Readers — This zzeaathrde
is an outlier of a case: A mom was walking with her baby on a promenade when someone saw them, judged the child under-dressed for the weather, and called the cops.
The cops came a-running and the mom (a nutritionist with two other kids) gave them no truck. Wisely, I’d say! (Maybe she reads this blog?) According to the Daily Mail (which I know is not the New York Times):
…After refusing to reveal who she was, Mrs Andrew, from Scarborough, was asked: â€˜So you donâ€™t want to co-operate?â€™ She said: â€˜I told them that it was a motherâ€™s right to play with her daughter and it wasnâ€™t a co-operation thing.
â€˜I added that theyâ€™d be taking her to the social workers next if I gave them my details. I wasnâ€™t doing anything wrong, so I walked off.â€™
A North Yorkshire Police spokesman said yesterday : â€˜All reports concerning the safety of children are taken very seriously by North Yorkshire Police and must be properly checked out.â€™
But Stephen Hayes, an ex-policeman and writer, said the case typified what was wrong with modern policing.
â€˜This is by far the barmiest cold case I have ever come across,â€™ he added. â€˜Do officers now need a thermometer to take childrenâ€™s temperatures along with their truncheons? The mother is clearly not committing a crime by taking her child for a walk along the promenade.
Read more here. And shake your head, and then go about your day. And just don’t call the cops if a child is not in danger! – L.
I wonder how long it’ll take someone to call the cops about untied shoelaces…
“…After refusing to reveal who she was…”
Good thing this wasn’t in the US. She’d have been executed by police on the spot.
I mean the cops could have used common sense. Looked at the child and seen if the child was underdressed or looking cold or in distress. If it wasn’t, apologize and move on.
“All reports concerning the safety of children are taken very seriously”
Then any false or unfounded reports should be penalized seriously.
“All reports concerning the safety of children are taken very seriously by North Yorkshire Police and must be properly checked out”.
Looking cold is a safety issue? Does no one at dispatch have the discretion to say “sorry, we are busy with real crimes ”
I could not believe the number of comments that agreed that the child was improperly dressed by looking at the picture. Anyways, it was 6C (42), not exactly dangerous temperatures for being outside.
One day,many years ago when my older son was an infant, we were waiting outside for a friend who was picking us up and taking us to a doctor’s appointment (just a check up. An older woman walked by us and said, “He’s not dressed warm enough!” It bothered me because as a first-time mom, I questioned myself and wondered if she was right.
When I got to the doctor’s office, I asked him about it and he told me that SO MANY new moms bring their babies in to see him because their babies feel warm and feverish, when actually they are OVER bundled! He laughed and told me that he’d tell them to remove one of the babie’s sweaters and 2 of the blankets and they’d be just fine.
With all of the kids out there who DO need our help, it’s a shame that so many people feel justified in “standing up and taking action” for the ones who don’t.
My 9 year old does not get cold easily. He usually opts to leave his coat at home and all last winter, wore a hooded sweatshirt and gloves as his winter wear for school (we live in baltimore). It irritates the crap out of me when people loudly say, ” you should tell your mom that it’s winter and cold and you need to wear a coat!” When I’m standing right there. My hearing is fine, say it to ME. He’s old enough to know if he’s cold or not. And for the ninety milionth time, germs make people sick, not going without a coat! If someone called the cops on me, I’d be furious. This is ridiculous.
I will say this…I will someday be an old lady handing out hats and socks, because it drives me crazy to see little bald babies out in the cold with no hat and barefoot! I plan to wait until I look old and crazy enough for it to be cute 😉
However, it would of course never cross my mind to call the police!
I cannot even count how many times strangers stopped me on my way into a store, or just followed me if I refused to stop, back when my daughter was an infant/toddler… just to tell me they did not think she was dressed warm enough. Because, you know, she was likely to die of exposure in the 30 or so seconds she was exposed to the elements between the car and the store. Apparently, though, things like my decision that 30 minutes of screaming and sobbing (possibly on my part, but probably hers, too) to wrestle her into shoes she didn’t want to wear – or socks, which I am pretty sure were against some baby religion for her – was not worth it for a quick run across a parking lot.
It seems even more ridiculous if you know that I live in Texas and the “freezing weather” they were worried about was probably in the 60’s.
I just started looking them dead in the eye and telling them “It’s okay. We’re Eskimos.” Then I could walk away in peace while they stood there blinking in confusion at my china-doll-looking, blonde-haired, blue-eyed daughter.
I’m pretty shocked at how many of the comments agree with the crazy 999 caller. And I just moved to this country. So much for hoping it would be more Free Range than America.
