Outrage of the Week: Don’t You DARE Throw This Woman in Jail!

Readers — I am SO SICK of our finger-pointing culture ever-ready to criminalize a normal, if tragic, parenting moment. In this case, a woman named Felicia Tucker is being charged in the drowning death of her toddler nephew Joshua because he got out of house and she didn’t realize it quickly enough. He drowned in a nearby lake. According to an article in The Courier Post Online:

Tormenting Tucker on Friday was whether Joshua had suddenly learned to open the front door or whether it had not been latched. Tucker said she and her sister had taken “every precaution” in recent weeks — such as emptying out a backyard pool and ensuring the doors to the home were latched — after a co-worker’s toddler son drowned in a Monroe pool in June.

Note to police, prosecutors, judges: This is hardly a woman who is negligent! What happened is HUMAN, NOT CRIMINAL! Quit pretending it isn’t, just to feel smug or safe or superior. You could be a wonderful, even saintly parent, and it could happen to you. How would sending this woman — a mom herself — to ten years in prison make anyone safer or rectify anything?

That’s easy — it won’t. It’ll just teach us all a lesson: Unless we are absolutely perfect, we have absolutely no business parenting. (Or even being allowed to set foot in the community.) — L.

197 Responses

  1. But Casey Anthony walks free? I guess I’m confused? So you can be jailed for an accident — but not something you did on purpose, then lied to the police, covered up and then lied again about?

  2. My 3rd child, a daughter, was 18mo -3 years of age when she managed to dart off into streets, through stores, etc. where anything could have happened. I wasn’t negligent, she was clever, curious and quick! She gave me many a scare and she always found ways to be faster than I was. Some kids are like that!

    Maybe these police, prosecutors and judges forget what it was like to have their own children. If they have none of their own, they will learn quickly when they do.

    In the meantime, I hope they will change their mind about this mother who is suffering heartbreak without this compounded on it.

  3. Lenore I feel you anger. We must blaming parents who suffer a tragic loss and start standing beside them offering comfort. Life is dangerous and things happen. We need to be supportive and understanding. Punishing the suffering only brings a feeling of superiority to those who have been lucky enough not to have had anything bad happen to them.

    Toddlers run off when no one is looking. Things happen. Sometimes bad things happen. A compassionate society seeks to understand and support. Where are we headed as a society when we charge the innocent when a tragedy takes place?

  4. You can’t have a community when this is what happens when people help each other out.

    I don’t get who decided that whenever anything bad happens to a child it is automatically criminal negligence.

  5. I would like to know what “A significant period of time when the child was not supervised” means. Does it mean the aunt was working in a room with the door open keeping an ear out for problems and getting up the check on the kids every few minutes, or does it mean the aunt closed herself in a room and came out three hours later to find the younger child was gone?

  6. Do you believe in any kind of parental or caregiver responsibility? While this is a borderline case, the only reason she is being charged is because it was found that she left the children alone for a “significant” amount of time. She was supposed to be watching a 2.5 and 4 year old, and instead she was in another room with no idea what was going on with them. A little bit of Googling shows that the child was autistic and had a history of getting into water – the pool, the tub, the toilet. It is NOT NORMAL to leave an autistic toddler alone for extended periods of time, or it shouldn’t be.

  7. The aunt may have latched the front door. Is it outside the realm of possibility that the 3-year-old unlatched it? How then is the aunt guilty of anything?
    Hard cases make bad law. I think the aunt has suffered, and will continue to suffer, enough without jail time.

  8. What a tragedy. Anyone who has a child get out like that and drown is going to wonder whether or not they’re at fault, but I can fully believe that a toddler would suddenly learn to open a door. Some do that awfully young. I’m so grateful that my two year old hasn’t figured out how to open doors yet, because I’ll be in trouble when she does. She is quite adventurous.

  9. I wonder whether (thanks to the gendered structure of most infant and toddler care) any of these judges and prosecutors have ever even had extended responsibility for taking care of a small child. Or have their spouses or nannies done it all?

  10. one of the comments on the article says this:

    “Finally one of these idiots is charged. I’m sure she is heart broken over this but how the heck do you allow a 2 year old to roam freely through the house? Ok, they emptied the backyard pool, here’s an idea, watch the kid…let him play in the room where you are doing paperwork, if he leaves the room get off your butt and see what he is doing. Autistic or not, he was 2! And for those who say they cannot watch their kids 24/7, lock your doors with a chain if you have to, buy a playpen…do you get it now?”

    I don’t want to have to create an account to reply so I’m just going to do it here. I have a 2 and 4 year old. They very often play in their bedroom for hours at a time while I do other things. Other than the occasional peek into the room I don’t bother them. They are learning to share and figuring out how to compromise. Why would I want to interfere with that? I can sometimes hear them talking or laughing but overall I let them do their thing. Have you ever tried to keep a two year old in a playpen? I laugh at the notion. My boy would last about 10 seconds before he climbed out.
    I understand in the circumstance of the article that the boy was autistic so maybe she should have gotten up to check on them more often or had a chain on the door. The article doesn’t say how long she was in the room, either. Even if she was getting up every 15 minutes to check that still could have been enough time for him to get out the door and go where she wouldn’t be able to find him. Either way, what does putting this woman in jail do? It costs us lots of money. It certainly doesn’t keep other children safer.

  11. Jail is for people who intentionally harm others. Everyone makes mistakes and no one watches their kids all of the time. Just because there is a tragedy does not mean “someone” has to be punished. America would be a better place with better people if we rallied around our neighbors who face such a tragedy and lend them support. Instead, we find someone to blame and and hurt and degrade the very person who is facing the tragedy. People die; children die, and sometimes it is because of an accident. That is just part of life. Let’s play our part better and criticize,derail, and criminalize during a tragedy.

  12. I recall was visiting my grandparents in the 1970s when they lived on Springsteel Island on the northern Minnesota border when sirens sounded. Word shot from house to house about a missing child and the search of the shoreline now underway.

    Grandma’s jaw was set grimly, her face awash with both sadness and recognition. It’s a look I’ve never forgotten.

    The same grandparents had run the county newspaper in a small Mississippi River town for 25 years. There, urgent calls for a shoreline search had been rare. But, in 25 years it was a fact of life that accidents would happen even in the most careful, disciplined families. Every caregiver feared them, every parent grieved them.

    But, Grandma’s response was not to blame the grieving parents. It was recognizing that perfectly immunizing her own family from accidents was not possible.

  13. As someone whose 24 month old suddenly learned to unlock and open the front door (he’s tall enough to reach the deadbolt if he stands on his toes; my husband has already bought a chain to install out of his reach) I’m inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt and say that this little boy could have unlatched the door.

    That being said I too would like to know what a “significant period of time” means. I definitely don’t think you have to watch kids every minute at home but you do have to check on them. For example I routinely leave my 2 year old son downstairs in the gated and (relatively) toddler safe basement playroom while I’m upstairs doing to other things. However, I always have an ear out for him (right now I can tell from the sounds that he’s playing with his mega bloks) and if it’s been too quiet for more than a few minutes I pop downstairs and check on him “just in case”. If she really was just letting a 2.5 and a 4 year old wander around the house without checking on them frequently then I can see how that would fall under the legal definition of negligent.

