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What would you do if you saw kids left in a car? - Page 3

post #41 of 84

In my state it is illegal to leave kids under 10 alone in the car. So, I would call the police.

post #42 of 84

Interesting read.
Looks like the age limit is 6-7. Several special notes about living kids in cars outside bars!

Got to chuckle about kids under 12 can't be alone in public places in general in conn.. Like no riding bikes with friends?. 11yr old boy having to go into the public restroom with mom?
post #43 of 84
"Nobody tell me what to with my kids, but I'm going to tell you what to with yours" is the most obnoxious thing EVER. I am floored by the number of people who would call the police about this.

I might, *might* hang out and watch, without making it obvious, to make sure very little children left in a car were okay, but if they were in there with an older sibling and everyone looked like they were just waiting, I wouldn't even bat an eye.
post #44 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by Banana731 View Post

"Nobody tell me what to with my kids, but I'm going to tell you what to with yours" is the most obnoxious thing EVER. I am floored by the number of people who would call the police about this.

I might, *might* hang out and watch, without making it obvious, to make sure very little children left in a car were okay, but if they were in there with an older sibling and everyone looked like they were just waiting, I wouldn't even bat an eye.

 

I'm one of the people who called.  Exactly how long would you wait?  It was about 40 minutes before the parent showed up the time I *did* call, no idea how long she was gone before I called.  If we lived in a different climate, a child could easily die being left in a car for 40 minutes.

post #45 of 84

Starting from when I was about 8 or 9, all I wanted to do was sit in the car and read while mom shopped. She left me frequently, which was and still is pretty normal in my area. I go by what someone above said...if it's safe enough that I would send my children in alone, I leave them in the car alone. I do have teenagers and a 10 year old. I don't often leave the 10 year old in the car alone but I certainly leave teenagers alone(and I leave the 10 year old and toddler in the car with the teenagers). Using the possiblity of being kidnapped, *I* could be kidnapped sitting alone in the car waiting on dh to get out of the boring hardware store. I could be kidnapped from my own front yard. Really.

 

I would be concerned if I saw a baby/toddler in the car alone at an actual store that takes longer than a minute. So a gas station to run in and pay, who cares. Our gas station when we lived out in the country was family run and out of the way so it was only locals who used it. I left my little ones in the car to walk inside and give them the money. Not a problem. (also they are one of the rare places that let us pump first, then pay) I wouldn't do that in the city but I certainly wouldn't call the cops!!

 

Someone in my county recently called the cops and had cps involved when the mom parked at the sidewalk, walked down the sidewalk a bit to put a letter in the mail drop box, and then walked back to her car. Some nosy know-it-all caused all that trouble because this poor mom didn't feel like unstrapping two babies and walking down the sidewalk for a few seconds, then having to strap them back in. And look...which country is it where it's normal to leave the baby in the stroller outside the cafe while you go in and eat? But god forbid you leave a perfectly capable 8 year old in the car for 20 minutes in decent, non-threatening weather. I wonder how people in other countries react to this.

post #46 of 84
Tired: In another she might not have done it.
post #47 of 84
The law in my state says you can't leave a child under 7 unless supervised by someone 14 or older. I think that's a relatively new law, though. If not, then I'm sure I've broken it. Oh well.

I was reading some statistics on missing kids today. According to the US Department of Justice's report, National Incidence Studies of Missing, Abducted, Runaway, and Thrownaway Children, 48% of "missing" children are runaways and "thrownaways," which is their word for kids who've been kicked out of the house. 28% of missing kids cases are misunderstandings. 15% are kids who get lost or injured, and therefore don't show up where they should be. 9% are abducted by a family member or close friend (which would include custodial interference cases). 2-3% are actually abducted by strangers. Obviously there must be some room for error there, since it adds up to 103%, but it really puts some perspective on the reality of missing kids.

I also agree that it's crazy to call the cops on a child old enough to go to the store alone being left in the car outside that same store, but I wouldn't be very surprised if someone called the cops if you let your kid walk to the store. Someone called on me because my 6yo daughter was playing at the park by our house. That is *not* illegal where I live, and even the deputy's supervisor and CPS told me it wasn't illegal or unsafe -- but then they told me I shouldn't do it just to avoid dealing with people calling the cops on me. That was SO infuriating.

