Fantastic News (About a “Child Abuser”)

Hi Readers! Let us pause to celebrate a moment of sweet sanity. Remember Anne Bruscino, the young woman was put on New York State’s Child Abuse Registry for up to 25 years for the crime of accidentally leaving a toddler at a fenced-in, security-camera-monitored, daycare center playground for less than six minutes? (Here’s the original story, as reported by the Times Union.) Well now she has been officially taken off that list! She is free to pursue her dream of becoming a teacher!

Read the tale of this fantastic turn-around, just granted by a state appellate court. As the Times Union summed it up:

The state appellate panel’s decision [to de-criminalize the woman] underscores what some critics say is an inherently rigid system that can leave a person listed on a child-abuse registry for arguably minor errors involving children.

It was not just the the idea of minor errors getting a major punishment that appalled me, it was the reasoning behind this harshness. The original judge, Susan Lyn Preston, had argued this:

Clearly, Caitlin [the girl left behind] was at imminent risk of harm in this situation. The fact that the playground was surrounded by a chain-link fence does not eliminate the risk that Caitlin could have been abducted. A person with an evil intent could have easily gotten over the fence or lured Caitlin to the fence.

Easily?! As I wrote at the time:

Let’s see. What would it actually have taken for the girl to have been spontaneously abducted in the span of five minutes, as the judge so clearly believes was a distinct possibility?

First of all, a child abductor would have had to have been passing by the center at the precise time Caitlin was unchaperoned. Since, according to FBI statistics, there are only about 115 “stereotypical” abductions in the whole country each year (that is, abductions by strangers, intending to transport the child), this already would have been SOME rotten luck.

Then, that abductor would have had to immediately scale the fence, hide from the security cameras, avoid detection on the part of  anyone glancing out the office window, and pray that the child did not utter a single peep that might call attention to the crime. He’d also have to be out of there within about a minute, climbing back over the fence again.

This time while holding a 3-year-old.

Now, I’m not saying this could NEVER happen. If all the stars aligned AND the planets AND the world’s worst luck (and best fence-climber), there’s an extremely slight chance it could. Just like there’s a slight chance of getting hit by lightning in any 5  minutes you sit on your porch. But to say the child was in “imminent risk of harm in this situation” is the equivalent of saying that no matter how many fences, monitors and safeguards we put up, every child is at risk every single second an adult isn’t serving as a physical bodyguard. That’s a perception that is very common and really off-base.

Thank goodness the appellate court panel brought this case back to reality. The only unfortunate coda? Bruscino’s lawyer,  Kevin A Luibrand,  says he has seen at least  four similar cases in the past two years!

And so we fight on, for a world that does not believe our children are in terrible danger every time they are in public without an adult, no matter how briefly, no matter what the circumstances. — Lenore

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29 Responses to Fantastic News (About a “Child Abuser”)

  1. Maureen July 13, 2011 at 11:43 am #

    Finally some sanity!

  2. Nanci July 13, 2011 at 11:48 am #

    I worked at a daycare about 13 years ago. There was a fenced in playground but it could not be locked because of fire risk. Occasionally a kid would get out and a teacher would chase after them and bring them back. Shortly after I moved away there was a more serious incident. A 2 year old escaped out the gate and no one noticed. He made his way up to the road in front of the center and wandered into the street. A good Samaritan driving by stopped, picked him up, and brought him to the center figuring he belonged there. The mother was upset and switched him to a different center, but that was a far as it went. Everyone understood it was an accident. The teachers were given a talking to about watching the kids closer instead of visiting with each other out in the yard. None of the teachers lost their job, no authorities were involved. I’m not sure if things would be handled differently today, I have a bad feeling it probably would be :(

  3. Marie July 13, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

    Sanity, hooray!

  4. LRH July 13, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

    About time some sanity appeared. The idea that we have to watch our kids 24/7 and can never ever ever let them out of our site is just ridiculous.


  5. gap-runner July 13, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

    Hooray for a beacon of sanity!

  6. Dolly July 13, 2011 at 7:13 pm #

    Good news! When I was working at a daycare one time me and the other worker I was helping in the 3 year old room took all the kids outside. To go outside you just went out the door at the back of the classroom to their fenced in private playground just for the 3 year olds. Well one little girl was angry with us for some random reason and just sat on the carpet and didn’t line up with all the other kids. She was hidden from our view by a shelf and we didn’t realize she did not go outside. So we were outside with all the other kids and she just was pouting sitting on the carpet. Of course in the security monitered daycare she was perfectly safe. The director walked by and saw her and brought her out to us.

