Thursday, April 28, 2005

Mother Charged With Child Neglect

A reader sends this story:
BURTONSVILLE, Md. -- A Montgomery County woman was charged with child neglect after a fire broke out at her home while her children were there alone.

A 7-year-old boy is being hailed as a hero after he led his two younger brothers to safety when a microwave started a fire in their second-floor apartment.

The fire started at about 10 p.m. Saturday in an apartment in Burtonsville's Knight's Bridge complex. Investigators said food was cooking in the microwave when it burst into flames.

A quick-thinking 7-year-old boy led his 4- and 5-year-old brothers out of the apartment. The children went to an apartment next door to get help, and an adult called 911 and led the boys and several other children to safety.

The fire caused an estimated $100,000 damage to the apartment complex in the 3300 block of Teagarden Circle.

The mother told police she left the kids for 20 minutes to make a phone call about a babysitter who was late.

The child neglect charge carries a criminal penalty of a fine of up to $500 and up to 30 days in jail.
I do not think that this is criminal child neglect. The main error was for the mom to leave the apartment with something cooking. That was a fire hazard that endangered everyone in the building. It was a foolish thing to do.

The 7-year-old boy is credited with knowing exactly what to do, but the mom or dad should also be credited with teaching him what to do.

I do not think that simple mistakes like this should be criminalized.

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