Of course, I've also had a cop yell at me for paying TOO MUCH attention to my daughter. When my oldest was about 6, I parked in front of a video rental store, and let her walk to the video return slot and return the video all by herself. I was really nervous and focused on watching her to be sure she was safe, and a cop walked up behind me, knocked on my window, and proceeded to ream me out because he "could have been a carjacker!" Apparently, I'm supposed to be watching all directions at once!
post #48 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by purplerose View Post

And look...which country is it where it's normal to leave the baby in the stroller outside the cafe while you go in and eat? But god forbid you leave a perfectly capable 8 year old in the car for 20 minutes in decent, non-threatening weather. I wonder how people in other countries react to this.

Pretty sure that's common in all the Nordic countries, but I remember that mom from Sweden who tried it in MA (Boston, I think?) and people freaked the heck out on her. When I first heard about it I thought it was a bit extreme, but now that I know it's common practice in Sweden I just feel sorry for her! She didn't put her baby in danger, she just made a little cultural faux pas!
post #49 of 84

It isn't just "hot climates" in which children die after being left alone in a car. My father, who was a volunteer EMT in upstate New York, had to respond to a scene once in which a young child died after being left alone in a car in late spring.

 

Nobody on here has called parents who leave their kids in a car bad parents. Did I miss somewhere in this thread people suggesting that people who do this are horrible, or should have their kids taken away, or that the police are being called out of maliciousness? Yet now we have several posters who are calling folks who are concerned about this kind of thing "obnoxious," or "busy-bodies," or "nosy," or using all kinds of (sexist) stereotypes to bash other posters.

 

I realize that the possibility of having CPS called on you is incredibly scary. I also think most of us on Mothering probably do totally innocuous things which would cause others to call CPS on us, like extended breast-feeding and co-sleeping. But leaving a child alone in a car for even 10 minutes can be lethal. This isn't some perfectly acceptable/healthy practice that just gets a bad rap because other people like to be up in everybody else's business.

 

Most people simply do not realize how hot it gets inside a vehicle, even when the ambient air is not particularly warm. To be quite frank, what emergency responders are often taught to do if they find a locked car with a child in it is break the window to immediately get the child out, and that's what many areas advocate the general public do if they see a young child alone in a car. Given that, I think that waiting to see if the parent is around and then calling 911 is a measured response. Nobody's calling police because they want the parents to be punished; they're calling because that child could die.

 

Give the name-calling a rest.

post #50 of 84

I promise you it's a lot more dangerous for a toddler to be walking in our closest gas station's parking lot than it is for them to be left safely in the carseat buckled up.  I've almost gotten hit numerous times and I watched a kid get hit once, there is NO WAY I would take my kids out of the car at the gas station.  

post #51 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tahpenes View Post

It isn't just "hot climates" in which children die after being left alone in a car. My father, who was a volunteer EMT in upstate New York, had to respond to a scene once in which a young child died after being left alone in a car in late spring.

 

Nobody on here has called parents who leave their kids in a car bad parents. Did I miss somewhere in this thread people suggesting that people who do this are horrible, or should have their kids taken away, or that the police are being called out of maliciousness? Yet now we have several posters who are calling folks who are concerned about this kind of thing "obnoxious," or "busy-bodies," or "nosy," or using all kinds of (sexist) stereotypes to bash other posters.

 

I realize that the possibility of having CPS called on you is incredibly scary. I also think most of us on Mothering probably do totally innocuous things which would cause others to call CPS on us, like extended breast-feeding and co-sleeping. But leaving a child alone in a car for even 10 minutes can be lethal. This isn't some perfectly acceptable/healthy practice that just gets a bad rap because other people like to be up in everybody else's business.

 

Most people simply do not realize how hot it gets inside a vehicle, even when the ambient air is not particularly warm. To be quite frank, what emergency responders are often taught to do if they find a locked car with a child in it is break the window to immediately get the child out, and that's what many areas advocate the general public do if they see a young child alone in a car. Given that, I think that waiting to see if the parent is around and then calling 911 is a measured response. Nobody's calling police because they want the parents to be punished; they're calling because that child could die.

 

Give the name-calling a rest.

