With recent news bringing up the concept of criminal charges against parents who leave their children in the car, we decided to approach the subject here for discussion. Should Parents Be Punished For Leaving Kids In A Car? This question is one that has multiple answers, and of course many opinions. We want to look at some clear facts and a few hypothetical events that could play into how we answer this question.
SHOULD PARENTS BE PUNISHED FOR LEAVING KIDS IN A CAR?
For many years now there have been various legislation in each state regarding what is considered child endangerment. Children of a certain age are unable to care for themselves, open car doors or unlock their car seat harness/booster to leave a car if needed. In cases where a young child is unable to remove themselves safely from the vehicle, an instance of simply running in to pay for gas at the gas station and leaving them behind can become criminal charges against a parent. These situations are often brought up as subject for discussion because many parents feel a quick run in and out of a store is not truly leaving their child in danger. But isn’t it?
A child who is unable to remove themselves from a car without parental assistance should never be left alone in a car. Period. End of story.
While we would believe that no harm could come to our children when we are within a few feet of them, we have been proven wrong time and again. It only takes a few seconds for someone to grab a child and leave with them. It only takes one wrong move on another drivers part for a car to be hit and a child injured while parked in a parking space. We shouldn’t live our lives in paranoia and fear of what could happen, but we should as parents be making smart choices to protect and prevent those things from happening.
A parent who forgets their child in a car and the child dies should be punished.
In the case of Justin Harris, whose son died after being left in his car all day long, the charges of murder are valid. In simple evidence it was found that the stench within the car was staggering to rescue personnel. For Mr. Harris to get in his car and drive a considerable distance without noticing is absurd. This case is one in which a parent was grossly negligent, and possibly even purposefully so.
Evidence already presented in this case leads you to believe that Mr. Harris knew what he was doing and did so on purpose. His attitude, manner and the knowledge that he had even stopped at his car during lunch to drop a bag into the seat prove that he was either not mentally in his right mind or that he purposely allowed his son to sit in the car and die in the heat.
While it is understandable that a parent who typically doesn’t drop their children off at childcare, etc. might not think about them being in the back seat because it isn’t routine, it is not acceptable that they would forget and be leaving kids in a car without notice. When you get out of your car you easily and often see into your back seat. Whether you are driving and looking in the rear view mirror at traffic, turning to grab a bag, briefcase or lunch from the other seat or simply glancing back as you walk to your office. Forgetting your child in your car for hours or even all day is inexcusable.
But what about an accidental death? What about the parent who leaves their child and says they simply forgot about them?
My belief stays the same. Unless the parent is unfit to begin with, there is no reason a parent would not notice another human being only feet away from them in their own car. If that person was so disoriented or lackadaisical that they didn’t look, check or think about their child or who/what was in their car then it is very likely they are in need of some serious medical help themselves. Each case must be looked at individually. Not all cases are those of murder, but no parent who leaves their child in a car in the heat (or cold) for extended periods of time should go unpunished.
Whether it is deemed murder or manslaughter, any person whose child dies as a result of their own negligence and neglect will be punished. While the court systems and many of us in society feel they should receive the utmost punishment for their crime, they will suffer no matter what is handed down in the justice system. No parent who loses a child to death at their own hand will have a moments peace of heart. Should parents be punished for leaving kids in a car? The answer in our book is a clear yes.
Do you believe Mr. Harris should be charged with murder in the death of his toddler? Should parents be punished for leaving kids in a car?