Saturday, April 23, 2011

Oh, HELL no.

Leaving the dollar store today, I saw a minivan parked up against the curb, with no one in sight except a toddler in a car seat in the back. This is something you notice a lot more when you're a parent with young children - you hesitate near the car, peer inside, and then usually a harassed-looking mother, standing within about 15 feet, will lean out of the gas station/convenience store/phone booth and call out "I'm right here, don't worry."

This time, nobody was around. I waited for a minute and went inside to the cashier (staying within sight of the vehicle) and asked her if there was any security staff. "No," she said, taken aback, "but there's mall security - why do you need it?" Just as I was explaining the situation, a woman came through the other cash register, left the store, and got into the van. "Oh," the cashier said excusingly, "she only came in here to return something." (That makes it okay, then.)

I left the store and, by coincidence, followed the minivan through the parking lot to the grocery store at the end of the mall. The van pulled into a space, and I parked a couple of rows away, deciding to leave a note on the windshield when they went into the store, telling her that I had seen her leave the child alone, and that she was lucky I didn't call the cops.

As I rummaged for a pen she got out of the car, gestured towards Thrifty Foods and said something to the child, then to my utter shock she left the child in the backseat, and walked into the store.

"OH HELL NO." I said loudly to myself. I went over to the van, and as I approached I could hear the child crying her eyes out.

Before the mother came back out, I had time to stand there dumbfounded, accost a passer-by for her mobile phone, call Mr HSB to get the non-emergency police number (no answer at my house), call 911 and give all the information, then wait for several minutes longer, listening to the little girl sobbing for her mother.

She came out of the store after 7 or 8 minutes...by now I was in a towering rage and I let her have it with both barrels. "I suggest you wait for the police to get here - I've called 911 about the toddler you left in your van."

"What?!"

"You heard me. You might as well wait for the police since they're on their way."

"How dare you! You don't know anything about me!"

"I know one thing about you - you left a toddler alone in a vehicle. How old is that child?"

"She's three! And she's fine!" And then again, "You don't know anything about me! You don't know what kind of person I am!"

"I know exactly what kind of person you are. You are the kind of person who leaves her child alone in a car twice in one afternoon - I followed you here from the dollar store and you did the same thing there."

"How dare you!" she gasps.

"Do you know how long it takes someone to steal a car? Thirty seconds. You were in that store for more than FIVE MINUTES." (I'm nearly shouting now.)

"It was locked!" (She's shouting right back at me.)

"Tell it to the police. You left that child in the car, which is both ILLEGAL and WRONG, and you KNOW it's wrong: that's why you're so mad."

"Do YOU even have any children?" she asks me, as though she thinks that if I had, I wouldn't mind what she has just done.

"Yes I do," I replied coolly, "I have two. And they are supervised at all times."

I thought she was going to punch me for that one.

She gets the child out of the car, so I stop talking. She's holding the little girl now, and we stand there for a few minutes waiting for the cops. The daughter says, "Why are we standing here?"

"Because this lady thinks....thinks I'm mean to you."

I don't say anything - it's not my place to make a mom look bad in front of her child...not that this chick needs my help looking bad.

"I'm calling my husband," she suddenly says. She puts the child back into the vehicle and climbs into the driver's seat. "Hi, it's me.....I was at the store and I left Nora* in the car for thirty seconds and I come out and this lady is screaming at me that she's called the cops.........I don't know!........no, just a lady in the parking lot........now the cops are coming and this is ALL YOUR FAULT IF I HADN'T HAD TO COME DOWN HERE FOR YOUR STUPID TAPE NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE HAPPENED!!!!" (She's in the car sobbing and I am standing at the rear bumper, watching for the cruiser, arms crossed, the picture of "WHEREVER THERE'S INJUSTICE, I'LL BE THERE!", trying not to have inappropriate laughter at this 'tape' remark.)

She hangs up, gets out of the car and comes up to me, tear-stained but defiant. "My husband says I should go home so I'm leaving. If the cops want to talk to me they can come to my house."

"Sure," I say politely.

"I'm sure you have my license plate number," she says scornfully.

"Yep," I reply.

And off she goes.

Here's where it gets interesting. I stood there in that parking lot, waiting, for nearly an hour. Not a sign of a police cruiser anywhere (though an ambulance came to the parking lot - and the attendants went in and came out with bagels and Pom, and a fire truck came by on its way to the salmon barbecue fundraiser in the next block).