  14. Do you have any contact info for this mom? I’d love to send her a note of encouragement. Sometimes the civilized world just sucks.

  15. All prosecuting this poor woman is likely to do is to teach parents to hide when their kids have gone missing or had a fatal accident – in short, make more Casey Anthony’s.

    Kind of like beating the kid for punishment only teaches the kid to conceal, have alibis and to lie, isn’t it?

  16. I think the police should investigate but only to ensure that such an accident was truly an accident. A shame we have decided we need to punish in our society. I bet no amount of jail will ever compare to her feelings that she should have done more.

  17. One more thing – folks that get outraged about the prosecution of lethal accidents that happen to children need to check out Radley Balko’s work at the Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/radley-balko and Reason Magazine http://reason.com/people/radley-balko/blogs

  18. I think people blame the mother because it helps them believe that it will never happen to them.

    Disgusting.

  19. My Grandson is a typical Houdini.. Always unbolting doors and slipping out,since he was 3.He is now 5, and no matter what his mother does he still manages to escape. A good ole butt whipping worked for me when i was his age. .

  20. Welcome to the unintended consequences of the Casey Anthony trial. That is why courts should not be allowed to turn court cases into media circuses.

  21. I’m still visited by guilt over the mistakes I’ve made raising my sons over the past 12 years and have been extremely grateful for my family and friends compassion and comfort. Let’s get off the soapbox and send this woman our prayers and support.

  22. Going from “What a tragedy; things like that should never happen” to “Let’s prosecute the parent” would seem like a ridiculously big leap… except that we’re all used to it by now. :(

  23. @Katy – That’s exactly the mentality. I’ve quit following parenting forums because that mentality is so pervasive. It can be really bad with things like AAP recommendations. I literally saw a person say “I don’t know if I’d be able to live with myself if my child died and I hadn’t followed the AAP recommendation,” and when I asked what they’d do if their child died despite having followed them, they said they wouldn’t feel so bad.

    As someone who’s lost a child, despite doing everything right, I call bullshit, but until you’re actually in that position (and thankfully, most people in our society aren’t, these days; I wouldn’t wish the loss of a child on my worst enemy), there is no understanding how that actually feels and even if you did do everything “right,” there’s still the guilt and feeling of “if only I’d done [insert alternate behavior here]…”

  24. @Katy. I do agree that at a very young age, children should be kept an eye on. Not every second, but like you periodically. But to say to let them go around the house isn’t right, is stretching it. I know you said “If she really was just letting a 2.5 and a 4 year old wander around the house without checking on them frequently…”, but what is frequently. If anything happens…IF…it will be in an instant. It could be the very second you turn around after just checking in on them. So does that make you a bad neglectful parent, and should be criminally charged? I don’t think so. Unless it was with the utmost intent (ie. intentionally leaving your door open, going to sleep or do something for yourself knowing there is a VERY GOOD chance your child can get into harms way), crap happens and it’s no one’s fault. This isn’t criminal, this is bad luck. Bad luck that can happen to ANYONE.

    These charges, which have been more and more lately, are ridiculous. It’s hard enough raising a child, and making it even more difficult, are overzealous, holier than though, “I know more than you” people. Especially the ones laying the charges and sentencing you in court. Basically, it’s like heli-parents that are cops, social workers, juror and judges. That’s a no win situation for parents.

  25. Prosecutor’s spokesman Bernie Weisenfeld said a factor in the case was the finding of a “significant period of time when the child was not supervised.”

    This is what makes the case.. what the heck was she doing? Although it’s not mentioned.. the time period that she wasn’t actively supervising the children must have been significant. And that defines negligence in this case

  26. Google 18 seconds by Larry Mendte about his niece’s drowning this summer. He is a newscaster for the Philly area. It’s a wonderful piece he did.

  27. “This is what makes the case.. what the heck was she doing? Although it’s not mentioned.. the time period that she wasn’t actively supervising the children must have been significant. And that defines negligence in this case.”

    Remember it’s the PROSECUTOR – you know, that person who is trying justify the arrest and send her to prison – who said this. It is not an unbiased assessment. A “significant period of time” could be anything from 5 seconds to a couple hours, depending on who is defining it. I find it telling that they used the term “significant period of time” rather than the exact amount of time. Again, this was said by the person who wants people to believe that this woman needs to be in prison. He wants to spin things as negatively toward her as he can. “Significant period of time” is more damning than 10 minutes, however, an hour is much more damning than the very vague “significant period of time.” I’m guessing that it wasn’t that long of a time period at all.

    And the 2.5 year old need not to have instantly learned to unlatch the door (although that is certainly possible). There was a 4 year old in the house too and 4 year old’s can unlatch doors. I wonder why the 4 year old didn’t tell her mother than the younger child left the house. 4 year olds generally LOVE to tattle.

    We know that this child was black. Odds are that his aunt is as well. They also may be lower income as the two sisters and all their children live in one house. Both quite possibly single mothers, again due to the living arrangement. I wonder if the same can be said for the other parents who were not prosecuted after the drowning deaths of their children.

  28. I don’t think she should go to jail for it. But I am not calling her a stellar parent either. I am sure I will get flamed for this, but I stand by what I said before on this site. If you know you have a pool or a lake or any kind of attractive nuisance, you are responsible for making damn sure that child does not get out there to it on their own. Alarms for the pool, special childproof door latches, child gates, watching them super closely, alarms on the doors, whatever it takes. Accidents happen and sometimes no matter what you do bad things can happen. But there are also many accidents that CAN be prevented.

    That is not anti free range in my opinion because if you put alarms and latches on the doors that make it impossible for a child to get out and in trouble unnoticed, than you can let them be out of your sight and play alone, etc and be worry free about that. That is a good thing.
    I can take a shower and know my boys are safe because I have the childproofing in place.

  29. Donna, on August 13, 2011 at 01:50 said:
    “This is what makes the case.. what the heck was she doing? Although it’s not mentioned.. the time period that she wasn’t actively supervising the children must have been significant. And that defines negligence in this case.”

    Remember it’s the PROSECUTOR – you know, that person who is trying justify the arrest and send her to prison – who said this. It is not an unbiased assessment.

    ________________

    I agree, He could also be including the time after she discovered the child missing. He could also be including the entire time until the child’s body was found (an hour after the police were called according to the article). An hour is certainly – all by itself – a “significant” amount of time.

  30. This is the same as the court case brought against that poor mother in Atlanta whose child was killed while they were jaywalking- I’ll bet anything that the only reason the family is being prosecuted is that they’re black. If this had happened to a rich white family, it would have been a “tragic accident”.

    I hope at least that this case inspires people to put latches high up on their doors. It sure is inspiring me to do it. My son is practically a cat burglar already and it would kill me if he managed to get out.

