People like the person who wrote this article are not too bright. And my not exactly be ther heros tney like to think tney are. They can make that call and move onwith their lives, having no idea what they’ve just put that family through so they can pat themselves on the back and brag to their friends how amazing they are.
It’s very fortunate for you that there were not lasting consequences from the CPS call made on your home but that is rarely the case, even in safe and loving homes. These are not cases where children were left in the heat or cold, and frankly if you think the authorities are going to be fair in their judgments you are clearly not very up to date on police behaviors of late. Beyond that, and forgive me (I haven’t yet finished my coffee so I am a bit rambly) why don’t you compare the number of children’s deaths in foster care with those of being left in cars. You might re-think your false claim that “it’s for the kids safety” that you make said calls. People who make calls like that without so much as investigating the situation or talking to the parents are just insecure dolts looking for a way to feel superior. bahh! rant over.
Right, and ditto on the foster care. While there are some beautiful people foster parenting, I have a number of friends who grew up in the foster care system, and they’ve ALL been raped, beaten, and have had no possessions to call their own, let alone experienced any love at all. It’s crazy to think the foster care system is preferable over being left alone for ten minutes.
Suburban Snapshots says
I think what these unjustified CPS cases prove is that no one is afraid to stand up for children. The children who have died in hot cars were not seen by other people, it wasn’t a matter of someone ignoring a child in a hot car for fear of offending anyone. They were tragic accidents with no witnesses.
I also disagree that leaving a child in a car while one runs in to pay for gas or grab a coffee in clear view of their vehicle is making using “bad judgement.” Next we’ll be asked to wear our children while we pump the gas too.
I get where your heart is, but I think you’re overreaching on this one.
I agree with you! Definitely wait by the car with child instead of walking away. DFS is no joke! I do not agree with leaving kids in the car alone, but I do, however, suggest talking to the parent and letting them know the dangers of it. If it’s longer than a few minutes before they come out, then yes, I say call police. But NEVER just walk away from a child alone in a vehicle.
Jo Jo says
Why should anyone stand by the car…..Why not just take your child with you – don’t leave your child in a car by him/herself!!! You said at the end of your comment ‘But NEVER just walk away from a child alone in a vehicle’ – Cassie don’t you see that’s the point of the article, to ensure the PARENT/CARER doesn’t ‘walk away’ from their own child in a car!! I say call the police asap if you see a child in the car – better that than something happening to a child.
Because for all you know the parent isn’t even out of sight! I was working at a sandwich shop once and a woman called in an order. She parked directly in front of the windows, locked the doors and hurried in to pay and pick up dinner for her family. She had barely left her car when someone came in to yell at her for leaving her kids in the car.
She was never even out of sight and was out of the vehicle for less than 5 minutes! It wasn’t even warm outside.
How were they even in any more danger than if they had come into the restaurant with her?
Scroll back up to the comment first posted under this article. oprah did a story of a woman who left her child in a car while she ran into the store to grab a drink. He was in full veiw the whole time but the care was then stolen and even though she tried to get him out of the car she was too late. It is just not worth the risk to me no mater how long, how far away you are or what the tempurature may be.
Why would a child be left in a car? What a pompous question. Perhaps because a caring parent made a careful decision, weighing pros and cons and decided that it was perfectly safe, or perhaps MORE safe, to leave the child in the car. We were informed in this post that 20.Children.Died. in cars during a certain period of time. Awful for those families, but considering that number is really statistically zero – meaning there really is no risk of a child dying being briefly left in a car – we shouldn’t be pressured into butting our heads into other parents business. 20,Children.Died in hospitals during that same period – should we call CPS on hospitals? If a “Good Samaritan” is so concerned, than sit in your car and watch over the child until the parent returns. I’m willing to bet vast sums of money that NOTHING will happen to that child.
Amen to this.
Yes! Just don’t leave your child in the car and the police won’t have to be called!!!!!! It is against the law and endangering a child. I don’t really care if it is inconvenient for you to take them inside.