@KLY- Yes, perspectives are much different with the barefoot babes up here in the midwest when the temp is 15 lol!
@Jenn My mother’s family is from MN. My perspective on cold is not the same as the people down here, even if I have spent most of my life in the South and the Southwest.
When I read in the article that the temps they were talking about were in the 40’s, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes.
Honestly, though… I was one of the occasionally barefoot children carried in the below-freezing temps up north. My daughter came by her resistance to footwear honestly. Didn’t die and still have all my toes.
I am disgusted by all the comments supporting the 999 caller and insisting that the child is definitely cold. So disgusted that I couldn’t even read passed the first page.
Even if the baby was a little cold (a lot cold and she’d have been screaming), so? The temperature was in the 40s, not subarctic. The child would be mildly uncomfortable, not die from hypothermia. When did the lack of perfect comfort become a police matter?
Law & Order: Temperature/Outerwear Enforcement Unit
Next, they will do a sweep of middle school bus stops to round up tweens and teens dressed only in hoodies and wearing shorts in winter with those stupid socks pulled up.
Who calls the police on a mother with a baby? Let’s start over. If you were worried about the baby, why wouldn’t you chat up the mom and see if all was OK if you were genuinely worried?
Calling the police would be the LAST thing to do if concerned about this baby. Stressing (and scaring) mom and baby with police? That’s not caring a shit about the baby.
Those car seats and prams are like little Easy Bake Ovens and heat up kids, especially ones overdressed. Holding a baby close to your body is like having a hot water bottle on it. I’ve picked up my kids from naps where they were sweaty in those footy pajamas. Cool air on hot skin cools it down. Fresh air is not dangerous. Stupidity is. Stop judging and calling the police.
First, why would you call the cops? Why is this becoming the norm in society? If there is a honest reason to be concerned then offer to help.
Second, we are from Fairbanks, Alaska and have been living in Baltimore for the past year. My kids have seen -50. We routinely get looks while out because while everyone around us is bundled up so tight all you can see are eyeballs, we are in sweaters. It’s all a matter of what your use to and whats comfortable for you and a stranger has no business judging what’s right for a child they don’t know. My oldest tells people when they ask him why doesn’t he have a coat on that it’s to hot for a coat and he’ll get sick.
Has there been a rash of children dying of hypothermia in North Yorkshire? No? Then I think we can conclude that children briefly exposed to cold aren’t in serious danger, since this is almost certainly not the only mother in North Yorkshire who takes her child out in the cold in less-than-polar attire.
Therefore, it’s not remotely a police matter. Simple as that.
This mom is a free-range heroine! Love the way she responded to the cops. I bet it’s because she’s the mother of two older children. She has experience and knows she knows better. Had she had been a new mom, she very well may have been intimated by the questioning.
This is Ageism and it needs to stop!
My daughter is one of those teens who does not feel cold unless it is below 20 F, and only if the wind is blowing then. She ONLY wears dresses, and those either have no sleeves, or for the spaghetti strapped ones, t-shirts for school. When walking from her classroom to the lunch room (an outside trip) she does not wear her coat, nor do the teachers make her.
And she is not alone. I see teen girls getting off the bus wearing a tank top all winter. Not a coat in site. Yet I don’t see people calling the cops on them every day. And yes, it is often colder than 40 F.
Helicopter parents seem to be unable to figure out that CPS is for when a child is being sexual abused, has bruises all over, or is being starved, but when someone doesn’t live up to their crazy standards of helicopter parenting.
This reminds me of when my sister and I took our kids to Disney World in FL. It was a chilly day for Florida, maybe 50 degrees, but it was January, and we live in Minnesota, so we were pretty happy. My kids wore jeans and t-shirts as did I, we were comfortable most of the day. By the evening, it was more like 35 degrees and we all had sweatshirts on. Standing and waiting for the ferry to go back to the car, I was a little chilly and so were the kids. You would have thought i was dangling my infant over a balcony from the reaction of the crowd we were waiting with (most of whom were bundled up comically, like it was below zero). I did not care a bit, but my sister got progressively annoyed. Finally she yelled, to nobody in particular “We are from Minneapolis, ok? It was literally 45 degrees colder than this when we hopped on the plane yesterday. Our kids are FINE.”
Looking at the picture, though, the baby’s cheeks and nose are quite red, and she’s not wearing shoes just those nonslip tights. I personally always had at least one more layer on my baby when it was 42F and we were outside for an extended period. It’s not worth calling the police about though!
