A Different World

Issac Bailey blog | Parenting gets harder: Woman charged for leaving 11-year-old alone in car

There is legitimate concern when really young kids who can’t fend for themselves are left alone in vehicles on days in which the temperature can make things either dangerously hot or dangerously cold.

Reports of kids dying or being harmed in such situations are always heartbreaking, even though such incidents are rare. According to San Francisco State University, 44 kids nationwide died in 2013 in such situations – but in 80 percent of the cases since 1998, the child was either accidentally left behind or playing in the car unattended. That’s not what happened with the mom (story below), in which her 11-year-old asked to stay in the car and she was not in danger.

There has to be a better way to respond to this issue than viewing with suspicion any parent who leaves a kid of any age for any amount of time in any environment even when there is no real threat of danger.

I have a 10-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son, and each of them is fully capable of taking care of themselves outside of constant parental supervision, whether sitting in a car or running around the neighborhood with friends or being left at home alone, even, for short periods of time.

Not every kid is as fragile as we make her out to be, and if we keep bubble-wrapping the world for her, how will she ever learn the skills and confidence she’ll need to navigate a complex society? More than that, criminalizing parents this way only makes the job of parenting more difficult, which can’t be good for children.

Yes, something bad can happen – but that’s true when kids are in a parent’s presence, and when they aren’t. Parents have to be given discretion to raise their kids, because they know them better than a police officer or stranger who notices them in a car for a few minutes. Turning parents of 11 year olds into criminals over something like this doesn’t make our kids safer; it just makes parenting harder.

Protect the kids who need protecting and leave the others alone.

Read more about that case here: http://touch.courant.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-80762790/

If the facts are as they are in this initial report, this mother should not have to go to court or pay a fine. Come on, people.