Thank you for writing this. I too read the forementioned viral blog post and felt unsatisfied with it. I’m all for letting others parent differently than I do, but this isn’t a parenting choice. It’s a safety issue.
My concern for standing there a few minutes is how long at that point wad the child already in the car, temperature inside car, and is the child in distress. So you’ve waited 10 minutes, still child in the car, then you call the cops, and now it could be another 10 minutes. It is a judgement call yes, always understand the surroundings, but screw a parents trust when they don’t put their child first.
If the mom is fit then she won’t have any trouble getting CPS off her back. Its her own fault for leaving her kid in the car in the first place. Besides the fact that depending on the weather the kid can be harmed, the kid can also be kidnapped. It takes one second. No one is ever in and out of the store when they want to be. There are other customers, you remember you need a few more items. Its better to be safe than sorry.
I am not in favor of leave young children in cars, when they are outside of parental vision.
BUT–believing that they are “safe” because CPS/DFS is called is untrue.
With the decline in the quality of Foster services these days, there is a good chance that children would be placed into a home that is much, much more “neglectful” or even abusive than the parents!
One mistake by a parent does NOT a “bad” parent make. But even having your kids removed to a “good” Foster home, even for a few days, while CPS “clears” the parent, is extremely traumatizing to children.
I don’t agree that we should rely on the government to govern our parenting. That is a well-greased, very slippery slope to, “Hello, CPS? The family down the street is homeschooling/vaccinating/homebirthing/breastfeeding “too long”/conservative/fill-the-blank. They are unfit parents.”
And THAT is more dangerous than anything I can think of.
So very true. The child was in FAR more danger being DRIVEN to that location than they were being left in the car for even 10 minutes. You know what, I did put my child first leaving them in the car. Statistically my child is safer staying in the car while I run in and grab something and come back than they were from the trip TO the store.
I don’t see anyone suggesting that children never ride in cars. There’s more danger there (being driven anywhere) than there is from abductions or ‘being left in a car’ vague danger.
And as to the idiotic comment that if there isn’t anything wrong in the home, nothing bad will come of it..WRONG…
And having spoken to the police, if someone calls and reports ‘child endangerment’ they are obligated to involve CPS EVEN IF THEY DON”T THINK IT’S WARRANTED!
That is absolute bunk. Plenty of families have had their lives derailed because of an overreaching state.
Laura M. says
Good article, raises some very valid points to consider.
Where Is It a Crime to Leave a Kid Alone in a Parked Car?
—By Josh Harkinson
I work in a preschool and in the few years I have worked there, cars have been broken into several times. They smash the window and grab anything valuable. It not only happened at the place I work at, but at many preschools in our county. Yet, we have a parent that CONSTANTLY leaves one child in the car, while picking up the other child. These children are close in age and one doesn’t walk just yet, plus all of their daily supplies. We have spoken to the parents about how traumatizing it would be if someone smashed the window while the children were in the car, just to see the parent get angry. They could steal the whole car with one of them inside! The good news is that I haven’t heard of him doing it anymore. Hopefully, our persistence in speaking with the parents will prevent a tragedy with this family. We have to continue to spread awareness, instead of judgment and criticism. Have a great weekend!
“spread awareness instead of judgment.” What a great choice! Educating and empowering parents provides for better outcomes long-term. Kudos!
Recently, I was leaving the pediatrician with one of my children and saw two little kids alone and awake, locked in their car, windows all the way up. I went right back into the doctor’s office and reported what I saw to the receptionist. The mom was in there to pick up paperwork. She actually rolled her eyes at me and said, “I was only going to be a minute.” I told her that “even a minute is against the law”. I waited at her car until she came back (which was more like 5 minutes). Luckily, it wasn’t too hot or too cold that day. Hopefully, it will be a lesson for future quick stops to just take them in with her. A small inconvenience but could be a life saver one day. Thank you for the article. It is always great to keep awareness in the spotlight without a devastating occurrence as the example.
