Monday, July 30, 2007

No excuses for leaving your kids in the car

Saturday night, I read an article on my phone about different treatment between mothers and fathers, parents and other caregivers, when it comes to leaving a child to die in a hot car. It always pisses me off (and no, a milder term wouldn't be appropriate) to hear about stuff like that, whether it's an animal, or to a much greater extent, a child. And thought the Washington Post sympathizes in the linked article, I cannot believe a truly loving parent would just leave their child in the car. (I read it on my phone from Yahoo News, but when I searched for it on the computer, Washington Post is what came up, and the text looks the same.)

Sentences vary when kids die in hot cars - Washington Post

Statistically, the Post reports that mothers and fathers are charged at about the same rate, mothers do more time. And while paid caregivers are charged at a higher rate than parents, they're actually jailed less, and when they are, for less time. I don't think these statistics mean much - the cases are handled on a case-by-case basis and I don't think there's a prejudice, really. If it were me handing down the sentences, they'd be a lot worse.

The biggest reason, the Post goes on to say (on page 2 of 5, now) is that in the mid-90s, when they say most parents started putting kids in the backseat, as opposed to the front, and had the seats facing back, because of the airbags.

Then you go to page 5, where they explain the actions of one man who left his year-and-a-half-old daughter to die in the car. I count a total of 14 kids he's taking care of - either they're his, between his and his wife's from previous relationships, or some are friends, being babysat - whatever the case may be, he's supposed to be responsible for those kids. If it's too much to be responsible for kids in your care, you obviously have too many, and the article lists... let's see... He "was watching 12 children alone while his wife and oldest daughter" were away - that's 12 (not counting the one that was away), He "he'd asked two teenage children _ both of baby-sitting age _ to attend to their younger siblings while he went back to school for another daughter". Now we're at 13, the 12 at his residence and the one at school. Assuming the two teens he asked were included in the initial 12, that is. Then you add one, the one who died after being left in a car.

14 kids?!? Should one person be allowed to care for that many kids, alone? And whatever answer comes to mind, should he be excused for leaving one in a hot car on a summer day without even asking about her for 7 hours? Can someone be said to love their children if they can go 7 hours without seeing one still in diapers who has to be fed, if she's in his care?

Hey, I may be harsh, but I don't care. That's a damn horrible way to go, equivalent to torture. The Post explains how they die, that "Children, often too young to escape, are particularly vulnerable because their immature respiratory and circulatory systems do not manage heat as efficiently as adults'. After a short time, the skin grows red and dry, the body becomes unable to produce sweat, and heat stroke kills the child." And I'm sure they just gave an overview, that it's much worse than that. I can't even imagine.

A good parent's job, in part, is to keep their kids safe from harm. So for someone to just forget about their kid, for their kid to die in a horrible way out of nothing more than plain ignorance and negligence, shows a person who shouldn't have kids, perhaps shouldn't have had one/them to start with.

And I understand there's some severe guilt associated with being the direct cause of your child's death... If such a person is feeling suicidal, just do it... Take yourself out of the gene pool, make that one last contribution to the human race. Your guilt is over, and your chances of creating equally stupid offspring eliminated. For the rest of us, you take your kid somewhere, even if you're just going in for a minute, you take the kid with you. If you don't understand how fast a car can heat up, don't think it could happen in whatever time you think you'll be - don't. Or take the kid to a more responsible relative who can watch them while you do whatever it is you need to do. Because whatever happens to them (or you) is better than them dying in the damn car.

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