Another Maryland Mom Arrested: She Let Daughter, 10, Wait in Car with Baby Sister for 10 Mins

What eharbriffd
is going on in Maryland? Here’s an email I got yesterday —

Dear Free-Range Kids:

I was recently involved in a “confined unattended child” case which has landed me with a misdemeanor and 6 months’ probation. The crime: leaving my sleeping 1-year-old daughter in the car with her 10-year-old sister for 10 minutes while I went into the grocery store.  A woman that worked at the store called the police within that 10 minutes.  The police said it was child neglect. I told him my daughter is responsible to watch her sleeping sister for 10 minutes, that I’ve never done it in the past but needed to get a few items, and [that] I didn’t want to wake her sister for that short period of time. He told me a murderer that has never murdered anyone in the past doesn’t make them any less of a murderer.

To make a long story short, I left that day and didn’t know I was being charged until November when I started receiving letters from lawyers trying to get my business. Fast forward to today and I now have a misdemeanor on my record and six months’ probation. I have never had any issues with the law in my life.

I don’t think I did anything wrong. My ten-year-old daughter is on safety patrol at her school and is very responsible. My husband is a firefighter that works 24 hour shifts and she helps out a lot with our three other children.

Lately I have been wondering why this happened to me. I discovered your website a couple of months ago and find your story and outlook on parenting insightful. I’m not even sure why I’m writing this email. Maybe I just need to tell the story to someone because I have been feeling embarrassed and ashamed.

I am now considered a criminal. I never knew there was a law that says the person watching the child must be at least 13 years of age. Apparently this is the law in Maryland.

Just wanted to share my story and thanks for listening. — Charon

If Charon is a criminal, all parents are on notice: You are not allowed to make a rational decision when it comes to how you raise your kids. You must act as if your children are in constant peril, no matter how vanishingly small the actual risk is. In other words, you  must internalize the paranoia of this policeman. 

Or just maybe it’s time to rethink our child “protection” laws. – L

M'am, you are under arrest for making a rational parenting decision.

M’am, you are under arrest for making a rational parenting decision.

186 Responses to Another Maryland Mom Arrested: She Let Daughter, 10, Wait in Car with Baby Sister for 10 Mins

  1. Emily January 16, 2015 at 4:22 pm #

    Okay, my reaction to this is the same as my reaction to EVERY story like this. Big Sister is ten years old right now. Her mother was charged for leaving her unsupervised for ten minutes. In eight years, Big Sister is going to go off to college or university, where she’ll be unsupervised ALL the time. Wouldn’t it be better to build her up to that gradually, than to mandate “constant adult supervision until X age,” when X age is even fewer years away from college or university age? Or, is the government going to mandate that parents stay within arm’s reach of their 18-22-year-olds on campus?

  2. Boraxo January 16, 2015 at 4:23 pm #

    Sorry, I generally agree with the views here, but I think this goes beyond my comfort zone. It is one thing to leave your children in the car while you walk up to an ATM or to pick up drycleaning – and you can still see the car or can easily check out the window. It is another to leave an infant with no adult supervision whatsoever while you wander deep into a supermarket.

    That being said, I would think police and CPS have better things to do. But to be fair they draw the line harshly for a reason – far too many children die in overheated locked vehicles.

  3. Jenny Mathewson January 16, 2015 at 4:25 pm #

    I babysat when I was 10, with the parents out of the house. I babysat an infant by myself regularly when I was 12. It was no problem. I had numbers to call in case of emergency, which never happened. What is wrong with this world? Wow!

  4. Donna January 16, 2015 at 4:32 pm #

    Emily – She wasn’t charged for leaving her 10 year old unsupervised. She was charged for leaving her infant in the care of her 10 year old. I don’t think she should be charged for this either, but it appears that the issue was the infant, not the 10 year old.

  5. Bess January 16, 2015 at 4:39 pm #

    Boraxo, there is nothing here that indicates the issue was that the car was overheated or had the potential to overheat. Of course that is horrible when it happens, but it doesn’t happen to 10 year olds. If the car was getting too hot, she would simply open the door.

  6. Ben January 16, 2015 at 4:49 pm #

    Does anyone know what the actual law is in Maryland? I’d love to see a summary of this type of law for all 50 states.

  7. SamRI January 16, 2015 at 4:56 pm #

    You are NOT a criminal and you did not do anything wrong. This happened to me and I got off with a warning but I still get really angry when I think about it. If you have a typically-developing ten-year-old there is absolutely no reason why she can’t watch a sleeping baby! I am so sorry you had to go through this!

  8. Simon Elliott January 16, 2015 at 4:59 pm #

    I think the bigger problem is that CPS immediately makes this a criminal act. If CPS was so concerned about child safety, why not a nice chat with the parents to see if there is something seriously wrong, instead of immediately charging the parents.

    The biggest cause of death in children is cars (CDC). But lets look at how MoCo treats drivers

    You can kill someone with your car and get a fine of a few hundred dollars. We don’t even fine you for going 10mph over the speed limit, let alone arrest you and impound your car.

    Yet MoCo will charge you with a serious misdemeanor and “impound” your children if it sees them alone for a few minutes.

    How is this sound public policy? Or is it just easier to pick on parents?

  9. Puzzled January 16, 2015 at 4:59 pm #

    Boraxo, do you seriously think a 10 year old is incapable of opening a car door?

  10. Simon Elliott January 16, 2015 at 5:03 pm #

    Lenore: If the store were so concerned about kids, they could have broadcast something over the store PA instead of calling the police. Can we get the name of the store? It might be hard to get change at MoCo government, but I am sure that the store manager might be more interested if parents with kids stop shopping there.

  11. Maggie January 16, 2015 at 5:05 pm #

    A 10 yr old is capable of supervising an infant for a short while. There is no danger.

    1-At 10, they can decide if a car is too hot or not.

    2-A 10 yr old can operate car doors and windows

    3-A 10 yr old has had plenty of time to learn “stranger danger”

    4-A 10 yr old is capable of asking for help

    5-A 10 yr old is capable of carrying the baby to a safe place if necessary

    This is utterly ridiculous. The Red Cross offers babysitting certificate courses for 11 yr olds. At 11, they are considered old enough to watch OTHER PEOPLE’S KIDS unsupervised for HOURS. Surely a 10 yr old can watch a younger sibling for a short while.

  12. pentamom January 16, 2015 at 5:09 pm #

    Boraxo, what can a 1 year old do in a car that would require “adult supervision” that a 10 year old could not handle? She was strapped in. As others have pointed out, if the car gets too hot, the 10 year old is capable of dealing with that.

  13. Kristin January 16, 2015 at 5:12 pm #

    The law in Maryland states that a child must be at least 8 years old to be left alone, and 13 years old to be left alone with younger children without adult supervision. It is a confusing, complicated law…but a law nonetheless and Charon is technically a “criminal”. It’s very frustrating as it affects so many decisions we make with the intent of encouraging independence in our children, like walking to school alone, since we must constantly be worried about breaking the law.

  14. Liss Sterling January 16, 2015 at 5:16 pm #

    Wow. I was babysitting infants at 12. I was just telling someone today how our Mom used to leave the 4 of us in the car while she went in the store to shop and always said “back in a flash!”, which we knew actually meant “back in 2 hours!”. We were all two years apart and this was in the years where the oldest of us was anywhere from 8-12. This world is pegging the insanity meter.

  15. Andrew January 16, 2015 at 5:18 pm #

    So a 10 year old and an 8 year old can be left alone, separately, but can’t be left together? Who writes these laws!

  16. Martin Kelley January 16, 2015 at 5:25 pm #

    And as with all if this type of case what are the relative safety merits of leaving a sleeping infant in a car with a responsible older sibling for ten minutes vs walking them across the typical 5-acre suburban supermarket parking lot?

    My older two kids tease each other by racing one another across lots no matter how firm the tone of my voice or follow-up punishment and my infants are small and prone to wander. If someone sped through a lot and ran over the kid would they be charged, yet this is a much greater risk.

  17. Warren January 16, 2015 at 5:25 pm #

    The Gov’t had it’s war on drugs, the war on terror, and now the United States of America has “The War on Parenting”.

  18. Kristin January 16, 2015 at 5:26 pm #

    Yes, Andrew, that is why the law is so complicated. That situation is something I consider a grey area as I’ve never found out what the actual answer is. I was also unaware of the “confined in a dwelling” condition mentioned in a recent article on Slate regarding the Meitiv family and their experience after their children were picked up by police for walking in public alone.

  19. Buffy January 16, 2015 at 5:26 pm #

    I cannot believe that the very second comment HAD to refer to hot cars. People, not everywhere is Arizona. In fact, hardly anywhere is Arizona. Maryland’s climate is quite temperate and seasonal, besides which everyone everywhere doesn’t have to worry about cars heating up to dangerous levels.

    And what 10-year-old can’t open a car door if she gets too warm, for whatever reason?

  20. tana January 16, 2015 at 5:35 pm #

    I’m kind of freaked out…I do that often. Wonder what GA law is.

  21. lollipoplover January 16, 2015 at 5:36 pm #

    Parking lots are dangerous places.
    For children to be STRUCK by car.
    Statistically, they are much safer staying in the car and out of traffic.

    Can we now fairly say that Maryland is the least family-friendly state?
    Why are people here so quick to call police?
    Does anyone wait by the car anymore to make sure all is well?

  22. K January 16, 2015 at 5:42 pm #

    I live in Maryland and I have an 8 year old and a 10 year old. No one has been able to tell me for sure that the way the law is written, I can leave my younger child alone by herself, but not two of them together. I would also love to know what part of MD this happened in.

  23. I don't even January 16, 2015 at 5:57 pm #

    Yes, about 37 kids die in per year from being left in hot cars – about 2 kids die from being run over every week and that’s only driveway incidents. So 100 a year versus 37 a year…your odds are better leaving them in the car, providing they can do a decent job of temp. regulation.

    Children are better than babies and a 12 m/o is medically a child. A very young child, true, but still: a child. Also, the 10 y/o is capable of dealing with most things the toddler can’t. Should the mother leave a 1 y/o in the car alone? No. But she didn’t. She left the toddler in the care of an older child.

  24. ARM January 16, 2015 at 6:02 pm #

    Buffy, I agree with you that bringing up hot cars in this context is silly and irrelevant, but just for the record, Maryland summers are very very hot, and quite a few infant hot car deaths have actually happened in Maryland and Virginia, which might explain why well-meaning (though misguided) busybodies there would report on the parent.

  25. Donna January 16, 2015 at 6:10 pm #

    “Why are people here so quick to call police?”

    Because everyone has easy access to a phone. Back in the day when you had to hunt up a phone, you would have to be really worried to be willing to divert your course and follow through with that concern. Today it is too easy to just pull out a phone and dial 3 numbers without even breaking your stride. It has absolutely no impact on your life whatsoever so you can think “well better safe than sorry.”

  26. BL January 16, 2015 at 6:11 pm #

    Let’s see. This perfectly normal mother is deemed a criminal by the legal fiction that a young’un in the company of a 10-year-old sister is being “neglected”.

    Meanwhile, in my small town, a vicious murder was just committed by 15- and 16-year-olds with previous “juvie” records long enough to stretch across an ocean. By the same legal fiction, they couldn’t have been “real” criminals because they’re not 18 yet. They should have been locked up and the key thrown away a long time ago.

