05 March 2009

Unattended Child Law Proposed

I pull the car up to the Sunoco Food Mart on Eighth Street. My 3 year old is asleep in the car seat. My 5 year old is sitting next to her in his booster seat, playing with action figures. It is a warm fall evening, and the windows are open in the small sedan. I need to run in and pick up a gallon of milk before heading home. There is no parking directly in front of the door, but very close parking to the left of the building. I jump out of the car, go buy the milk and am back in about a minute. But glaring at me is a woman, who is in disbelief that I left children unattended. I feel a little guilty, but soon forget about it.

If a new bill passes the Ohio legislature, I would be fined $150 or possibly sent to jail if that woman reported me.

And the reason for this new bill is that Don White could not (or would not) prosecute Ms Slaby for forgetting about her child all day on the first day of school in 2007.

Can we legislate against forgetfulness? If this law had been in effect, would the Slaby child be alive? Of course not. Must a parent wake and unbuckle all the kids and haul them into a convenience store to get a gallon of milk?


Radarman said...

Anything is possible in a city where the police seldom use seatbelts in their cruisers or personal vehicles and where the bicycle cops ride routinely on the sidewalks.

You're right to call attention to the weirdness, though. Would Brenda Slaby have thought it more important to dodge that $150 fine than to keep her child alive? Hard to say.

5chw4r7z said...

This reminds me of Columbine. They started talking about new gun legislation, never mind the two boys had already broke a couple dozen laws.
So yeah, that $150 will really made someone think twice about forgetting a kid in the car.

Unknown said...

To answer your question, yes. And, I'd sleep a lot better if you didn't leave your children unattended in the car. There are some crazy people out and about in ALL parts of the city. The time it takes to get the kids in and out is nothing compared to if something would happen to them.

And you're right, $150 fine is nothing--in fact it's an insult to the price of a human life. I've not understood why those mothers weren't charged with at least neglect. I believe if those moms were poor and non-white they'd be charged and sentenced zippy-quick. Maybe the same way car crashes are no longer termed "accidents" and instead the term "collision" is used, factors will be examined that can create so much stress and overload that
this kind of tragedy occurs.
Yet another reason to not be chatting on the cell phone while driving.

Anonymous said...

What happened with the Slaby baby was Darwinism.

Any woman that stupid, capable of passing on her stupid genes, should not be breeding potentially stupid children.

It's breeding like this that gives us stupid legislators who would seriously consider that new bill.

bsherm said...

Ridiculous law. Would not have prevented the two tragedies.

What does someone do with two young children that have to be put in a car seat when you can't bring them both out at once? The lawmaker probably lives in the burbs and doesn't realize everyone does not have a connected garage...

I am failing to make the connection of the scenario put forth in the post and human life.

CityKin said...

At what age can you leave them, and for how long? Must I keep them within eyesight when they are 6? 9? Can you leave a 10 year old with a 4 year old for one minute? I just don't think this can be regulated by the minute and the age.

Don White acted cowardly by not at least trying to prosecute the Slaby case, and this is his delayed reaction to that realization.

DP said...

My wife made the argument that, since Ms. Slaby apparently had a history of leaving her child in the car when running quick errands (e.g., buying the infamous box of donuts) that she was accustomed to leaving the kid in the car. It just happens that on the day in question she forgot about the kid altogether. If every time she stopped somewhere, she had to get the kids out, that would become habit, instead of leaving them. (Of course she would also have lost about an hour or more of productivity every day too...)

Maybe we can make the law go by the "timeout" rule of thumb - one minute for every year of age. Then we can hand out stopwatches to all the cops and ninnys. With all those people watching your kids in the cars while you run in for milk, there's no way anyone could abduct them.

CityKin said...

^ I agree. There was a history and a pattern of behavior that led to the final tragic result. I think Don White could have taken that to court.

CityKin said...

BTW. I NEVER left a 2 yr old in a car alone, not even for a minute.

Anonymous said...

Read this http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/27/AR2009022701549.html on leaving kids in a car. It's rarely a conscious decision to leave them, at least not in the horrifying fatal ones.