Finally I marched into the grocery store, politely requested the phone book, and got the girl to dial the non-emergency police number. By this time all my anger was completely displaced onto the RCMP. Here's what I said when they answered.

"Hi. I can hardly hear you, by the way. Look, I phoned 911 nearly an hour ago about a toddler left alone in a vehicle in the parking lot of Thrifty Foods. The mom came out, I had words with her, and she has left, and I am still standing here waiting for you. Are you coming, or what?"

"Oh, uh, yes, uh, hang on a second...Yes, the car assigned to you got held up with another situation, but he's on his way now."

"So, I should stay here and talk to him? Because I have been here for an hour. If I had called the SPCA about a dog in a car, they'd have been here in fifteen minutes." (You should have seen the faces on the people in the nearby lineups, listening to this conversation.)

"Uh........yes he's on his way now."

"Good. Thank you."

He did show up, eventually, and heard the whole story. I told him, "She might tell you I was screaming at her, but I wasn't. She asked me if I had children and I said yes, I had two, and that they were always supervised....I think that was a little inflammatory. But I wasn't screaming."

"No, that's okay," he said, shaking his head, "I'LL scream at her. I'm going to call the Ministry and we'll go to her house."

"Yeah, put the fear of God into her," I said, "hopefully she'll be scared to do it again."

He did apologise for keeping me waiting - citing "limited resources", if you can believe it - and I think he was taken aback when I said "Yes, I understand you have other situations I'm not aware of, that you have to prioritise. I am concerned, though, because there was a child involved and it did take you an hour to get here."

I was fairly polite and respectful, though - aware, as I am, that cheeking the police can get you into serious trouble.

As loth as I am to be the instrument of someone's family drama, I am even more loth to stand by while this kind of crap goes on. As a parent of young children, you DO see this stuff - you see little two year old dudes wandering around WalMart trying to find their mums, or a little guy burning around the aisles of the grocery store, laughing like a maniac all by himself. But you usually see, or hear, a parent rushing around calling "Austin! AuSTIN!" And, if you're like me, you follow the kid around, at a non-threatening distance, until he gets reunited with his parent.

Leaving a toddler alone in a car, with one window three inches down, for nearly ten minutes, outside two stores......that is not happening.

---------------
* I changed all the names and locations.

32 comments:

Gwen said...

I'd leave a long comment, but I'm in an internet cafe and my kids are waiting for me at the corner. har har

Seriously, I. cannot. imagine what goes through peoples' heads. Some parents need to wake up -- this is not 1951 and Dick & Jane are not safe being left alone at the park with Spot & Puff while Mom runs on down to the corner store for a bottle of milk. (Oh, see. Oh, see the Ministry involved. Oh, look, see. Silly, silly Mother.) I wouldn't leave my 3 year old out of my sight for 10 seconds in a parking lot, much less 10 minutes.

Chuh.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Right now I am standing and cheering what you did - quite a feat for a wheelchair user! While we've never had kids, we are often in the position of supervising kids. Let me tell you they are SUPERvised. I have spent the last 20 years of my life working with sex offenders, I know they are out there, I know what they do. But here's the thing, SO DOES EVERYBODY ELSE. What you did was a very good thing! I hope that the Easter Bunny brings her a lovely set of chocolate hand cuffs.

Beth said...

Good for you.

audabee_k said...

Thank you Shannon for doing that...I'm right beside you...I'd have done the same thing.

Valerie said...

I believe in guardian angels....and they are us. Here's hoping that the Mom grows up before the little girl does.

I had a similar experience that I blogged about here: here.

lizbon said...

I swear to god I was thinking of you as The Tick before I saw the Tick Pic.

And by the way, I love you.

Belinda said...

Well done Shannon. I really hope it makes a difference in that little girl's life; that it shocks the mom into being more careful with the treasure she has been entrusted with.

mom2four said...

I came over to read you from Dave's blog. He's right, you do write very well. But the two of you both are kind of fierce people aren't you? Is that typical of your gene pool or are you both exceptions. I can't imagine my family, or myself, ever having the courage to speak up like you both do.

kristieinbc said...

You did the only thing you could do. What a horrible situation. The whole thing leaves me shaking my head. How could any mom do such a thing?

Susie Hewer said...