    Oh, yeah. One of the kids moved here to Pennsylvania from (you guessed it) Maryland, where most of his juvie record was compiled.

    (We rarely have serious crime around here.)

  27. Flurry January 16, 2015 at 6:49 pm #

    @ARM, kids overwhelmingly die in hot cars due to a change in routine or a child crawling into a hot parked car, NOT mom running into the store or stopping at the dry cleaner. Could you provide links to the MD/VA deaths that have occurred due to the parent running errands?

    And do you really think the mom in this story was too stupid to take into account the weather as part of her decision-making process?

  28. Brooks January 16, 2015 at 6:52 pm #

    Well, her name is Charon, and that’s the ferryman (or in this case ferrywoman) who takes souls across the river Styx to hell. I guess the cop figured she was evil. Might as well make her a criminal as well.

    Just got back from some errands after leaving my responsible 9 year old girl alone at home for an hour.

    Oh, she was designing a new model for our 3D printer. Real danger there.

  29. Leslie Greene January 16, 2015 at 7:20 pm #

    Being a grandparent and not a parent, I had no idea there even WAS a free-range parenting movement! HOORAY! There’s nothing better than having independent, self-reliant kids. So many folks my age on FB all reminisce about how great it was growing up being told to “go out and play”. My folks found out AFTER the fact where I’d been. They assumed if I rode my bike someplace I could find my way home. My folks let me walk my new puppy with a neighbor friend from my old house to our new house – I was 10 and he was 8. It was probably a mile or a mile and a half apart. No problem. (though we were tired!!!!!)I think the Meitivs (sp?) and Charon above are doing the right thing.

  30. J January 16, 2015 at 7:22 pm #

    I wonder how old the Maryland law is? Because I earned a Red Cross babysitting certificate at age 11 (1983) and was babysitting half the neighborhood soon after. And, of course, we were left in the car all the time, with me in charge of my sisters…

  31. MichaelF January 16, 2015 at 8:14 pm #

    In most criminal cases you are innocent until proven guilty.

    In CPS’ eyes you are guilty until proven innocent.

    ’nuff said

  32. Tamara January 16, 2015 at 8:36 pm #

    I, too was babysitting infants at age 10. Usually in my own home, babysitting my mom’s friend’s 9 month old daughter – I clearly remember this and I can’t believe that all of our parents back then were also just making these same “egregious parenting errors.”

    Warren’s right – the War on Parenting is on, led by the US for sure but it’s crawling it’s way up here to Canada as well. Fear mongering: it’s the new… well, everything.

  33. farmgirljen January 16, 2015 at 9:06 pm #

    Disneyworld considers a child age 10 and up an adult…I’d be much more concerned about children left alone there then I would a car in grocery store parking lot. The laws in most states are ridiculous when it comes to the upbringing of children.

  34. Laura January 16, 2015 at 9:14 pm #

    Here’s a link to the legal age a child can stay home alone in all 50 states. Some states do not have a law in place, but many do. I thought this might be helpful, even though it doesn’t deal with leaving kids alone in vehicles.

    http://blogs.babycenter.com/mom_stories/11042014-the-legal-age-you-can-leave-your-child-home-alone-by-state/

  35. Laura January 16, 2015 at 9:42 pm #

    Oh and just found this on leaving kids alone in vehicles:

    http://ggweather.com/heat/laws.htm

  36. Emily January 16, 2015 at 9:52 pm #

    @Donna–The infant sister was fast asleep. What if the mother was at home with her baby, the older siblings were all at school, and her partner was at work, or out on an errand? Suppose the mother put her baby down for a nap, started baking something, and had to go to the neighbour’s house to borrow a cup of sugar? Or, suppose she just went outside to get the mail at the end of the driveway? Or, suppose she was just in another room on the other side of the house, so, technically in the same building, but if it’s a large house (which I’d imagine it would be, since they have five kids), the mother could be further away from the baby than she was when she left the child in the car with her older sister. Should that be considered neglect as well?

  37. Warren January 16, 2015 at 10:22 pm #

    If you look at that chart of state age limits, parents that travel are in big trouble. What is perfectly legal in your home state could get you arrested in other states. That is insane.

  38. Warren January 16, 2015 at 10:25 pm #

    Donna,
    The reasons and reasoning you stated for callers is spot on. And that is why again I say, that all 911 callers should have to identify themselves, stay and wait, and be recorded on the incident report by the police.

    If you don’t want that level of involvement, stay off the damn phone.

  39. Sarah K January 16, 2015 at 11:12 pm #

    I was hired to babysit 8 kids and the oldest was 7 when I was…get this…9. I asked my mom why she allowed it. She responded “you were capable.” They also allowed me to drive in Boston at 16 with me having a license for 4 months. Guess what? I am still capable.

  40. ChicagoDad January 16, 2015 at 11:13 pm #

    The babycenter chart isn’t accurate for illinois. The ggweather page provides a better description of illinois law. Here are some good links for the state of Lincoln:
    http://www.state.il.us/dcfs/docs/prepar_Kids.pdf

    http://www.illinoislegalaid.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.dsp_content&contentID=5701

  41. dyes_alot January 17, 2015 at 12:12 am #

    First of all, get a lawyer who specializes in these types of cases or family law. The cops and the courts are not there to help you, as you already know.

    Second, you did nothing wrong. You trust your ten year old to watch her sleeping sibling. You know your daughter best. You knew what you were doing. Trust your instincts, not other peoples.

    Thirdly, all this “it’s Maryland law” baloney is most likely baloney. We had the same thing happen to us (someone called the cops on our daughter and her friend who were walking together somewhere other than our front yard) and were told that it was Virginia law that they had to be supervised at all times. When asked how we were to know that, we were told that we should read the Virginia Code regularly. When pressed to show us where in the code it was, we found out that it was only “suggested” by CPS. There is no law saying that children must be supervised, in Virginia, at least. I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t the same in MD. That didn’t stop them from arresting me, however, telling me (in a “you should appreciate what I’ve done for you” tone) that they got it dropped from a felony to a misdemeanor.

    Having been through the same thing, I strongly, strongly, strongly suggest you get a lawyer so they can do the secret handshakes and get you out of there. I will help put money towards it if you need it, as I am sure others would.

  42. Phoenix January 17, 2015 at 12:27 am #

    To be clear, Maryland is one of the few states with a law that does clearly give ages – 8 to be alone and 13 to supervise another child. There is some ambiguity because the law says specifically in a building or confined space and police have been using it against children at parks and walking on streets, which seems very odd. So this is not like in most states where it’s up to police/CPS discretion and they tell you you’ve broken the law but it’s a vague law and just their take on it. It’s spelled out. In fact, some of the officials may want to use discretion the other way in favor of free range kids, but they can’t.

  43. serena enslow January 17, 2015 at 2:26 am #

    I’m confused by “a murderer who’s never murdered anyone is still a murderer.” I guess that makes me a murderer. It also makes me, well, anything I’ve never done that thing. I’m a chef although I’ve never worked in a restaurant, I’m a Native American although I’m first generation born in the US… the list is endless! I can be whatever I want to be! I used to think this was a good thing, apparently it’s not 🙁

  44. Shyla January 17, 2015 at 2:46 am #

    I don’t understand how she could be unaware there was a law like this. There are laws in most states for how young a child can be left alone. I’ve known this for years and I’m not even a parent. Use Google and find out.

    Parenting is hard. Sometimes things suck. Either don’t go to the store or take the 1 yr old in with you. The kid is 1 yr old. You’ll be dragging him around for many years yet. Parenting is not about convenience. I have been in this situation with my nieces. I’m sure many single mothers drag their kids everywhere when they are young. Sure it can suck doing all that work for a short shopping trip. But it is your responsibility as a mother.

    Not all of us ran all around town with no rules, even in the 70s. It’s ok to be a responsible parent. I am not for helicopter parenting either. But why isn’t there a middle of the road? Is the only reaction to helicoptering thinking that you can just leave a 1 yr old in the car?

  45. Beth January 17, 2015 at 8:01 am #

    Oh thank you Shyla, I get it now. In order to be a good mom, I need to complete all tasks in the most inconvenient inefficient way possible, because of the children.

    I’m guessing that means no car travel either; car travel IS convenient, but it kills more children than other methods of convenience ever did.

  46. Michelle January 17, 2015 at 8:19 am #

    Re, the confusion about the Maryland law. It says:

    “A person who is charged with the care of a child under the age of 8 years may not allow the child to be locked or confined in a dwelling, building, enclosure, or motor vehicle while the person charged is absent and the dwelling, building, enclosure, or motor vehicle is out of the sight of the person charged unless the person charged provides a reliable person at least 13 years old to remain with the child to protect the child.”

    That’s a lot less confusing than what some have said in the comments here. There’s no ambiguity about whether an 8 year old and a 10 year old can be left alone together (they can). It’s also very similar to the law in Texas, which says you can’t leave a child under 7 alone in the car for longer than 5 minutes unless they are accompanied by someone who is at least 14.

    Shyla, actually, there’s a lot of rumor and misunderstanding about laws like this. A lot of people believe that their state has a “law,” when no such law exists (or it’s different from what they think). For example, I know people who will insist that Texas has a law requiring babysitters, or kids left home alone, to be 12. I also have a friend who was told by a social worker that kids legally must be 12 to play outside alone. In reality, Texas has NO LAW regarding the ages for kids to play outside alone, or be left home alone, or babysit. The only similar law is the one requiring a child to be 7 — SEVEN — before you can leave him alone in a car for longer than 5 minutes.

    Personally, I still think that’s pretty ridiculous, considering that the in vast majority of cases where kids are overheating in cars, the parents did NOT leave them there on purpose. They are either forgotten, or climbed into the car on their own while playing. And the vast majority of those kids are MUCH younger than 7.

    “Parenting is hard. Sometimes things suck. Either don’t go to the store or take the 1 yr old in with you. The kid is 1 yr old. You’ll be dragging him around for many years yet. Parenting is not about convenience. I have been in this situation with my nieces. I’m sure many single mothers drag their kids everywhere when they are young. Sure it can suck doing all that work for a short shopping trip. But it is your responsibility as a mother.”

    Parenting isn’t about convenience, but it’s not about intentionally making things harder for no purpose, either! Your responsibility is to keep your child SAFE, so if your 1 year old is SAFE sleeping in her car seat for 10 minutes under the watchful eye of a 10 year old sibling, then you have fulfilled your responsibility. If waking your baby and dragging both kids into the grocery store for a quick 10 minute errand will not keep your children safer, if it serves no purpose other than proving that you are a GOOD MOTHER who does things EVEN THOUGH IT’S INCONVENIENT, I don’t even know what that is. It sounds to me like it’s more about what the neighbors will think than what’s good for the kids.

  47. Donna January 17, 2015 at 8:30 am #

    Emily – I specifically said that I don’t think what she did should be illegal. You were going on about how she was arrested for leaving a 10 year old alone. She wasn’t. The 10 year old alone was perfectly legal. She was arrested for the infant.

    But, as for your examples, it appears that all except the separate ends of the house are technically neglect in Maryland under its poorly worded statute which makes me glad that I don’t live in Maryland.

