Sleeping kid left in parked car

I’ve read a couple of articles in the local paper about a woman who was charged with child endangerment for leaving her sleeping 2 year old in a parked car. Link As I understand it, the municipality dropped charges, and now she is suing the city for not apologizing. I was wondering what you folks might think about this.

As I understand the facts, the mom took her 3 kids to the store because they wanted to donate some money in a Salvation Army kettle. The youngest was sleeping, so she parked the car near the store, activated the alarm, locked the doors, and put on the flashers, and went out with the 2 older kids to take a picture of them as they donated the money. Apparently there is some dispute as to how far she was from the car, whether she was out of sight of the car, and how long she was gone. But it was long enough for a community services officer to call a cop who wrote this woman a ticket for child endangerment.

IMO, if the facts are anything close to what the mother describes, she did nothing wrong. In plenty of situations I think it preferable to leave a sleeping kid in a car instead of waking them up and dragging them with you on every errand, such as dropping off or picking up dry cleaning, or going in to the gas station to pay for your gas and maybe buy a pack of gum.

But I could imagine a situation where leaving a kid in a car could be a bad thing. However, I’m not sure how to write a law that would prohibit “bad” instances while not permitting “acceptable” instances. For example, what if when you go in to pay for your gas you decide to use the bathroom. And does the outside temperature matter.

Is this something you think should be legislated against, and do you think this woman should have been charged/prosecuted? (Well, I think we can ALL agree that she deserves SOME punishment for having a nickname like “Treffly”!)

This story struck me as equivalent to the zero tolerance policies that have caused untold bullshit in our schools.

Yes, as a general rule, leaving a small child unattended in a car is a bad idea. In some circumstances, though, it’s a perfectly reasonable thing to do. This falls into the latter category.

IMHO, not only do they not owe her an apology. the charges should not have been dropped and she should be prosecuted. You don’t leave your kids in the car. Period.

While there might be a conceivable situation where the likelihood of something bad happening is remote, the chances of something going wrong are just too great. Better to just ban it, then when someone leaves their kid in the car on a 110 day while they are at the riverboat, they cant say, “well I did this all winter long why should this be any different?”

Charges should never have been filed in the first place. The community services officer should have walked up to the car, seen there was a child in it and then said in a loud voice, “Whose mother f*cking car is this?!!” At which point, the mother would have come running. After a severe public dressing down, everyone could have gone their separate ways.

It should be left to the parent’s judgement. If nothing untoward happens, then no harm, no foul. If something goes wrong it’s the parent’s responsibility.

More zero-tolerance insanity, as far as I’m concerned. Parents leave their kids in the car all the time. I leave my kids in the car when I step outside to pump gas. Yesterday I left my kids in the car while I ran inside to grab Whatsit Jr’s forgotten backpack from the front steps. Yes, I know, a criminal could have run up to my driveway in those 30 seconds, broken into the locked door, hot-wired the ignition, and driven off, but I find this extremely unlikely.

Edited to clarify that when I say parents leave their kids in the car all the time, I mean in pumping gas-style circumstances where they are usually no more than a few steps away and the car is within sight. As opposed to leaving Junior in the car for half an hour while you go shoe shopping or whatever.

I agree. When I was a kid, and I almost always preferred to be left in the car than to go with my mom on whatever errand she was running. I could sit and read in the car, while the errand was probably something boring (even more boring if she met someone she knew and got into a conversation). And I could even hope that, if she knew I was waiting in the car, she might be inclined to complete the errand in less time, so we could get home where there was more interesting stuff to do.

Isn’t danger a key component of child endangerment? Hypothetical peril is one thing (OMG, a meteor could have fallen out of the sky and landed on him!); other risks (heat, cold), not so much.

If the weather wasn’t a hazard and that mom was close enough to get to the car before the kid could wake up and let herself out, then I don’t see what she did wrong. The police officer in that scenario needs some sense. OTOH, a lawsuit for an apology? :rolleyes:

Yesterday I pulled into a blue disabled spot so that I could get $20 from the ATM to give to the twins’ teacher for Easter whatnot without either (a) leaving my kids unsupervised in a car 50 ft away, or (b) going through the rigmarole of getting them into and out of the car and shepherding them through the parking lot. Parking lots are SO dangerous for small children, they’re impossible to see and their movement is unpredictable. Plus it would have made us late for school (“I want to bring my Planet Heroes” “We’re only going to get some money, we’ll be right back” “I don’t want to wear my jacket.” “You need a jacket, it’s chilly outside”).

But I was breaking the law, and setting a bad example.

Boy, do we disagree on that!

I do not feel that just because some portion of the populace is capable of doing something in an irresponsible manner, the majority of folk should potentially face criminal penalties for their responsible choices.

I’m curious exactly what is the danger this law intends to protect against? Is it the kid in a locked car while gambling during the summer? A risk of kidnapping? Or something else? Because I know I sure had plenty of opportunities during which I might have fucked up and endangered my kids in the privacy of my home such that leaving them sleeping in a car for brief periods doesn’t even register.