  31. This leaves me torn. Had it been a daycare facility where a 2 1/2 year old autistic child was left unattended for a “significant amount of time”, it seems that they would be held responsible for this sort of accident. They’re held to certain legal and licensing regulations. But, when it’s a family member, or even a friend, it doesn’t matter what happens to a child as long as it’s an accident? That logic isn’t quite right.

    I certainly don’t think it’s a criminal case for the courts but I don’t know… Maybe some sort of community service?

  32. @Donna – who gives a crap if the child is black, white or purple? A child has died in a tragic accident. As far as I’m concerned, if the woman who intentionally jaywalked with her toddler, who was tragically killed by an oncoming car is vindicated, then, unless there is clear negligence proven, Felicia Tucker should be as well.

    My mom is great for telling horror stories about what a horrible baby I was. I was born in 1954 (way before car seats were invented) and when she was driving down a busy street I opened the car door, tumbled out along the center median and was rescued by a passing Marine. I was walking before a year old and was into EVERYTHING – as soon as I could figure out how to open the front door I was gone. My dad installed a chain lock higher up the door and to thwart that I would just drag a kitchen chair over, climb up and unlock the chain.

    I do a lot of genealogy work and have seen tragic deaths of toddlers who have drowned in buckets of water, outhouse ponds, standing too close to the fire, scalded when they’ve grabbed pot handles off the stove – you name it. These are tragic accidents and parents should not be punished. it would behoove prosecutors to spend more of their energy going after true abusers instead of looking for an easy mark in their ‘win’ column.

  33. What a tragedy. No punishment meted by the courts will ever compare to the grief this woman will live with the rest of her life (made worse, I’m sure by the blame from society.)

    I used to think that the criminal justice system was intended (more or less) to do two things: 1) provide a deterrent to crime and 2) lock people up for the safety of all. Who is going to be safer when this woman is locked up?

    To add to the skepticism about the “significant” quantity of time– what is significant to one person may not be to another. In the time it takes me to get something from the fridge and put it on the counter, my son can be up the stairs and gone. Is that amount of time significant? If he got hurt, would that be enough time for me to be charged with negligence?

    And determined young children cannot be underestimated. My friend had a scare once– his oldest went biking down the road to a friends. The second-to-youngest (~2years at the time) must have seen him leave… she opened the door while mom was changing the baby (she thought the door opening was her oldest). By the time mom got the diaper on and went looking, the toddler had scurried down their long driveway and out onto the road after the oldest, who could just barely be seen biking away. She had never seen a toddler move that fast.

    @Dolly: How close is “close” enough to water to warrant an alarm. We have a lake about a quarter mile away, through heavy brush and such. Does your criteria mean I need to have an alarm on my doors? This story doesn’t say how close the “nearby” lake was.

  34. @Jane Howard- sadly the criminal justice system is weighed heavily against poor blacks. When I read that 3 drowning deaths occurred in this county within a summer and only ONE was prosecuted and that ONE is definitely black, and probably lower income, I begin to wonder. And there are no purple people so that comparison is always ridiculous.

  35. Lenore, absent more information I really can’t say if the woman charged should be prosecuted or not. While if found guilty she’s eligible for jail, they’re not at that point yet, so to say she shouldn’t face jail (your post’s “hook”) strikes me as somewhat misleading. And really, without more information about why the kids were left unattended in the house, for how long, or under what circumstances — or why the caregiver searched for well over an hour before calling police once she realized he was missing — I don’t think I can judge whether she might or might not be guilty of negligence. I do think that such a thing (negligence) exists and that it should be a crime.

  36. That is not to say that I think ANY of the parents involved in the drowning deaths should have been prosecuted. I just see a lot more defaulting to negligence with the poor and black populations and more defaulting to accident with the middle class and white populations.

  37. “I do think that such a thing (negligence) exists and that it should be a crime.” Obviously losing her child isn’t punishment enough, then. When did our culture lose its sympathy and compassion? Or did we never have it in the first place?

  38. [...] Link: Outrage of the Week: Don’t You DARE Throw Thi… [...]

  39. Without knowing all the details, I don’t want to judge in this case, but it seems odd that you could have two children playing in another room and not realize one was gone. Even if you aren’t watching, most adults/parents are listening. And, we all know kids get into the most trouble when they are quiet, so when the noise level dropped off, she should have been concerned. It does say they noticed he was missing at 7:00, but did not call police until 8:23. It is possible he was only gone for 5 minutes before he was noticed missing and was still alive at that point, but drowned while they were searching. So, I guess part of the negligent charges are due to taking so long to call the police. I don’t know.

    I do believe poor people are targeted more than rich people. Had this been a 2 year old white child drowning in the back yard pool, it would have been classified as a tragic accident.

    Something like this can happen to any parent at any moment, though. I do not care how careful a parent is. There is not a one of us who has not fallen asleep on the couch or had a child get up from a nap without us knowing it or slipped off into another area while we were temporarily involved in something else. For those of us who have not experienced a scare or tragedy, we just got lucky.

  40. Socalledauthor: I would say if a body of water or pool is close enough that your child could get to it alone before you would notice them missing and find them, then you need to take precautions. My mother has a shallow lake outside in her backyard and my boys stay there a lot. We don’t have alarms on the doors but only because my boys have never gone outside on their own and are old enough now to listen and obey us when we say “Stay away from the lake.”

    However when they were babies we kept them in baby pens and always had the doors locked and did not leave them outside unattended because of the lake. You just have to use your judgment on it and I would err on the side of caution lest you end up like the family the post is about.

  41. “It is NOT NORMAL to leave an autistic toddler alone for extended periods of time, or it shouldn’t be.”

    Our (autistic) daughter is also strongly attracted to water and we unfortunately have a lot of pools, lakes, ponds, etc. in our immediate area. All of our doors have special locks on them and there are only a few people I can leave my little girl with — it’s hard to explain to people just how dangerous the lure of water is to an autistic child who is fascinated by it.

    But I don’t think this woman should be prosecuted. No parent or child-care provider can realistically watch a child every second of every day even if the child has special needs.

    What is a “reasonable” period of time to leave your toddler alone, anyhow? Two minutes to use the restroom? Five minutes to answer the phone? If your child has disabilities, does that “reasonable” time shrink to zero?

  42. You can use your best judgment and err on the side of caution and STILL end up like the family in this post. That’s kinda one of the main themes of free range kids. As a matter of fact, it does sound like this family used it’s best judgment and erred on the side of caution (draining the kiddie pool) and ARE the family in this post.

    Yes, once something tragic happens, you can probably always think of something that you could have done different or better. Hindsight is 20/20. Once you know exactly what is going to happen, it’s extremely easy to identify what you could have done different to prevent it from happening. It is ridiculous to hold someone to the standard of “what those of us who know the EXACT result would have done to prevent it before it happened.”