Yay for you Shan. Most people wouldn't even have noticed the situation in the first place and you handled the mother very well.

A few months ago I ran past a parked car in our village. As I ran past, a young girl, about 5 years old at a guess, started banging on the back window and screaming "help me, please help me!" whilst sobbing uncontrollably.

So many thoughts went through my mind - kidnap, paedophiles, abandonment but I knew that I couldn't just let her out because I could be accused of these things. I looked around for her guardian but there wasn't anyone in sight so I tried the door. It was locked.

I then spotted some people sitting in a house across the road and ran over to see if they knew anything about the car owner. One was the car owner himself and he was mortified saying that his daughter had just nipped to the car to get her doll and must have let the door close behind her and there were childproof locks on the doors.

I pointed out that I'd been standing with her for nearly 5 minutes whilst I worked out what to do and in that time anything could have happened to her.

He thanked me for intervening but I suspect the look on my face told him what I thought about the situation!

We were not blessed with children but I know that if we had been I would never have risked their precious lives in the casual way that some people do.

Phew, rant over!

ps Hope you're feeling a bit less dreary now Lent is out of the way - I went vegan for Lent and I've since been stuffing my face with cheese.

Shan said...

mom2four, I'm laughing about your 'fierce' comment...in fact Dave and I are not related at all - his partner Joe is my mother's brother, and that side of the family tends to be on the meek side! No fierceness, but they WILL inherit the earth, so...

It's only recently, after my best friend's illness and death, that I have had the courage to tell people off. Don't know why those two things are connected, but I'm happy about this new state of affairs - I've always deplored my lack of courage in this type of situation!

coffeetalk said...

I also am here from Dave's blog and applaud your advocacy skills. We MUST learn to speak for those whose voices are not easily heard. Often this task comes with a price, but it is a price we must pay. Thank you for using your voice to attempt to ensure this child's safety in the future. I pray that the police followed up in a serious manner....unfortunately they don't always.

Anonymous said...

Dear Shannon,

I am here from Dave's blog. I am so proud of you too. I am a Mom of 4, oldest 29 youngest 8. I will not leave the 8 year old alone in the car ( for a few reasons - one being he might decide to leave ME and take a nice drive....lol). It's just not worth the what if's and it only takes a second for complete disaster to happen. Even when I had a car load of toddlers, all the unbuckling ect. I NEVER left them, even for a second. I'll bet that Mom won't again either.
Good for you, and thank you for your time and trouble in stading up for children.

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine once stopped in traffic next to a car with a toddler not in a car seat. She rolled down the window and said "If you don't want that baby, I'll take her" *shock* "If you loved her you'd buckle up. If you don't want her, I'll take her right now".

Too many people have kids that shouldn't, and want kids but can't. Good for you, for standing up for the kid.

Sharon, wandering over from Dave's blog.

Erin said...

Good for you Shannon - I'd never have the guts to do that. But then again, I'm meek :)

Paul Holland Nason said...

Hi Shan,

I am so grateful for kind and wounderful people like you.

I came bye to see if you could help me get a spinning wheel or restore the one I just bought. I have spent a ton of time on the net looking and think I'm getting closer.

Now about your latest post and I want to ask you how much did that disturb you and your day. What I want to address is how you and I, and people who care can make a difference. What I now do in a situation like that is pray as soon as I can, this gets me out of that anger and or fear zone.

So how to trust God when there is pain and suffering in the world. I saw a man on the bus holding a girls neck in a really weird way (they were very young adults) they were defiantly fighting or angry. It was just scary lets say. I don't remember what I said I was so afraid. But I prayed really hard before I spoke with them. I think I asked her if she was okay or wanted help-anyway he started to get pissy like a gangster and I told him I would pray and did. I don't know if I made things better or worse, I like to think I helped a little and I would do it the same way over- And thats the great part I wasn't fearful and disturbed for a long time afterward and there no fight. So it's hard to pray for me before I act but when I do I act better and things go better and I'm a happier person afterward.

I know I would have asked that lady if I could help her or I would offer her the type of help I would be able to give. that's an approach I'd like to ask you to consider in that sort of situation.

It's been a long hard journey for me to change just a few things about myself that make me a person when dealing with hard -hard stuff like that.
here a tip or two that I am learning to do too.