Okay, I’ll bite. How great are they? I know this isn’t GD, but I’d like a cite as to the many tragedies that have resulted from leaving a sleeping child in a locked car for a few minutes on a not-too-hot day with the parent nearby.

I’d guess that they’re substantially less than simply letting a child go up and down stairs, so better accompany them each time they do that (being careful not to fall on them). And of course they could drown themselves in the toilet bowl, so best not let them go to the bathroom alone. And what if they decide to go under the bed, and it suddenly collapses and squashes them flat?

As a mother, I say that if the circumstances were really as she described, she should not have been charged – I have left my sleeping kids in the car when I have run into the post office or convenience store – if I knew I would have visibility of the car at all times. Does the city owe her an apology? No. She needs to grow the f*ck up and move on with her life. No one ever owes you an apology for anything. I don’t know which patrt of this pisses me off more – the intolerance of the city to call being a good mother and letting your child get some rest that he/she obviously needed “child endangerment” or the effing entitlement of this sue-happy twat thinking someone owes her an apology for trying to keep her kids safe.

Other articles suggested emotions/personalities might have come into play. One article saw fit to note that the community service officer and the cop who she called were (or had been) dating. Not sure why that would be relevant, but it made the news.

And I believe a couple of articles mentioned that there was some - um - unpleasantness when the cop confronted the mom. Don’t know which (or both) copped the attitude. I know I would have been pissed if I had been the mom, but I generally don’t think arguing with cops is going to bear good results for me.

And WTF is going on with the mom’s name? I know we have discussed surname practices in the past, but I’m trying to figure out why a police or news report would have someone’s nickname in quotes like that? Don’t know about you, but when a cop is writing me a ticket or a reporter is writing a news story about my criminal prosecution, I don’t get all chummy and say, “But my friends all call me Dinsy!”

I’d do more but I’m running a 103 fever and frankly don’t care enough. You want to leave your kids in the car unattended, fine. Don’t cry to me when something happens. If you are only walking a few dozen feet, how hard is it to do that with your kids? I have two kids and when they were small (say 1 and 3) I did that with no problem. Laziness is no excuse. If they are sleeping, don’t run the errand, or have another adult with you. There is a limit to multitasking.

I can’t side with the parent. If you can’t take your kids with you there are options besides leaving them locked in a car. The main thing that bothers me about the story is that if the mother was close enough to see the car, why did she not see the community officer before she called the police? Leaving a kid or animal in a locked car is dangerous as the internal temperature of a car can rise upward of 40 degrees even on a cool day. Cite.

There are too many deaths that occur this way and I can understand the police reaction to the mother, even if everything about the situation is exactly as the mother described.

And googling child + fall + stairs gets me 210k hits. So? Googling a collection of words doesn’t tell us anything.

Heat risk isn’t an issue in this case. It happened December 8, 2007 in a suburb of Chicago. This weather blog entry talks about snow, sleet, and freezing rain.

I somehow cut off half my post.

Heat injuries are not even the only danger. There have been plenty of cases of cars being towed with sleeping children in them. There have been plenty of cases of cars being stolen while kids are sleeping in them. Do you need to take the kid while pumping gas and hitting the ATM a few feet away; probably not. But if someone can approach your car ascertain that there is a sleeping child in it, look around for the mother then call the police; you’re probably too goddamned far away.

Hell, that’s why at times I would just leave the kid sleeping in the house while I ran a quick errand! I’m such a bad parent! (IIRC, I’d usually call a neighbor and tell them what I was doing, in the off chance I got killed in a car accident driving a couple of blocks to the store, or the house chose to burn down during that 5 minute period.)

It is plain silly for you to call what the mom did “laziness.” Either that, or your kids were far better “sleepers” than I and many others experience. Your kid refuses to take a nap but you need to run some errands. Sure enough, as soon as you get to the store, the kid falls asleep. So you think the only responsible choices are to either wake up the kid who clearly needs the nap, or cancel the errands and drive back home? Let me guess - when you got home you wouldn’t let the kid finish his/her nap in the car (in an attached garage with the car windows and connecting door open) either, would you?

In my opinion, it is not only sleeping dogs that are at times better left lying.

Easily avoided by not parking anywhere you’re not sure is a legal space.

Even if it was a cool/cold day in Chicago with no risk of the car heating up to unbearable levels, the fact that a community officer had time to check out a car, seeing the kid inside, probably look around, and hopefully asking one or two nearby people if it was their car, then calling the cop, waiting for the cop to get there… lets say all of this was, what? 10? 15 minutes? I assume around this point mom came back to the car.

The thing is, even though mom says she was only gone for a few minutes, the cop couldn’t know that. A few minutes in mommy-time might actually have been 15, or 30, or even longer, and she clearly was out of sight of the vehicle initially if there was time for a police officer to be called.

I think the confrontation may have escalated and took a wrong turn at one point, but I can’t blame the cop and community officer for assuming the worst and wanting to charge the mother with leaving her kid in the car. If, though, she was arrested and the kids were then left unattended through the police action, as the mother maintains, then yes, the police department should be held liable for that.

This sounds like a complicated mess, and I’m glad it isn’t my job to sort it out!