Mom Has Kids, 8 and 10, Wait in Car — Now She’s Charged with Abuse and Neglect

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A New Jersey mom is facing charges for leaving her kids, 8 and 10, in the car while she ran an errand.

As it happens,while she was doing the shopping, a man hopped into the SUV, which was still running, and drove off with the kids. He crashed the thing, and everyone ended up bruised but okay.

Except the mom, who is being treated as if she’s a criminal, too. Possibly that’s because of the nature of her errand: She was at a liquor store, at night.

But!

1 – There’s no evidence she was going to drink and drive. Even good parents (some of the best) buy liquor.

2 – There’s no reason to think that kids 8 and 10 can’t handle themselves, except in the rarest of rare situations — like this one. We are allowed to consult real-world odds when making our parenting decisions.

3 – Just because this errand ended up crazy — a car heist, a crash — doesn’t mean parents should be expected to dream up this kind of worst-case scenario before they make the safe but never PERFECTLY SAFE decision to leave their kids unsupervised for a short time. We get the idea that kids are never safe unsupervised precisely because this is the kind of story that makes the news. We never see the boring stories of millions of kids waiting in millions of  cars until mom comes back and life goes on, unremarkably.

Punishing the mom is wrong. Punish only the perp! (And I would argue that it doesn’t even make sense to punish him as a kidnapper, since it appears he was trying to steal a car, not kids.)

And yes, yes, yes, it’s far better NOT to leave the car running. But just because you make a dumb decision every once in a while does not mean you are a criminal. In fact, that is exactly what the NJ Supreme Court ruled recently about another mom, another car, and another kid. – L.

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This has got to be the weirdest liquor store sign available on Google Images. Also, please read the story above. (CREDIT: OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA)

This has got to be the weirdest liquor store sign available on Google Images. Also, please read the story above, which is about our vindictive desire to punish imperfect parents, not about amazing neon signage. (CREDIT: OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA)

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80 Responses to Mom Has Kids, 8 and 10, Wait in Car — Now She’s Charged with Abuse and Neglect

  1. Anna December 18, 2015 at 10:48 am #

    I certainly spent many hours waiting in the car for my parents – can’t say I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t dangerous. I don’t even see anything wrong with leaving the car on, for climate control, but it probably would make sense to teach the kids to lock the door when the parents leave the car.

  2. pentamom December 18, 2015 at 11:23 am #

    ^This. To this day, even when I leave my teenagers in the car because they don’t feel like going with me when I stop on an errand on the way home from school, I instinctively hit the lock button. Not because i feel like there’s any reason to for the sake of the kids, but because I always lock the car when I leave it, short of multiple trips to unload or something like that. Especially if it were running, I wouldn’t leave it open.

    But again, what may be a few points short of the wisest possible way of dealing with the situation, is not criminal. It’s just absurd that the standard is “perfection in judgement and practice, or criminal behavior.”

  3. James Pollock December 18, 2015 at 11:27 am #

    I was with you right up until “and the car was running”.

    You can’t take the kids into a liquor store. Maybe you should plan ahead, and do your liquor shopping some time when you don’t have the kids with you, but “disorganization” and “poor planning” don’t equate with child neglect.

  4. LGB December 18, 2015 at 11:27 am #

    I hate, hate, hate these stories for beyond the obvious reasons. If you see them posted in social media, the comments are overwhelmingly bad-mommy posts instead of bad-criminal posts.

    Most of civilized society has fortunately evolved to a point of no longer blaming rape survivors for “provoking” their assailants, e.g. by drinking too much or wearing “the wrong clothing.”

    So why is it still socially acceptable to blame the parents who “provoke” car thieves and would-be kidnappers?

    Crimes are *solely* the fault of the criminals who choose to commit them. No one is entitled to blame-shift them onto the victims—in this case, the children and the mother whose children and car were stolen.

  5. Emily December 18, 2015 at 11:28 am #

    Maybe Free-Range Kids could expand, and do a newspaper/news show/Internet blog with boring (but true) “news” articles about people who make the Free-Range decision for themselves and/or their kids, or kids in their care, with no ill effect, and sometimes positive results. For example:

    -“Mom lets kids wait in the car, and the kids end up perfectly safe.”

    -“Kids walk to and from school, and get fresh air, exercise, and learn basic navigation skills.”

    -“Kids play in the park without an adult, and have some perfectly safe fun away from their screened devices.”

    -“Brownie group makes s’mores the real way, with fire, a good time is had by all, and the kids learn fire safety by using fire, safely.”

    -“University students respectfully disagree on a major issue, aren’t traumatized, and remain friends.”

    -“Man exists in the vicinity of children, and doesn’t molest them.”

    -“Man interacts with children, and doesn’t molest them.”

    -“White van exists in the vicinity of children, and doesn’t molest them.”

    Now, obviously, these stories aren’t going to have the reach or the repetition of the “shocking” stories of kidnapping, murder, rape, et cetera, because they’re boring, but if the news was accurate, then they’d have to be, and these “boring” stories would far outnumber the “exciting” stories of terrible things happening, and people wouldn’t be afraid of their own shadows. But, it’d probably never happen, because then the news would be so boring that people would cancel their deluxe cable and Internet packages, turn off their screens, and go out and interact with the (perfectly safe) world in person.

  6. LGB December 18, 2015 at 11:30 am #

    Emily, excellent post.

