Mom left kids in car, I called 911; Right action? - Mothering Forums

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Old 10-04-2005, 12:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I know leaving kids in the car has been argued from here to the moon, but I have never been in that position, and now that I did it I am not sure I did the right thing. I guess I just need to hear if it was or if I should have just waited longer outside the car.

I came out of Old Navy with my 1 yr old ds and a woman in the front of the pking lot asked if I had a cell phone. She said someone had left their babies in the car. I went over to the mini van and sure enough there was a baby strapped into a car seat and two or three little kids jumping around. The windows were tinted and there apeared to be a cell phone on the front seat. The oldest looked about 2 nd grade age. I told the woman that I would first go in and find out if the mom was just returning something. I went in and there was no one in the only line who admitted to it. I went back out and the woman said again I needed to call 911. I waited a couple of min. but it was about 40 out and we weren't wearing warm clothing. I called non emergency and told the dispatch the situation.The mom came out and asked me why I was standing next to her car ( she knew) and FREAKED OUT when I told her who I was talking to. She started yelling at the other woman saying that she had something to do with this and she should have minded her own business. The dispatch asked me and the mom to stay until the officer got there. The woman kept calling me a B***H and her daughter poked her head out and asked her what was going on. The mom was really pregnant and was telling her daughter how she was very responsible and she had only left her for 10 min and that she was just fine and this B***H was calling the police. THe officer (woman) came and asked me what happened and the mom said she felt she should go first and said she just ran in to return something and that she had left her 9 yr, 7yr, and infant with the doors locked and a cell phone and that was only gone for 10 min, bla bla. I said that infact she was NOT returning something because I saw her back in the clearance area when I was shopping and that I had gone into the store and she was no where near the front to return anything. I got to leave, but the officer made the lady stay and then another officer pulled up.

I feel really bad because she probably was there to exchange somthing and wasn't there for very long. I think the other lady told her she shouldn't leave her kids in the car when she was going in and then hit me up for the dirty work. I personaly would NEVER leave my children in a car in a mall parking lot. Not because I think someone would steal them, but because kids decide to get out and find mom, start the car, strangle eachother, etc. Half way through waiting I just wanted to apologize to her and tell her she was a good mom, but she looking like she was having a full on panick attack. Thanks for reading this. I just needed to bounce this off other stressed out moms!

Aidan 8/11/99 Bryn 9/7/04 Jardin is here! 8/23/10 ~Kindness is My Religion~ Dalai Lama
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Old 10-04-2005, 12:19 AM
 
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I don't care if she went in to go to the bathroom, leaving a baby with a second grader in totally unacceptable. Good for you for calling, imo you did the right thing. It only takes seconds for something bad to happen.

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Old 10-04-2005, 12:32 AM
 
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It's always a hard call, I've been there.........and nine is just so right on the edge......and i would never leave a nine year old with a baby....i *might* have left just a 7 and 9 year old in the car by themselves for a few minutes....but not with a baby......We have a 7, 9 and 12 year old, and my little angel, 12 months..........We have left them *all* in the car, if the baby is sleeping, but the 12 year old is capable, 12 is a lot different than 9.....I would not leave her if he was not there......

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Old 10-04-2005, 12:49 AM
 
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I remember the following story very vividly:

When I was about 7-8, my dad drove a small isuzu truck - you know, the tiny ones? you could get an adult and two small children into it barely?

Anyway, one day my brother (1 year older) and I rode with him to the beer store. He left the truck running in neutral cuz it was a standard, ran in, walked to the display of his beer, and walked to the counter to pay. He was the only customer in the store and because the store is small and has an all-glass front, we were never out of Dad's sight. There is no way he would've been out of the truck for 10 mins.

I was sitting in the middle, but decided to scoot over under the steering wheel, and pretend to drive. My brother also scooted over - and released the emergency brake. The parking lot was sloped down toward a very busy highway. The truck began to roll (picking up speed) toward the highway. Neither my brother nor I knew how to stop it. If my dad hadn't been paying attention, or hadn't been able to move fast enough to catch the truck, my brother and I most assuredly would have died that day.

He never left us alone in a vehicle again until we were capable of driving it. Regardless of whether the children were in danger today, maybe that woman will think twice next time before leaving her children alone in a vehicle they cannot control.
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Old 10-04-2005, 12:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I agree Jess. I would have taken the infant with me. I think that the girls where fine, but you never know. 12 is dif than 9, but on the other hand, no one told her to have 3 kids there for making it hard to get anything done. Even if I have to just run in a perscription, I still drag both by boys AND my husband in (he fiddles with my settings).