Talk to others using only I statements and never criticizing, I am talking about the discussion phase.
your not attacking.

remember to stay as humble as possible and that helps me stay out of being judgmental or condemning etc and thats were the prayer comes in so handy because I don't know the truth and or what to do thats Gods job, I just want to serve God and help others

I don't need self-confidence I am confident in God

so I send you lots of love and peace

Paul

Anonymous said...

Hello, I came here from Dave's blog.

I tried to post a longer comment but it got eaten by internet, so I'll try again.

I'm going to have to be the voice of dissent. I think it was wrong of you to call the cops on that woman. There's a longer discussion on this sort of issue here: http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/2010/08/24/what-could-happen-to-your-kid-in-the-car-while-you-pay-for-gas/

Basically, what did you think was likely to happen to the child whilst her mother was in the shop? Was that fear realistic?

Several people in the comments have mentioned sexual predators. I did some quick Googling and could only find one case of a child being abducted from a parked car whilst their parent was in a shop, and even in that case the abductor let the child go almost immediately. I found many more cases of children being abducted whilst with their parents. To me it would seem easier to abduct a child when they were with their parent than from a locked car.

Shan said...

Paul, very good plan. I do agree that a gentle approach is usually best. I do believe in helping people, and have offered help to people in stores and so on, who seem overwhelmed at having to manage their children while shopping, paying, whatever. As to the prayer, I admit I did not think of it - I got very angry at what I perceived as neglect, and reacted to that.

Shan said...

Anonymous, I did receive both your comments and tried to repost the first for you, but for some reason it won't go...I'll try again below.
---------------
One issue you mentioned to the mother was the car being stolen. However, cars being stolen with children in them is very rare and in all the cases I could find the thief returned the child or left them somewhere they could easily be reunited with their parents almost as soon as they realised they were there.

The real danger from leaving a child in a parked car is extreme heat or cold. Every year about 20 children die in the US from being left in a hot or cold car. However, this happens because parents forget the child is in the car and takes a lot longer than 8 minutes.

Taking the child with her into the shop is not without risk. The child could get hit by a car in the parking lot. Collisions with cars kill a lot more children than car thieves or stranger abductors.

So, you called the cops on a woman for making a parenting decision you disagreed with but which didn't actually put the child at risk. At the very least this resulted in the child seeing her mother in distress and being driven home by a highly distracted mother, which is much more dangerous than her being left in a parked car for eight minutes.

From lavendersparkle

Shan said...

Anonymous, I did a bit of Googling and found, as you said, many cases of children dying from being left in a hot vehicle. I do question whether less severe consequences would even be reported - a parent is not likely to call the police and say "I left my toddler in the car and somebody tried to break in and get her, but luckily a passerby happened to notice and chased him off. Just FYI."

What I'm saying is, I'm sure that any bad things (short of death or serious injury) that might happen to a child left in the car by a parent, won't be reported by that parent because they know full well that they shouldn't have left that child alone.

Under BC Child Protection Law it is a crime to leave a child unsupervised. Obviously it's a different thing to leave a ten year old than to leave a two year old. So, these things are judged on a case by case basis...I know because I consulted the Ministry last year about a neighbourhood child whose parent was leaving her (age 8) alone to play in the neighbourhood for up to two hours at a time. Not leaving her in a locked house - leaving her outside and calling out the car window to her, "I'm leaving - if you need anything, go to one of your friends' houses." To be clear, I did not "report" her, I did not call the police; I took her into my house, gave her lunch, and the next week asked a friend who works for MCFD what the law is.

Here's my point. Anyone could have taken her into their house. Anyone. I happen to be honest, trustworthy, and any child would be safe with me...that is not true of everyone.

I disagree totally with your premise that the mother exercised simply "a parenting decision". I can decide that my child has been naughty enough to warrant a hand-spank on her bottom...or I can decide to whack her with a wooden spoon...to do without dessert....or to do without meals for an entire day. Some "parenting decisions" fall into the category of "crimes". It is not for me to decide what's illegal - the law has done that.

And frankly...and here's where my temper is starting to fray...the idea that it's more dangerous for her to take the child with her than to leave her in the car is ludicrous. Provided the child is properly supervised while crossing the parking lot, she is not going to be hit by a car. Let's take another scenario - let's say the toddler is left in the locked car....for safety, you'd have me believe. Now the MUM gets hit by a car. Gets taken to hospital. Is unconscious. How long would it take for her to be treated, for her husband to be notified, for her husband to get to the hospital, for someone to notice the daughter's missing, for someone to track down the vehicle in the parking lot, on a sunny day, with one window down three inches and nobody having the balls to call the cops because it's none of their business and the mum is probably just in the store for ten minutes.