So, since it wasn’t too hot and it wasn’t too cold, and the children were safe in their seats and did not appear to be in any distress……what exactly was the danger? A bolt of lightening from the blue? A runway train? A boogey man who MIGHT run into a clinic parking lot in broad daylight and smash in just the right window and steal something from the car? By that logic I shouldn’t let my kids sleep quietly in their own beds in their own rooms (which are, GASP, out of my sight) at night because we MIGHT suffer a home invasion or tornado.
We can imagine terrible things happening all we want, but that doesn’t make it reality. Statistically speaking, sitting in a parked car while strapped into a cat seat for 5-10 minutes is not dangerous for children at all,
That’s what all those parents thought before that tragic moment in their lives. As inconvenient as it is, I would take all four of my children in a store before risking their lives. I really hope you reconsider your perspective just in case you’re in a similar situation.
I hope if that is your concern, a possible tragic moment, you don’t take your children ANYWHERE! The biggest risk for that ‘tragic event’ is the ride in the car.
There is no timeframe for a tragedy to occur. That car could be broken into, that car could be hit by another moving vehicle etc. etc.
The car could be hit by a moving vehicle at any point, whether the mom is there or not. The child could as likely be snatched by a stranger in the store as kidnapped by a passerby from the car.
Jo Jo says
But why would we as parents not do every possible thing in our control to prevent all these terrible things from happening……like taking your child out of the car with you.
Where they get hit in the parking lot. Sometimes things just happen. You cannot control it. And to decide what other parents feel is safe is pure hubris.
I have found children in cars with the doors unlocked mothers in the stores for around twenty mn. or so , so the morrow of the story is , I have always wanted a little girl and when I seen these cute little baby girls in the car al by there selfs makes you stop and think what kind of sick people out their that would just take them and run , he’ll it would have taken me no time to grab and go and be gone !!!! Believe me I ripped these lady’s up and down and all around told them how lucky you are to have a precious girl and just not using your heads and think about it how easy it would have been just to grab and run and they would never see there baby again , I had some cry and others freaking out , how lucky they where !!!!
*moral, not morrow. AND children are rarely kidnapped by strangers. Again, being in a car is the biggest danger a child faces. And I don’t mean in a car alone, I mean being driven somewhere.
Some of these comments honestly make me want to bang my head against a wall. Or cry for humanity. We are all so caught up in worse case scenario for every single part of our life. Instead of calling the police, how about we all use a little common sense? If it’s hot outside or the child looks to be distressed, then of course do something. Otherwise move on. Before the haters start telling me what a horrible person I am, let’s talk car seats. More kids die in car crashes then from being left alone in a car. Where is the outrage for proper use of carseats? Where are the lobbyists for law changes? Why aren’t we told to call 911 when there’s a 2 yr old bouncing around the backseat on the freeway with cars going 80+mphs? Or a mo old facing forward. Those situations ending badly are a lot more realistic then a child being a car and it ending badly.
This is exactly how I feel! It is far more dangerous to DRIVE at all with your child than it is to leave them for 5 minutes in a parked car! And more dangerous to take them to grandma’s house (95% of kidnappings are someone the child knows), and more dangerous to walk across a parking lot. Of course we do those things anyway! And yes, accidents happen, and yes it is TRAGIC! But how is justifying extreme action in this one tiny case the solution? This is insanity and I want no part in it.
I totally agree!!! We’ve become so “prevention orientated” that we don’t realize a little common sense goes a long way!! Many times I’ve had to walk my empty cart to a far away corral.( About the same time it takes me to go in a gas station and buy gas) I lose sight of my car but I’m also smart enough to lock my car while I return my cart. Just as I do if I’m going in the gas station. Except at a gas station I call pull up to the front and watch my car as well. If it’s a hot day by all means notify someone and wait with the child for help. I had people getting nervous because I left my sleeping 1yr old in the car…..in the driveway…….at a home in the middle of nowhere…… on a sunny 55°day…..at a BBQ that was hosted outside. It was crazy. I couldn’t help but think if certain people could get past the fear mongering and really look at the situation their common sense would kick in and they’d know everything was going to be just fine. We checked on him regularly. I do have to say though I would never go into a store where they would be outta my sight for more then five minutes. That’s just my perspective. I try to be as safe as possible without letting the “what if’s” run my life.