  7. Emily December 18, 2015 at 11:33 am #

    P.S., I don’t know why other people haven’t realized that there’s a flip side to “worst-first thinking.” Like I said, there was a post on here a while ago about a Girl Scout or Brownie group (I forget which one) making “safe” s’mores with marshmallow fluff instead of the traditional way. Cue the disgruntled comments from Free-Rangers here, especially those who were involved in Scouting/Guiding as children themselves. But, seriously, what would happen if those kids actually got lost in the woods, somehow, and couldn’t survive or signal for help because they didn’t know how to make a fire, because they were never taught in Brownies, because of misguided “safety” concerns? It’s not that far-fetched; I mean, there have been stories about kids getting lost, and hiding from rescuers, because they’ve been taught not to talk to strangers, so this is kind of along the same lines.

  8. Karen December 18, 2015 at 12:08 pm #

    Here in CA, we have Kaitlyn’s Law which basically states children under the age of 12 cannot be left unattended in a car.

    California Vehicle Code 15620
    (a) A parent, legal guardian, or other person responsible for a child who is 6 years of age or younger may not leave that child inside a motor vehicle without being subject to the supervision of a person who is 12 years of age or older, under either of the following circumstances:
    (1) Where there are conditions that present a significant risk to the child’s health or safety.
    (2) When the vehicle’s engine is running or the vehicle’s keys are in the ignition, or both.
    (b) A violation of subdivision (a) is an infraction punishable by a fine of one hundred dollars ($100).
    (c) Nothing in this section shall preclude prosecution under both this section and Section 192 of the Penal Code, or Section 273a of that code, or any other provision of law.
    (d) (1) Subdivision (b) and Section 40000.1 do not apply if an unattended child is injured or medical services are rendered on that child because of a violation described in subdivision (a).
    (2) Nothing in this subdivision precludes prosecution under any other provision of law.

    So who decides if there are conditions that present a significant risk to the child’s health or safety? That’s what I would like to know.

  9. John December 18, 2015 at 12:10 pm #

    Quote from James:

    “You can’t take the kids into a liquor store”

    I personally believe that is a stupid law. OK, I understand not allowing minors into liquor stores on their own. But it shouldn’t be a problem if they’re with their parents or a guardian responsible for them. Back in the 1960s if my mom and dad wanted to stop into “George and Mary’s Bar” for a drink, they’d bring me with them and I’d sit right between them at the bar. Mom and dad would each have a beer while I’d be drinking a coke. I’m now 59 and albeit I’m not a teetotaler, neither am I remotely an alcoholic but a productive member of society 4 years away from retirement.

    I’m guessing this lady planned on spending no longer than a minute inside this liquor but regardless, the law probably said she couldn’t bring her kids in with her. Had they been able to tag along with her for that very short time, this would not have been a problem. For a matter like this, the government needs to stay out of parents’ business and allow them some leeway when determining right from wrong regarding their children.

  10. sexhysteria December 18, 2015 at 12:11 pm #

    Sounds like it was a dangerous area, so locking doors would have been more prudent.

  11. AmyO December 18, 2015 at 12:15 pm #

    I live in the area and when I heard the story, I was waiting for them to announce charges for the mom. However, nobody seemed to bat an eye at the fact that the kids were in the car, and I figured, well, at least they were older kids. Guess I thought wrong.

  12. James Pollock December 18, 2015 at 12:27 pm #

    “’m guessing this lady planned on spending no longer than a minute inside this liquor” (sic)

    Maybe, maybe not. Leaving the car running… because she didn’t think it’d take her long to be right back, or because she DID think it would take a while, and she needed to keep the AC or heater running for the kids in the car?

  13. Jessica December 18, 2015 at 12:28 pm #

    I am sure it varies but state but I’ve never had any problems taking my kids in the liquor store. I mean, talk about damned if you do, damned if you don’t… (or rather, judged if you do, judged if you don’t).TN says that kids “under 7” can’t be left alone in the car which I interpret to mean 7 and up can be. However I still make my 7 and 10 year old kids come in the liquor store with me because of exactly this witch-hunt mentality that this mother is dealing with.

    And Lenore, I am going to have nightmares about this clown picture.

  14. Havva December 18, 2015 at 12:32 pm #

    Yeah the mom made mistakes, leaving the car running and unlocked, late at night, with her kids inside, not the smartest move. I could squint hard and maybe call it neglect maybe, but abuse? How did the cops/CPS reach that conclusion.

    Our society seems really on a bender to punish parents into some twisted vision of perfection, that ignores the realities of life. But I always keep coming back to the big crack in the edifice.

    If we cared so darn much about protecting children. Why arrest parents for letting kids go to the park, or wait in the car during a quick errand, but just issue a measly traffic ticket for driving kids about with out a car seat, or even a seat belt. For these two kids no seat belts on either kid would have only cost a traffic ticket with a fine of $50/ unbuckled person. And the public would not be questioning why she was running an errand at that hour. Heaven forbid she had flipped the SUV with herself with the kids in in. It would have been just another statistic that no one much cares about.

    But no she left them in the car presumably buckled up, or the injuries would have been much worse, so instead now she has an arrest record, will have to go to court, have attorney fees, lost time from work, CPS involvement, registration as a child abuser, it will cost her lord knows how much else in lost opportunities and introduce untold stress into her children’s lives. We have our “child protection” priorities so backward in this country.

    I sure hope the mom has been informed of the unanimous NJ Supreme Court decision. I hope it gets this case a fair hearing at which it is thrown out. She took a risk, she didn’t do everything to skew the odds in her favor, and I wouldn’t do it exactly how she did. I could probably be okay with it if the punitive part of society wanted to fine her $50 for leaving the doors unlocked, and another $50 for leaving the car running; or $50 for each kid left in the car after dark. But that doesn’t make it right to label her a child abuser, or even accuse her of neglect. That doesn’t make it worthy of the resources spend on arresting her, and the CPS resources put into investigating her family. Meanwhile kids are being left in homes where CPS knows they are being beaten.