Elizabeth McClung said...

I think I found the person you invested your time in. As they are asking on another board what the law in BC is regarding cars and leaving three year olds.

According to 'Your Rights, Kids Rights' a guide to abuse and children by the Ministry there is no guideline on the age at which a child can be left for a time and in the US only 19 states have specific laws regarding children and cars.

I can see you are passionate on this cause, which is good as Victoria is the number one in Canada on child abuse - according to that lovely study on Canadian cities which they quote in the TC about how we spend lots on Art and Museums. However I was unclear on the nature of the abuse. Was it being alone? Not being in a car seat or was it due to sexual predators?

I can see that if you saw a male relative, teacher, minister, come up that the need to alert the mother in case of restraining orders would come to mind.

I have difficulty following much of the logic as for example, the solution for a mom who thinks it isn't safe for a child in a parking lot is to imagine the parent getting hit by a car. A magic car which would not hit the mother if the child was there?

That you got the police to come at all is great, since few can for break in's, or assaults, or stalking. I am also confused on how you wanted the mother to wait to be handcuffed in front of her daughter, but it "it's not my place to make a mom look bad in front of her child" and your linquistic use of 'right back at me' indicates that you were shouting, so you might want to edit that, or revise it.

I can't know what the woman was thinking, but I would wonder what lucky person this is who has two kids and the time to wait for an hour to obsess on this. But then, since I HAD been instructed by the ministry of education under no circumstances, if approached by a child to report sexual ongoing child abuse or physical abuse, to not, under any condition act in a way other than to the instruct the child to return to the abuse situation telling them I would report the matter and depending on the remote nature of the area in British Columbia, someone would visit within three weeks.

So, a mom leaving a child locked in a car with the window rolled down to pay for gas - not high on my worry meter.

But this was as you point out, a female child in distress. And you knew what the parent looked like.

And you didn't get them.

Why?

Did the child's distress not matter? Had you made an assessment of health? Why not call for an ambulance - they come. It seems that you were irked by a habit of behavoir, and wanted to prove a point. I think the point you proved to the girl was that you were someone to be avoided. Because you seem to think that three year olds stop loving mom because she goes into Thrifty foods. While she will love the woman who makes mommy cry and is standing with her arms crossed and sat atop her high horse of indignation at the bumper of the car. I can assure you, this is not so.

I am curious about your documentation as you state: "I can decide that my child has been naughty enough to warrant a hand-spank on her bottom...or I can decide to whack her with a wooden spoon" - when according the Supreme Court of Canada and section 43, no you can't. And Bill S-209 shows the legislative intent was to go beyond that. Only within specific ages and under specific circumstances can you decide to spank your child, and no, you can't whack her with a wooden spoon. And the ministry would be at your house for removing food for a day if reported, particularly depending on age and health condition. As you say, it is the law. I guess you can be thankful for those neighbors who did not call the police on you. Should we hope that next time you make a decision that is not in agreement with another's interpretation of what constitutes 'educational' or 'risk', that they have the 'the balls to call the cops'

Oh hell yeah.

Shan said...

Elizabeth, you suggest I edit my post to remove the phrase "right back at me". Not sure why it matters. I actually left out a few things because I didn't want to be unnecessarily villifying the other woman. Aggressive lunging, finger in my face, etc. So I'll leave "shouting right back at me" in.

I never said the word 'abuse' - that is your addition. I am talking about 'neglect'. And I believe it IS neglect to leave a crying child in a parking lot for 8 minutes in order to run an errand. How should I know how long she would take? For all I know she could have been gone for 45 minutes. Which is what I mean when I talk about a car hitting the mother, and it then being beyond her control whether she returns to the child or not. I only mentioned the car, because the previous commenter introduced the subject of being run down in a parking lot. Thanks for saying it was a magic car - I like that.

You have entirely missed my point with regard to my reference to 'wooden spoons'. I had thought it was obvious, but apparently not. Of the four things I mention, two are legal and two are NOT LEGAL. Parenting decision? No. Some "parenting decisions" are illegal. THAT'S my point. Again, the 'parenting decision' idea was introduced by the previous commenter, to whom I was responding. She felt that leaving a toddler alone was a parenting decision - I knew it to be a legal decision, based on my conversation with a Ministry employee last year.