  48. Michelle January 17, 2015 at 8:31 am #

    PS, I ROUTINELY leave my 1 year old alone in the car for trips taking less than 5 minutes (like paying for gas), or longer if she is accompanied by one of teenagers (like yesterday when I ran into the grocery store to buy lunch for all the kids on the way to the Children’s Museum). And I’m not gonna stop. My 1 year old barely tolerates being in the car, and she HATES getting out for a quick errand and then having to get right back in. Once I get her settled in, I’m not going to disrupt her and then have to listen to her screaming bloody murder for the next half hour just because some busybody might look down on me for leaving her safe and sound and happy while I pay for gas.

  49. Sandy January 17, 2015 at 8:40 am #

    It’s ashame when parents have to be more worried about the supposed ‘do-gooders’ than the actual bad guys out there.

  50. lollipoplover January 17, 2015 at 8:45 am #

    “Not all of us ran all around town with no rules, even in the 70s. It’s ok to be a responsible parent. I am not for helicopter parenting either. But why isn’t there a middle of the road? Is the only reaction to helicoptering thinking that you can just leave a 1 yr old in the car?”

    This parent did go middle of the road. She left the 1 year old in the care of the 10 year-old. The child was not “unattended”. As a parent of an 11 year-old who gets paid babysitting jobs almost every weekend, I can only imagine how INSULTING this is to the 10 year-old. My daughter is in the kitchen now making a breakfast for her siblings, she’s testing a recipe she plans to cook for the 3 kids she is watching tonight. (She’s making whole wheat english muffins with peanut butter and sliced apples on top, baked in the toaster oven and sprinkled with cinnamon…my house smells heavenly right now.)
    Yet if we lived in Maryland, this confident, self-reliant, resourceful 11 year-old could get me arrested.
    That is bat shit crazy.

  51. Monnette January 17, 2015 at 9:21 am #

    As I dont believe any charges should have been placed on the mom, perhaps a warning of sorts. I do agree with another viewer who stated if you walked up to an ATM with car in sight that would be quit different. But what if a car thief decided to steal the car? What would he/she do with the children? I dont even want to think about that in todays world…
    Your in the grocery store, unaware. Your 10 yr old would be terrified and unable to prevent/protect herself or her younger sibling.
    As parents we have to unfortunately think this way…and make decisions accordingly….

  52. ChicagoDad January 17, 2015 at 9:52 am #

    My sister lives in a super nice, expensive, ultra-safe suburb. I used to put “the Club” steering wheel lock on my car when I visited her–just to drive down the property values! 😛

    Monnette’s comment have me an idea for a new prank. When I visit my sister, I’ll park my car, grab all three kids in my arms, run as fast as I can to her house, slam the door, and peer through the curtains. The neighbors will think there is a car thief hiding in the bushes!

  53. Reilley January 17, 2015 at 10:15 am #

    What people need to understand here is that the person who made that phone call is not concerned about those kids. That person is a twisted busybody who gets their jollies by causing other people grief.

  54. Michelle January 17, 2015 at 10:17 am #

    Monnette, the purpose of this website is to encourage parents that you *don’t* have to think that way, and that it is in fact detrimental.

    We call it Worst First Thinking: imagining the worst possible outcome, and proceeding as though it’s likely. The problem with it is two-fold. First, situations like the one you describe are vanishingly rare. The vast majority of car thieves have no desire to take on the huge extra risk involved in stealing a car with a kid inside, not to mention that most people have no desire to hurt a child, when they could simply steal a different car. Yes, occasionally it does happen. But occasionally children are killed in school bus crashes. Occasionally kids get sick and die from eating cheese. Occasionally otherwise healthy and athletic children suddenly drop dead from undetected heart problems while playing sports. You just can’t plan your life around avoiding every possible-but-extremely-unlikely cause of death, or you’d never do anything. (No busses! No cheese! No sports!)

    The second problem is that every precaution we take to avoid a risk, has in itself risks and drawbacks. Some trade offs are worth it, like the inconvenience of buckling your seat belt for the added safety in a crash. But many of us here do not feel it’s worth it to trade our kids’ independence, self-reliance, and important learning opportunities to protect them from imaginary risks.

  55. I don't even January 17, 2015 at 10:25 am #

    @Monette, No, the 10 y/o can’t handle ‘car thief’ on her own but she doesn’t need to. The mum may be physically weaker than the car thief and therefore not able to handle that on their own.

    Both people can handle this by drawing attention (what criminals don’t want). Heck, the 1 y/o is likely to cry when the strange person wakes her up and attract attention that way! The 10 y/o can ask for help, if necessary.

    If it’s necessary, the 10 y/o can also make an emergency call.

  56. Papilio January 17, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

    @Monnette: a car thief is out to steal a car, you know, this inanimate valuable object sitting on a parking lot or driveway, preferably without witnesses. He knows people who’ll give him money for stolen cars – again, valuable objects.
    A car thief is NOT out to steal someone else’s 10-year-old, as they can scream, call 911, draw the attention of other people, and be a general PITA when he’s just trying to do his eh, ‘job’.
    Given that we’re talking about a car culture pur sang, I can’t imagine any car thief would ever have no other option than to steal a family car with kids in it.

  57. Emily January 17, 2015 at 12:37 pm #

    >>Emily – I specifically said that I don’t think what she did should be illegal. You were going on about how she was arrested for leaving a 10 year old alone. She wasn’t. The 10 year old alone was perfectly legal. She was arrested for the infant.

    But, as for your examples, it appears that all except the separate ends of the house are technically neglect in Maryland under its poorly worded statute which makes me glad that I don’t live in Maryland.<<

    Fair enough, Donna. I misunderstood, and thought that the ten-year-old being left alone was the problem here. However, I still feel the same way about the overall issue. I mean, three years from now, Big Sister is going to be considered old enough to babysit, according to the laws in Maryland. Until then, she's going to be considered "too young" to be left alone with any child under eight; even her own siblings, for any length of time. Then, she's going to hit the "magical birthday" (thirteen in this case), and MAYBE take a babysitting course, which are neither mandatory nor standardized (I took one through St. John's Ambulance when I was twelve, and it was just a one-day thing), and all of a sudden, she's good to go, when she's had no real-life practice at any of the skills required to babysit.

  58. ARM January 17, 2015 at 12:37 pm #

    Flurry – If you re-read my comment, you’ll see I agree with you 100%. As I said, hot car death was irrelevant to this case.

    About cases in the DC area, the Washington Post Magazine had an interesting article by Gene Weingarten in 2010 (it won a Pulitzer, I think) about the phenomenon of infants forgotten in cars; many of the cases he discusses were in Virginia, where prosecutors appear to be particularly aggressive about this. I was just saying that probably makes people in the area a bit obsessed with it. But as I said, I agree with you that’s irrelevant to leaving a child in the car for a short errand, and all the more irrelevant when a ten-year-old is there too.

    By the way, there’s another free-range point that could be made here about hot car death, which is that turning infant seats to be rear-facing – intended as a safety measure – had the unintended consequence of causing an epidemic of hot car death that didn’t exist before. Yet another case where trying eliminate one risk creates another.

  59. kate January 17, 2015 at 12:47 pm #

    “A murderer that has never murdered anyone in the past doesn’t make them any less of a murderer.” Does this mean that everyone we meet is a potential murderer waiting for the chance to kill a couple of children left in a car for 10 minutes??

  60. Chris January 17, 2015 at 1:01 pm #

    The problem, I think, it’s that in the United States your child is the property of the state.

    That is why they can charge you for how they “feel” about something or “interpret” a specific situation.

    It’s completely up to them, because your child… isn’t yours.

  61. sanity clause January 17, 2015 at 1:19 pm #

    I remember when I was going to elementary school in Fairfax County, Virginia in the early 1960s, the rule was that the buses only served areas >1 mile from the school; if you lived closer than that, you were expected to walk. (Some parents dropped their kids off at school, but not a substantial number at my school.) And even if you were a 6 year old first-grader, nobody checked to see if you were walking alone or with older kids. (At first, I walked with my big sister, who was all of 7, but after that, usually by myself.) They did have crossing guards at the more heavily trafficked streets near the school, but that was about it. (And the crossing guards were the more responsible 4th-6th grade kids, between 9 and 12 years old.)

    I tried to find Maryland policy on walking v. bus riding, because i seems to me that that should have some bearing on this, but my Google-fu was weak just now.

  62. bsolar January 17, 2015 at 1:26 pm #

    @Chris: “The problem, I think, it’s that in the United States your child is the property of the state. That is why they can charge you for how they “feel” about something or “interpret” a specific situation. It’s completely up to them, because your child… isn’t yours.”

    A child cannot be property of anyone: not of the state nor of anyone else *including the parents*. It’s true that parents get to decide for they children, but limitations do apply: if the state finds that the decision is severely against the child’s best interest it can and must intervene. Note that this is definitely not something specific of the US.

    The problem is not the principle: I’m fine with the state intervening against irresponsible parents actually endangering their children with irresponsible decisions. The problem is setting the standard straight about what should actually be considered “irresponsible” in the first place.

  63. Dee January 17, 2015 at 1:27 pm #

    I find these situations so frustrating. If there are laws like this, they need to be widely publicized like, oh, speed limits, drinking age, or no shirt/no shoes. Wait, that’s probably not a law, but we do have signs all over the place for it. Publicize the damn laws so we can do something about. Find an articulate politician (difficult at times) who will embrace it in your state and make the change. Fortunately, there seems to be a growing majority who finally recognize common sense. When the MD case hit our local news, I read the comments hesitantly, sure that in what can be a politically conservative community that there would be lots of support for the law. Nope. Everyone felt that parents’ rights were being stomped on. At some point, we have to be left to decide what is right for our kids. Yes, there are lines to draw that would demonstrate a parent should be arrested. But that would be abuse, true neglect – leaving a toddler for a week, not providing food for your child. We have to turn the tide the other way.

  64. Kim January 17, 2015 at 2:13 pm #

    I do not understand the people here saying that the Maryland law is confusing. It is very clear that children aged 12 and under can not be in charge of children under the age of 8.

    I’ve lived in Maryland almost my entire 40 years and I’ve known since I was 11 that the law stated I could not watch my little brother since I was not 13.

  65. Kim January 17, 2015 at 2:14 pm #

    Maryland Child Protective Services Procedures (SSA95-13) define an “unattended child” as:
    A child under eight left alone or in the care of a person who is not reliable or who is under 13.
    A child aged eight through 12 left alone for longer than brief periods without support systems which should include phone numbers of parents, other family members or neighbors, information about personal safety, and what to do in an emergency. Children in this age group may not be left to care for children under the age of eight.
    A child 12 or over who is left alone for long hours or overnight or with responsibilities beyond capabilities or where there is some special risk factor such as mental retardation or physical handicap that would indicate that the child may be in jeopardy.
    A child who has been abandoned.
    A child of any age who is handicapped and left alone, if the handicapping condition constitutes a special risk factor which indicates that the child is in jeopardy.
    Maryland Family Law, 5-701(p) states that NEGLECT is “the leaving of a child unattended or other failure to give proper care and attention to a child by any parent or other person who has permanent or temporary care or custody or responsibility for supervision under circumstances that indicate: that the child’s health or welfare is harmed or placed at substantial risk of harm.”

  66. Simon Elliott January 17, 2015 at 2:20 pm #

    Of the cases where kids die in hot cars, there many are due to parents whop completely spaced out from exhaustion caring for children.

    Perhaps this a result of laws that criminalize parents having a nap. After all, if society expects parents to be always on guard for their children until they are 8, when can the parents sleep?