  15. Diana Green December 18, 2015 at 12:34 pm #

    “One swallow doth not make a spring.”

    Accidents happen. That what accidents do.

    All these laws named after Kids? Very very sad what happened to that one kid. Truly, tragic. But not a justification for arguing from the individual to the particular and passing a new law about it. Bad logic. Ignorant and stupid. California didn’t do Kathy any honor memorializing her truly tragic death by making it harder to be a parent or a kid in California.

  16. Warren December 18, 2015 at 12:38 pm #

    What draconian law says you can’t take kids into a liqour store? Nowhere I have ever been has ever had that law.

    Also looking up the laws listed by Lenore, NJ doesn’t have a law about leaving kids in the car.

    James,
    Really poor planning and disorganization? Get off your high horse. This was not poor planning or disorganization. This was a women making a quick stop for supplies, nothing more nothing less.

  17. MichaelF December 18, 2015 at 12:39 pm #

    “But just because you make a dumb decision every once in a while does not mean you are a criminal.”

    I guess innocent until proven guilty is only for the courtroom, we don’t know the parent, the kids, or much else involved but its ok to make a judgement.

  18. A Dad December 18, 2015 at 12:44 pm #

    I have an interesting take on the kids in a liquor store.

    I was in the Czech Republic in 1992 visiting a friend. We finished all the beer that my friend had so he sent his eight y/o daughter to the store to get more beer.

    She returned after 20 minutes with another 6 liters and the adults continued on with our discussions.

    Whoda thunk a eight y/o could buy beer?

  19. Mandy December 18, 2015 at 12:58 pm #

    I have mostly agreed with your thoughts and didn’t see a problem leaving the kids in the car while Mom ran an errand. I do see a problem leaving a car running and leaving the kids in it. In most states it is illegal to leave a car running without a driver inside and it’s just running the risk of theft, leaving it unlocked in that manner. Mom is lucky the kids only got bumps and bruises

  20. Anna December 18, 2015 at 1:00 pm #

    Are there really laws against kids in liquor stores? I bring my 4-year-old in with me; the only thing that gives me pause is imagining how much it could cost me if he got rambunctious and broke something.

  21. lollipoplover December 18, 2015 at 1:03 pm #

    “You can’t take the kids into a liquor store.”

    It varies from state to state. I’ve taken my kids into the liquor store on many occasions. They especially like the funky wine labels and names of certain brands. Fat Bastard always gets the giggles.

    These kids were 8 and 10. Mine would be on the fence about going in or staying put in the car. I also never leave my engine running. I did it a long time ago with a dog in the car and had to run out of the store as my car was drifting through the parking lot. This isn’t abuse or neglect and to put this family through further trauma as victims of a violent, random crime is truly obnoxious.

  22. Donna December 18, 2015 at 1:05 pm #

    I haven’t done a 50 state survey, but I have never practiced law in, lived in or visited a state that had a law prohibiting minors from entering liquor stores with their parents. Some states have laws preventing them from entering alone, but they can accompany their parents. The state in question here doesn’t have such a law as I have both been a minor in a liquor store and taken minors into a liquor store in that state. Individual stores may have rules against it, but it is generally not against the law.

  23. Carla December 18, 2015 at 1:06 pm #

    I live in Alabama. I can bring my children into a liquor store, but they are not allowed to touch anything. If they do, I cannot buy it. I first learned this when I tried to buy wine coolers at Walmart. Because of a knee injury, I was using one of their motorized carts, so my 18 year old daughter was unloading items at the register. Because she moved the wine coolers from the cart to the belt, I was not allowed to make the purchase. Note that this was not simply because I was buying booze with my minor children present–I was specifically told that it was because she handled it. (They told me I could come back through the line to make a separate transaction, which I declined to do.) When I went to a package store, I was told the same thing–they could enter, but not touch. I guess kids looking at booze is OK, but letting them actually TOUCH a sealed bottle or cardboard carrier means that I’m really just buying it for them!

  24. Lyndsay December 18, 2015 at 1:15 pm #

    I’m in NJ. I’ve taken my much younger children into the liquor store plenty of times. The only concern I’ve ever had is the thought of one of them breaking something.

  25. SKL December 18, 2015 at 1:26 pm #

    Dumb to leave the car on. But if dumb were illegal, we’d have a pretty high crime rate. 😛

    I don’t have a problem charging the perp with kidnapping. If you don’t want to be charged with kidnapping, check for kids in the car before you steal it. It’s not like he’s the first guy who ever made that mistake in the commission of a crime. Sorry, no mercy from me on that.

  26. SKL December 18, 2015 at 1:26 pm #

    I’m not aware of any rules in my state about kids in liquor stores. Could be because I never buy liquor. 😛

  27. George AngryDad December 18, 2015 at 1:27 pm #

    The California law, cited above, prohibits leaving kids in a car “When the vehicle’s engine is running or the vehicle’s keys are in the ignition, or both.” To comply, the mom should have taken her keys into the liquor store.

    One safety concern is that the child may put the car in gear and become a hazard to other cars.

    The law also prohibits “a significant risk to the child’s health or safety, but there are also child abuse and neglect laws that apply to such risks even if the kid is not in the car. So the important thing is to not leave the keys in the car.

    I have heard moms suggesting leaving the keys in the car with the engine running, because that shows to a meddlesome observer that the parent will be right back. But that is not good advice under California law.

  28. Sarah December 18, 2015 at 1:37 pm #

    I really like your emphasis of “PERFECTLY” in your comments. Perfectionism in anything is proven to be a hindrance toward achieving our goals, not a help.

    There’s a great article (out there in the world, somewhere) in which researchers studied insurance agents and their salaries. Those who were perfectionists earned, on average, something like 10% less than their more relaxed colleagues, because they wasted perfectly good time obsessing over details. Time that could have earned them more clients, or whatever it takes to earn more as an insurance agent.