I was not 'waiting for her to be handcuffed', what a hilarious idea. I only waited around so that I could give my information to the officer who arrived, and because the dispatch had asked me to stay. I had no expectation - indeed, no hope - that the woman would be handcuffed.

I am indeed a lucky, person, yes. To be able to go to the store while my husband looks after the children on a weekend. If I had had them with me, what do you know? I would have brought them into the store with me, not left them in the car. Inconvenient? possibly.


I have irritated you, clearly, judging from this comment and the one you left on the last post. I invite you to read however much of my blog you would like to, though based on your response to my posts, I'm not sure you will enjoy your stay.

Shan said...

Elizabeth, thank you for directing me to "Parents' Rights, Kids' Rights" - it states:

Neglect is when parents don’t give their child enough food, clothes, or medical care, or if a child doesn’t have a safe place to live. Other examples of neglect are parents who are drunk and drive with a child, leave a child with someone who is too drunk or drugged to take care of them, or let a child use drugs or alcohol. Neglect can include leaving a young child alone at home or in a car. The law doesn’t say exactly how old a child must be to stay alone. In general, young children shouldn’t be left alone.

It further states the following:

The law in BC says that anyone who believes a child has been abused or neglected — or is likely to be abused or neglected — must report it to the director. This includes doctors, teachers, religious leaders, friends, family, childcare providers, neighbours, and everyone else who knows a child. There are serious penalties for people who know about abuse but don’t report it.

It could not be more clear. I believed a child had been neglected, and I called the authorities so that they could check it out.

Thank you again for the referral to this document: I feel better knowing that I did the right thing.

Gwen said...

There are almost enough straw men in Elizabeth's comment to form an entire hockey team.

Elizabeth McClung said...

Dear Shan,

Thank you for your invitation for reading a public blog.

Your life descriptions interest me, and I am glad that my research has assisted you. Please choose to make legal and ethical choices with your children.

Again, if you were concerned, I do not understand why you did not seek the parent, if it was neglect and only neglect you were concerned about. It is a large investment in time to have an arguement in front of a three year old. And, to pass on a message from another reader, "While saying it was coincidence, it would appears like stalking, and perhaps predatory behavoir"

I don't think you stalked the child, and confirmed and timed how long it was unattended for illegal action. Nor does it appear you had a great interest in the immediate or long term well being of the child but rather wanted to prove a point.

Er..okay, I guess everyone needs a hobby. I will await your next condemnation of individual human behavoir.

Dave Hingsburger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave Hingsburger said...

The responses here astonish and sadden me. As someone who deals daily with the subject of abuse and neglect, I constantly wonder why people don't react when they see a child neglected, endangered or abused. When people with disabilities get thrashed in public whilst passersby yawn. Then I read something like this blog post, which has made it around our office, and see that when someone does speak out, they get attacked for doing the right thing. In what world is it acceptable for a child to be left, out of sight and alone, in a car? I know the answer to that question. It's the world I deal with routinely. All I can say here is thank you for taking responsibility and for taking the crap that comes from that.

Anonymous said...

I think it's great, Shan, that you did something about a situation you saw as wrong. And I can appreciate your advocacy even though I don't think leaving a child alone in a car for 8 minutes is necessarily abusive or neglectful. The chances of stranger abduction are extremely remote, and overheating in a car takes far, far longer than that.
It sounds to me like the mother was, in fact, being "mean" to her girl, but not because the girl was in the car, rather that she was sobbing. It seems very likely that she felt abandonded. Not good parenting, not kind, not loving. But not dangerous in the ways that you outlined.

If you are interested in this issue I'll point you to a thorough, fascinating, and very frightening article by Gene Weingarten on children who die from being abandoned in cars. It turns out that the parents of those children almost never leave their children behind because they think it's not dangerous- it's that they didn't realize the child was in the car. It's a situation of unspeakable tragedy, not criminality, and reading the article made me realize that I could be one of those parents all too easily. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/27/AR2009022701549.html

Anonymous said...