  67. Tamara January 17, 2015 at 3:00 pm #

    bsolar:

    I think Chris is right – we all want to believe that what you say is true, and in my opinion it’s not exactly a matter of being property, but who has control over how your child is raised and the fact is that in the States, from what I hear, and in Canada, the government is attempting to exercise that control more and more. In the name of “the best interests of the child” to which I call extreme bullshit.

    you say: “if the state finds that the decision is severely against the child’s best interest it can and must intervene.”

    really? I assume you are talking about severe abuse which of course must be intervened with, but this post from Lenore alone proves that the parent is no way the person responsible for their own child! They ARRESTED HER because she left her baby in a car with a capable older child, a decision she made based on knowing her children. Who decides what is neglect or abuse? the government, your nosy neighbour, that lady you have never seen before but pulls out her cell phone when you leave your child outside a store for 5 mminutes. Not you. not anymore, and especially not if the “experts” disagree.

  68. Mark January 17, 2015 at 3:02 pm #

    I see no harm in his either and laws should err on the side of parental discretion. But I have asked my wife not to leave our 10 year old in the car watching his younger brothers (7 & 3) for fear of the “good samaritan”. Better to send the 10 year old into the store and she wait. 😉

    I’m sure someone will give us trouble about it, but it’s a little easier to deal with just the 10 yo on his own. He happened to skip a grade, so I would focus on him being in middle school.

    We shouldn’t have to think this way, but I try to minimize the problems I can.

  69. Tamara January 17, 2015 at 3:18 pm #

    So, Mark, you are willing to sacrifice your own beliefs about your children and your wife (who must believe there is no harm in leaving your kids alone for a short period) because of what someone else may think or do? And that is ok with you?

    I am not trying to give you trouble about it, really, as I have done the same with my two – I will ask them to come in with me some days simply because of the good samaritan factor – but I am tired of it! I am tired of feeling scared that someone else may ‘tell on me’ and accuse me of being neglectful and at times the fear keeps me on the ‘safe side’ just to avoid the hassle. So in my opinion the whole idea of just doing what you are told to be on the safe side just isn’t worth it anymore, not when in fact it will be MY children who pay the price for my lack of courage to stand up for their rights and my own.

    So I guess what I am asking is: is the trade off of “no hassle” with other parents or the law, actually worth going against what you feel your kids are personally capable of? Of keeping them below official radar so that life is easier? I have the feeling it may be for many people and then how will this life we are generating for our children improve? Childhood will be eradicated completely before long.

  70. bsolar January 17, 2015 at 3:27 pm #

    @Kim, the key part of what you cite is the following:

    “NEGLECT is “the leaving of a child unattended or other failure to give proper care and attention to a child by any parent or other person who has permanent or temporary care or custody or responsibility for supervision *under circumstances that indicate: that the child’s health or welfare is harmed or placed at substantial risk of harm*.”

    There is no question that the child was left unattended: what I question is whether that “harmed the child’s health or welfare or placed it at substantial risk of harm”, which is a necessary condition to configure neglect.

    The standard should be placed with as much objectivity as possible and I bet that taking statistics into account it would be easy to demonstrate that leaving a child in a car unattended for a few minutes in the situation described in the article does not constitute “substantial risk”, so according to the law it should not constitute neglect.

    Sadly objective judgement is often replaced by gut feelings and negativity bias.

  71. bsolar January 17, 2015 at 3:38 pm #

    @Tamara, Chris is right in the sense that there is an overreach and abuse of authority from the state against the rights of the parent, but I never questioned that. What I question is that the discussion cannot be framed with concepts such as “property”, nor dismissed with the idea that “the parent is the one who has the right to decide” period.

  72. Beth January 17, 2015 at 5:14 pm #

    “Who decides what is neglect or abuse? the government, your nosy neighbour, that lady you have never seen before but pulls out her cell phone when you leave your child outside a store for 5 mminutes.”

    And how on earth has it been determined in our society that the nosy neighbor, the lady, and the government love and care about a child more than its parents do?

  73. pentamom January 17, 2015 at 5:26 pm #

    “Parenting is hard. Sometimes things suck. Either don’t go to the store or take the 1 yr old in with you. The kid is 1 yr old. You’ll be dragging him around for many years yet. ”

    Except you don’t give ONE GOOD REASON why it isn’t perfectly fine to leave the 1 year old WITH the 10 year old.

    So, parenting is hard. Sometimes things suck. Either don’t go to the store or take the 25 year old with you. The kid is 25 years old. He’s got another 50 years of life expectancy. You’ll be dragging him around for many years yet, at least until YOU die.

    Don’t tell me my analogy doesn’t work UNLESS you can give me a reason WHY it’s not safe for a 10 year old to be left briefly supervising a 1 year old in a car. Because as it is, you gave no reason why she should take the kid with her except “it’s her kid,” which is no reason at all.

  74. pentamom January 17, 2015 at 5:30 pm #

    “But what if a car thief decided to steal the car? What would he/she do with the children?”

    What would *I* do if a car thief decided to steal a car I’m sitting in? I’m 49 years old and I can’t fight off any adult male and probably not most females. Should I not be left alone in a car with a baby?

  75. pentamom January 17, 2015 at 5:32 pm #

    And BTW, in “today’s world,” just like in all previous worlds, most people interested in stealing cars are 1) not interested in having to deal with the complication of kids in the car and will therefore move on to a different car and 2) no more likely than the general population than to be someone who would harm a child. Car thieves are generally petty criminals in it for the money. And most people, car thief or not, aren’t interesting in hurting kids.

  76. Simon Elliott January 17, 2015 at 5:35 pm #

    Maryland Law, section 5-701(r) defines neglect as “leaving of a child unattended or other failure to give proper care and attention …under circumstances that indicate:
    (1) that the child’s health or welfare is harmed or placed at substantial risk of harm; or
    (2) mental injury to the child or a substantial risk of mental injury.”

    I fail to see how the above circumstances indicate that the child was at “substantial risk of harm”

    I’d also question the prosecution of the parents for this one incident. Section 5 generally speaks extensively of investigation and assistance, not immediate prosecution or probation (e.g. 5-706, 5-710). Thus, it could be argued that State Law limits Montgomery County.

  77. Michelle January 17, 2015 at 5:53 pm #

    Wait… did anyone see this part of the guidelines Kim posted that define this as leaving your child “unattended”?

    “A child 12 or over who is left alone for long hours or overnight…”

    That sounds reasonable until you realize that “12 or over” would mean all the way up to 17 years old! So, are these guidelines saying it’s not ok for a high schooler to be home alone all day during the summer while their parents are at work? That’s 8-10 hours a day, but even when I was in high school (in the late 90s), that was considered completely normal. And you can’t leave a 16-17 year old overnight?? Really?

    I realize that paragraph has a lot of other conditions for when leaving a child over 12 alone is not ok, that sound pretty reasonable, but it says OR, not AND, so it seems to me that they are saying that leaving a teenager for “long hours or overnight” is not allowed.

    Bsolar, I agree that there is a LOGICAL difference between leaving a child unattended and neglect, but if the law defines neglect, in part, as leaving a child unattended, and then guidelines go on to define what it means to leave a child unattended, the result is going to be parents charged with neglect for leaving their children “unattended” according to the definition in the guidelines.

  78. Margot January 17, 2015 at 6:05 pm #

    OMG! Where do I turn myself in?

  79. bsolar January 17, 2015 at 6:41 pm #

    @Michelle, this is not how I interpret the law cited above, I understood the law as Simon Elliott did, the comment above yours: Unattended alone is not enough to configure neglect, you need unattended + “harmed or placed at substantial risk of harm”.

    Basically leaving children unattended but not at risk of harm is legal (assuming the interpretation is correct). This makes sense, otherwise leaving a child alone in his own room could be considered neglect. I *hope* we can all agree it would be ridiculous.

  80. Tamara January 17, 2015 at 6:49 pm #

    “What I question is that the discussion cannot be framed with concepts such as “property”, nor dismissed with the idea that “the parent is the one who has the right to decide” period.”

    Yes,granted, but what is the solution?

    Who should be given the authority to decide? In theory, by default the decision should go to the parents, always – but what about bad parents? Again who decides?

    You said: The standard should be placed with as much objectivity as possible and I bet that taking statistics into account it would be easy to demonstrate that leaving a child in a car unattended for a few minutes in the situation described in the article does not constitute “substantial risk”, so according to the law it should not constitute neglect.

    What if the lawmakers or enforcers are not reasonable people? This must be the case because this story proves it happened anyway, despite the “logical” definition of neglect.

    Bad laws encroaching on family lives with far more desctruction than prevention or detection of abuses.

  81. bsolar January 17, 2015 at 6:56 pm #

    @pentamom, it actually happened a few months ago and made the news here. A woman went to quickly buy something and left her 2-months old in the car, which got stolen immediately. The thieves after a while realised they had a “guest”, left the car, ringed the doorbell of a house nearby and disappeared.

    As far as I know there are no charges whatsoever against the mom.

  82. bsolar January 17, 2015 at 7:17 pm #

    @Tamara: “Who should be given the authority to decide?”

    A judge, obviously. Hopefully a sane one, but ultimately a judge can only act within the limits of the law, which brings us the second point:

    “Bad laws encroaching on family lives with far more desctruction than prevention or detection of abuses.”

    Bad laws are made by bad lawmakers which, at least in democratic countries, are chosen by the people. “Every democratic country has the government it deserves”. So try to elect lawmakers with principles you agree with and if the constitution of your country allows it, try to repel bad laws or force the government to write good laws.

    Basically, the solution is to win a cultural battle. I never promised something easy. 🙂

  83. Tamara January 17, 2015 at 7:45 pm #

    No, I don’t think a judge is the answer – this case, and the many many like it, should never have to make it to a judge!

    yes, “Every democratic country has the government it deserves”. and we certainly have ours. The truth is our apathy towards our democratic process has cost us. We no longer run the government – the basic premise is that we elect representatives to enact our wishes, or at least the wishes of the majority – that’s not true anymore, the government now tells us what to do has been corrupted by corporations with the money to make the laws they want. You can vote all you want, it will not make a difference anymore. So your solution just won’t work because it is based on actual democracy.

    It is not a cultural battle, it is a battle for control over money and resources.

  84. pentamom January 17, 2015 at 8:07 pm #

    bsolar, I didn’t mean to imply it couldn’t happen. But that’s what I had in mind — they really didn’t want to deal with the kid, and found a relatively safe way of “dumping” the kid immediately. It’s not like car thieves and murderous predators are the same profile.

  85. tinfoil hattie January 17, 2015 at 8:17 pm #

    I know everyone gets sick of hearing “when I was young” stories, but … I was born in 1960 and my mother ROUTINELY left all 5 kids in the car while she went inside. My older brother would have been anywhere from age 9-12 during these trips. Charon, you did NOTHING wrong. Nothing!

  86. tinfoil hattie January 17, 2015 at 8:38 pm #

    PS: Also, the way MD law reads, two kids under the age of 13 can never be alone together. Not at the park, not riding bikes, not walking along a sidewalk. Because they are considered “under the care of” each other, I guess.