I think overall the UK is better. That was one crazy incident. But in general in the Uk you don’t see so many people driving around in giant gas guzzlers and people tend to live their lives more rather than hovering over everything their children do.
Both my husband and I were born and raised in southern Wisconsin, we went to college in the Midwest. We know what it means to be “cold” in the winter. We moved to the San Francisco Bay Area about a year and a half ago and these people have no clue what “cold” actually is. If it gets above 70F, they’re too hot and require air conditioning. If it gets below 64F (which is a rare occurrence during the day), they have to have out their long, puffy, heavy, wool coats, wool hats, earmuffs, a scarf/cowl around their neck, mittens (quite possibly with gloves underneath), and boots (even though it does not snow here). Meanwhile, I, my husband, and our three year old son are running around in shorts and t-shirts (maybe a long-sleeved shirt). The looks I’ve gotten from some people when we’re out in shorts and t-shirts when it’s 65F are hilarious. Thankfully, no one has called the cops yet.
My middle schooler is one of those in shorts, hoodie, and socks pulled up, unless it’s below zero. 🙂 All the “you can’t be too careful” and “that baby was freezing” comments on that article are frightening. She was not going to get frostbite or hypothermia dressed like that in 40-some-degree weather. Around here, we call that spring and run outside without our coats. I was usually more worried about my babies getting overheated in the car or the grocery store after dressing for the outside. I was told a few times by sweet older women that my baby needed a hat or socks — inside the store, being worn in a carrier against my body — but thankfully they would never call the police!
2 generations ago kids (boys at least) in that area would wear shorts and sweaters in winter, shorts and dress shirts in summer.
Where I live it’s a known *fact* that if your neck isn’t covered you will get sick and die.
So my scarf-free children get a lot of looks. One time my toddler was asleep in his stroller, weariing a coat, but no scarf. (It was probably 50 degrees out.) An old lady on the tram started lecturing me.
I repeatedly assured her that he was fine. She insisted he was not. Finally she reached out and touched his neck. “Oh! He’s warm!” she said.
“Yes,” I said.
She paused and then said thoughtfully, “My children always used to sweat. Maybe they were too warm.”
It’s really common here to see moms in short sleeves pushing babies in strollers, with the baby wearing a coat, hat and covered in blankets and with a bright red face. Poor little things.
“My middle schooler is one of those in shorts, hoodie, and socks pulled up, unless itâ€™s below zero.”
And when it’s below zero? Mine wore 2 hoodies. Genius. There are certain battles to pick with your kids. This isn’t one of them.
A neighbor called the cops on me today because my 21mo was playing outside in the fenced-in back yard by herself. The kicker? I was outside with her the entire time.
Ridiculous! A few weeks ago the local temp was at freezing, 32 degrees, and I saw middle school age children walking to school while wearing knee length shorts. They earned my admiration and a little envy for when I would have been comfortable doing the same, not reprobation.
I once saw some doofus carrying a baby in from the parking lot at Wal-Mart in nothing but a onesie, while the police were warning people that the wind chill was in the “15 minutes to frostbite” danger zone. An entire Subway Sandwiches franchise full of people gave the baby’s parents the stinkeye and several people blurted, “Oh my God it’s frostbite weather out there!” But did anybody call the cops? Of course not! (But damn, I hope those nitwits had warm gear for the baby in the car. There are plenty of places here where having the car break down on the ride home involves not seeing anybody come by for a lot longer than 15 minutes.)
My daughter from the age of 3 months or so until nearly 3 years old would sleep in an unheated room (temp around 40 degrees) so we’d make sure she was warmly tucked in. She’d wriggle loose, kick off the blankets, and *then* fall asleep.
We’d cover her back up, and she’d kick ’em off again. We’d check her body temp: Warm as toast. She slept like that all. the. time. She just ran hot. Bundling her up just annoyed her.
Now she’s 20 and still wears about 1/2 the clothes that one would normally expect during cool or cold weather.
I can’t help but wonder how many kids are over-bundled and hot all the time . . .
Thank you for all your positive comments. It’s been crazy here today!
The truth is, 6’c isn’t all that cold. Maddy has rosy cheeks AND is teething. We spend much of our time outside, we surf, kite surf and kayak, we love the beach and the sea. We know what cold is, and we definitely haven’t had a cold snap here yet this winter.
Our bodies are physiologically adapted to cope with the cold. We get cold, we warm up and our bodies get stronger. It helps us fight off bugs and become more resilient.
We refuse to wrap our kids up in cotton wool, to sanitise their lives and to dump them in front of the tv for the rest of their childhood to ‘protect’ them from the world at large. They are definitely free range!
