Folks: I am more than impressed by this piece on the Today Show blog about criminalizing parents who let their kids wait in the car during a brief errand. As you know, this is a topic we talk about here a lot, and one of our stories — this one, about Christina Moon — caught the eye of writer A. Pawlowski, who then wrote a story about it (and got 400 comments). Pardon me for featuring the chunk that quotes yours truly:
â€œI feel as if weâ€™ve criminalized something that we all know in our heart of hearts is generally safe,â€ said Lenore Skenazy,Â bloggerÂ and author of â€œFree-Range Kids, How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry).â€
â€œI do think itâ€™s dangerous to leave a child alone for a long time in a car. I also think that a parent is capable of deciding if it makes sense to leave her kids in the car for the duration of an errand.â€
Most people remember waiting in cars while their parents ran a few errands, a practice that wasnâ€™t â€œcrazy negligentâ€ then and still isnâ€™t now, she added.
Fennell [spokeswoman for the group Kids and Cars] countered there are many dangers lurking inside a car besides the obvious risk of heat stroke. If a car is running and the kid is playing with the power window switches, he could strangle himself if he sticks his head outside. Children whoâ€™ve been watching mom push the buttons on the dashboard could try the same and knock the car into gear. All those scenarios have actually happened, Fennell noted.
â€œItâ€™s interesting when people are justifying that â€˜I know my child, I know whatâ€™s best for my child, Iâ€™m the parent,â€™ but maybe they should sit on our website for an hour,â€ she said.
â€œTheyâ€™re putting their own convenience ahead of the safety and well-being of the children and people donâ€™t like to hear that. Those are tough words.â€
Jail time is possibility
But Skenazy cautions against â€œworst first thinking,â€ or immediately coming up with the very worst-case scenario â€“ heatstroke, kidnapping or carjacking — and proceeding as if itâ€™s likely to happen. Parents want to keep their kids safe more than anybody and if they decide itâ€™s OK to leave a child in a car while running an errand that wonâ€™t take too long on a day thatâ€™s not too hot, the odds show they are right, she said.
Skenazy also has disdain for people who call the police right away when they see a child alone in a car, instead of waiting a few minutes to see if a parent will emerge.
â€œThe idea that you should always get the authorities involved strikes me as less Good Samaritan and more KGB,â€ Skenazy said.
How great to have both sides represented. Read the whole piece here! – L.
Kids in cars: Not always hell on wheels!