 

I know how hot it gets in my van in various different weather conditions, because I regularly get into my van when it's been sitting outside in the weather. It's a cool, clear Spring day outside right now, and my van is a hotbox. I wouldn't leave my kids in there for more than 30 seconds to a minute (eg. returning a cart) right now. However, I live in Vancouver, BC, and it would take a seriously high level of paranoia to be focused on the hot car thing around here. It's simply not an issue for most of the  year. Most of the time, around here, this (ie. leaving kids in the car) is a perfectly acceptable/healthy practice. Carjacking is almost completely unheard of here, and it's rarely too hot - even in a car - for a child to be safely left for 10 minutes. You're painting with a broad brush.


And, yeah - if a child is showing no signs of distress, I think that calling CPS or the police, or smashing a window, is an irresponsible first response. Wait a minute and see what's going on. Tying up social services and/or the police, or causing significant property damage, when the mother may be running a 30 second errand, is nuts. This is typical one-size-fits-all-we-know-better-than-the-person-on-the-spot stupidity. Yes - some parents blow it, and their children pay the price. That doesn't mean the law is better at individual risk assessment than the individual. (And, many cases of children left in cars are either complete accidents, which break my heart, or they're the kind of parent who isn't going to care what the law says...like a late friend of my mom's, who was left in his mother's car, with his sibilngs, for hours while she went to the bar. It was a completely acceptable practice to leave one's kids in the car for short periods of time back then - but she was still criminally negligent. The law didn't make any difference at all.)

post #52 of 84
I once saw a woman who went into a cafe and left her stroller with sleeping baby in the fresh air just outside the window where she was sitting. She left her big dog there next to the baby. Man, I judged that lady up and down. How DARE she do that? I was gonna call the police! I was angry!!!!

This was before I was a parent. Now I realize I was being totally ridiculous. I just liked judging someone else. Now I know better!
post #53 of 84
Quote:

Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post

 

And, yeah - if a child is showing no signs of distress, I think that calling CPS or the police, or smashing a window, is an irresponsible first response. Wait a minute and see what's going on. Tying up social services and/or the police, or causing significant property damage, when the mother may be running a 30 second errand, is nuts. This is typical one-size-fits-all-we-know-better-than-the-person-on-the-spot stupidity.

 

But nobody in this thread - NOBODY - has talked about calling the police when the child was alone in the car for 30 seconds. And if first responders have been called to a scene because a child was left alone in the car, if the parent is still not present by the time they arrive it's assured that the child has been left alone for quite a while.

 

There are gray areas and nuance regarding when it's appropriate to call the police and when it isn't. Each scenario will contain different factors like the age of the children and whether the children appear to be in distress, and each person will make different calls depending on the situation and their own experiences. Unfortunately, laws are nearly impossible to write with gray areas in mind, so frustration with scattershot laws are one thing. But in terms of using a "broad brush," as you put it, do you really think it's appropriate to say that calling police is "obnoxious" as one person in this thread phrased it? That was the attitude I was calling out. Obviously there are times when calling the police isn't appropriate, and some times when it's a judgment call. And there may be some instances (in extreme heat, or when an infant appears to be pale or not breathing) when smashing a window would be the appropriate first response, even before calling 911. To me, saying that one would never call the police and that it's "obnoxious" to do so is a much, much broader (and more dangerous) brush than saying that some circumstances call for it.

post #54 of 84
I actually said it was obnoxious to think your parenting judgements were more valid than the parenting judgements of others. And that is really obnoxious.

Unless you don't find it obnoxious to be told that your parenting decisions are wrong?
post #55 of 84

I think around six or seven years old is around when some kids start getting to where it's no more dangerous to leave them alone in the car than it would be to leave an adult in the car alone. (Sure, someone could break into the car, beat them up, and drag them off, but they could do that to me too, and I'm 25. I think I can be left alone in a car, thanks.) Can you leave the keys in the ignition and the kid won't try to operate the car? (In all the cars I've had, this is a requirement for the fan and radio, and the air conditioning requires the engine to be running.) They won't mess with any of the knobs except for air conditioning and radio? They will leave the door locked and then unlock it for you when you come back? If they do need to get out of the car for some reason, do they know how to navigate parking lots safely? Do they have a healthy wariness of strangers? Bonus points if kid and the driving parent both have a cell phone in case one of those rare extenuating circumstances pop up. I guess it's a good idea to teach your kid how to trigger the car alarm too. Of course, many will need to be older to have these skills, but if I see a child this age in a car alone, I'm not going to assume I know him better than his parents.