And again I state that calling into emergency services has to be accountable. If you are not willing to give your name and contact information, then stay off the bloody phone.
As for how the child is in the photo………..it is not taken at the time of the incident. At the top of the article it describes how she was dressed on that day.
Besides, I remember when rosy cheeks was considered a sign of a healthy child.
I often tell people they need a hat for their baby; not because their baby’s cold, but because of lurking busybodies. I always get a laugh and a knowing look.
“And when itâ€™s below zero? Mine wore 2 hoodies. Genius. There are certain battles to pick with your kids. This isnâ€™t one of them.”
Mine just switches from shorts to thin track pants and wears a long-sleeve shirt under his hoodie. He’s also never shied away from germs, but he’s built up such a strong immune system that he’s rarely sick anymore and fights off cold viruses in a couple days.
Sad to see a healthy outdoors lifestyle causes people to call the police.
My husband was brought up in Scotland. His family are all impervious to the cold and wear long-sleeved T-shirts to chat outside in the snow, while I’m in two jumpers.
My son takes after his uncle D, who is the most impervious of the lot of them. He chose to sleep out in a bivvy bag (basically a waterproof layer to go over a sleeping bag, instead of using a tent) in the snow because the house was too crowded one Christmas*.
I rapidly learned that infant E needed one layer *less* than me, and to check him for overheating on that. Now he has control over dressing, he often goes out in a hoodie while all around are bundled up in hats and scarves with thick coats on. I can’t count how many times I have walked with him somewhere, carrying his rejected winter coat.
We have learned that he will make his own judgement on what layers he needs, and fighting it isn’t worth it – just take him outside and ask again. He’s very fairskinned too, so what others think is him flushing with cold is often just him running around.
So I sympathise with this mother.
Pity the police didn’t just wander up, say hi to the mum and make their judgements from there.
*He didn’t get to sleep out the night it actually snowed but a later night, not forecast to be colder, he did, at 15. And was royally peeved when his mum took him hot chocolate in the morning.
One morning when I dropped my son at school, it was 9 degrees. And there were high schoolers arriving in shorts. 40 degrees and many of them would have been in tank tops. I guess someone needs to call the police!
I don’t understand someone calling the police.
I would understand if the police came over, said “cute baby”, saw it was dressed and not shivering and walked away.
I don’t understand them questioning her at all.
Jenny Islander, perhaps that parent you saw fell prey to the rule that you can’t have your child in a car seat with a coat on. Annoys me to no end – and so glad that no one ever brought it up to me when I lived in Montana and had old unreliable cars. I cinched as tight as I could (probably over tight) and we went on our way. But now I am told that that is a BIG NO NO! Not safe at all – the kid might fly out in an accident.
I DO make my kids bring coats with us when we go out. I let them leave them in the car if they want, but they don’t have to wear them. The reason is…I have been stranded waiting for help when my old vehicles have broken down in the past, sometimes for several hours, and sitting in below freezing weather for a couple of hours to wait for the tow truck just isn’t fun. And as I am ALWAYS cold, I am NOT going to give them my coat. They need to have their own.
@DEPCR – I think you need your own blog post. What happened??
I can only imagine what would’ve happened to my mother-in-law who used to “air” my husband out on the porch in his pram in north Toronto while he was napping. Or my Nana who had my mum take a nap outside in her carriage in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in the WINTER (it is -10F there tonight). I suspect that today they would both be thrown in jail and have key thrown away. That said, I wonder if it is a coincidence that both my husband and mum seem less tolerant to cold than other people I know… Some folks have more time to worry about the affairs of others than to look after their own business.
My son is coming into the house after playing outside in the 40 degree weather with the tips of his nose, his fingers, and his ears red. Why? Because his skin is JUST THAT PALE, like the baby in the picture.
But he’s 7, so when I tell him that he needs to wear more clothing, he can tell me that he’s perfectly warm.
And for the record, he’s wearing about the same type/weight clothing as that babe, but minus the wool longie. Having used wool longies, they get HOT.
That is ludicrous! The only thing that came to mind when I saw the pics of that adorable baby was that perhaps because her cheeks are pink (teething) it was misinterpreted as being cold. Maybe talking to the mom or spending time with a baby (any baby so you would know what a teething baby vs a cold baby looks like) would help instead of calling the police.