Would the Police fine her or get her in trouble? They asked me to leave and then stayed with her. I'm hoping that nothing happened but give her a warning?

Aidan 8/11/99 Bryn 9/7/04 Jardin is here! 8/23/10 ~Kindness is My Religion~ Dalai Lama
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Old 10-04-2005, 01:00 AM
 
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Me too. It's a hard situation- I'd probably have taken the car reg into the store with me and asked them to try and page the mother first, but you were under a huge amount of pressure from Ms I-don't-want-to-be-the-bad-guy. At least everyone is safe and fine now.

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Old 10-04-2005, 01:04 AM
 
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I think it was appropriate to stay close and check out the situation. We need concerned mothers looking out for other children. But I would have to say that calling 911 when it was not an emergency was over board. I think police should stay out of family buisiness unless someone is in danger. I have known police to take advantage and make situations worse for families so personally I don't want them around me! I don't trust the Police because they are above the law and the womens children could be taken away and her unborn child for that matter. I know you acted on instinct and you are not wrong either. Sorry that she used such awful words with you! She was just a mama feeling defensive and a little guilty for not wanting to cart the brood in along with her pregnant self..LOL
I never leave my kids in the car unless I can see them.

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Old 10-04-2005, 01:13 AM
 
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Jamie what happened to you and your brother gives me the chills! I remember being left in the car with my sister often. With the engine running too, if it was cold out. And my parents were very responsible. I guess that was the norm back then?? Seems strange now, though.

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Old 10-04-2005, 01:13 AM
 
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Well, no use crying over spilled milk. You did what you thought was right at the time. Try not to second guess yourself and your actions. (need to find that hug smilie....)

So you know, a good friend had this happen. She left her 5, 7 and 9 year olds in the car for literally 2 minutes to run into the quick-e-mart to get milk. When she came out, an officer was standing there and read her the riot act. (I know it was 2 minutes because he timed her). Social services was called, she had to hire a lawyer, get letters of reference from her pediatrician, the kids teachers, friends, neighbors, etc. that she was a 'fit' mother. All the while being told that if she DIDN'T comply, her kids would be taken into foster care.

I agree with the pp who said that calling police is not always the best idea, but it's a tough call....
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Old 10-04-2005, 01:15 AM
 
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Since you called non-emergency instead of 911, no harm. A warning'll do nothing but good.

HOWEVER, this other woman really pressured you into calling. Next time, do what you feel is right, not what others are pressuring you to do (easier to say than do, I know-I'm working on this right now ) I probably would have caved also, but an ideal situation (although you did say it was cold out) would have been to wait by the car-maybe in your own-and then confront the mother about your concerns.

That other woman who was pressuring you is classic passive-aggressive.

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Old 10-04-2005, 01:18 AM
 
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I think you handled it beautifully.
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Old 10-04-2005, 01:19 AM
 
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10 minutes is more than enough time for some deranged lunatic or pervert to break the window and snatch one of her precious babes.

In your shoes, I would have called immediately. I wouldn't have waited at all. You absolutely did the right thing.

I know some people might think it is okay even to leave a 7 or 9 year old, but really, what would they do if somebody bigger than them broke in and snatched them? Children of any age are helpless and require us to protect them at all times.
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Old 10-04-2005, 01:23 AM
 
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But I would have to say that calling 911 when it was not an emergency was over board. I think police should stay out of family buisiness unless someone is in danger. I have known police to take advantage and make situations worse for families so personally I don't want them around me! I don't trust the Police because they are above the law and the womens children could be taken away and her unborn child for that matter. I know you acted on instinct and you are not wrong either. Sorry that she used such awful words with you! She was just a mama feeling defensive and a little guilty for not wanting to cart the brood in along with her pregnant self..LOL
Yes..Yes..and Yes..

I do also have to add that we live in the age of paranoia so its hard to tell what is the right thing to do.
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Old 10-04-2005, 01:28 AM
 
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I think what you did was perfect! Seriously, you didnt jump the gun and call 911 immediately.
You gave the woman the benefit of the doubt, waited a few minutes and even went into the store looking for her.
And then you called the non-emergency number instead of 911, which I think is appropriate.
If this woman was truly just returning something really quick, she would have been in the front and on her way back out before you even called.
It is unfortuate the authorities had to be involved, but while the kids might not have been in immediate danger, it was still an unwise choice the mom made.
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Old 10-04-2005, 01:32 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Rowdypea
Jamie what happened to you and your brother gives me the chills! I remember being left in the car with my sister often. With the engine running too, if it was cold out. And my parents were very responsible. I guess that was the norm back then?? Seems strange now, though.
Yeah. I can still imagine it very vividly in my head - even the fear. My dad wasn't the most responsible parent, but really - I don't think anyone could've blamed him for leaving us. We were 7 & 8 or 8 & 9; he literally would have been less than 10 minutes, and we were never out of his sight; the weather was fine - no risk of overheating or freezing; my hometown (where we were) is like 2500 people (smaller at that time). The only possible bad thing that could happen was my brother pulling the emergency brake - and who would've ever imagined that?