    We really did the same thing as the girl charged. Made a mistake. It happens. No one was hurt. People overreact.

  7. Mary July 13, 2011 at 9:04 pm #

    Hey Lenore,

    How do you feel about the mom in Boro Park, Brooklyn who relented and let her kid walk home alone from camp this past Monday and now he is dead in a dumpster?
    I would guess that his poor mom is wishing she didn’t allow this to happen and didn’t give in to his request.. It happened right in my backyard and I’m thanking god myself that I never fell for any of this “free range” mania… Watch your freaking kids people…

  8. Kiesha July 13, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

    Mary, I bet that woman does regret allowing her child to walk home. Just as a mom whose teenager died in a freak car accident would regret allowing their child to drive.

    But you can’t NOT let your children drive. Unless you live somewhere were a person can get around solely on public transportation (and there are accidents there, too), people will end up in cars. And there are a hell of a lot more car accidents than stranger abductions.

    But please, continue to keep your children in a bubble. At least until they’re 18. Or 21. Then you won’t feel guilty if something terrible happens to them.

  9. Brenna July 13, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

    Mary, you seem almost happy this tragedy happened, just so you can give an “I told you so” to Lenore. What happens if your child is killed in an auto accident? Or in a household accident (both FAR more common than stranger abductions)? I certainly hope no one reacts in the same self-righteous manner you seem to be.

  10. Lee July 13, 2011 at 10:29 pm #

    Mary, you are one sad excuse for a human being. You can stop dancing around the fire now.

  11. Mary July 13, 2011 at 11:15 pm #

    Oh my god… Dancing?? Happy??? This happened where I live-I am utterly horrified for this family.
    You women are lunatics. I am heartbroken for this poor woman and her child. Say what you want to make yourself feel better… And the car analogy? seriously?? Just grasping for straws.
    No, my kid doesn’t live in a bubble. She lives in Brooklyn, NY. I keep an eye on her, I don’t let her go places alone because she is not yet ready to deal with certain situations.
    Psychos. When you decide to have a kid you also have to choose to protect that kid until they are ready to take care of themselves.

    Clearly this little boy was not ready. It angers me that a woman with such notoriety as Ms. Skenazy opines that children should be free to take care of themselves when they are clearly not ready. How do you know when they are ready? You don’t but if they had age and maturity under their belts they may have a better chance if something (like this horrible incident) were to happen to them…

  12. EricS July 13, 2011 at 11:39 pm #

    Mary, you are one paranoid moron. Not trying to make light of the situation, but you put YOUR own child in danger by sheltering them. If you read the story, the boy was approached and is lead away or the boy followed, whatever happened, he was grabbed and run off with. Any child that was educated, and trained properly would have known NEVER to go off with ANY stranger. Even if they did say they knew someone he knew. Free-range ISN’T about just letting your kids go off on their own. That’s just the end result. They still need to be educated in how to deal with scenarios they would face on their own. Trained to never falter from those teachings. I hope you have a A LOT of free time on your hands, and have no other stresses in your life. Because watching your kid 24/7 WILL take a toll on you mentally, emotionally and physically. Because according to YOUR reasoning, that’s the only way they are going to be safe. If YOU don’t watch your kids every second of the day, everyday, then you would be a hypocrite to your own beliefs (you can’t start making excuses when it suits your needs, it’s either or). Just like that dumb ass judge that sentenced Bruscino in the first place. She’s no doubt a paranoid mother as well, acting and judging on emotion, rather than common sense.

    That murder of Leibby is tragic and sad. And my heart goes out his family and friends. But its statistically rare in this Jewish community in New Jersey. So rare, that families feel comfortable enough to let their kids go off on their own. Maybe even rare enough to be complacent in not teaching their kids how to be on their own, and just letting them go. There is also a very good chance that this wasn’t a spur of the moment thing, the suspect could have been stalking the boy for some time, which is a WHOLE different story. It’s well known fact, most victims are scared, timid and complacent. People (young or old) who walk with confidence, and resolve, and who show they can put their foot down, are more often than not left alone. It’s as easy as making eye contact with people, and they see that you aren’t afraid, and can possibly do something to protect yourself (whether physically or mentally), this alone deters would be assailants. I learned most of this before I was 10. You definitely need to educate yourself more on free-range upbringing, and possibly your own parenting. Yes, I’m criticizing you of your parenting mentality. Not because of you, but because you are potentially ruining your child’s development in having a confident, productive, and less fearful future. I’m pretty sure you know those types all grown up. Just look in the mirror. Can you truly say you are happy in how YOU turned out. Or do you periodically wish you could have changed things about yourself? Hmmmm.

