As the parent of two I have developed highly defined views on some pretty contentious points over the years. Those of you who have been reading here for a while have seen me go off on some of them. As I was trolling the internet today I came across a story about a suburban mom from Illinois that will be standing trial for child endangerment and obstructing a peace officer. The charges stem from an incident in December when she left her sleeping two year old alone in a locked vehicle while she escorted two other children to a nearby Salvation Army bell ringer to donate money to charity.
According to all accounts, even those of the authorities, the car was not actually out of view of the mother and the mother was not gone for longer than 90 seconds or so.
Okay, this is a tough one for me. I once called the police on a woman at Wal-Mart for leaving her child alone in her SUV while she went into the store. Difference was, the vehicle was parked about 300 feet from the entrance, the windows were rolled down and the woman actually went all the way inside the store. I also waited for fifteen minutes for her to return before alerting the authorities. I think that's a really important difference, don't you?
I get that leaving a child alone and unattended is a bad thing to do. I get that child abduction only takes seconds, literally seconds, but don't we think that this may be going overboard just a TAD? It seems to me that the police department in question here is doing a couple of things: (1) covering for the fact that the officer in question was over reacting and (2) the department in question is using the woman to "make an example". Even the local social service agency found no cause to proceed.
I think she should have gotten a serious lecture about the safety issue invovled. I think she should have been made to be a little embarrassed about not thinking more clearly and maybe waiting until the weather was better and either the baby was awake or there was someone to watch her before they ran to Wal-Mart...I mean there were choices, but I don't think she did anything that requires she be JAILED. Because I mean, obviously, we don't have any REAL criminals that might need the space.