I never leave my stepkids alone in the car. Even the oldest who is almost 12. Every time I consider it for half a second, I'm back in that truck rolling rapidly toward 55-mph traffic with no idea how to stop. I can even still see my dad's face when he finally caught the truck.
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Old 10-04-2005, 01:40 AM
 
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Originally Posted by momof4peppers
Well, no use crying over spilled milk. You did what you thought was right at the time. Try not to second guess yourself and your actions. (need to find that hug smilie....)

I agree with the pp who said that calling police is not always the best idea, but it's a tough call....
The woman insisting that you call 911 probably should have found a pay phone or a store phone to use. I would see it the same way you do - she pulled you in to do her "dirty work."

I probably would have just parked where I could watch her kids in the car.
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Old 10-04-2005, 02:03 AM
 
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My three siblings and I were left alone in our car all the time as children. I think it's not usually a "only once" occasion, if you know what I mean. If you've got a couple of kids and are mentally OK with leaving them alone, then there are probably lots of times that they're alone for convenience's sake. Places we were left alone in the car: malls, bars, video stores, grocery stores, convenience stores, clothing stores...

I remember feeling really scared and trapped as a child - I mean if the baby pukes, how can you get help? You don't - you can't leave all the others in the car while you wander around the store to try and find your dad (and then he gets mad for you leaving the others in the car). So you clean it up yourself. If baby's choking? Hope that 9 year old knows CPR. We did have strange men approach the car and ask us to roll down windows because they "needed help." We didn't - but it was still terrifying to feel so trapped.

It's a lot of responsibility to put onto a child. The fact that the mother said "well she's responsible" gives me chills - that's probably what my parents would've said too. Ick! I think it's pretty selfish and shortsighted of this mother to not think of possible consequences and how it feels for the children, particularly if she's going to Old Navy to return something. I think you did the right thing - hopefully by not leaving her children alone again, she'll avoid paying a higher price than whatever she bought at Old Navy in the first place.
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Old 10-04-2005, 02:42 AM
 
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on a thread like this a while back someone shared a story about a man pullin gus beside the car with (i think) 3 girls like late childhood early teens, and jerking off and being gross and threatening towards them...
if you are not there...you can't protect them...if they are too young to be in the store or parking lot where you are, then they are too young to be in the car by themselves there too

i grew up in a rural town, if my mom went into the store and left us in the car, we knew every one walking and driving by...we would have been just as safe if we would have wandered down the sidewalk...
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Old 10-04-2005, 03:00 AM
 
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I think you handled it fine.

Though I do wish that you'd honored your instinct to at least try to comfort the other mom. I do NOT think an apology would be in order beacue you have nothing to be apologetic about, but more of a "I don't think you're a bad person. I was worried about the kids, but you're not a bad person." type of thing. She probably wouldn't have responded right at that time, but I think she would remember that later.

I think what you did was acting in concern and kindness. What the other lady (not the mom) did seems to have come from a place of 'gotcha' and not real concern. I can understand why you feel used! But it sounds like even the mom got that impression too. I would try to let the language roll off your back--it probably wasn't anything personal. I know stronger things slip out of my mouth even when I'm not pregnant and having the scare of my life.

You did just fine! I bet she will never leave her kids alone in the car again. And yes, she will be upset/on an adrenaline high for a few days probably but you know what, she will get over it and be fine too.

You acted from a core of concern and kindness, don't forget that! It is important.
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Old 10-04-2005, 04:29 AM
 
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Originally Posted by bendmom
I agree Jess. I would have taken the infant with me. I think that the girls where fine, but you never know. 12 is dif than 9, but on the other hand, no one told her to have 3 kids there for making it hard to get anything done

That's kind of a messed up thing to say. Really. I mean, without going completely off topic, I have to say, I'm really offended by that comment. That's like my mother telling me, when I'm having a stressful day with the kids, "well, nobody told you to have 5 children". No, nobody told her to have 3 kids, therefor making some things more difficult, but nobody else has probably brought her the joy that those 3 kids have brought her either. Hell, nobody told me (or you) to have 1 child. I mean, I know I wasn't a perfect parent the first time around, I'm still not the fifth. Maybe nobody should ever have kids or make bad judgement calls.