    Also, last fall, my husband and I went to a wedding many states away. We left our 17-year-old and 14-year-old alone. For 4 days and 3 nights. They got up, went to school, came home, went out to dinner, saw a movie, went to their music lessons. Watched TV and played video games, too. The 17-year-old turned 18 two days after we got back. ARREST ME

  87. SWaldron January 17, 2015 at 9:08 pm #

    @Monnette, oh, please. Underestimating the capabilities of children is one of the things this website is trying to reverse. Kids are hugely capable, and will surprise you if given the chance. If you want to play the endless “what if” game, knock yourself out. I won’t play it. And I don’t think I should ever get in trouble for not being an overreactive worry wart. As for kids dealing with a carjacker, well – we make them fierce in Texas: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/twin-boys-fight-kidnapper-carjacking-texas-article-1.1760852

  88. Warren January 17, 2015 at 9:19 pm #

    Okay let’s get one thing straight. Car thieves do not want anything to do with kids.
    Look at this way. Two identical vehicles, one empty the other has a child in it. One won’t warrant much attention while the other will instigate an Amber Alert.

    And all this debate about how the law is written is nonsense. The law was written to avoid having babysitters at that young an age. I was not written to prevent siblings from playing in the park. But now the paranoid public demands it does.

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  90. Mark January 17, 2015 at 10:17 pm #

    My 10yo still gets the experience of grocery shopping in his own.

    But i agree, until we stop letting the busy bodies change our behavior, this kind of thing won’t get better. However, without enough money for a good lawyer, I still have to minimize my risk.

    We agree on parental discretion, I’m just not ready to push my luck (but I’m happy others are and they will get moral support from me).

  91. Missy January 17, 2015 at 10:26 pm #

    Please. Three and four year olds used to work in factories and sweep chimneys, walking to and from work alone. I’m not advocating for child labor at ALL. But I think if a four year old can sweep out a chimney, collect a paycheck, and make it home all alone, a ten year old can watch a sleeping baby in a car.

  92. SOA January 17, 2015 at 10:39 pm #

    absurd. A responsible 10 year old is perfectly capable of watching a sleeping baby in a car for a few minutes. My mother used to leave me in the car at that age with the keys to run the radio or ac or heat and the door locks and sometimes would even leave the kids she babysat in there with me to watch out for them too.

    In a safe neighborhood in broad daylight in a grocery store parking lot there was nothing going to happen to us. Kids are more likely to get hit by a car in a parking lot than be kidnapped or shot or something sitting in a car.

  93. Ally January 17, 2015 at 10:44 pm #

    Oh how I yearn for the good ole days when Ma left me at home with her boyfriend while she went off to church. Hallaluah! And the boyfriend got my brother a job as a night custodian with some gay guys. We been independent thinkers ever since? Mmmm hmmm. Thank the lordy nobody stuck their buarecratic noses in our business like em do today.

  94. Yocheved January 17, 2015 at 10:47 pm #

    You think that’s bad? From the Washington State code: “leaving a minor child or children under the age of sixteen years unattended in the vehicle.”

    SIXTEEN years old!

    But then again, what do I know? I’ve never smoked crack before, but by their logic I could start smoking it any minute now. *rolleyes*

  95. Beth January 17, 2015 at 11:04 pm #

    Kim, since you have known about and completely understood this MD law since you were 11, could you address the questions about it that have been raised by several commenters? Thanks.

  96. Ally January 17, 2015 at 11:05 pm #

    I wonder who these people commenting on here would call if one of their children was missing? Surely not one of the busybody governmet organizations that tried to proactively set up some reasonable protections in the society? I guess they would just get online and ask their cohorts to help out. Right?

  97. Ally January 17, 2015 at 11:23 pm #

    Beth, I guess Kim was a free range kid who knew how to look things up and speak up for her pov. Kudos to her. Free range, does that mean adhering strictly to the hot new parenting fad?

  98. Ally January 17, 2015 at 11:31 pm #

    Shyla, Why would a chicken stand in the middle of the road when it can roam around the range? If you keep acting like you don’t agree with the flock, we might have to peck at you!

  99. everydayrose January 17, 2015 at 11:56 pm #

    @Yocheved…I live in WA State and I was shocked to see that too, but it actually says that it’s illegal when the car is left running. When it’s not running it’s fine. Of course, I’ve left my 10 and 13 year old children in a running car many times so that they can listen to the radio or run the heater or whatever and now I’m debating whether it’s worth the risk to do it in the future. Unbelievable.

  100. Tamara January 18, 2015 at 12:13 am #

    “I wonder who these people commenting on here would call if one of their children was missing? Surely not one of the busybody governmet organizations that tried to proactively set up some reasonable protections in the society? I guess they would just get online and ask their cohorts to help out. Right?”

    Oh, Ally, how funny. Yes, of course, I would immediately draw on the free range kids crowd to find my missing child. I’m sure we could set up an e-trap wide enough

    What point are you trying to make here? Are you accusing some of us of armchair activism?

    If my child went missing I can tell you I would certainly not *only* sit back on my ass and rely on the police to find them.

  101. Beth January 18, 2015 at 12:59 am #

    Ally, whatever you just said doesn’t mean that Kim can’t explain the law to those of us with questions about its interpretation.

  102. Ally January 18, 2015 at 1:11 am #

    Tamara, Here’s some sources that can say it better than I can:
    http://www.crime-safety-security.com/Free-Range-Kids.html

    or Dylan in “Subterranean Homesick Blues” “I’m on the pavement..Thinking about the government…”
    “Look out kid, You’re gonna get hit, But losers, cheaters, six-time users, Hang around the theatres, Girl by the whirlpool, Lookin for the new tool, Don’t follow leaders, watch the parking meters…”

  103. Nicole January 18, 2015 at 4:46 am #

    I’m pro CPS and pro laws that protect against *actual* child neglect and abuse. This isn’t child neglect, nor is it abuse.

    You can let your child jump around the back seat, without a car seat or even a seat belt, and you’ll get a less harsh punishment than this mom had. Kids die all the time because they aren’t in car seats, yet have we heard of a *single* death where a 10 year old child was in the car and able to freely leave the car? It’s just ridiculous.

    Even if this scenario was sub optimal parenting (I don’t think it was, but let’s pretend for a moment) mom STILL does not deserve criminal charges to be pressed. She shouldn’t be treated like someone who shoplifted or defaced property FFS. Maybe we need to start push for citations for sub optimal parenting, at least then the police would be able to issue hand slaps that wouldn’t cause as much distress.

  104. El Beau January 18, 2015 at 5:22 am #

    Sure, if the car gets hot a 10 year old can open the door.

    Now how about if a mentally ill person approaches the car? Lots of mentally ill homeless in pretty much every city. Or someone high as a kite on drugs? Plenty of those, too.

    Can a 10 year old handle that? Did the kid have a phone to call 911 (as if they could get there in time)? No?

    A ten year old might be okay to babysit at home. Behind a locked door. In a car? No. Just….no. Oh, waking the baby and taking the kids in to the store is a lot of work? Yeah, that’s called parenting.

  105. hineata January 18, 2015 at 5:46 am #

    El beau – really? Get a grip!

    This is one of the dumber stories recently. Mum did nothing at all wrong. I am flabbergasted that a ten year old would be considered too young to sit with a baby in a car. Just ridiculous!

    As for all the ‘what if’ nonsense, the answer is to leave the keys with the 10 year old. Then she can simply slip the car into gear and run down all those mentally ill homeless, or carjackers, or beings from the planet Trug that are waiting behind the bushes in the car park ready to attack….

  106. Ally January 18, 2015 at 7:46 am #

    I wonder if the cops are so uptight because they deal with the reality of the “what ifs” frequently? Why gamble with your children’s live? What if this site posted some stories about parents who left their kids unsupervised and they were harmed? It happens. It only has to happen to your child once. It is not good parenting to leave kids in public unsupervised. It is a parents primary job to keep kids safe, not to dash into a store for 10 minutes. Or is 10 minutes safe and 30 minutes isn’t?How long is too long?

  107. Buffy January 18, 2015 at 8:07 am #

    @Ally, your comments are not even worth responding to. Go troll somewhere else.

  108. Heidi January 18, 2015 at 8:22 am #

    I live in Maryland. Maryland law explicitly states that children need to be 13 before they can watch other children. So, the mom broke the law. Here is a link to more on the law. At the link there is a brief synopsis and then a link to the actual law.

    http://www.peoples-law.org/unattended-children

  109. Heidi January 18, 2015 at 8:23 am #

    Whoops, the additional link didn’t work. Here’s one that does:

    http://law.justia.com/codes/maryland/2005/gfl/5-801.html

  110. Corran addison January 18, 2015 at 9:55 am #

    This is stupid. At 6yrd old Id walk over a mile to school and back home. By 7 or 8 my two younger brothers and I would dissapear for the whole day on our bicycles (under my “supervision”) and not return home until dark. We’d come home scraped and banged up from 4hrs or horseplay, but otherwise perfectly fine. What’s wrong with this country? I fully intend to raise my child the way I was. Free to discover himself and grow as a person without oppressive over protection. The “law” can bite me! I will decide what’s best for my child. Not some random over protective judge.

  111. Beth January 18, 2015 at 9:55 am #

    “Now how about if a mentally ill person approaches the car? Lots of mentally ill homeless in pretty much every city. Or someone high as a kite on drugs? Plenty of those, too.”

    And they ALL hang around store parking lots watching for parents to run in without their kids, and have knowledge and tools at the ready to break into a locked vehicle. Gosh, the news should really pick up on this epidemic of homeless mentally ill high people trying to kidnap (if that’s what you were saying they would do) children!

  112. Emily January 18, 2015 at 9:59 am #

    @El Beau–What if the mother took both children into the store? What if the one-year-old screamed the place down because she’d been woken up? What if this made everyone else in the store think, “What a horrible mother, taking her child shopping when she’s all overtired?” That outcome is much more likely than someone swooping into a grocery store parking lot in broad daylight, and kidnapping a baby and a ten-year-old from a parked car. People complain all the time about screaming children in public places, and they say that parents shouldn’t put their kids in situations that they aren’t developmentally ready for. A one-year-old isn’t going to handle being woken up and taken into a grocery store full of stimuli–bright lights, bright colours, Muzak, beeping cash registers, other people–and is likely going to cry. Some people might figure that that’s forgivable at one year old, but how old would the child have to be before it’s no longer forgivable? Two? Three? Four? Five? Nobody knows. So, the mother decided that her ten-year-old daughter WAS developmentally ready to watch her baby sister for ten minutes while she ran into the store to grab something quickly. Maybe she didn’t even know about the law, because, as previous posters said, it’s not very well publicized, and most people don’t Google the law for something as seemingly trivial as this–instead, they think “Can my child handle this?” THAT’s called parenting, El Beau–making a judgement call based on your own child.

  113. Ally January 18, 2015 at 11:57 am #

    Buffy, I am a human being with an opinion, not a troll. Are opinions that agree with the flock the only onesallowed here? If was a free range child who learned how to think critically. Isn’t that the goal of this philosophical fad?? To raise independent people who can make decisions for themselves? But if my decision is to follow the laws that were put in place to protect children, then I am not allowed to express my decision?

  114. Ally January 18, 2015 at 12:04 pm #

    I would rather have people complain about my child screaming in the store than return to the car and find my child harmed or missing.

  115. pentamom January 18, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

    “Now how about if a mentally ill person approaches the car? Lots of mentally ill homeless in pretty much every city. Or someone high as a kite on drugs? Plenty of those, too.