    We would do well as a society to apply this to our parenting. We all know that most of the less-than-“perfect” moments result in growth from a new experience anyway. Kids are resilient, and only become stronger when faced with the typical adversities we have to face (spilled milk, broken cups, bumps, bruises, a missed activity, a conflict with a friend…)

  29. Caiti December 18, 2015 at 1:37 pm #

    I live in New Jersey and there’s no law against bringing your kids into the liquor store with you. In fact they always have dum dums for the kids. When my son was a toddler he always wanted to stop at the “ah ah” (lollipop) store. But just because it’s legal to bring them in doesn’t make it compulsory.

  30. Vaughan December 18, 2015 at 1:40 pm #

    Why would one leave a car running?
    It wastes gasoline-and increases pollution,.
    The mother should have removed the key-and taken it with her

  31. Rivka333 December 18, 2015 at 1:58 pm #

    I understand that the fact that someone stole the car and crashed it doesn’t mean that the mother’s initial action was wrong-the odds of someone doing that were so rare that she couldn’t be expected to predict it-nonetheless, it is very much the case that people judge one’s actions not by the goodness of badness of the actions themselves, but by their chance results. (That last part is a quote from Boethius)

  32. lollipoplover December 18, 2015 at 2:14 pm #

    The title of the news article was: “Mom leaves Kids in Backseat of SUV while Getting Liquor, Faces Charges”

    It wasn’t “Car Thief takes children in parked car and crashes into another vehicle, injuring children”, the focus was on the mom and the liquor. It’s liquor shaming.

  33. pentamom December 18, 2015 at 2:21 pm #

    James statement “you can’t take kids into a liquor store” is not categorically true. It may apply in his state, and the state of the person in the article, but it’s not true in my state. They’ll look askance at you if you have your teenager trailing around looking as though they might be helping to pick stuff out, but younger kids do not get the bat of an eye — in Pennsylvania, possibly the most restrictive state in the union when it come to liquor sales.

  34. pentamom December 18, 2015 at 2:26 pm #

    MichaelF — yes, in fact, innocent until proven guilty IS only for the courtroom, or for fair dealings with other people in real life.

    It doesn’t apply to forming opinions based on the information you have, in situations where your opinion doesn’t really affect anybody.

  35. Coolblue December 18, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

    Well, tar me and feather me. I do the same thing as this mum all the time. And sometimes even at the grog shop. (That’s Australian for liquor store!) Mind you, I don’t leave the engine running. Waste of petrol. And I don’t lock the car doors after learning the hard way that when they open them from the inside to have a breather, the alarm goes off. Talk about bringing maximum attention to my “neglectful” parenting.

  36. David (Dhewco) December 18, 2015 at 3:28 pm #

    I wouldn’t leave a kid in a car running and doors locked. The reason is this: Most of the kids I know would think it hilarious to pretend to not hear your request to unlock the door. They’d wait until the adult was really angry, unlock the door and pretend it was all a big joke. Not a big deal if you have keyless entry or a door panel where you can enter a code, but I have rarely owned such a car and the keyless fob is usually on the chain anyway, so only the keypad on the door is an option.

  37. Steve December 18, 2015 at 3:37 pm #

    Parents accompanying kids does NOT guarantee safety.

    Next time you think being WITH your children will protect them from harm or death, remember these stories:

    Mother killed, 2 children injured in I-40 crash
    http://www.wsmv.com/story/30646947/woman-killed-2-children-injured-in-i-40-crash

    Child Dies After Being Ripped From His Mother’s Arms and Mauled by 4 Pit Bulls
    http://www.popsugar.com/moms/Child-Killed-4-Pit-Bulls-During-Walk-School-Mom-39283665

    Police Hunt For Suspects In Car Jacking That Resulted In Deaths Of 3 Kids
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/26/carjacking-three-kids-killed_n_5623015.html

    4 children killed, mother severely burned in Conyers fire
    http://www.cbs46.com/story/20538961/4-children-killed-mother-severely-burned-in-conyers-fire

  38. Emily December 18, 2015 at 3:46 pm #

    Okay, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking kids to a liquor store, whether you bring them inside, or have them wait in the car, but I wonder why liquor stores don’t have home delivery? It seems like it’d be a really simple way to avoid situations like this one.

  39. Steve December 18, 2015 at 3:56 pm #

    Adults discount the abilities of children.
    ———————————————————

    Cub Scout receives Honor Medal for saving parents’ lives in fire
    boyslife.org/about-scouts/scouting-around/138668/cub-scout-receives-honor-

    medal-for-saving-parents-lives-in-fire/

    9-Year-Old Boy Saves Baby Sister With CPR
    abcnews.go.com/Health/HeartHealth/year-boy-saves-baby-sister-cpr/story?id=13408947

    3-year-old cracks cellphone password, saves pregnant mom
    today.com/parents/3-year-old-cracks-cellphone-password-saves-pregnant-mom-2D79371790

    8-year-old boy rescues 6 relatives from fire, dies trying to save 7th
    cnn.com/2014/01/21/us/new-york-boy-saves-family-fire/

    Child Saves Siblings From Home Run Ball as Both Parents Cower in Fear
    slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2015/06/25/child_saves_brother_and_sister_from

    _home_run_ball_as_parents_bail_out_of.html

    The boy who saved his mother’s life
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-21322/The-boy-saved-mothers-life.html

    Boy, 4, jumps from moving vehicle to escape Stockton car theft
    kcra.com/news/local-news/news-stockton/boy-4-jumps-from-moving-vehicle-during-stockton-carjacking/32930346

    Children Jump From Moving Vehicle As Thief Steals Family Car
    ktla.com/2015/06/24/children-jump-from-moving-vehicle-as-car-thief-steals-family-car-from-gas-station-in-redlands/

  40. Jim P. December 18, 2015 at 4:08 pm #

    In a lot of states, it is illegal to leave a car running while unattended, occupied or not. She goofed big time I’d say. Normally I am very sympathetic to these cases but she behaved irresponsibly in this case.