  43. There were 2 times last week that my 20 month old ended up outside in the front yard alone without me knowing. The first time I assumed one of the older children must not have shut the door tightly, the second time I was in the kitchen preparing dinner and she was with me. She went out the (fenced) back to play with her older siblings and I noticed a few minuted later she was very quiet. When I went to look she wasn’t there. I then realized the side fence was open, the latch was broken, and she was sitting on the front lawn beside our dog. Twice in one week and both times she had been with me moments before. Luckily we live on a quiet street and she stayed right by the house. We have since fixed the gate, and have been telling the older kids they NEED to shut the front door tight when they come in. I can see how this could happen in minutes, if she had wandered farther from the house, especially with older siblings around.

  44. Off-topic, because I don’t even want to think about the topic:

    http://notalwaysright.com/harry-potter-and-the-deathly-embarrassments/13072

  45. “While this is a borderline case, the only reason she is being charged is because it was found that she left the children alone for a “significant” amount of time.”

    What is “significant”?

    No, I’m not being facetious. HOW LONG were the children unattended?

  46. Loopyloo: See you are doing the right thing though. You put on locks and alarms on the doors. If this mother had done this that child might still be alive right now. I really think childproofing works with free range kids personally because you can feel secure letting your kids wander about the house or yard, etc and know they are safe without you. Or you can not childproof and hover over them constantly. Or you can not childproof and not watch them constantly and then something like this happens. Personally, I choose childproofing so I can poop alone or shower or goof off on the internet or even have sex with my hubby knowing my kids are not in danger. But that is just me.

  47. The boy was still alive when they found him. He was on life support for two hours before he died.

    Maybe if she had called the police sooner, maybe if she had a latch on the door, maybe if she hadn’t been wrapped up in what she was doing, maybe if she’d checked more often…all these “maybe”s are nice after the fact. It’s easy to look at a situation once its’ over and say how the outcome could have been changed.

  48. I prefer to look at history to help determine if society is being stupid or not. If a 2.5yr old ran out of the yard and drowned in a nearby pond while mom’s attention was distracted by gatherng eggs 100 years ago would the police have gotten involved? No? How about 500 years? No? How about 1,000 years ago? No? 50 years ago? No? Yep, it’s a tragic accident and the prosecution is being stupid. Being the 21st century doesn’t make kids any less kids or parents any less human. For some reason though it makes society infinitely more foolish when it comes to what is ‘normal’.

  49. Yes, I also wonder how long the child was alone. What is “significant”? 5 minutes so you can poop alone. Not unreasonable(however childproofing would still be a good idea because even 5 minutes can be enough for trouble with some kids). 30 minutes while you nap or talk on the phone or watch tv or have sex with your man, not reasonable unless the childproofing is in place to where the doors are not being opened without you knowing about it.

  50. OMG that Harry Potter story link is hilarious! What was that woman’s problem?! I think that had more to do with that she just didn’t want to have to sit near anyone else and less to do with molestation, but that is just my 2 cents. I don’t like sitting right next to strangers either but when I go to popular new movies I accept it is probably going to happen. So either wait to see the movie after it has been out a couple weeks and go at an unbusy time or accept that you are sitting next to a stranger and get over it. She probably just used the molestation thing because she thought it would work and they would leave it alone. You know, sometimes throwing something outrageous out there is enough to make people back down just because of shock.

  51. When I think of some of the things my mother told me I did as a toddler — pulling hot coffee on myself while she was chatting with a friend, getting hold of kerosene that everyone thought was well hidden and drinking some of it, running off to look for the “big kids” — I shudder to think what would have happened to her if I were growing up now instead of the ’50s when the attituce was “accidents happen”.

  52. Criminalizing accidents will not make them less apt to happen. Feeling responsible for the accidental death of a child is punishment enough. Save the court’s time and the jail space for those who intentionally inflict harm on children and others. Kids are curious, and quick. One day, they don’t know how to do something and the next they do. Every parent has experienced how quickly kids can get into things. Most just get lucky in that it doesn’t harm them, or they catch them in time to prevent any serious consequences. A few aren’t so lucky. That doesn’t make them criminals. It makes them human.

    Anyone can sit here and say what they think should have been done differently, or why they think it wouldn’t have happened on their watch. But no one knows if it would have or not. Ever forget to lock a door even when it is something you normally do every day by habit? Or forget to turn off the stove? Get distracted for a few minutes? I would bet that every loving caring parent or caregiver who has had an accident happen on their watch never thought anything like this could ever happen to them. But accidents do happen, even when we do all we can to make things as safe as possible.

  53. [...] (Via Lenore Skenazy) Digg it |  reddit |  del.icio.us |  Fark [...]

  54. @Greg, I assume Joshua Tucker’s death will weigh more heavily on Felicia Tucker than any penalty our criminal justice system might dispense. That said, this isn’t actually a case of a mother being prosecuted after the death of her child, it’s a case of a caregiver (an aunt) who had been entrusted with someone else’s child being prosecuted after that child wandered off and died an accidental death.

    If my child dies a preventable accidental death while in the care of a member of my extended family, is that — the child’s death — enough punishment (or anguish) for the caregiver? What if it’s not a member of my family, but just a close friend? The teenager I sometimes hire to babysit?

    I do believe that parents, too, should be held legally accountable for actual negligence. It should not, for example, be OK for me to leave my toddler son asleep in his crib and go out to dinner and a movie, leaving him alone in the house. Whether or not anything happens, I believe such behavior should appropriately be considered negligent (and illegal).

    Whether Felicia Tucker was negligent or not I don’t know. Did she leave the kids for 15 minutes while she did paperwork in another part of her (she believed) secure house? No worries. Did she leave them for 2 hours, not checking on them even once, while she was behind a closed door? As I say, I can’t tell from the article to which Lenore linked, but no, I don’t think there should be an inviolable assumption that any time a child dies in an accident his parents and/or (as in this case) caregiver should be absolved of all responsibility because they’ve already suffered enough.

    That said, my heart bleeds for both Felicia and Leanne Tucker, and of course for Joshua himself, and it’s certainly possible that the prosecutor here is being completely unreasonable. I just don’t know.

  55. Question: Would the woman still be prosecuted if the child stuck his head in the toilet and drowned?

  56. So I plan to leave the country before having kids because of (1) this blog and (2) healthcare . . . where’s somewhere sane where they speak English? Sweden, maybe?

  57. Too bad more of these comments weren’t on the article post itself.

  58. I think a better question is – would this woman had been prosecuted for her actions if nothing had happened to the boy? Was the time she left the boy alone only significant because the boy died but would have been acceptable if he had not gotten out the door?

    Behavior is either negligent or not. The determination of negligence should not hinge on result. Running a red light is negligent whether you hit someone or not. Your penalty is worse if you kill someone, bit the act itself is always negligent. I see too much in criminal court where the result determines the crime. The focus is on the death of the kid and the requirement that someone must pay and not on the actions of the accused.

  59. Well the “action” of the accused left much to be desired in my opinion. Again – where was she all this time when the child wandered out of the house??