    Can a 10 year old handle that? Did the kid have a phone to call 911 (as if they could get there in time)? No?”

    If any sort of person who weighed more than about 80 pounds was intent on getting into my car and doing harm to my kids I COULDN’T RELIABLY STOP THEM EITHER.

  116. pentamom January 18, 2015 at 12:48 pm #

    So what, then, small not very strong women shouldn’t be allowed to be alone with their kids, either? Or take them anywhere in public?

    Or maybe, that is SUCH an unlikely prospect that we don’t worry about it happening, so I’m free to go out with my kids. And it’s unlikely enough that it’s safe to leave the 10 year old, too.

    As for the 911 thing, before 1990-something almost nobody had a phone to call 911 either. And yet, people who were not necessary capable of single-handedly taking down crazy people left the house. But of course, maybe the marauding crazies problem has just increased so much that it’s different now, right?

  117. pentamom January 18, 2015 at 12:51 pm #

    “I would rather have people complain about my child screaming in the store than return to the car and find my child harmed or missing.”

    I would rather risk the amazingly tiny chance of having a child be “harmed or missing” in a busy parking lot in the middle of the day, than having them run over in a parking lot while trying to get them into the store — which is vastly more likely.

  118. SOA January 18, 2015 at 1:14 pm #

    Dude in a safe neighborhood in broad daylight in a crowded parking lot if someone approached a locked car and tried to mess with the kids inside, all they would have to do is honk the horn repeatedly and set off the panic button on the keys and voila- many passersby would come help.

    Plus last time I checked unless you have a brick or a gun to take out a car window a locked car is quite hard to get into.

  119. Tamara January 18, 2015 at 1:15 pm #

    Ally,

    Have your opinion, no one is suggesting otherwise. Your remarks are not opinion, however, they are just commentary designed to piss people off. You are being a sh*t disturber. Which is a troll by definition.

  120. SOA January 18, 2015 at 1:20 pm #

    Someone mentioned the whole lay saying you can’t leave kids 12 and up alone all day or overnight. LOL when I was in school in the 80s and 90s all the parents that worked left the kids alone at home during the day in the summer. I spent many a summer days at my friend’s house with her and her older brother while her parents were at work. There was my mom and other neighbors we could go to for help if we needed to. It was a nice neighborhood in broad daylight. We even went outside and rode bikes. We did not even stay cooped up in the house.

    Her grandparents lived downstairs in a separate apartment but we never heard a peep out of them. They never actually checked on us so much as once. We forgot they were even down there.

    My parents started leaving me alone overnight at 16 once I could drive. They figured since I had a car (not a very good one but a car) that if I needed something I could go get it myself. I had neighbors I could go to if need be.

  121. Papilio January 18, 2015 at 1:21 pm #

    “I’m 49 years old and I can’t fight off any adult male and probably not most females.”
    OMG Pentamom, I can’t BELIEVE you just put that on the internet! Now all car thiefs in the WORLD will track you down and come after you! 😛
    “And most people, car thief or not, aren’t interesting in hurting kids.”
    Yes – that’s such an interesting thing I noticed in the comments around the web on Lenore’s articles: that people just seem to assume that just because someone is criminal in 1 aspect, it means they must be willing to do everything and anything criminal. As if all crimes are in exactly the same league.

  122. Mandy January 18, 2015 at 1:39 pm #

    What if? What if? What if?

    What if an asteroid landed on the car? What if there was a tornado? What if a drunk driver came barreling through the parking lot and smashed the car? What if a drunk, high, mentally ill child-molesting carjacking alien swooped down and kidnapped the kids?

    Oh wait, an adult couldn’t do much in any of those scenarios, either. Guess I should have been arrested last night as I waited in the car with the kids while my husband bought the beer (does buying beer make us unfit parents?).

    Regarding the ages kids can be left alone, I went to college at 17+1 month. My best friend was still 16 when she went off to college. So was my great-grandfather. Then he falsified his papers to join the army at 16. I traveled Europe with just my friend at 17. Why do people think kids are incompetent?

  123. Puzzled January 18, 2015 at 1:53 pm #

    >If was a free range child who learned how to think critically. >Isn’t that the goal of this philosophical fad??

    I’m a little tired of perfectly normal things, like not being insane about kids (or, similarly, eating non-processed foods) being called fads. That aside, though, critical thinking is more than just having an opinion. You could try actually engaging with the responses others have made instead of chanting “it’s the law” and making the bizarre insinuations that leaving a 10 year old (!) in a car means you don’t care about your kids. Instead, you simply repeat your points, don’t engage with others, and act insulting – then wonder why people don’t care to respect that.

  124. Beth January 18, 2015 at 1:59 pm #

    What if she took the children into the store, and they walked into or ended up as victims because an armed robber was inside at the time? Or a bomb was planted in the store, and went off? Or a confused or impaired driver drove right through the front window of the store, and injured (or worse) several people including the children?

    See? We can play “what if” for inside the store too.

  125. Ally January 18, 2015 at 2:21 pm #

    Okay. I thought my statements did respond to the issues and express a point of view. I am not a sh*t disturbe
    or a troll. If you don’t like my posts, don’t read them. You don’t have to insult me and metaphorically peck at me because you do not like what I have to say.

  126. lollipoplover January 18, 2015 at 2:21 pm #

    “I’ve lived in Maryland almost my entire 40 years and I’ve known since I was 11 that the law stated I could not watch my little brother since I was not 13.”

    So instead of a parent determining the unique skill set of their child’s maturity, responsibility, and capability as a suitable babysitter for siblings, parents must defer to an arbitrary number determined by the state?
    What other milestones do you let the state determine for you?
    Personally, my 11 year-old is more responsible than my 13 year-old and gets more babysitting jobs (though the 13 yo has all the dog sitting jobs on the block). Parents tell her the kids request her because she actually plays with them (she likes crafts) and isn’t glued to a smart phone like the teenage sitters they’ve had.

    Between 10 and 13 is a GREAT age to start babysitting.
    Maturity is not determined by birthdays. It is slowly cultivated with incremental responsibilities and parental guidance. Please don’t tell me “It’s the Law!” as a reason to not parent my kids.
    Here are other laws in Maryland you can also refer to:

    http://www.dumblaws.com/laws/united-states/maryland

    “Sorry Honey, No BJ for you! It’s the LAW.”

  127. Emily Morris January 18, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

    Ally, you post a link to an inflammatory article that does not distinguish between true child neglect. You suggest social views of one’s parenting is infinitely more important than true child safety. You celebrate every time a child is killed in a busy parking lot – I derive this by your refusal to let us keep kids safe.

  128. Ally January 18, 2015 at 2:26 pm #

    Don’t worry. I won’t post here any more. It is useless trying to suggest there are other sides to an issue to people invested in shoring up their points of view. Enjoy buying Lenore’s books. I am sure she appreciates it.

  129. Papilio January 18, 2015 at 2:32 pm #

    Ally…

    Where shall I start? The best advice I can give you is to read Lenore’s book, listen to some of her longer radio interviews/podcasts and/or watch that show, because just reading the posts on this blog won’t give you a good enough overview of what FRK really is about/what Lenore really thinks. I know I sound like a free ad right now, but it’s really better to form your own opinion on FRK than to rely on that piece on crime-safety-security. Because, frankly, there is a lot wrong with that piece. The tone of the article is sarcastic with a lot of ad hominem attacks and other irrelevant criticism, such as on the writing style of the book. In her show, Lenore worked with kids between the ages of 16 and 6 (the latter were always younger siblings), yet most negative examples the authors provide of things that supposedly will happen to FR kids, are of children between 3 and 6 – quite a different age range. Furthermore, the authors seem unable or unwilling to understand the difference between FR parenting and true neglect. They also accuse her of not providing an age and time limit in which it IS okay to leave kids in cars, ignoring that these things highly depend on the circumstances: something Lenote DOES say.
    I could go on, but I don’t feel like giving that article more attention than I already did. It’s garbage, Ally. Please get your info/ideas about what FRK is straight from the horse’s mouth, look up the FBI crime statistics, try to understand the difference between a tiny risk (kidnapping) that is inflated all the time and a big risk (cars) we all ignore on a daily basis, and make up your own mind, independent from biased articles.

  130. Lori Gates January 18, 2015 at 2:36 pm #

    This is just absurd.

  131. Ally January 18, 2015 at 2:41 pm #

    I have no idea how ypu construe anything I have posted to indicate I celebrate the death of a child. That is a really mean and nasty thing to say to me. Would you teach your kids to behave that way? The libk I posted is advocating for a middle of the road,, safe approach to parenting. I thought it was well written and thought provoking in regards to issues on this site.

  132. Ally January 18, 2015 at 2:46 pm #

    I have read the book. I actually agree with some of it, but I happen to think a lot of this is dangerous thinking. Whatever. This is obviously not a place where one can disagree with the general sentiment without being cast out. Good bye.

  133. Puzzled January 18, 2015 at 3:07 pm #

    And yes, the cops are likely uptight precisely because they see the ‘bad stuff.’ The same is true for my profession (one of them, anyway.) That’s why I remind myself on a regular basis that when I see this ‘bad stuff’ it’s the outlier, not the norm – I see it often because no one calls me to say “everything’s good.” So the cops aren’t particularly experts, they’re just exposed to a biased sample.

  134. Judy January 18, 2015 at 3:24 pm #

    There was another option for the person who observed the children in the car and reported them. If that person was concerned that the children were in danger, he or she could have waited nearby, in an unobtrusive place so as to not frighten the 10-year-old, until the parent returned. Then, if something untoward happened, the observer could have taken action. If the parent returned and all was well, the good Samaritan could have faded away. As a nation, we have become so afraid of “getting involved” that we call authorities to deal with any issue we see.

    I am a farmer who sells at a farmers market. One day a toddler escaped from his apparently neglectful mother and was making a bee-line toward the street. It was very gratifying to see multiple farmers start to sprint out of their stands to intercept the child. It turned out that the child was heading toward another adult who was standing near the street and that the mother was not being neglectful at all. But even if this was not so, he would have never made it to the street with all the farmers in pursuit.

  135. Tamara January 18, 2015 at 4:11 pm #

    Yes, Judy, I was thinking that too, but then I wondered why don’t people just do that? Of course you would never know when they don’t but it seems more people get off on just having their moment to be a hero. And if they are wrong, well better safe than sorry right? Right?

  136. Emily Morris January 18, 2015 at 4:16 pm #

    Ally, anyone who believes in following a strict rule rather than examining and judging the situation logically must stand by that belief no matter what. According to that view, a child struck by a car in a parking lot is still better off than the child left for 10 minutes in a car.

  137. Ally January 18, 2015 at 4:29 pm #

    Emily – “Anyone who believes in following a strict rule rather than examining and judging the situation logically must stand by that belief no matter what. According to that view, a child struck by a car in a parking lot is still better off than the child left for 10 minutes in a car.”

    Huh???? Your logic escapes me. I am sure it makes sense to you. How did you decide from your logic that I celebrate the death of a child? Can you admit that was a rather nasty thing to say to someone, or do you just want to keep trying to explain how you saying that to me is okay?

    If I have insulted anyone by posting my opinions, I apologize. That was not my intent, but I apologize any way.

  138. BL January 18, 2015 at 4:45 pm #

    “… than having them run over in a parking lot while trying to get them into the store — which is vastly more likely.”

    By rights, if that happened, you should be able to charge the lawmakers with child neglect.