    Remember the saying, don’t judge, lest you be judged.

  13. EricS July 13, 2011 at 11:49 pm #

    And when do you think a child is “ready” Mary? READY, is when YOU make them. IMO, the earlier the better. Mine is turning 5, and he already knows what to do when someone he doesn’t know approaches him. He’s a happy go lucky kid, but if he doesn’t like what he sees in someone, he let’s it be known. When he gets older, HE will let me know when he’s ready to start doing stuff on his own. I will access, and if I concur, I will allow him to experience the next chapter in his life. This isn’t about me, it’s about him, and HIS future. I’m here for support, love, and education, to make sure he is prepared to make his future. I grew up this way, and I want him to experience the same thing. He’s already got a good, confident head on his shoulder. Does yours? Or do you make every single little decision for them?

  14. Mary July 14, 2011 at 12:00 am #

    If someone was with him this wouldn’t have happened. Enough said… I am not a paranoid moron, but thank you for showing your judgemental colors Eric S.

    I turned out great but thanks for worrying about it. I grew up in the biggest city in the World with a Dad who was a cop and a Mom who had a FT job. I have a fulltime job, my husband does too! We just make sure our child is with us or with a trusted family member at all times. She is a tough cookie and is learning the ways of the world while having a family member by her side to guide her through. I am very confident that she will be fine…thanks for wishing us ill though. I wish you and everyone on this board nothing but good.
    Yes, being a parent is exhausting, that’s why people who are not up for the job should choose not to be one.
    Now before I go down the path of being an classless POS I will sign off and wish you all well… My anger and ache for this family is too great to sit here and debate over common sense…Time better spent in the park watching my kid enjoy the beautiful day, and lament over the loss of this little boy and his poor family…

  15. Janni July 14, 2011 at 12:18 am #

    Talking about car crashes isn’t grasping at straws, because something like 45,000 people (I’m sure others here know the exact statistics) die in car crashes, while maybe 100 children are abducted. This makes the odds of dying in a car crash significantly higher than the odds of being abducted.

    One of the biggest fallacies that comes up in these discussions is that people assume (because it feels that way) that if a bad thing happens to someone, chances are high it could happen to anyone. We … don’t know how to do the math we need to do to evaluate risk and make sensible decisions based on the degree of risk. (Because there’s no activity on the planet that carries zero risk.)

  16. EricS July 14, 2011 at 12:34 am #

    lol. Whatever helps you sleep at night Mary. It’s no guarantee that if someone was with him that still wouldn’t have happened. So lets take on your “What if” mentality. What if the person who was with him looked away for a couple of seconds, someone hit them over the head and made off with the child. What difference would it have made? What if, while watching your child, your child trips awkwardly, and ends up hitting her head on a rock, a bench, a table, and dies. What if, tomorrow a big ass meteor hit the earth and obliterated almost all life? What if, what if, what if. That mentality, even scenarios of the most unlikely is possible. You ARE paranoid, whether you like to admit it or not, and a complete contradictory to yourself. You CAN’T always watch your child. By your reasoning alone, you either watch them ALL THE TIME, or you don’t. I seriously doubt that you watch your child every second of the day. That alone, makes any of your claims moot. Just because you have a “great job”, and you say your child is a “tough cookie” doesn’t make it so. You are mentally and emotionally weak. Thereby what you teach your child is mental and emotional weakness. Just by what you say, I already know you lack confidence. I’ve known your kind, I still know your kind. They pretend to be the self assured person, who has everything figured out. But deep down, they are still the insecure, fearful child that they were. Like them, you have learned to THINK your confident. You haven’t learned to BE confident. You even said that your “anger and ache for this family is too great to sit here and debate over common sense”. This tragedy alone, should be more so to use common sense then give into emotions of fear and paranoia. NO ONE ever thinks clearly when their emotions are in the way. Ever hear of the medieval witch hunts, inquisitions, lynch mobs? These are all the product of worse case thinking, turning to anger, turning to something that become common place when it shouldn’t be. I truly feel sorry for your child. And hopefully, with the help of others WITH common sense, she will learn to differentiate what you teach her, and what she should really know as she gets older. You are not doing her any favors. No matter how you want to make yourself feel, it doesn’t change to reality and truth of things. And it’s not what YOU think they are.