  60. @melissa “Feeling responsible for the accidental death of a child is punishment enough.”

    That’s cute… I felt “responsible” for cutting someone off in my vehicle today and leaving them mangled… that should be my punishment. *sarcasm*

  61. As a former foster parent, I can tell you that some states require toilet locks in all foster homes (I still want to see the statistics on toilet drownings – although I know it is possible, I do not believe every possibility requires a regulation). I can also tell you that if you put a lock on a childs bedroom door, you’d likely be accused of imprisonment (certain types of door exterior door locks could also pose a problem, in case of fire). If you think I’m kidding, I’m not.

    In other countries and cultures a 4yo might actually be left in charge of younger siblings, or sent out to herd animals. Thankfully in this country these children were in a home with doors, with an adult, and toys to play with.

    It seems as if we have lost all common sense in our society. This is a tragic accident. Nothing more.

  62. Question: Would the woman still be prosecuted if the child stuck his head in the toilet and drowned?

    Possibly.. if it was determined that the woman was negligent in her actions. Absolutely she could be prosecuted depending on the facts of the case

  63. Can we at least see more facts of the case before concluding this is a tragic accident and an Outrage?

    Must be nice to be a free ranger.. everything is determined to be an accident! Everytime!

  64. [...] Outrage of the Week: Don’t You DARE Throw This Woman in Jail! (freerangekids.wordpress.com) [...]

  65. I’ve had a beautiful cloverleaf ground-level fountain in my front yard for over 12 years now, the center piece of our expensive landscaping.

    Just yesterday I came driving up to see two very small children on tiptoe, drinking the water spouting from the center ball.

    My first thought was “Oh! How cute! Like two little birds” …then…. “how free range of their parents to let such small children on the loose like this…” Smile.

    …then… wow…how LITTLE they are (they looked to be around 4 years old). REALLY little….Smile fading a bit…

    I’d never seen them before, didn’t know where they lived, or who their parents were….why are they in my yard unsupervised…the smile is a bit forced now….

    …sometimes I put harsh chemicals in the water, it could make them sick…the water’s a bit scummy green right now…could that make them sick?

    They smiled sunnily at us while pitching handfuls of rocks and dirt into the water….

    My husband went into mean old man mode and told them to stop drinking the water, so they scurried off.

    When I admonished him for being unkind, “they were just little kids”, he angrily told me “Now we’ll have to remove the fountain – what if they drowned? We’ll be sued.”

    Years ago our little neighbor boy drowned in 2 inches of water in a tiny blow up pool – I know it happens.

    “Why the hell are those parent letting such little kids run around loose like that?!?!?” Not smiling at all anymore.

    My daughter informed us kids play in our fountain all the time. The neighborhood has changed recently – just this summer, actually, and many new , young families now live here. “You wouldn’t believe how many kids play in your yard now.”

    She’s right. Our neighborhood has gone from a few cloistered and over protected kids you only saw being escorted to the bus stop, to now having our yard over run with them.

    My beautiful fountain must now be disabled or removed. I can’t risk the exposure or moral responsibility of children being harmed.

    Not feeling the Free Range love right now…

    …but I’ll get over it…

  66. Dolly: I fully agree with you about child-proofing enabling free-range, especially when we’re talking about toddlers and pre-schoolers. Free-range for me is more of a plan for when my children are older; for now, they need protection.

    But as far as this case goes, the caregiver wasn’t the child’s mother, she was the aunt, and the child wasn’t at his own home. I wouldn’t expect a babysitter to install the expensive and extensive alarm/lock system that we have — but I would expect her to watch my autistic child more closely than she might an NT child (and I would make that *very* clear.) I really need to know how long she left him unsupervised to decide if this was negligence or not but I hate the idea that if you have a child with special needs, NO amount of unsupervised time is acceptable. Because that’s just not humanly possible. :/ Awful things can happen in a split second if you’re unlucky. Not every tragedy is preventable and treating victims of tragedy as criminals won’t stop accidents from happening — if anything, I think people are *more* likely to make mistakes if they’re told they have no margin for error and never a moment to let down their guard.

  67. Only in the United States of Negligence.
    There is always someone or something to blame for every tragedy and accident.
    The news around Philly is that one of the casinos(that has had children left in cars while their parents gamble quite a few times in the news) may now be held liable, because it’s the casino’s fault that these parents are gambling.

  68. I have a dear friends who lost their 6-year-old son in a drowning accident a couple of months ago. Instead of blaming the parents, the city provided a police motorcade on the day of the funeral. (The father is a city attorney.) In their grief and sorrow they felt so supported and uplifted. THIS is how we should react to tragedy.

  69. @Loopyloo– actually, the aunt (caregiver) and mother shared the same house. They all lived there, together. It’s not a caregiver who’s unfamiliar with the situation, but rather their regular home environment. Given that living arrangement, I would expect the aunt to feel very close to the kid. This seems to get missed– they all lived together, like any other family in a single house. As it is, they had extra latches on the door– perhaps the kid figured out how to unlatch it, perhaps someone forgot (normal human behavior.)

    I was also wondering what sort of paperwork the aunt was going through– if she was trying to sort our government assistance or child support payments or just bills in general, that could have affected her ability to keep one eye/ one ear on the kids while she worked. Sometimes things, like paying bills or other paperwork, have to get done to keep a roof or a job or whatnot, yet those tasks can take away from the constant vigilance on the kids.

    Parents are still human. Kids are still crafty. Tragedies happen, and it’s always easy to point out the mistakes someone else made.

    While people wring their hands over this tragedy, they will then go strap their own children in a car, put the cell phone to their ear and endanger their own kid– with luck, they’ll be lucky enough to survive. If they’re not lucky, it will almost certainly not result in jail time.

  70. @Dolly– I take greater risks with my child by driving in the car. I’m not going to put alarms on every door (and window?) to prevent a much less likely occurrence. It’s called the illusion of control– since you (generic ‘you’) can’t control the risks of, say, driving, you focus on controlling smaller risks and thus still feel in control, instead of actually accepting and coping with the fact that life is fraught with danger, and yet, most of live through it.

    Of course, such an alarm only works when one has central air conditioning. I have to open doors and windows during the day to keep things from getting stifling hot in here during the summer. Not all of them have screens, though if my son was determined enough, he could go through the screen anyway. So, I guess I’ll be negligent if my son got out of a alarmed screen door… or negligent if he suffered heat stroke in a miserable hot house…

  71. Long post (more like an essay), sorry if it’s too long, I just can’t seem to find a way to say what I want in a brief way.

    Needless to say, this is ridiculous. Frankly, I have all of the facts I need to know that it is. This is NOT a case of “my mind is made up, don’t confuse me with the facts.” Unless the mother left the child in there for 4 hours while she was asleep and every door was unlocked, she’s not guilty.

