A mom left her son in the car for what everyone agrees was under 10 minutes to run an errand. The toddler slept through the whole “ordeal,” but the mom was found guilty of neglect, even upon appeal, when the three appellate judges ruled that they didn’t have to list the “parade of horribles” that COULD have happened to the child.A lawyer explains in a newspaper op-ed:
Which is, of course, fantasy as policy again: Just because the judges could imagine a kidnapping, or carjacking, or a big bad wolf, doesn’t mean that these are at all likely. They aren’t. As the Washington Post just wrote: There’s never been a safer time to be a kid in America. What’s more, my own book cites the stat that if for some reason you WANTED your kid to be abducted by a stranger, the amount of time you’d have to leave him outside, unattended, for this to be statistically likely to happen is 600,000 years.
Child-safety orthodoxy ignores the fact that protecting your child from one risk almost always exposes him to another. Keeping children safely indoors promotes inactivity and obesity. Taking them with you to the store, instead of leaving them home alone, exposes them to accidents, the No. 1 cause of death of American children. “Free-range” parents argue that coddling and overprotecting children interferes with development and their ability to become responsible and self-sufficient.Judges, social workers, and psychologists talk about safety a lot, but they almost never consider realistic data on what is safe or risky. Safety is just a buzzword for their superstitions and prejudices.
Most disturbing about the New Jersey case, however, is that the court condemned the mother’s action without ever weighing the actual risk of genuine harm. The court ruled the mother wasn’t entitled to present evidence on either the likelihood or severity of harm to the child. The court said the imagined dangers spoke for themselves: “We need not describe at any length the parade of horribles that could have attended (this) neglect.”
This NJ case is unusual because the appeals court considered behavior that was obviously safe, and claimed that it was unsafe with no evidence required. It was as stupid as saying, "you can tell the defendant is guilty by just looking at him."
I assume that the NJ supreme court will say that some evidence is required, unless the legislature has passed a law against the behavior.
Today has a Cracked article on 5 Things Your Parents Did (They'd Be Arrested For Today). Yes, leaving a kid in a car in one of them, along with letting your kid walk places alone, play outside, hear swearing, and go naked.