    Needless to say, you’d have no success doing that.

  139. Emily Morris January 18, 2015 at 5:04 pm #

    Ally, you’re right. It was nasty. But I know people who believe this, see kids who die in such ways as martyrs. If a kid is hurt or killed with the parent right there, it’s merely a tragedy no matter the state of neglect. Is it truly better to drag a child across a busy parking lot instead of waiting in the car in every case? I apologize if you indeed don’t see it that way.

    Believe it or not, free rangers don’t agree on everything. But we fight against the notion that the appearance of good parenting is superior to the reality.

    Do you honestly believe common sense and judgment of the situation should be banned from parenting?

  140. Warren January 18, 2015 at 9:34 pm #

    Ally,
    It must be very hard to live with all that constant fear. Have you ever sought out professional help? I mean to come up with some of the “what ifs” that you did, you are either in need of mental help, or watch way too many crime shows.

  141. Ally January 18, 2015 at 9:50 pm #

    Thanks Warren. Actually, I think I only mentione a few what ifs as examples (the church thing is true). Now I have been called a troll, a shit disturber, a person who celebrates when a child dies, and a person in need of mental health counseling. I had more faith in people before today.

  142. Buffy January 18, 2015 at 10:54 pm #

    “Free range, does that mean adhering strictly to the hot new parenting fad?”

    “Oh how I yearn for the good ole days when Ma left me at home with her boyfriend while she went off to church. Hallaluah! And the boyfriend got my brother a job as a night custodian with some gay guys.”

    Just two examples of comments that are not opinions, but are intended to stir things up, not to mention that it looks like you’re homophobic as well. Don’t give us the poor me act.

  143. Tamara January 18, 2015 at 11:01 pm #

    ^ oh, for a “like” button!

  144. Ally January 18, 2015 at 11:07 pm #

    The fact is that that happened, and I mentioed it because there were no busy bodies to protect us from sexual pedator. I am not homophobic, but pedophobic with good reason. You all really ought to take a good look at your mob mentality. I don’t feel like “poor me, ” I feel shocked at how comments are being directed at me, even after I said I did not intend to insult anyone.

  145. Ally January 18, 2015 at 11:14 pm #

    You want to tell ypurselves this stuff doesnt happen to kids, it’s all a big media stunt or something. Well, it happens. I pray you dont have to experience it happening to your child, though you apparently believe that your children are statistically immune.

  146. Emily Morris January 18, 2015 at 11:31 pm #

    My husband’s brother drowned in a pond. My uncle molested me as a toddler. A close friend has lost 2 babies to health problems.

    Bad things happen to children. But denying them the skills and experience to face life does not change the equation.

    We recognize bad things happen. But we do not blow up some statistics and ignore others.

    Significantly more kids are hurt or killed in parking lots than kids left in cars.

    My brother-in-law broke his femur before leaving for a religious mission. The joke became we could have bubble – wrapped him on the couch and the roof would have just fallen on him.

    You want a middle ground to child raising? Present an alternative to raise independent and self-reliant kids.

  147. Ally January 18, 2015 at 11:31 pm #

    Sensationalism, when you use the word arrested in headung and follow story with a picture of hands in handcuffs even though the woman in the story never said she was arrested or handcuffed. She didn’t even realize she had been charged until later. That is skewing a story to bolster the world view you are trying to sell.

  148. Emily Morris January 18, 2015 at 11:33 pm #

    And one more thing: none of us support placing kids in the path of real danger. We just think the definition of real danger is getting diluted and this creates bad consequences.

  149. Ally January 18, 2015 at 11:41 pm #

    Emily, I don’t see how leaving a 10 year old in a car with an infant is providing her with skills to face life. Sory for the bad things that happened in your life. My husbands younger sister drowned in a pool too when his mom went inside for a minute. We still let our kids and we taught them to be good swimmers, but we also watched them closely to try to ensure their safety. We felt that was a responsibility as parents.

  150. Emily Morris January 18, 2015 at 11:55 pm #

    We are not against watching our kids. A well-raised 10 year old is responsible enough to watch a baby for a short time, and appropriate opportunity helps the kid grow in responsibility and confidence. Life skills. Telling a kid he is incapable at an age when kids do start babysitting helps no one. Plus, the chances of anything happen are minuscule. I’d say they were safer in a car than a house. And please don’t use the “stuff happens” line, because by doing so you would flat-out ignore the fact things could always happen. As has been said, danger is more likely to strike in the parking lot.

  151. Warren January 19, 2015 at 12:42 am #

    Ally,

    We have never said things do not happen to babies, infants, toddlers, kids, teens, women or men. What we have said is you cannot parent effectively from fear.

    And your stories only prove our point. Abused by family, and or those known to family, not by strangers.

    One question, do you check the sex offender registry in your area? If the answer is yes, it proves your life of fear.

  152. hineata January 19, 2015 at 3:39 am #

    @Ally- I cannot fathom the idea that a ten year old is incapable of looking after a baby anywhere for a short period of time, and a stationary car in a parking lot in broad daylight is a very safe place. I work with primary school kids, and almost all of the older kids (10-11) would be capable of doing this, even many of the naughty ones. They rise to the occasion when given responsibility.

    Maybe the children in your area are developmentally delayed, but a neuro-typical child of this age is capable of looking after others for short periods of time.

  153. Papilio January 19, 2015 at 10:07 am #

    The point is that both children and their parents miss out on SO MUCH when all the parents consider before letting the kids do anything are the possible negative consequences, no matter how unlikely those are, and ignore all the possible positive consequences, no matter how likely those are.

    http://www.freerangekids.com/the-most-important-free-range-kids-post-so-far/

  154. Supporter of KidsandCars January 19, 2015 at 11:49 am #

    There is an organization that would disagree with you on this. And with very good reason.

    http://www.kidsandcars.org
    http://www.facebook.com/KidsAndCars.org

    The mother was not trying to teach anything to the daughter. She just did not want to be inconvenienced.

  155. hineata January 19, 2015 at 12:10 pm #

    Kids and Cars is about little kids locked for hours in cars alone, or backed over by cars (as could happen in a parking lot…). A 10 year old is not a little kid….so, Supporter, Kids and Cars is completely irrelevant in this case.

  156. bsolar January 19, 2015 at 12:25 pm #

    @Supporter of KidsandCars, the site you mention has no valid statistics whatsoever to back up its arguments: the statistics they provide are explicitly stated by the site itself to be grossly incomplete. This makes them completely worthless for any serious risk assessment.

  157. lollipoplover January 19, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

    According to the commenters here, I should be afraid of homeless people (because stealing a baby would make their situation so much better), the mentally ill, and homosexuals as dangers to a 10 year-old watching a sleeping baby in a parked car.
    You know what my biggest fear would be for the baby?
    THE FLU.

    We’ve lost 3 children in our county this flu season (an infant, a toddler, and a 17 year-old). We know the family of the 17 year-old and they are devastated. He was healthy and active before he showed symptoms and died within 48 hours. At our local grocery store, I saw folks with face masks this past weekend.
    A baby is MUCH safer in the car.
    And the statistics back me up.

    http://www.inquisitr.com/1761846/flu-kills-19-children-this-week-as-death-toll-continues-to-rise-in-the-u-s/

  158. JP Merzetti January 19, 2015 at 2:17 pm #

    I think we seriously have to consider just what the “new” ten actually is, in the eyes of the law, and industrial protectors.
    That, combined with the difference between how this is assessed by the state, and how it is percieved by the parent who spent 10 years getting to know and understand that ten year-old every day of her life.
    Perhaps there’s ten, and then there’s ten…
    My immediate response to all this concerns the constant erosion of age-applied reason…..a sort of deflation of values.
    The “new” ten has lost about half its number since I was a kid. In other words, the age of five qualified – then.

    I work in a university library, and once in awhile I encounter the kind of contempt hurled at college students that reminds me of high school, or even middle school.
    And yet when my father was their age, he had earned a degree, was married, and had a child of his own. Perspective.
    This was completely normal at the time.
    (all by the age of 22)

    Parental authority is a fundamental and integrally instituional backbone of society. Without it, the weak and spineless jellyfish we would encounter then, would not stand up to the rigors of child-raising.
    The state is going to provide this? I think not.
    Still, it has to come from somewhere. The kids depend on it.

    Parental authority never did fit nicely into a one-size-fits-all neat and tidy compartment.
    Every neighborhood had its pendulum swings…the strict, the liberal, the busybodies, every flavor and style and fashion of applied practices and beliefs.
    Somehow, we all used to manage to get along and get it done without driving ourselves, our kids….crazy.
    The business of life was for other kinder, better more noble pursuits.

    The ones who truly went off the rails were few and far between, and for the freedom of the many (most) the occasional sacrificial lambs were visited by various calamities.
    This was integral to our collective concept of what freedom was supposed to be….as we came to understand it.

    But I think that backbone has been constantly eroding, from a kind of liquefaction of the very density and marrow that was the requirement for a healthy social environment – the very one necessary for children to grow up and prosper.
    Those who doubted this would have had to admit that it was nevertheless probably true enough.

    I recall the occasions when, as a young adult, I would encounter kids on their own, and the old spidey sense would tick off a vague notion that perhaps something wasn’t quite all tickety-boo. What would I do then? Call the cops?
    Of course not.
    I’d sorta just stick around for a moment or two, until I was pretty sure things were all right.
    Imagine the concept.
    I was a responsible adult. That’s all.

    I get the impression some supreme and insidious hatreds are seething their way across the landscape out there, sliding into the lives of normal people, like anaconondas, constricting the very breath of freedom out of what used to be normal adult behavior.
    I say we kick that snake back to the jungle where it belongs. Otherwise the cruelties of mean-spirited short-sightedness remove every shred of the very safeties so obsessed over. The kids are all right.
    And when they are, that has something to do with parental authority.

  159. Lewis Wall January 19, 2015 at 5:30 pm #

    As one radio commentator said, “It is no wonder that people are increasingly hating their government.” Seems like our government likes War on…. War on drugs; War on poverty; War on women; War on fill in the blanks. Do not the powers in office have better things to do than harass parents doing their job. Shame on the police officer that reacted to this situation and definitely shame on the CPS.

  160. Ally January 19, 2015 at 5:37 pm #

    No Warren, I don’t. But many abused people have PTSD. Do you mock them too?

  161. Ally January 19, 2015 at 5:46 pm #

    hineata says “Maybe the children in your area are developmentally delayed, but a neuro-typical child of this age is capable of looking after others for short periods of time.”

    Very nice, hineata! Your true colors are showing. Actually there are developmentally delayed kids in your area too. They are everywhere. Two kids on autism spectrum do live right in my house. I call them my son and daughter. I love them very much. Thank you! Have a beautiful life.

  162. Emily Morris January 19, 2015 at 6:02 pm #

    Ally, this isn’t a set the pace sort of thing. We are just saying most 10 year Olds can watch a baby for a short time. Don’t mask the subject.

  163. hineata January 19, 2015 at 6:07 pm #

    So if you have them yourself, Ally, then why are you unable to compare them to the neuro-typical children around them and see what such children are capable of? Also, have worked with several ASD kids, medium to high functioning, and they were capable of a lot. Apologies to you if your children are at the other end of the spectrum. ….

  164. Puzzled January 19, 2015 at 6:21 pm #

    From the Kids and Cars site:

    On average, 38 children die in hot cars each year from heat-related deaths after being trapped inside motor vehicles.