Jo Jo says
Dee, Kaytee and Jessica – remember the old saying ‘prevention is better than cure’, it’s really not hard to take your child out of the car…..Jessica wouldn’t you hate to be on the ‘what-if’ side if that ‘what-if’ was something terrible happening to your child because you left them in the car. Besides the fact that it’s illegal, it’s also stupid and selfish, think about your children!
What is the point in taking a sleeping child out of a car at a chilly outdoor bbq? And if you think it’s “not hard” to remove a sleeping shild from their carseat and take them out into chilly weather surrounded by a lot of people, you either didn’t think that through, or have 0 experience with children.
What is more dangerous about leaving the baby sleeping in the car than taking it outside, in those circustances?
The car is on private property. Presumably if anyone at the party wanted to kidnap the baby, it would be easier to do that if the child was not locked in car. It’s not warm enough to hurt the child. It’s not cold enough to hurt the child. In fact, the temperature in the car is more comfortable than outside.
What danger is the baby in, in those circumstances?
Then maybe you don’t go to the BBQ. All of you who complain about those who support this argument will be the biggest Hippocrates when you lose a child to this. To not take your child out of the car is ridiculous. I wonder how many of you leave your wallet or your purse or your phone in the car. But you would leave your child?
Jo Jo says
‘Me’ agreed 100%.
When I was a young mother, I was fleetingly tempted on occasion by the convenience of walking into a store child-free. But, would I leave my child alone in the middle of a store parking lot without a car? Of course not! And so I always took them with me. But, we all have momentary lapses in judgment. I took my 4 year old to Jurassic Park 2 when it first came out. Not a stellar choice.
So, IF I were to see a child unattended in a car, I would analyze the situation. Is the child overheated? I’d check all the doors and windows to see if I could immediately access the child. If not, I would go inside the store and page for the car make and model. “Your child is in the car.” Because it’d likely be faster than waiting for police to arrive. If the parent didn’t immediately appear, I’d call the police.
If it wasn’t hot outside, I’d stay by the car until the parent returned. I’d likely have something to say to the parent, hopefully in a non-judgmental way that allowed the parent to really hear. By then, I would have taken identifying pictures in case I got bad vibes from the parent and would be prepared in case a welfare call was needed. The truth is, and what many people don’t consider, a child can be horribly harmed and abused in a foster-care setting. So, automatically calling the police and having the child removed may seem like the right thing to do. It could actually be more harmful long-term. Using our compassion and wisdom to interpret any such situation is the best thing to do.
I think your response and attitude is the best one yet. Perfect!
I agree 100%. I read that story about those mothers, and I absolutely do feel for them. But as I was reading it I just couldn’t help the nagging feeling that the choice they made to go into those stores was not at all necessary. Was getting that errand checked off their list really more important than the safety of their child? I can’t come up with a scenario in which that could possibly be the case.
Mary Tessell says
Exactly what I stated in my comment on the previous article about the three mothers who left their children and were arrested. The story of that little boy is heartbreaking. No way would I ever leave my child or grandchild in a car unattended. This is just one of those pet peeves of mine; that and those who leave their dogs too!
Reading articles like this makes me want to move to the most secluded place possible to keep my casual parenting approach from being scrutinized. Calling the police in these instances, or for the children playing at the park, IS EXTREME. If someone is worried about another person’s techniques, they need to have the decency to just ask the parent. It’s just as easy to ask a store to page “the owner of a Town & Country, license plate number XXYYZZ” as it is to call the police. If you must pry, use common sense and courtesy. However, where’s the sense of community, compassion and parenting brotherhood?
Admittedly, before I was a parent, I had extreme levels of judgement for the ways in which others conduct themselves in said role. However, I couldn’t agree more with the part of the article about the three women where the lady helped a fellow mom by unloading her cart and entertaining the toddler. Why can’t we all behave that way? Generally, we claim to be “too busy” to help someone else, but it seems some people have plenty of time to deal with police interviews and reports… Save your breath on that and instead lend a fellow parent (mom or dad) a hand!