 

I figure the danger age is toddlers, since they have the mobility to get in to trouble but don't yet have the wisdom to know better. I expect the parent to be in sight in this case. Babies can wait a little longer as long as it's a cool, cloudy day. If I saw a baby in a car alone, I'd probably hang around a few minutes to make sure the parent comes back in a safe time frame, because I figure parents can sometimes be tired and spacy (... or drunk...) and might have forgotten they brought the baby to the store with them. (When my friend was a baby, his parents accidentally left him in a bucket seat on top of the car when they were starting to drive! Fortunately, they remembered him before it was too late. From what I could tell, these were good and reasonably sane parents otherwise.)

post #56 of 84

There was a time when I was very judgmental of parents who left their kids in hot cars.  Until I did it.  This was during an exceptionally emotional and hectic time for me.  My mom had been diagnosed with stage IV cancer.  My aunt and I were scheduled to take my mom to an appointment, and my 11 month old son happened to be home that day (I can't remember if he was sick, or what was going on with him).  I dropped my mom and aunt off at the front door and I parked.  We were inside the waiting room for about a half hour, and my aunt looked at me in horror and said, "THE BABY!"  I ran outside to the car and opened the door.  My son had been crying and was flushed, but by the grace of God, he was okay.  I got him inside and took all his clothes off and wiped him down to cool him off.  Thankfully, despite being a June day in the late morning, it was not a hot day.

 

I couldn't even talk about it for months, except to tell my husband, and I bring it up to very few people, because I know what could have happened, and I also know how I used to feel about "callous" women who left their kids in the car. 

 

I was in a surreal place at that time with my mom's illness, and it also was not normal to have my son home, so everything was out of context.  My guess is that this is likely the case for other people, as well.

 

To answer the actual question, though, if the child was in distress, I would absolutely call 911, just as I would hope that someone would have done for my son if it had come to that.  If I was by myself, I would stay with the car until authorities got there.  If I was with someone else, or if the child appeared to be okay, I would have the other person stay at the car and I would go in and have the owner of the vehicle urgently paged.  If they did not come up almost instantly, I would go back outside to the car and call 911.  The life (and quality of life) of the child is more important than being worried about how the parents will feel, or even the ramifications to the parents.

 

The one thing that I have learned is that I no longer judge parents of a child who has this happen to them, because they may have the weight of the world on their shoulders.  If the unthinkable happens, that, by far, is the worst punishment there could be.  If I had to trade going to jail to let my son live (and thank God I didn't), I would do it in a heartbeat.

post #57 of 84

If I say a tiny puppy child in the car by themselves I would probably call the police. You just can't tell how long they have been in there. If they we're over the age of say 9 or 10, I would be okay with it. They have the ability to get out of the car. I have left my little one in the car for a few moments while I ran to nab something but I was able to keep an eye on the car. While we really shouldn't be leaving kids in the car, careless people have ruined it for us.

post #58 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by lotusblossom5 View Post

There was a time when I was very judgmental of parents who left their kids in hot cars.  Until I did it.  This was during an exceptionally emotional and hectic time for me.  My mom had been diagnosed with stage IV cancer.  My aunt and I were scheduled to take my mom to an appointment, and my 11 month old son happened to be home that day (I can't remember if he was sick, or what was going on with him).  I dropped my mom and aunt off at the front door and I parked.  We were inside the waiting room for about a half hour, and my aunt looked at me in horror and said, "THE BABY!"  I ran outside to the car and opened the door.  My son had been crying and was flushed, but by the grace of God, he was okay.  I got him inside and took all his clothes off and wiped him down to cool him off.  Thankfully, despite being a June day in the late morning, it was not a hot day.

 

I couldn't even talk about it for months, except to tell my husband, and I bring it up to very few people, because I know what could have happened, and I also know how I used to feel about "callous" women who left their kids in the car. 