    I get sick & tired of being told about all of the things we’re supposed to do because of what might happen. To me, if a parent has made REASONABLE efforts to prevent a tragedy & it happens anyway, that should be enough. The expectation shouldn’t be that said parent has to practically build the house like Ft Knox or else they are inadequate in their parenting.

    I’ve had “experts” try to tell me, for instance, that it’s not enough that aspirin has child-proof containers, or that the bottle of pills is placed up very high. No, that’s not good enough. You have to have the bottle of pills located VERY high and in a locked cabinet, or in some cases they even try to tell you the bottle of pills can’t even be in the same room with the children at all–after all, children have been known to climb furniture to override the barriers etc.

    To which I say–maybe it’s time children learn some consequences of their actions (short of death in most cases obviously), rather than us being expected to make it to where if we don’t practically hire the SWAT team to keep the children away we haven’t done enough. I can understand, for instance, not leaving pills lying around on the coffee table, but gee whiz–you put them up high out of reach in childproof containers and could STILL be found negligent because they were brats who couldn’t keep their hind end on the ground playing with their own toys? Whose house is this anyway–mine or the kid’s? I submit it’s MY house, and it’s more their place to adjust to MY nuances than it is for me to have to live like a prisoner in my own house because my kids are being bratty & not staying the hell out of where they have no business.

    In that manner, growing up, my mother had a 22 rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun in her bedroom closet–loaded, not locked, no doors locked either. It was never a safety thing, though, for one reason–I was told in no uncertain terms I was not allowed in her bedroom, ever, no matter what. Period. She didn’t have to unload her guns or lock them in a wood cabinet, her intimidation and expectation of my obedience was all that was necessary.

    Even at a young age, had I failed to listen to her & blew my brains out, I think the responsibility would’ve been on ME for not obeying her, not on her for not practically storing the weapons offsite in a private warehouse or something. Her steps were REASONABLE–the guns were in her closet behind the clothes, the door shut. All I had to do was avoid the temptation to go rooting around in HER things when I had a box of toys a mile high in my room as a totally safe and entertaining outlet for my adventures.

    What was the woman here supposed to do–barricade every window, GPS-track her child, have the lake drained–MOVE to where there isn’t a lake? Good grief.

    LRH

  72. PS (sorry)–my post was long enough, but there was yet something else I wanted to say.

    Regarding inflated expectations: I remember hearing some years ago hearing about a young boy of about age 11 or so who committed suicide with his parents’ handgun. As I recall, the parent stored the gun in their bedroom AND it was unloaded AND the bullets and gun were stored in a locked drawer AND the bedroom doors were locked AND the windows were even locked. What more could they possibly have done?

    Nonetheless–again, as I understand it–the child busted the window and crawled in, busted open the locked drawers etc, loaded the gun–and shot himself dead. And–surprise surprise–there were TONS of people calling for the parents to be prosecuted because they were “negligent.”

    Such people like that are morons, frankly, and disturbed individuals with serious issues beyond the scope of this site or any normal site. They need mental help, and it’s not my job to justify my parenting style to such schizophrenics.

    LRH

  73. Another off-topic link (when are we getting a real forum here? would it be okay if one of us just sets one up for you?), but more serious and not as funny:

    http://systemicfailure.wordpress.com/2011/08/04/think-of-the-children/

  74. There was a story recently about a small child that drowned in the dog’s water bowl. Can we prosecute the dog for not taking precautions? This has got to stop. No one can predict a child’s behavior before it happens. I’m glad all of those calling for her prosecution are perfect and never ever make mistakes. And this may not even have been a mistake. Kids learn new things all the time that’s part of life.Maybe he didn’t know how to unlock the door the day before, but that day he figured it out. We don’t know all the facts, but until someone points out actual negligence, I’d rather give the mom the benefit of the doubt.

  75. What does jailing her serve? Punishment? There is no wore punishment than what she is now going through. Deterrent? How does this deter anything? This is human, horrible, but human, and that is the price we pay for being human. You cannot punish everyone for everything that goes wrong. Terrible, but some things do just happen.

  76. 1. We don’t know how long a “significant” amount of time is.
    2. We don’t know how far away the lake is from the home.
    3. We don’t know for sure whether or not the toddler truly was autistic.

    Depending on how long the “significant” amount of time was, this may or may not have been negligence. Depending on how far away the lake was, this may or may not have been negligence. Depending on whether the toddler had special needs, this may or may not have been negligence.

    I mean, really, the person who discovered the child missing was someone else who came home and found the door ajar, NOT the woman in the house who was meant to be watching the kids – we don’t know how long the child had been missing without her knowing. It may have been just a few minutes. It may have been hours.

    We don’t know how long it took the kid to get from the house to the lake – was there ample time for her to have found the toddler before he got to the lake if shew was keeping a reasonable checking-on-the-kids schedule? (What I mean is, if the kid could have gotten out and gotten to the lake and drowned within 5min, and she was checking every 10min, not her fault. However, if it took the toddler half an hour to get to the lake, and she didn’t even realise he was missing during that time, yeah, negligence.)

    Just because there are some things that can hurt or even kill kids while an adult is in the same room – even looking at them or holding them at the time – does not mean that it is not the adults’ responsibility to keep kids safe from the things that adults CAN reasonably prevent. Just because “oh, X can happen to my kid in seconds and I can’t do anything about it” is true, does NOT mean that “Y can happen to my kid if I leave him alone for the half an hour it takes for him to cause Y to happen, that’s not my fault either” is true.

    To my mind, whether or not the woman was negligent or simply very unlucky is still in the air until there is more information about the case.

  77. This has nothing to do with Anthony! She was charged, tried, and a jury found her not guilty. End of story. THIS case is about the abuse of prosecutoroial discretion.

  78. The comments on this new piece are much more rational. Maybe because the first comment is by a rational woman.

    http://www.nj.com/gloucester-county/index.ssf/2011/08/aunt_of_autistic_child_who_dro.html

  79. And just to finish with Violet said, the jury found her not guilty not because they really all deep down believe she’s as pure as the driven snow, but because there wasn’t any evidence to convict her. The moral lesson here is, even when they’re guilty as sin, make sure you have SOMEthing to back that up before you try ‘em.

    (And also, don’t kill your kids, but do we need that moral stated?)

  80. I wonder how long the toddler was missing for before the aunt called police. I also wonder when she was looking for the toddler did she try to get any neighbors to help in the search? I also have to wonder what the mom felt about all this?