@CrazyCatLady: That would explain the lack of jacket, but the baby literally had nothing but a onesie on over his diaper. Short sleeves, bare legs, bare head, bare feet! And he wasn’t even tucked into a parent’s jacket, according to people who saw them come in–nope, carried in arms, face forward, little hands and feet sticking out into the driving snow. There’s “Oh, it’s just a little dash through the cold” and then there’s 35-degrees-below-zero-Fahrenheit stupid.
I think someone above is right — most babies are overdressed, and the reason they so commonly fight off shoes and socks is that they are too danged hot, and babies can figure out how to get rid of shoes and socks. Shedding other clothes is more of a challenge for ’em.
I remember playing outside when I was five. In North Dakota, in midwinter. Sitting in my ice chair I’d made in the front yard. I don’t recall ever being cold… despite that I might be out for a couple hours, and it was probably below zero. Same a few years later in Montana (which gets colder… I walked a mile to school same as always on a morning that the radio station recorded as -72F before wind chill). I seem to have survived this, all body parts still attached.
When I lived in SoCal, we’d all complain whenever it hit freezing… and then I’d horrify the natives by commenting that it was 100 degrees warmer than where I used to live. 😀
LOVE this mom’s response to the cops. You go, girl!
Jenny, the only thing I can think of is that the child had totally soaked himself, and for whatever reason they had no change of clothes at hand. Of course, the other possibility is that the parents were total idiots. There are unfortunately such people in the world.
If that kid had sneezed she be on death row right now.
33 years ago people – usually older women – would occasionally comment that my baby daughter needed a hat or similar but I can’t imagine how those grannies would have responded to the suggestion they shop for not putting a hat on bin. Seriously. We are being softened up for a please state and sobbing on the neighbours for harbouring people fleeing oppression.
@Jenny Islander I like to give other parents benefit of the doubt. Maybe they were taking kid to store to warm up and buy new clothes.
* Something got spilled over his previous ones.
* They might lost or got stolen bag with warmer cloth while they have been somewhere inside.
My issue with the comments of “She looks cold!” is that I highly, highly doubt those pictures were taken at the time of the incident. I assume the photos and interview were taken at a later time.
I shake my head at the whole baby-is-cold thing. All through my pregnancy I read the baby books and websites and they all said babies are usually warmer than you think and to avoid overdressing them. I still fight with my mom for not putting a big heavy coat on my baby when she is in her car seat (I claim doing so affects the integrity of the car seat straps, she claims my baby is cold. I claim the blankets I keep plus the car heater will keep her fine but I’d like to keep the car seat straps snug just in case, heaven forbid, I get in an accident).
The whole straps vs heavy coat thing is crap. Don’t worry about it.
Warren, please present your studies saying that it’s “crap”. The science I’ve seen, not to mention basic high school science, supports snug straps.
Good grief – I saw children dressed in less than that running around a ski area yesterday … at -5C. They were red-cheeked, and having a grand time hurling snow at each other. They were wearing long-sleeved t-shirts and sweat pants and running shoes – hadn’t gotten into their gear yet for skiing.
If that is what the child was wearing, I see that she has leggings and long sleeves, and her feet are covered. As long as she’s dry she’s in no danger of hypothermia, frostbite or anything else for a couple of hours or more.
Yes, her nose is running. So what? Cold air does that to noses. It’s not an indicaiton that you are too cold, it means you need a wipe. If the busybody had shatted up the mum and offered a Kleenex, that would have been the friendly thing to do.
When I was a child, my mum wouldn’t let us play outside until it was above -17C … so we rigged the thermometer to read high and were often out playing in the snow at -30C if it wasn’t windy.
Pretty sure the reason for all the negative comments under the article is because of the lousy photography. Just looking at the picture and not carefully reading the article it looks like this is how the baby was dressed at the time of the incident. She doesn’t look very happy, her nose and cheeks are beat red, while mom has on a cozy sweater and has normal skin tone. So at first glance it does look like a poor parenting decision. Reason for a call to the police? ABSOLUTELY NOT. But the baby DOES look cold in the picture and mom DOES look more warmly dressed. They should have taken pictures of what both were actually wearing.
It is simple common sense.
Whether they are in a t shirt or heavy coat, you still snug up the belts. Snug is snug. You do not fasten the belt so that it is just in contact with the coat…….no, you snug it up.
So now apply your high school sceince. You have taken half and inch of insulation, and by way of tightening the belts, have compacted it to a quarter of an inch. Substances will only compact so much, they do not disappear.
Also take Nascar, one of the most safety oriented sports out there. They have padding on the belts of their harness. If compacting material was an issue, it would most likely show up more during the collisions they experience, at speeds between 160 and 210 mph. As compared to even leadfoot drivers at say 85mph.