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Yes, You Can Get Arrested for Leaving a Child in a Locked Car

Quick post today, but I'd like to encourage everyone to read this Salon story by Kim Brooks. Legal action was taken against her because a bystander spotted her four-year-old in a car alone, filmed him with a phone, and covertly called the police. As Brooks tells it, she left him alone for a few minutes while she ran into a store to buy a pair of child-friendly headphones before a flight. He was happily tapping away on an iPad, an ordinarily safe, well-tended kid.

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It raises a great question: What roles do bystanders play in keeping our kids safe? Has helicopter parenting (and helicopter observing?) gone too far?

In generations past, Brooks writes, parents surely left kids momentarily unattended to slip into a store. They probably did far worse. What's this culture of fear, cloaked as helpfulness, doing to our children? It's true, many kids die each year after being locked in hot cars, either accidentally or due to outright negligence. Brooks says it was perfectly cool out, the doors were locked, and the car was ventilated. She wasn't letting her child bake in a car while she got a Brazilian wax. (Yep, this happened recently.)

I'm also wondering why the bystander, if so concerned, didn't actually speak to Brooks herself, instead of secretly dialing 911.


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