    I remember one time my mom wanted to take my kids downtown to the museum, when they got to the subway station downtown, my older son went one way and the younger one went the other(I’m not sure of the circumstances) long story short it was aprox 45 mins that my older son was “lost” before my mother let anyone know, and when she finally did she was 20 subway stops away from where she left him. She called me when she was 10 mins away from my home and she had no clue where my 7 yr old was. I FREAKED OUT, I called the police and the subway station, it turned out my 7 yr old went right away to the ticket collector(so he did the right thing) but I actually thought my mom should be charged for her negligence. And I can almost guarantee you if I did not call them when I did, it would have looked very bad on me. I have had to fight with my mom so she can understand that this world is not like when she was growing up in the 40’s in Scandinavia, and we can not leave our children to fend for themselves at that young age. And still she does not “get” it. I know it is not the same situation as this one, but we do not have all the facts therefore we should not judge this situation, that is why we have courts…

  81. At the risk of being disrespectful Nora, I have to say I am not sure if YOU get it.

    “This world is not like when she [your mother] was growing up in the 40’s in Scandinavia.” On what do you base that? I think that’s just your PERCEPTION, and quite possibly a media-driven one, specifically Adam Walsh & Nancy Grace. It sounds as if you’re perpretuating the notion that the world is a scary place and that it wasn’t that way 30-40 odd years ago, a notion that Lenore has blown to bits with FACTS backing this up numerous times.

    And you wonder how long the toddler was missing before she called police? What does that matter, and since when do we think we need to call the police about everything? I have noticed that in this country the past 10-odd years or so and it’s irritating. People think they need to call the police about EVERYTHING, when often-times many such things can be handled by the person themselves. Heck, our son was missing awhile back on our own property, took us 10-15 minutes to find him, turns out he was on the road. He wasn’t harmed, and we were more vigilant and it hasn’t repeated itself.

    We didn’t need the police for that, and I’m glad we didn’t call. Do you think they would’ve just excused themselves once we told them “never mind officer we found him, false alarm.” No, they would want to press & nag about every little thing unnecessarily, and frankly I could do without it. I dare say Nora you’re letting the Casey Anthony lunacy affect your rational thinking much like way too many other people have done.

    Heck in Arizona when I lived there, you would get people who wanted to call the police every-time a couple would verbally fight in their own house. Now I can understand calling if it sounds like someone is killing the other one, sure, or if it’s going on for a long time and creating a disturbance of the peace–but over a 5 minute shouting match people think they ought to call the police? That’s silly. In the same way since when do people, even in the rural areas, feel the need to nag animal control if they have a stray animal in their yard? Have they never heard of just shooting it, or setting a trap and releasing it far away or taking the trapped animal to a local place? No they think they HAVE to nag animal control about it even in the rural areas. Not me, I handle it my own self my own way, just as when we couldn’t find our son for 10-15 minutes–and more people need to do the same. Quit looking to the police for every petty thing.

    LRH

  82. I have had to fight with my mom so she can understand that this world is not like when she was growing up in the 40′s in Scandinavia, and we can not leave our children to fend for themselves at that young age.

    You’re right. For one thing, we’re not in the middle of the second world war anymore! We can go about knowing that there are no Nazi soldiers on the streets, nor Russians, and that nobody has to hide to survive, that nobody in our community is starving to death or being bombed. (This is not true for every part of the world, but it sure as heck is for America! We’re not 1940s Scandinavia, and that’s kinda a good thing!)

  83. LRH, the reason I asked that is because I do know that the police could have helped in the search. that is why I said that. I think we should be able to call the police if a child is missing and they should help us find them. The police have resources they can use to help children that we should be able to use without the fear of being judged for it. I fear that part of the reason the aunt may have waited to call them, was out of fear of being judged, but I wonder if she did call them to help her search the moment they found the door unlocked at 7 pm(instead of 823pm) I do wonder if the child could have been saved? We should be able to call for help in finding our children without worrying that we might be charged with neglect. I did not at any time say the aunt should have been charged, just that we do not have the full story.

    I am trying to make the concrete jungle that I now live in a village for my children, and part of that to me means being able to ask for help from my community for help if needed. If we are fearful that we may be charged for asking for help when needed it may delay us from using those resources in a timely manner.

    I am perhaps one of the most free range parents I know, but I know my mother, she was negligent in her part on that occasion and many more. I had to learn the hard way growing up. And her time started 70 years ago, in a much different time and place. She even took me hitch hiking as a 5 yr old in Finland and I had to do that myself at 8 yrs old on one of our visits there WHEN SHE LEFT ME IN A DIFFERENT TOWN ALONE. I would never even consider doing that with my children where I grew up in the city. She is constantly telling my children the opposite of what I am trying to teach them and she acts as if I am being unreasonable.

    Like last week when I wanted my son to take us home on the subway (part of our how to travel lessons I am giving him). My mother was trying to get us all to go to the far end of the platform, but I wanted my son to learn about the designated waiting area and to have him read me all the safety suggestions they have. She acted like I was being unreasonable and made a comment of how we will have to walk so far when we get off, I guess she forgot of when I was molested at age 9 on the subway on in the last subway car when I was making my first solo flight. I want to let my children fly, but I do know that how she grew up on a farm raising reindeer in the 40’s and 50’s is MUCH different then how I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s in a major metropolitan city in North America, and I do know that when I grew up it is MUCH different (notice I do not say “safe”, the dangers are just different now) then my children are in this day and age. It is my responsibility to teach my children to be safe, something my mother has very little regard of. I know what happened to me on the subway is the minority(it was a stranger, first solo flight etc) but I do know it still happens, and it is my duty to teach my children the safe way, I do not think my children should have go through what I did as a child.

    What my mother learned growing up helped us when we were camping in Algonquin park and I found myself face to face with a baby moose at age 7 in the woods, the momma moose was in the forest looking for her young(so was mine;) I got out of that situation thanks to what my mother taught me, now it is up to me to teach my children about the dangers I had to learn about on my own in the city.

    A child missing is not a petty thing, and we should be able to call the police to help without fear of being judged. Timing can often mean everything with small children and water. I hope the aunt did not delay her call because she was worried about what the police would do to her.

  84. Thank you Uly, one of my mothers earliest clear memories was around age 3 when the Russian soldiers stomped on her dolls head and she could not get it replaced until after the war was over. She also had to go to an orphanage at age 6 with her 2 sisters for a few years when my grandmother went to work to try to make a better life for them when my grandfather died in the war fighting for our freedoms. She was raped in that orphanage by a 12 year old boy, she was 6 years old. What she lived through is unimaginable to me.

    I am thankful that i did not have to do go through that at age 6, but my mom was blissfully unaware of what was happening to me as a teenager in Toronto during the peak of the crack/cocaine days of the 80’s and 90’s to the point that she flat out right denied it when I told her I had been exposed to it from someone I was baby sitting for. At this point the thing I worry most of is what might happen to my kids in the future growing up in this technical world we are living in, and the possibilities of the internet. The times are changing, we have to learn from the past so we do not repeat our mistakes, and we have to try to teach our children about the possible dangers that they might face.

  85. @ Nora – But that fact is that we shouldn’t HAVE to call the police in order to find our children lost in our own yard to avoid prosecution. I MAY (and that depends on the situation) call the police if I lost my child on a subway. It is a public area and the kid could literally be anywhere in the city. You may need more resources than one family. However, I’m not going to call the police immediately because my child slipped out the door at home. I’m gonna check the yard and neighborhood BEFORE I waste the time of the police force. Unless you happen to live right next door to the police station, it’s going to take time for the police to get there, get information and begin a search. TIme that your child is getting farther away. It makes much more sense to head out immediately to look for the child when you are likely to find him close by.