Good for you!!! Nice to see someone who tries to rise above the overprotective culture we are growing into today. Common sense is not always so common. :)
Jo Jo says
Why is it not the parents/carers of the child who shouldn’t be ‘too busy’ to take the child/children with them??? Doesn’t that make much more sense as they are their children. It’s not hard, why should we ever be too busy to take them out of a possibly dangerous situation?
JoJo, based on your extremely judgemental comments, my guess is that you’ve never been responsible for a toddler, who, after a long day, falls asleep in the car. It is nothing to do with the parents being too “busy,” but rather wanting to let their child rest, instead of waking them up and dragging them into the store for no good reason.
Unless the weather is hot, the child is in just as much danger walking accross the partking lot to the store as they are waiting in the car for a few minutes.
Jo Jo says
Jaq – I would rather have a tired, cranky toddler (yes I have four children) than have one in harms way. It’s not hard to take the children you are responsible for out of the car when you leave the car. I will say it over and over because nothing you say is logical when it comes to leaving your children in the car unattended. Just imagine if a child climbed out of the car whilst unattended and walked across the parking lot to the store, they would be in more danger than if they were with their parent/carer!
its not illegal in every state. Check the laws here
i wish I could click “LIKE” on SJ. You go girl! Having said that, I have another point of view as well. If we care enough about the children and/or the child’s mother, more blogs should be written about protecting their lives and health before the baby is born. All this time spent on calling cops on moms (rather than helping them), when there are far too many babies killed before they get a chance to even sit in a car or other mother’s arms. And the mother’s emotional health is affected for the rest of her life, and many times her physical health.
Last spring I saw two boys in a car at a gas station. They were a little older (I’d guess 5&8) the windows were up on a wArm day and they tried to get out and the alarm went off. They got scared and started crying and freaking out. It broke my heart. I got out if the car and went in the convienience store there and found a woman completely oblivious to all that was happening outside and I asked her if it was her kids. She looked at me with a look of confusion (she may have been high or on meds for sure) I started screaming at her that her poor babies were scared and you don’t leave kids alone in the car. She was CLUELESS. But went outside and brought the kids back in the store with her… All the while, Some other customers had stood by the boys and tried to console them. I almost called he police but it was a rural area and she would have been gone before they got there. I’m sorry but 5&8 is still too young to leave alone in any car. Especially a locked one with the windows up!!!
It is not illegal in my state and yet I watched this over the top woman scream at another mom who had a sleeping infant locked in the car in 50 degree weather for 1 minute and maybe 8 seconds. She took her folder out and passed him over to a car par parked 20 feet away for a play date. I was outside when I watched this poor distraught over tired mom thank the other for giving her break since she hadn’t slept in days because her newborn wouldn’t sleep. A minute later she is being attacked and screamed at for being a horrible mom. This other woman wouldn’t let her get a word in to defend herself. The cops had been called and even then this other woman continued to attack the mother. The cops heard the mother’s side of the story through hysterical tears. They told her she was fine to go and actual apologized for her being made to get so upset.
When did we become judge and jury over everyone. We attack instead of understanding. If you have concern about a child, take a minute to understand the situation before calling the cops.
She took her older child out
Jo Jo says
I don’t understand why this is even a discussion. We wouldn’t willingly harm our children or willingly put them in harms way so why is it acceptable to do such a thing by leaving them in a car unattended. We all think ‘it won’t happen to us’ but horrible, unfair and sad things do happen so guess what, it could happen to us! It really isn’t hard to take your child with you, it really isn’t!
So we can trust the police and CPS not to abuse their authority, but we can’t trust parents to know their kids’ abilities and limits and make the correct judgement? Sorry, I don’t buy it. The police and CPS are human, too, and make mistakes, too. Removing a child from a loving family because they aren’t helicopter parents is a bad idea but that is essentially what you are advocating. Who says that the police aren’t child molesters? Who says that the foster parents aren’t abusive? You are naive if you think having government approval of your position makes you free of issues.