 

I was in a surreal place at that time with my mom's illness, and it also was not normal to have my son home, so everything was out of context.  My guess is that this is likely the case for other people, as well.

 

To answer the actual question, though, if the child was in distress, I would absolutely call 911, just as I would hope that someone would have done for my son if it had come to that.  If I was by myself, I would stay with the car until authorities got there.  If I was with someone else, or if the child appeared to be okay, I would have the other person stay at the car and I would go in and have the owner of the vehicle urgently paged.  If they did not come up almost instantly, I would go back outside to the car and call 911.  The life (and quality of life) of the child is more important than being worried about how the parents will feel, or even the ramifications to the parents.

 

The one thing that I have learned is that I no longer judge parents of a child who has this happen to them, because they may have the weight of the world on their shoulders.  If the unthinkable happens, that, by far, is the worst punishment there could be.  If I had to trade going to jail to let my son live (and thank God I didn't), I would do it in a heartbeat

 

I assume you would not have been upset with someone if they had called the police because your baby was left in the car, right?  Sometimes people do forget their babies in the car.  My friend parked her car on a busy city street and walked several blocks to meet friends at a restaurant.  When she walked in we were all "where's the baby?" And she made a mad dash to get him.  It happens.  I think it is perfectly reasonable to see a baby strapped into a car seat with no one around and call 911.  

 

I'm not talking about paying for gas (although I don't know anywhere, where you walk away to pay for gas, that's why we have debit cards, but I guess some people still pay in cash?), or returning your cart, this would be less than a minute.  It would take me longer than that to call 911.  If there was enough time for me to see a kid (strapped into a car seat, so baby, toddler, preschooler) and no one around, and enough time for me to get my phone, and wrestle with the idea of calling 911, and then actual make the call.  It was too long for the kid to be alone in the car.  Now I'm personally talking about a little kid (think still in 5 point harness).

 

And older kid, I probably wouldn't even notice.  Now there could absolutely be tragic consequences, but truthfully I don't know that I would do anything unless it was a super hot summer day.

post #59 of 84
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I would never intentionally leave a baby or toddler in the car alone, so if someone called 911 on that, i'd be grateful, because it would have been an accident and could have turned into something horrible. I'm only bothered by people who call 911 when someone is just returning a shopping cart, like I'm thinking of the story from a few years back where a woman parked in front of a Salvation Army bucket at Christmastime to put money in the bucket, but didn't unstrap her sleeping 2-year-old and get her out of the car to walk to few steps to the bucket, and a police officer arrested her. Or when someone calls about children who are old enough to get themselves out if the car got dangerously hot. That would be disagreeing with someone's parenting choice rather than worrying about safety.
post #60 of 84

Seriously, the chances of something happening are ridiculously slim. If I saw kids in a car outside a casino or bar, I would be concerned. But in a parking lot near a grocery store, I would be fine with it. Life isn't any more dangerous now than it was when we were little... we're just more anxious, imo. The idea that someone would call 911 while I ran into the store and left my kids - who I know are very responsible and who have been carefully instructed to keep the doors locked no matter what - is shocking to me. I once had an old woman make some pretty nasty judgements about my capacity as a mother because I left my kids (age 9, 5, 2 at the time) in the van while I ran into the store for a few minutes. It was extremely upsetting to both me and my kids and totally unnecessary.  

 

I prefer to challenge the climate of fear around parenting that I sense from our culture. I don't put my kids at risk, I simply weigh the risk vs. value. And it makes my oldest feel really good and responsible when I leave him in charge of his brothers while I run in. Like when I sent them on the city bus to school and back every day (age 10 + 6 at the time). Really, what is going to happen to them? I could contrive a very random, far-fetched scenario that happened once to someone on the other side of the country, but I think it's far better for them to learn to be independent and learn how to manage real life situations (that I know are not risky). When I lived in East Africa, there were preschoolers taking care of babies. I certainly don't condone that, but my point is that kids are far more capable and intelligent than I think our culture allows us to believe.

 

Anyways, sorry if this sounded a little rant-like, I didn't mean it to be. I just get somewhat heated over this issue because it is so personal. And finally, I want to say that this is just the way I choose to do things, but I know it's not for everyone so I certainly do not pass judgement on moms who choose to never leave their kids in the car.

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