  17. Mary July 14, 2011 at 12:51 am #

    Eric, slow clap for your amazing parenting skills.. Your reading comprehension is lacking though.. Seriously get a blog and rant away… The world can’t survive without your wisdom…sent from my iPhone while helicoptering over my poor kid.. Sorry, I have bitten and now sunk to your level..

  18. Jenny Islander July 14, 2011 at 2:04 am #

    Report on my ongoing efforts to teach my kids how to be free range:

    My seven-year-old goes to the public library every Tuesday afternoon, from 3:00 to 4:30, to play games with other kids from all over town. The library has everything from Uno cards to a Wii. I also have a five-year-old and a toddler. Keeping them entertained in the library for an hour and a half is a struggle. So I decided not to.

    About half a block away from the library–past the firehouse, the old city jail (closed), the McDonald’s, a small vacant lot, and a sporting goods store–there is a little park with shade trees, benches, and grass. We ate a late picnic lunch there. Then I made sure that my oldest had all of her father’s and my contact numbers written down and sent her to the library. This involved one unlit crosswalk. I was confident that she could handle the crosswalk on her own and reasonably certain that she would practice good manners when she got there. Meanwhile, the other two and I walked to the grocery store, the health food store, and the gazebo by the boat harbor. We had a lovely time and we were back at the park in time to meet their sister.

    She used the library phone to let me know that she would like to be met at the library, but wasn’t upset when I told her that we were having too much fun at the park to want to leave. She got there a few minutes after 4:30 and announced that she had had a great time.

  19. Emiky July 14, 2011 at 3:50 am #

    HOw wonderful!

  20. Tsu Dho Nimh July 15, 2011 at 4:36 am #

    Mary –
    How about the father who let his seat-belted daughter ride in the car with him in Utah:

    Do you ever take your children in the car with you? What if the road collapses under you?

  21. Lea July 15, 2011 at 7:01 am #

    This is very much of topic for this story, sorry about that. I couldn’t find a way to email you directly Lenore. I came across a story that has me angry, sad and terribly frustrated in my local paper. It’s another teen boy facing sexual preditor charges and having to register as one due to age of concent laws and llack of a Romeo/Juliet clause.

  22. Jill July 15, 2011 at 11:03 pm #

    Hurray for sanity. Too bad it came so late. I sincerely hope Judge Preston realizes how cruel and foolish her decision was. Irrational people should not be on the bench and her scenario was beyond irrational — it was completely nuts. One can’t help but wonder what her motivation was to come down so hard on this poor woman.

  23. Jill July 15, 2011 at 11:14 pm #

    I blame Jereny Bentham and his damn panopticon. In our brave new world we’re ALL under surveillance nearly all of the time, on security cameras in stores and banks, on traffic cameras, by satellite tracking and tracing of the sites we visit on the internet. Being watched like this doesn’t reassure me; it creeps me out. George Orwell predicted it and it’s getting worse.

  24. Jenny Islander July 17, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

    Two days ago the girls wanted to buy a root beer. Cheapest place to get a bottle of root beer happens to be a vending machine that I can just barely not see from our driveway. The girls took their purses, said that yes, they would hold hands when crossing the street and the younger one would not start until the older one said it was okay, and off they went. Back they came, from the vending machine outside the sporting goods store, past the little park, across a two-lane street on an unlighted crosswalk, and past the coffee shop (closed), the credit union, the building with the Chinese-American restaurant, hydraulics store, and insurance office on the ground floor, across somebody’s driveway, kittycorner through the vacant lot, and up our hill to our driveway. They took a long time to get back and both my husband and I were a bit nervous because we couldn’t see them. We’d forgotten that of course they would pause to drink the soda on the way.

    Baby steps. I’m not going to send my older girl anyplace without adult supervision that will require a long walk home without drilling her on how to recognize and avoid mean grown-ups. She already has experience with a vicious bully near her own age who liked to use nice words to lure in her victims, so that’s the model I will use.

  25. falconnano July 18, 2011 at 2:55 am #

    This is Fantastic news .

  26. falconnano July 18, 2011 at 2:56 am #

    This news make me sick.

  27. mgkimsal July 18, 2011 at 3:04 am #


    So you leave you child(ren) with a ‘trusted family member’? Children are far more likely to be sexually molested by ‘trusted family members’ than they are by random strangers walking around in a neighborhood. And often they never let on, so it goes on repeatedly for years. You may be unwittingly be an enabler. But hey, at least the kids don’t walk around alone in public, right?


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