You put your child at risk when you drive them around in a car – car accidents are a leading cause of child death. The chance that your child would be abducted while in a locked car alone is much lower.
Jo Jo says
Seriously Jennifer read what you have written and see how ridiculous it sounds. It’s taking your child out of the car when you go somewhere…..Why are you carrying on about ‘helicopter parents’ and ‘trusting the CPS and POLICE’, you don’t have children to make a point or to test the system and see how far you can go. If you want we can all accept that you are not a ‘helicopter parent’ and you can feel better about things, just realise your children are YOUR responsibility and realise IT’S NOT HARD TO TAKE THEM OUT OF THE CAR!!
So the statistics are meaningless, is that it JoJo? The FACT (backed up with real SCIENCE) that a child is less safe being driven somewhere or in foster care is meaningless compared than the FEELING you have that a child should be taken out of the car REGARDLESS of the parent’s own judgement that they are safe?
Jo Jo says
I don’t know why foster care etc is being compared to taking your child out of the car…..There are all sorts of statistics that we could use to show how important it is to care for our children, why do you think taking your child out of the car with you isn’t as important as these other points. It’s really not hard to take your child out of the car, as ‘ME’ says (above post) would you leave your wallet or phone in the car!
Annes Notrya says
I have remote cameras and temperature sensors in my car (for my dog). I get notifications on my iPhone if anything goes wrong and I can do a video check at any time. I can turn the car on if it gets too warm or cold. There is a sticker on the drivers window stating that the car is being monitored. Technology is awesome.
Kate @KateMovingForward says
I was surprised that article was so poplular, but I like that it raised awareness that whether you are motivated by safety of kids or fear of getting the police called DON’T LEAVE YOUR KIDS IN THE CAR. As someone who preciously worked in child services you never know what is happening in the family and you don’t know what kind of situations can present themselves in a parking lot if you’re not there. Better safe than sorry.
Seriously?! Where none of yall ever left in the car while your mom ran in gor a quick errand?! Why do we obsess about fear? The crime is half of what is was in the 80s. So the super-crazy paranoia about kidnapping needs to end. Alsp, i do t know about your state, but FL allows 15 minutes for a parent to leave s child in a locked car. I feel like parents who make these crazy statements that its not a big deal to take kids in with you everywhere you go probably only have one kid. i have 4. Taking them all into the post office is a nightmare. Taking them all into the gas station is the potty training toddler can pee quickly enough to not wet their britches is not even possible hardly. Try keeping the one year old off the floor of that filthy bathroom while you potty train the other as well. It is a big deal at times. If you “care” enough to call the police and ruin the lives of the children and badically guarantee they will be abused and neglected in foster care, then you should wait 15 minutes for the parent first. And understand that kids can be trusted to use good judgement when given a chance. You most likely were when you were a kid. Oh, why dont you try letting them go down the slide by themselves while youre at it. Why dont we just parent thr way we know worked for the previous generations and stop allowing the 24/7 news stations that have nothing better to report stop trying to control us with fear tactics.
Yes. Well Said Samantha! Because of course if *I* wouldn’t do it, you shouldn’t either, RIGHT?!?! So many people here so wrapped up in the freak accident (since you child is more likely to be killed by lightning than killed by being INTENTIONALLY left in a car.
If the child isn’t in distress, leave them be. Or if you feel like SOMETHING MUST BE DONE, than either page the parent, or FREAKING WAIT.
I adore my children, but they are statistically more likely to make it to adulthood REGARDLESS of our choices, and it’s better to let them have a childhood to grow into an adult rather than pearl clutching fear over every damn thing that might happen.
Yes, they could get hurt or die. But this scenario is less likely to do it than taking them for a drive in the car, or taking them swimming or being somewhere where there is weather.