    Crooks watch for this sort of thing: Cars left running when someone dashes in “just for a minute”.

  41. John M December 18, 2015 at 4:26 pm #

    Being from Minnesota, I leave my car running all the time. It is cold outside and getting in to a warm car is a nice thing. And I do it with the kids in it. They are 9 and 13 now but I have done it all along. I have never had a problem but my kids have never been the mischievous kind. I guess my point is that I am alright with this ladies actions.

  42. James Pollock December 18, 2015 at 4:39 pm #

    “I wonder why liquor stores don’t have home delivery? It seems like it’d be a really simple way to avoid situations like this one.”

    Many years ago, Texas had drive-through package stores. Not sure if they still do.

  43. James Pollock December 18, 2015 at 4:55 pm #

    “James statement “you can’t take kids into a liquor store” is not categorically true.”

    I find it hard to believe that there are places where you can drag your kids into a liquor store without being judged, but… not being the sort to hang out in liquor stores watching family dynamics… I’ll take your word for it.

    But… if everyone’s OK with you bringing your kids in with you, then that’s ALSO a better option than leaving the kids in the car with the engine running.

  44. Betsy in Michigan December 18, 2015 at 5:00 pm #

    No time to read all these, but the (apparent New Jersey?) law about not being able to take kids into a liquor store made me LAUGH! Not a problem here in Michigan; as a matter of fact, when my teen was about 3, the owners of our local liquor store took a Polaroid picture of Daughter with Captain Morgan, a big pirate statue inside! Of course we still have stupid blue laws of our own: don’t try to add your beer or wine to your grocery shopping if you’re checking out before noon on Sunday! And it would seem that in Chicago, children are not allowed inside bars even during the day with parents. A few years ago, with a van load of relatives on the way to a wedding recital dinner, the 5 year old had an urgent call of nature (not the kind the could be fixed in an alley). We squealed to the curb, I hustled him out into the nearest open business – an empty bar – and ran him to the bathroom in the back with the bartender saying “You can’t bring him in here….”! Oh well. WE made our deposit and left, thanking them on the way out.

    I’m sorry, but people need to start suing. Big time. To get the attention of these Kafka-esque government employees. Then sue the guy who carjacked your car.

  45. John December 18, 2015 at 5:15 pm #

    @Carla…..I live in Alabama too Carla and I guess I stand corrected when I say it is prohibited to bring your children into a liquor store. I guess seeing it’s the conservative South, I never see anyone with kids in a liquor store down here.

    BUT in responding to your Wal*Mart dilemma, some of the rules regarding alcohol here in Alabama make no sense. Last April, one of the local cigar shops had their 4th anniversary celebration by holding a raffle outside their shop with a band playing. So many of their patrons were outside socializing while smoking cigars and drinking beer they had purchased from the exotic beer shop next door to the cigar place. The funny thing is, there was a big sign on the door of the beer shop saying that anybody with an open intoxicant could NOT enter their store. So if I was drinking a beer outside that I had purchased from their store, I could not go back into the store with the open beer in my hand. BUT also, when I went into the shop to purchase a beer, I was told to wait until I got outside before opening it because it was illegal to walk out of their store with an open intoxicant. I was ok INSIDE with an open beer in my hand and I was ok OUTSIDE with an open beer in my hand but not going to and fro. So basically, that threshold or doorway was the problem!

    The whole legality of it made absolutely no sense to me and I had no idea who or what it was meant to protect.

  46. Caiti December 18, 2015 at 5:21 pm #

    @James Not sure about Texas but there are a handful of states that are still drive through. And if you don’t plan to drink while driving, be sure to tell them when you order or they will likely open your beer before passing it ti you through the car window

  47. KB December 18, 2015 at 5:35 pm #

    Nobody seems to have mentioned (maybe I missed it) that Camden has the highest crime rate in the country. And she left her kids in an unlocked car, in front of a liquor store, with the car running (it was unseasonably warm that night, so it wasn’t because they needed the heat. And I have brought kids into liquor stores many times in NJ). I agree with previous commenters who said that being dumb isn’t a crime. But I don’t think she is the poster child for the free range parenting movement, either.

  48. Dasy2k1 December 18, 2015 at 5:40 pm #

    If you did the in the UK the only crime you are likely to be charged with is quitting…. That is leaving a running motor vehicle unattended (the kids don’t count in this case as they are not legally allowed to be in charge of a motor vehicle (otherwise they would have been guilty of being in charge of a motor vehicle without a valid driving license) )

    Even this would only apply if the car was still on the public highway and not on private land (eg the off licence car park)

  49. Dasy2k1 December 18, 2015 at 5:47 pm #

    Actual text of the UK law
    (road traffic act clause 107)

    107(1) No person shall leave, or cause or permit to be left, on a road a motor vehicle which is not attended by a person licensed to drive it unless the engine is stopped and any parking brake with which the vehicle is required to be equipped is effectively set, unless exempted by paragraph (2).

    (paragraph 2 exempts things like police cars ambulances etc)

    Then again the normal penalty for this is a £30 (about $50) ticket that doesn’t even show on your record provided you pay it on time

  50. Bob Magee December 18, 2015 at 7:19 pm #

    Just back from the liquor store. Left the 3 yo grandchild in the car – locked and engine off. It’s in the 40’s outside.
    Living on the edge!