I stumbled across this blog because I left my two toddlers in the car for 5-10 minutes. Someone also called the cops on me. I'd love for you to research how many times in Canada someone in broad daylight has smashed a locked car's window to steal a child. I doubt if there is even a case in Canada. I've done this since my children were small and nothing bad has ever happened. It's fine if you are an overly protective parent. But it's not your job to decide who are good parents. You aren't the good parent police. And who's to say that child wouldn't have been crying whether they were in the store with their mom or in the car with their mom. My two "babies" are in the backyard unattended and gasp, we don't even have a back gate! I better go check before the roaming pedophiles grab them!!!!

Shan said...

Anonymous, as to me not being the 'good parent police', I'll repeat my comment above, which quotes the BC Ministry "Parents' Rights, Kids' Rights" publication as stating two things:

#1: "Neglect" can include leaving a young child alone in a car.
#2: Anyone who believes a child has been neglected must report it. There are serious penalties for nonreporting.

I'm tired of defending my decision as if it were questionable whether or not I did the right thing. I did what the law says to do. I acted on behalf of a child I believed to be in need of intervention.

Your comment is full of defensive sarcasm. I don't think I'll even bother to address some of your glaring logical fallacies ('nothing bad has ever happened to them' and 'who's to say she wouldn't have been crying in the store', as if the question of parental supervision of a distressed child is an entire non-issue) and just say your response to my action is no more than I would expect from someone who leaves her children in the car alone all the time since they were small. Your focus on the minutiae and your entire refusal to acknowledge the central issue - that of legal obligation - removes your credibility as a debator completely.

Gwen said...

Laughing my head off.... and crying out in anguish, "Oh, Blue Tick, we need you now more than ever! Bring your mighty blue justice to bear on our land!"

Pharmerjenn said...

I think each situation needs to be assessed since some people do over-react. Case in point, yesterday bringing my almost 4 year-old to gymnastics I had to get gas and then went to Tim Horton's to get our weekly coffee and two Timbits. Usually I go through the drive-thru at a different Tom Horton's this time I could see the front store of this Tim Horton's had no one in line. I park in front of the store where I can see the van and let my daughter know I was going in. I walk in and right up to the counter and order, I just finished paying when a guy walks in the door asking if the little girl in the van was mine (while pointing right at the van thru the window). I said yes being the only person there and he says he is reporting me for leaving my child unattended in a vehicle. Considering I left the van within site, not running, locked, my daughter securely strapped in a five-point harness she can not get undone I had evaluated the safety of the situation well before I went in for 5 minutes (note: could still see vehicle from the til). I am an assessor of all potential consequences and this was the safest choice for my child. She was more likely to slip on the floor in the store and split her lip or worse than any possible situation in the vehicle. As for stealing the van issue, seriously in front of the Tim Horton's store glass windows with seated customers and the mom glancing at the van?? This gentleman resulted in the police officer waiting in my driveway for over an hour (since we went to her gymnastics class), who then passed me just as I was about to turn onto my street. He then turns on his lights does a u-turn and follows me to my driveway sounding his sirens the last 20 feet. Thankfully I had taken a picture of the van and that it was not an unattended, unsupervised vehicle and had the employees name to give in case (and no I have never had this issue happen before). We put our children at risk ever time we take them out in a vehicle which is why we try to reduce the potential of injury (airbags, car seats). Unless a situation has properly been assessed don't just call the police, make sure there was no unusual risk with the situation (extreme temps, signs of distress, etc...) or this case could happen again where a police officer should be dealing with speeders, drunk drivers etc... that pose the highest risk to harm for children and adults. I also believe you yourself could have put the fear into her without resorting to pulling police resources. In situations where I know a parent is not within sight of a child I use a few things to prevent it from happening again; a picture of the vehicle when you discover it, then write a note with the description of the child, any signs of distress, the total time you watched the vehicle be unattended, that you looked for a parent within site etc... Then leave this note on the windshield for the parent saying this put the child in a position of a higher than usual risk of harm. Say although you did not report this to the RCMP this time, you have kept the information for future reference should you see this vehicle or child left unattended again (just take a picture of the note for reference). Lastly take a picture of the vehicle as you leave, these pictures are time-stamped giving the actual time the child was alone and not anyone's perceived time. That way you avoid any heated discussions, scaring the child, and wasting even more of your time waiting around. It takes a village to raise a child and your are right to report these situations but I hope I gave an alternative that helps a parent be a better parent without using unnessessary resources.
Sorry about the length, but it's worth writing :)