Back on topic. I think you did just fine. I was ready to do the same recently when I saw a baby (maybe about a year old) in the car alone outside of a convenience store. Just as I was ready to make the call the dad came out. A 10 yo is not even legally (at least in my state, I don't know if it varies) old enough to babysit. They certainly shouldn't be responsible for a baby inside a vehicle.
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Old 10-04-2005, 11:11 AM
 
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I could of called, it's one thing to leave older children, but a baby...

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Old 10-04-2005, 11:24 AM
 
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In my state you have to be at least 12 to babysit, therefor leaving those kids was child abandonment. On top of that it was irresponsible and I don't know a single nine year old who I would feel comfortable leaving an infant with at all. I know that it is hard getting kids in and out of the car, but mothering is hard, suck it up. Flame me all you want but where I live that woman would be facing criminal charges if the cops felt like pursuing it.
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Old 10-04-2005, 11:30 AM
 
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You did the right thing.

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Old 10-04-2005, 11:34 AM
 
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You did the right thing!!!! When we first had the twins (6 years ago) we lived in Savannah, GA. It was about 110 degree day and dh came home from the store all upset because he saw a baby left in the car while the mom went in the store. He called the police as well (ironically, now he is a police detective...). The officer said in that heat the baby could sufficate or have heat stroke (I can't remember the exact words but it was unbelievably quick and devestating...) in less than a minute. The officer came to our house to ask some questions and we're not sure what they did about it but it was scary.

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Old 10-04-2005, 12:19 PM
 
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I don't want to make you feel bad for doing what you did, especially considering the circumstances, but I would not have called the police in that situation.

I might have hung around to make sure the baby was OK. But, our society is so detached babies are left alone all of the time. I think being left to cry in a crib is far more criminal than some busy mainstream mom, who probably doesn't know about slings... just to take the baby, she would have had to whip out the stroller or something else that is really complicated... she's pregnant, she's stressed... now she feels totally attacked and everywhere she goes, she's going to feel like other mothers are there to watchdog her, not help her.

I think as mothers we should try to support each other more. Leaving a baby alone with two older children may offend many (and it's certainly something I would personally never EVER do), but that sort of horrible thing happens to babies ALL OF THE TIME in this culture. And, many of those things are legal and advocated by parenting "experts".

So personally, I don't think calling the police probably helped things in the long run for this poor mom. I guess if it was me, I would have hung out and waited for the mom to appear, making sure she wasn't gone too long, and if she was, or if the baby was crying, had her paged in the store.
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Old 10-04-2005, 12:25 PM
 
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I think you handled it beautifully.
Me too

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Old 10-04-2005, 12:27 PM
 
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I think you did the right thing. I would have called too.
Better to be safe than sorry. Best case scenario, you may save a life. Worst case scenario, a pissed off mother and having to deal with the police. Worth it, imho.
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Old 10-04-2005, 12:28 PM
 
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Thank you OP for caring enough to call. Children aren't purses or groceries. They shouldn't be left in cars alone. Good job.
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Old 10-04-2005, 01:52 PM
 
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I think you did the right thing, 100%. You called the non-emergency number so thats probably better. O/T my mom and I were at the mall a while ago and we were walking out of JCPenny as this woman was walking in (I remembered her because I went to HS with her) we then took our JCPenny bags to the car, then went into Goodwill for 20 minutes. When we walked out we heard this honking, there was a little girl (maybe 3 or 4) in this car. We drove up by it and the little girl was all alone and bawling so my mom parked again and called 9-1-1. While we were on the phone with the dispatcher the mom walked out (it had been close to 30 minutes at this time) her and her SO got in the car, put the little girl in the backseat and drove off. We gave the police the make and model of the car plus the license plate number. The cop called that night and said that they found her and were charging her with child neglect (it's against the law in Iowa to leave a child in the car) and they would be in touch with us if they needed us to testify. It never came to that. I saw in the paper a while ago (small town, they print court information) that she was found guilty (dont know if she plead out or what) of 4th degree child endangerment, 1 year suspended sentence with community service. I saw her a while after that, pregnant again. I hope it was a wake up call not to leave the baby in the car.

I'm sure people can think "I was only in the store for a second" but time FLIES when you're shopping, at least it does for me. I can be looking around and look at my wach and 30 minutes have passed when it seems like possibly 5.

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Old 10-04-2005, 02:12 PM
 
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I think you definately did the right thing. You never know what could happen no matter how young or how old the child is. There are way too many crazies out there to risk it even for a minute. I agree that we should be there to support moms but in this situation you were supporting her. You helped keep her kids safe now and hopefully in the future she will think twice and not leave her kids.
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