  51. Caiti December 18, 2015 at 8:01 pm #

    To all those who are differentiating themselves from the mom in this story by focusing on how they would never leave the car running: the charges she faces are not about leaving her car running. I imagine that if she had shut off the car and brought the keys with her and the car thief had grabbed them from her hand, she would still be facing charges.

    The particular liquor store she went to is one I used to live near and often frequented before I moved 3years ago. It is not in Camden city; rather it is in a solidly working class neighborhood and on main road that the cops sit next to with their plate readers day and night. It would be ridiculously stupid to choose that street to steal a car. Additionally, I have never had a problem in that store or the surrounding area, and I often left my car running in that same area when I worked as a pizza delivery driver.

    Somebody mentioned that the mother isn’t the poster child for free ranging. That is true, Lenore has that honor. But Im disheartened that people who follow this site are quick to shift any of the blame to this mom. One of the other commenters said this is akin to blaming a women’s style of dress for her rape and that is a very fitting comparison.

    Not to mention, getting your car stolen in the space of five minutes while you ran into a store is not particularly common. It’s not as rare as kidnapping, but it’s not something I am expecting when I pull into a . Why can’t we give this woman the benefit if the doubt and let her make her own decisions based on her own analysis of the risk? Isn’t that what we want our communities do for us?

  52. Mick December 18, 2015 at 8:53 pm #

    I have twins that are 9 and have been leaving them in my car for years with the engine running. I normally lock the doors but they both know how to unlock them.
    I especially let it run in the winter time as both of them are somewhat sensitive to the cold. Usually at Wawa or a local grocery store to grab milk and bread.
    We live in a fairly small town in Pennsylvania and have never had a problem with the police as far as leaving the kids in the car Although I have had some problems with passerby’s asking all kinds of questions .
    I truly believe this could only happen one in 1 million times. That being said, the bottom line is it’s not even close to being a criminal act.
    I truly believe more children get hurt outside the car than inside it . Give the kids a little bit of credit.

  53. Warren December 18, 2015 at 9:33 pm #

    James,

    If you or someone was to judge me for bringing my kids into the liqour store, they and you would be told to piss off. That simple. If someone wants to be that uptight about booze, then what the hell are they buying it for. Hell my kids have been helping me pick out wine since they could read. At ten my daughters were getting their mom’s coolers while I was getting the other beverages.

    Like sex, there are far too many people with hangups about booze.

  54. Michelle December 18, 2015 at 10:36 pm #

    http://www.khou.com/story/news/crime/2015/12/18/mom-pleads-guilty-in-death-of-9-year-old-girl-found-in-fridge/77563914/

    Police said neighbors at the Happy Home Apartment complex, located in the 10100 block of Club Creek, became concerned after not seeing Keyes’ child, Ayahna Comb, for several months. On June 10, 2014, a concerned neighbor entered the family’s residence through an unlocked door and found the child wrapped in blankets in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator at about 5:50 p.m.

    Houston Fire Department paramedics responded to the scene and pronounced Ayahna dead. Investigators said she had been dead since January 29, 2014 and weighed just 14 pounds.

    Family members said the victim had cerebral palsy, needed a wheelchair to get around and was bottle fed.

    By all means, let’s crucify the mom who irresponsibly left her car running.

  55. Jennifer December 18, 2015 at 11:26 pm #

    The only clear memories I have of being left in the car as a child was when my mom went into the liquor store. For the longest time I thought it was illegal to enter unless you were an adult lol.

  56. MOBK December 18, 2015 at 11:28 pm #

    “Like sex, there are far too many people with hangups about booze.”
    +1 to that

    I think it is pretty normal to bring your kids into the liquor store. At the government run liquor store closest to my home the staff have stickers to give to kids.

  57. hineata December 18, 2015 at 11:35 pm #

    I used to pop down the road to pick up my father’s flagon, from somewhere around 7 or 8. You weren’t allowed in the bar itself – there was a side room you stood in. Doubt that is allowed anymore, which is a bit silly….I remember well looking in at all the old boozers, who glared back at me, and thinking that I didn’t want to end up like that ☺.Best education ever ☺☺

  58. Jessica December 19, 2015 at 7:30 am #

    @James “I find it hard to believe that there are places where you can drag your kids into a liquor store without being judged,”

    I live in the bible belt south and drag my kids into the liquor store quite often (blue laws – no wine allowed in grocery stores so I have to buy it at a liquor store). I have never gotten so much as a frown from anyone. As another poster mentioned, some even keep lollipops on hand for kids. They’re not allowed in bars at all, though.

  59. Beth December 19, 2015 at 7:55 am #

    I’ve never heard either of a law against bringing kids into a liquor store, nor of judging someone who does. Do those states, if they exist, expect single parents to hire a sitter in order to buy a bottle of wine?

    I’d say it’s an urban legend, but then James would have to provide links to every state in which this is truly illegal. No thanks.

  60. Donna December 19, 2015 at 8:18 am #

    A person who would judge a parent for bringing their child into a liquor store is not someone I want to know. Luckily, I have never met one other than James and I already knew that I don’t want to know him.

    Beer and wine is sold in every local grocery and convenience store and Walmart and Target. Do you go out of your way to bypass the beer and wine aisles? Make your kids close their eyes? Hire a babysitter to do the grocery shopping lest your kids see alcohol?

  61. BL December 19, 2015 at 8:34 am #

    @Carla
    ” I can bring my children into a liquor store, but they are not allowed to touch anything. If they do, I cannot buy it”

    I wonder what the logic behind this is. Are they afraid touching the liquor bottles will give them cooties or something?