    38 children per year. 38. In the US. How many are struck by lightening – twice?

    I looked at the pictures of the victims. None looked 10. The reason is probably that 10 year olds can open car doors.

    No, the 10 year old didn’t learn any life lessons from watching her sister – she was capable of watching her sister because of past life lessons. Also, she had her competence reinforced – something I believe is worth doing often.

  165. Ally January 19, 2015 at 6:26 pm #

    Well, I don’t know if we can control lightening. I can’t. But we can have some control over leaving kids in cars. But I guess we would rather have them safely in the car than out in the parking lot where they will get run over or hit by lightening or, God Forbid, where they will scream and make daddy’s life harder as he runs an errand. You have convinced me.

  166. Ally January 19, 2015 at 6:35 pm #

    And yes, the 10 year old did have her competence reinforced. There are numerous ways of doing this during a child’s lifetime. Of course only “FREE_RANGE” parents have ever thought of that concept. (The rest of of are dithering around in the dark.) It’s terrible that a mean police officer questioned her mother’s competence in front of her. Her mother was demonstrating good parenting as a role model for her daughter who was a surrogate parent for the infant, and the mean law had to step in like some overzealous authority figure and say “no, no!” How outrageous that he took his job too seriously and didn’t take the woman’s job seriously enough. In fact, it is so logical, I just can’t understand how ANYONE in their right mind, and of course someone who is NEUROTYPICAL (not developmentally delayed) and Mentally stable (not overwrought with paranoia) and acting out of all that is good and true and honest in the world, could not possible agree! You’ve made a convert!

  167. Buffy January 19, 2015 at 6:38 pm #

    Ally, did you read the list that someone posted of “what ifs” that could happen IN the store? Since you know all, what is your response to that?

    Can you truly not see that there are small risks everywhere, and we as individual parents who know our kids better than you do can surely make a decision based on the circumstances?

  168. hineata January 19, 2015 at 6:44 pm #

    Good heavens, Ally, I go back to my original, maybe not worded correctly point. Do you seriously think a 10 year old is incapable of sitting in a car for a few minutes with a baby? I don’t care what label you want to give the parent, I can’t believe an adult really has such little faith in kids.

  169. hineata January 19, 2015 at 6:51 pm #

    My mind is officially blown. And I don’t care what you think my colours are (and I wish you NAs would spell that word correctly). I happen to be slightly off-white, just for clarity’s sake. My three ordinary kids, all of whom were capable of looking after a baby for short spells at age ten (I would have considered myself remiss as a parent had they not been) happen to be yellowish -brown. Except for the one who looks greenish currently – kidney problems will do that to you.

    Have a nice day.

  170. Ally January 19, 2015 at 7:01 pm #

    hineata – So if you have them yourself, Ally, then why are you unable to compare them to the neuro-typical children around them and see what such children are capable of? Also, have worked with several ASD kids, medium to high functioning, and they were capable of a lot. Apologies to you if your children are at the other end of the spectrum.” ….

    Your original comment was ” Maybe the children in your area are developmentally delayed…” You except me to think you were just making a comment about what neurotypical children are capable of? No, you were making a nasty comment. I don’t care what colour or color or cooler you are, and I feel sorry for the kids you have worked with that had to put up with your snide and condescending attitude towards them.

  171. hineata January 19, 2015 at 7:06 pm #

    Whatever. …you continue to avoid the original idea, which is that a 10 year old is quite capable of looking out for a baby.

    Utterly ridiculous.

  172. Ally January 19, 2015 at 7:07 pm #

    hineata, OI consider my kids extraordinary.

    Emily – I am not trying to mask anything. hineata is the one who brought up developmentally delayed children, though she was just doing it to put me down.

    Yes, absolutely, I agree a 10 year old can watch an infant in a car for 10 minutes. No problem.
    They do it all the time with no bad consequences. And since we don’t allow “What Ifs” on this site, I am unable to restate me original point. But I signed off long ago, and why I keep returning to be insulted, I have no idea. I must be a masochist on top of all the other names I have been called. Good day.

  173. bsolar January 19, 2015 at 7:11 pm #

    @Ally, of course you can control your risk of being struck by lightning, like not being outdoors during a lightning storm. The problem is that a lightning can actually strike “out of the blue”, so why don’t we always fear to go outdoors? Because most consider the risk during a storm significant and the risk “out of the blue” insignificant.

    Note that the risk *does* exist, as the few people actually struck by “out of the blue” lightnings demonstrate and technically you could try to mitigate this risk too if you wish, but with this reasoning there is no end to things you can do to mitigate risks, so at some point you have to decide when the risk is small enough to be tolerable.

    From this point of view and back to parenting, following the “let’s avoid risk” philosophy, it would be possible to accuse parents of endangering their children if they allow them to play outdoors with fair weather since the risk of getting struck by lightning exists, even if small, and it’s avoidable by simply getting indoors. Needless to say It would be obviously ridiculous.

    From the point of view of the “free rangers” the risk of leaving a child in a car as described in the article is so small to be considered tolerable. It’s basically in the “lightning out of the blue” category: it can theoretically happen, it *does* sometimes happen, but you can live with it.

  174. hineata January 19, 2015 at 7:57 pm #

    Really, Ally, you consider your kids extraordinary? So what? I assume this is an attempt to insult me, because I consider my children ordinary. Great kids, very capable because they have been expected to be capable (something I expect of my students too), but, like 99.999999% of the human race, including you and me, utterly ordinary. I can play the disabled kid card too – as I write, my developmentally delayed kid is pushing her own plasma replacement into her leg – but I won’t let that stop me from expecting appropriate actions from my kids. And that includes, for heaven sake, being able to watch a baby in a parked car for a period of ten minutes.

    Which is what the post was about. Not how insulting you think I’ve been, or how extraordinary you might happen to think your kids are.

  175. Puzzled January 19, 2015 at 8:13 pm #

    I mentioned lightening to demonstrate the absurdity of trying to create a panic over something happening 38 times. Yes, we can prevent kids from getting overheated in cars. For instance, it is January. We can also take safeguards – like leaving a 10 year old with them. As has been pointed out before, 10 year olds are capable of opening doors. Kids overheat in cars when they can’t do that.

    And no, I’m not damning the police officer for taking his job seriously – I’m damning him for thinking that ‘doing my job’ replaces morality, and more so, blaming the idiotic society that makes laws this absurd – and even more so, the idiotic society that ignores the ancient injunction that an unjust law is no law at all. Yes, I do trust parental judgment over the judgment of armed servants of the state who do not know the children they are making decisions about. How strange.

  176. Warren January 19, 2015 at 8:53 pm #

    Ally,

    PTSD? Really? So you expect all of us to parent in the same fashion as someone with diagnosed mental/emotional disorder? Well hell ya that is definitely worth mocking.

    You can have all the excuses in the world, but paranoid is paranoid and it does not matter how or why you got that way, paranoid is still not healthy for you or you kids.

  177. Warren January 19, 2015 at 8:56 pm #

    As for the kids in cars cult, they are dangerous. They advocate breaking into vehicles to play hero, and one day that will get someone killed. With all states allowing open or concealed carry, some vigilante window breaker will end up shot. I can see that happening.

  178. Peter Harnett January 19, 2015 at 9:06 pm #

    We had something similar happen to us in New Jersey almost 20-years ago. The policeman asked us to sign a report regarding our son, who was being checked on by us every 5-minutes from our perch at a small cafe with clear view of our car 20-feet away. It was a warm summer day and the van was parked under a pine tree. As a biologist, I was keenly aware of heat stress concerns in children. Fortunately, I refused to sign the report and the policeman after insisting over and over finally gave up. I thanked him and his fellow officer for a fine job and very worthwhile if the child’s parents were not so watchful and very aware of the science relating to heat stress. The whole situation was terrible and made us feel like criminals.

    We feel for you and truly wonder what the policeman would do in a similar situation, but that is another story.

    Best of luck,
    Peter

  179. Puzzled January 19, 2015 at 9:28 pm #

    There’s a bill in the CT legislature this session to extend the Good Samaritan law to people who mistakenly break into cars to rescue children from the heat. Can’t see any way that can go wrong…

  180. rob January 19, 2015 at 10:29 pm #

    I was in Iceland on a job walking through downtown Reykavik. it was 30° and snowing lightly. three baby carriages in a row we’re out front of a café. all three carriages had newborns sound asleep. The mothers were all inside having coffee together. they would’ve been arrested here in United States.

  181. Thea January 20, 2015 at 9:19 am #

    I live in MD. I hate it. If we aren’t taxing you to death, we’ll regulate your life until you wish you were dead. The laws noted for my state regarding unsupervised children being part of it. I had the discussion with my family at dinner the other night about the family in Montgomery Cty who is profile earlier here. The road those kids were on is busy, yes, but it’s by far one of the safest areas of that county or the state. In addition that road has wide sidewalks lined with businesses. So, no I don’t think there was any danger to those children and it’s crazy they are being investigated.

    My mother and sister also think I’m crazy for thinking this way okay. If you don’t trust your kid, that’s one thing but you don’t get to tell me how to raise mine. What’s funnier is that Sunday night at dinner it’s all “it’s not safe” from mom/sister and Monday at lunch when my sister want to take the door knob off her toddler’s room so she can’t escape, that was fine. I deliberately played the “what if” game that they play the night before. I think I got my point across.

  182. Tamara January 20, 2015 at 12:15 pm #

    My goodness, Ally, what the heck is your agenda here? In my experience most of the folks here are awesome in a debate about any subject and that is because they are all willing to have a discussion and are in fact willing to have their minds changed – that’s why it is an interesting debate. If you want to come in here all bad attitude and only interested in hearing your own voice, this is what you get.

    Give us facts, give us a new idea we hadn’t thought of before and we are willing to listen. But there is no way you are going to convince every one of us that your way is the best way, hon. it’s a waste of energy.

  183. Wendy January 22, 2015 at 9:37 pm #

    For those who are interested, an strongly misguided non-profit organization has posted state-by-state laws regarding kids in cars. http://www.kidsandcars.org/state-laws.html

    If you live in a green state, please do all parents a favor by getting on the phone with your elected officials to stop these laws. Comb through this wonderful blog for some talking points!

  184. Joel January 23, 2015 at 4:29 am #

    At first, I came here occasionally for some a “sanity check” after hearing about some ridiculous story about gov’t overreach into parenting…. Then, I had a CPS intrusion into my life (on day 1 of my 1st child’s life – yes, you read that correctly). It rocked my world and my wife’s much more. We wanted to get the story out there, but it takes energy and time and exposure to the public comment’o’sphere. I’m sure a high percentage of people would criticize our decisions and that wouldn’t be healthy for my wife especially. Sooooo – I came hear again for a sanity check today. Unfortunately, I still see comments that “question” this mother’s decision, which drives me crazy!

  185. common sense January 23, 2015 at 8:48 am #

    joel..please explain what happened. the more people who report and publize cps misbehavior, the more support for there will be for severe reform of them.

  186. common sense January 23, 2015 at 8:53 am #

    ive become convinced that cps investigations are like rape..there is a great deal shame involved where there shouldn’t in the victims..this allows the problem to continue because people don’t want to admit that they were considered bad parents[most times NOT].if all this were transparent and open and reported maybe questions would be raised about cps over reach by more .