Seriously??? This article is ridiculous! There are some children who died of cancer, I guess their parents should be investigated to see if they gave their kids McDonalds, right! People today are so quick to intrude upon parents rights under the guise of helpfulness, but in all actuality, those same people wouldn’t help you unless you paid them. Children at certain ages and in certain circumstances are perfectly safe to be left inside a vehicle for short periods!! Period!!
I agree with Dee, April and Janet!
It saddens me to read the comments by so many people who think you should not call the police and/or who go on rants about CPS. How ridiculous. I have no family around me and my husband and I work full time. My kids are 13 mos apart and neither of us EVER left them in the car alone for one second. How lazy or dumb do you have to be that you can’t either make the stop another time or you just suck it up and take the kids in with you! I’ve had to take one on my hip and one in the car seat – too bad! That’s my job – to keep them safe – and it isn’t always easy or convenient!! If I saw a child in the car alone you bet I’m calling the police. It’s a crime for a reason and I’m not going to add to the negligence of the parent by walking away and hoping it turns out okay. Geez people!
Look. I understand needing a minute or being there for a fellow mother. My heart goes out to all mothers. I’m a mother of two young boys myself. Its not easy we all know that. And its not about judging others in that situation. Its about the children. But what would you really do? These are just opinions. You’ve had time to think about what you would or wouldnt do. Unless you are in a situation how do you really know? Do you just ignore it like most people do or do your instincts kick in and just go with what you feel is right at that moment and in that specific situation. It’s all “what if’s.” Witch “what if” outcome are you willing to gamble? What if the child or children will be ok or the MANY what if the child or children will not be ok? How do you know if the kids were just left for a minute. How do u know what thier situation is. I was at the grocery store last night. After losing my car I noticed a little girl in the back seat of the car next to me. I looked around waited 10 min or so. I then though i have too much going on i got to get home to my children and its none of my business and started to leave. Then my instincs kicked in and i felt like i was leaving my own children alone to fend for themselves. I drove around thinking this parent may come soon. I then decided to park next to the car to make sure she was ok. Come to find, there was not 1 but two little ones in the car. A 3 month old baby and a toddler. There were no car seats the doors unlocked and the car was running. Long story short I never saw a parent in this extreamly bust parking lot and waited for over 20 mins. I’m involved now. If something happens to these kids I’ll never ever forgive myself. I called the non emergency police. Not thinking of the parent really, just worried about these tiny precious little ones. You don’t intend to hurt a fellow mother or father but I didn’t know if the kids were left or what could happen. Yes those are “what ifs” but its all in the person in that situation. For me I didn’t want the heavier weight of those what if options to be thier fate. Those little children were in that car for more than 30 mins. Who knows how much longer before I came out. Your minds can take you on that journey or what could of happened. The officer was nice. It was a mom who just left them in there while she grocery shopped and he let her go considering she had no carseats and was contributing to the delinquency of minors and neglecting them. It is our choice as parent as humans to do what you think is right in any situation but is it worth it? I’d like to think I saved thone kids lives last night!
I usually never comment on anything online because the comment section is just full of angry people, but I feel the need to give my two cents on this article.
I am a working mom of 3 girls ages 8, 6, and 1. I get off work right before school gets out. I have to run and get my 1 year old from the sitter first, then I pick up my 6 year old. I have to go inside to get her, and even though it only takes maybe two minutes to get her I still take my 1 year old out of the car, even if she is sleeping. I do the same with both girls when I have to go in and get my oldest. I know that I will be back in just a moment but I never leave my kids in the car. Even when pumping gas I will take all three kids out of the car just to run in for 10 seconds to pay for the gas. It is not that difficult to get your child out of the car even if you will have to put them right back in.
I know it is a hassle to deal with the kids in stores or wherever you may be, but all the bad things that happen are avoided by just taking your child with you. You do not want the police called? Don’t leave your child in the car. Afraid of CPS getting involved? Don’t leave your child in the car. Hearing “mommy mommy mommy I want I want I want” Is a lot easier to deal with than “You have the right to remain silent” or “I’m sorry, your child died from a heat stroke. “