  62. James Pollock December 19, 2015 at 12:16 pm #

    “I live in the bible belt south and drag my kids into the liquor store quite often (blue laws – no wine allowed in grocery stores so I have to buy it at a liquor store). I have never gotten so much as a frown from anyone. As another poster mentioned, some even keep lollipops on hand for kids. ”

    “I’ll take your word for it.”

    “I’d say it’s an urban legend, but then James would have to provide links to every state in which this is truly illegal. ”
    I would have to what now?

    “A person who would judge a parent for bringing their child into a liquor store is not someone I want to know. Luckily, I have never met one other than James”
    Alas, you’ve gotten my opinion wildly incorrect. I’m the person who would judge a parent for leaving their kids in a car with the engine running.

    “Beer and wine is sold in every local grocery and convenience store and Walmart and Target. Do you go out of your way to bypass the beer and wine aisles?”
    I live in Oregon, so there’s literally hundreds of shops selling pot (some for medicinal use, with one set of rules, and some for recreational use, with another set of rules). On the other hand, across the river Costco spent a bunch of money on an initiative so they (and other retailers) could carry liquor. All of which affects me not at all. It might’ve cut into the tavern industry’s profits… but my family no longer owns any.

  63. pentamom December 19, 2015 at 3:21 pm #

    Yeah, guess what, I don’t hang around in liquor stores watching family dynamics either.

    I engage in the much more probable behavior of occasionally taking my kids with me into the liquor store if they happen to be with my while running errands, and in the even less remarkable practice of remembering my parents doing it with me when I was a kid.

    I shouldn’t even rise to the bait here, but I just have to say it: the potential for people judging you for something, and that thing being illegal, are not the same thing.

  64. Papilio December 19, 2015 at 5:42 pm #

    “I wonder what the logic behind this is. Are they afraid touching the liquor bottles will give them cooties or something?”

    Or maybe they think it’s in the air, like marijuana smoke. Or that anyone under 21 will just lose self-control at the mere sight of a bottle of booze and try to drink it in the middle of the store or something. Whatever it is, it must be something ridiculous.

    Anyway, we just have a law that says under 18 you can’t DRINK alcohol, but you can enter a bar (unless the bar itself decided to keep the under-18s out) and you only have to be 16 to ba a cashier in a grocery store (where they also sell beer, wine and some other heavier stuff too).
    When I bought liquor the first time in a liquor store at 16 (which was legal at the time) with Little Brother, I didn’t even get carded. (Of course, when I bought beer five years later (age limit still 16) in the grocery store, they insisted on seeing ID… Awkward.)

  65. Diane December 19, 2015 at 8:29 pm #

    Funny story about kids and alcohol: I was pregnant last year, buying a six pack of beer in the grocery store for my husband’s consumption. The clerk looked at me pointedly and asked, “Is that for you?” I replied, “Of course not! It’s for her (gesturing to my 8 yr old).” Daughter rolls eyes, I smirk, and the clerk gets the message.

    And today, after shopping at a craft store, instead of going to my car to deliver the packages and then get out again to go to the liquor store, I left my 8 yr old under the awning taking care of the baby, who was in the basket seat, while I ran in for a quick purchase. When I exited, she said she was asked three times where her parent was. I explained to her that people are not used to seeing kids unaccompanied by an adult, but that used to be the norm.

    On topic, though, I leave my kids in the car all the time, but I always take my keys with me. I hope they drop these ridiculous charges, though.

  66. Red December 19, 2015 at 11:42 pm #

    This story just makes me say what the fuck?

    On Thursday, I took my sick kid to the doctor. He was diagnosed with strep throat and given a mask to wear if he needed to go into public during the next 24 hours.

    Instead, I ran over to school and left him in the car so that his teacher could give me the work he was going to miss that day and the next.

    Then, I drove to the pharmacy and left him in the car while I waited, and picked up the anti-biotic which was supposed to cure this damn strep throat.

    Then I drove to a fast food place, left him in the car, and got him the shake he declared he was going to eat (because he hadn’t eaten in 24 hours due to his throat being so damn sore(.

    Then I drove to another fast food place, left him in the car, and got myself a lunch I was willing to eat.

    I think that leaving the kid with strep throat happily reading a book in the car was SAFER than putting the mask on him and bringing him into each public place.

  67. Red December 20, 2015 at 12:02 am #

    Ok, re: blue laws …

    As an adult, I came of age in a place with no blue laws. As a new parent in the same location, nobody cared that I bought wine with the kid present.

    Then we traveled … to places in the midwest where the kid couldn’t sit at the bar (WTF?) and places where I couldn’t take the kid into a place to buy wine (WTF?)

    The US has some backward places.

  68. James Pollock December 20, 2015 at 2:54 am #

    “I shouldn’t even rise to the bait here, but I just have to say it: the potential for people judging you for something, and that thing being illegal, are not the same thing.”

    I shouldn’t, either. With whom are you having this debate?

  69. Donna December 20, 2015 at 9:35 am #

    “Alas, you’ve gotten my opinion wildly incorrect.”

    Oh so when you stated “I find it hard to believe that there are places where you can drag your kids into a liquor store without being judged” it wasn’t a statement that you personally judged parents for bringing their children into liquor stores, but was a statement that you believe that you are more enlightened than everyone else on the planet because you don’t judge parents for bringing their children into liquor stores, but believe that everyone else does. Got it.

    “I live in Oregon, so there’s literally hundreds of shops selling pot …”

    Which is completely and totally irrelevant since you yourself stated that you “find it hard to believe that there are places where you can drag your kids into a liquor store without being judged.” Clearly, Oregon, the place you know best of all as it is where you reside, is included in that statement because it would be really hard to believe that NO place on the earth was accepting of children in liquor stores if you, in fact, lived in a place that was accepting of children in liquor stores. Therefore, despite its rather liberal views as to marijuana, you believe that the fine people of Oregon still have rather prohibition-type views of alcohol. Although I suppose that it could be back to that delusion of grandeur thing where you believe that your area is the only area that could possibly be so enlightened as to not judge parents for taking their children into liquor stores.

  70. James Pollock December 20, 2015 at 12:49 pm #

    Lawyers are supposed to be good readers. It’s such an important part of the job.

    “Oh so when you stated ‘I find it hard to believe that there are places where you can drag your kids into a liquor store without being judged’ it wasn’t a statement that you personally judged parents for bringing their children into liquor stores,”

    Right. Because what it DOESN’T SAY is “I would totally judge…”. It also doesn’t say “… being judged by everybody.”

    When you review my statement, looking for why *I* judged this person, you can find it in the very first sentence. “I was with you right up until ‘and the car was running’.” See how that sentence has the word “I” in it? That’s the tipoff.

    ” Got it.”
    No, you weren’t even close, but keep trying. Eventually you will.

    “Which is completely and totally irrelevant since you yourself stated that you ‘find it hard to believe that there are places where you can drag your kids into a liquor store without being judged.’ ”

    Let me tie it in for you. Here in Oregon, with it’s favorable view towards recreational and medicinal usage of marijuana, you’d definitely get judged for taking your kids with you as you patronized the pot shop. Explain to me, again, how that proves anything about what I think?

    “I suppose that it could be back to that delusion of grandeur thing where you believe…”
    I’m going to cut you off in the middle here to point out that the only “delusion of grandeur” here is you, having been told “that’s not my opinion”, coming back with a couple of paragraphs on why you know what my opinion is better than I do.

    “… you believe that your area is the only area that could possibly be so enlightened as to not judge parents for taking their children into liquor stores.”
    I don’t suppose it’s necessary to point this out, but that’s not what I believe, either.

  71. ChicagoDad December 20, 2015 at 1:52 pm #

    When I was a kid, our state had state-run liquor stores. They had a bland facade with a simple sign that read “LIQUOR” in big, block letters. They had an aisle filled with “old lady” liquor, cleverly disguised in hollow ceramic figurines. The head and neck of the ceramic house cat, for example, concealed the cork and let out a smell both sickly sweet and highly alcoholic. The aisle was filled with these figurines: cats, soldiers, tractors, deer, old timey cars, and so on…every shape, color and visage. I always wondered, when we would visit family, if the figures in their China cabinets concealed booze.

  72. CrazyCatLady December 20, 2015 at 2:04 pm #

    The topic of bringing the kids into the liquor store recently came up in one of my Face Book groups. People told the mom it was fine. Because the law here in WA says that you can’t leave your kid in the parking lot of a bar or liquor store. THAT is actually illegal.

    I am sure that the mom in NJ was also not aware of the actual law, and thought that leaving her kids in the car was the actual preferred legal thing to do. Yes, I know, ignorance of the law and all of that.

    I have to wonder…if she left her tiny dog in the car, and the car was stolen…would she be charged with animal cruelty? Guess we will never know. I hope her case gets thrown out.

    And that the proper person actually gets the book thrown at him.

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  74. Warren December 21, 2015 at 10:36 am #

    I love a lot of the assumptions, as to why she would make a late night run to the liqour store. Me the first two thoughts were

    1. Crap the office party is tomorrow, and I haven’t done Secret Santa yet.
    2. Damn, this recipe calls for rum or whatever.

    T’is the season.

    As for minors in the store. My 16 yr old did all the work in the store yesterday for Christmas. She knew who was coming, what people like, and then had to make some choices of wine to go with what is being served. All I did was pay. Not a second glance, not a question not a nothing from anyone. And proud of her, her first pick was a bottle of Jack for me.

    Booze is like anything else in life. Teach em, give em the tools, and trust they will make good calls.
    Heck, from the time my kids were old enough not to spill on a regular basis they all were the family get together bartenders.

  75. pentamom December 21, 2015 at 12:21 pm #

    Warren, I agree with that approach to kids and liquor but especially in stricter states, the people running the store will give you a hard time and sometimes even insist that an older teenager leave the store.

  76. Harold December 22, 2015 at 5:30 pm #

    Circus Liquor is located in North Hollywood, California on the corner of Burbank Blvd. and Vineland Ave. This store has been used in many movies and commercials, as well as the most recent teen non-smoking campaign. My three sons always called the sign “clowny” whenever we drove by.

    I was a free range kid. It is very hard to get my daughter-in-law and anyone else who will listen, to allow unsupervised play.

    In this arrest case, I just cannot understand the jester like actions of the poorly informed bureaucrats.

  77. Evan Marks December 22, 2015 at 10:14 pm #

    My old stomping grounds. Circus Liquor in on Vineland ave & Magnolia Blvd in North Hollywood CA…

  78. sue December 28, 2015 at 11:55 pm #

    I am a free range mom, But this mom blew it.
    The liquor store in question is about a mile away. It is on a busy highway. It was late at night. 8 and 10 year olds are not particularly hard to get in and out of cars. Leaving the car unlocked and running was dumb. Not free range, just dumb.
    And, to settle the argument, kids are allowed in liquor stores in NJ. My kids have been in this store.

  79. pentamom December 29, 2015 at 1:48 pm #

    sue, whether she made a good decision or a bad decision, was it a crime?

  80. James Pollock December 29, 2015 at 2:51 pm #

    “whether she made a good decision or a bad decision, was it a crime?”

    The prosecutor thought so. If the judge doesn’t, there could be a dismissal, and if the jury doesn’t think so, there will be an acquittal.

    If they all agree that it was, then I’ll guess it probably was.