    That sounds like what this woman did. She and her family looked around their own yard and neighborhood. Once they couldn’t find him close by, they called the police. That is what SHOULD be done. It is not the police’s job to solve every minor problem for us. Yes, this ended up being far more than a minor problem but generally a toddler missing for a short time at home is a minor problem. There are usually only a few of them and many of us. We have to try to solve some of our problems on our own. Note that it was the FAMILY that found the child in the lake, not the police. I’m not sure that the police presence added anything.

    Since the child was still alive when he was found, he drowned literally moments before he was found. Maybe if they had not stopped looking to call the cops, inform them of what is going on, bring them up to date on the search, answer their questions etc., the child would still be alive. Maybe involving the police is what caused the delay in finding him and ultimately his death. We will never know. It sounds to me that the child was simply a step ahead of them while they were looking. This case should hinge on how responsible she was being at the time that the boy escaped from the house, not on the very reasonable delay in calling the police who ultimately didn’t even find the child.

  86. Sad to hear about this case, Lenore. It concerns me that the overreach of people in authority and the lack of empathy in state and national systems is a sign of deep anger across all sections of society. Repressed, that anger becomes an expression of self righteousness. Well, I’ve got a bucket of that myself. However, I guess many people do not realise that our judgmentalism is due to our own sense of powerlessness, and our anger at this. Once recognised, we are in a more powerful position, more able to feel both that anger and that love, the powerlessness in controlling life and the power to bring love to others. We should all stand with that mother and grieve long and hard, remind her that everyone has their time, that her son’s life is always a commemoration of life and in that, at least there is no death except that we do not rejoice in his life, and therefore rejoice in hers. It is necessary to have Departments of Justice. I wonder whether we don’t need Departments of Empowerment and Empathy.

  87. @ Donna- “It is ridiculous to hold someone to the standard of “what those of us who know the EXACT result would have done to prevent it before it happened.”

    I agree with this and everyone who’s said something similar. It reminds me of the character “Captain Hindsight” on Southpark, who swoops in after an accident/fire/whatever and tells everyone what they should have done so that it wouldn’t have happened. And that’s all he does. It doesn’t change anything or save anyone, but boy, are people glad to have that guy around!

    I don’t know enough about this particular case to comment on it, but I agree with whoever said that negligence should not be determined by outcomes- an act is negligent whether there are negative consequences or not. I hadn’t thought about it that way before, but it makes so much sense.

  88. @ Donna, I think you missed my point entirely.

    I can see most of the comment responses to me from “free rangers” are not the free thinkers I thought they were. I hope the children do not suffer for it.

    I was taught to question things, and that’s all I was doing was asking questions.

  89. It is not a case of Captain Hindsight when you have kids of your own who you have kept safe from similar things by being proactive and taking good precautions when it comes to childproofing and supervising them well. You can call it smug and I happily admit I can and am smug sometimes about the fact that my kids play as much as any other kid but they also have never been seriously injured. We were willing and able to put in the time and money to childproof our home well and our kids as well as our nice things are undamaged. I have a right to be proud of ourselves for that.

    I also have a right to try to give others advice on what we did and how well it worked out so they might consider doing the same for their kids. If they don’t, that is their choice but if something bad happens when they did not heed our advice they have no one to blame but themselves.

  90. @ Nora – No I didn’t miss your point. Your point was that police should be able to be called to help without fear of jail. Agree. But that point necessitates the thought that calling the police immediately would have been the right thing to do in this situation and that the reason that they didn’t was because they were afraid of being arrested and I don’t think that was it at all. I think the family didn’t call the police immediately because few would in the situation of a child lost at home. I know that I wouldn’t until it was clear that I couldn’t find my child myself. Not because I fear arrest but because I don’t think we need to make a “federal case” out of every wandering toddler. They weren’t afraid of the authorities because they actually called them when they couldn’t find the child after a period of time. Also, we’re dealing with an autistic child; they may not have called the police because the child would have reacted poorly to the police.

    Free thinkers are not just people who agree with you.

  91. Yes, Dolly it IS Captain Hindsight. ANYTHING said about this case is said with the advantage of hindsight. We now know that whatever this family did may not have been sufficient. You are looking for things done wrong knowing that something clearly went awry and what the ultimate result was. That is hindsight. It actually doesn’t even arise to the level of Captain Hindsight since you know NOTHING about the situation in this house except for the end result and are deciding what you would have done better knowing that end result.

    “We were willing and able to put in the time and money to childproof our home well and our kids as well as our nice things are undamaged.”

    I did absolutely NO baby proofing. Actually, I do think I used a gate at one point because it’s still sitting broken in the carport so I must have used it for something. My child and things are also completely unharmed. I could sit here and insist that you completely wasted your time and money and handicapped your children but I won’t because I don’t know your children or your situation. Unlike you, I don’t assume that my way is the only way and everyone else who does things other ways is wrong.

    “I also have a right to try to give others advice on what we did and how well it worked out so they might consider doing the same for their kids.”

    You don’t have a right to give anyone advice who doesn’t ask you for it.

    “If they don’t, that is their choice but if something bad happens when they did not heed our advice they have no one to blame but themselves.”

    Wow … just wow. That is really all I can muster about this comment this early in the morning.

  92. How do you know they did not call the police out of fear? We do not have enough information on this case at all to make any judgments whatsoever. I have tried to find articles on it and none of them answer any of the questions I asked. And no one here did either.

    “Free thinkers are not just people who agree with you.”
    all I did was ask QUESTIONS no where did I say she is guilty and should go to jail or any of this was fair. I thought that’s what free thinkers are people who ask questions and do not take a few lines they read online or in a newspaper for the “WORD”.

  93. “I also have a right to try to give others advice on what we did and how well it worked out so they might consider doing the same for their kids.”

    If I remember correctly, Dolly, your kids are not yet school aged. Which means by definition that you don’t KNOW how well your advice has worked out, because it hasn’t worked out yet!

    If you mean “they haven’t drowned yet,” that’s a pretty low standard. There are probably crack mothers who can say the same thing. That’s not meant to compare you to such a mother, just to say that it’s not really a firm basis on which to say your advice is the best way to go. There are other considerations beyond “they haven’t drowned yet” to take into mind, and some of them don’t play out while the kid is still a preschooler.

  94. I don’t know why they did not call the police at first. I do know that they did eventually call the police. I do know that my reaction would have been exactly the same – look first myself and then call the police if that fails. I do know that I have no fear of repercussions for my child wandering. (I’m not trying to sound like Dolly. I live in an inner city where the issues facing DFACS are much more severe than a well taken care of toddler breaking out of a middle class house in good repair with all major utilities.) It’s not anti-free thinking for me to state other possible reasons for them to have not called the police at first because your answer (fear) is no more substantiated than mine.

    I haven’t seen anyone take a few lines in the paper as word, except maybe brad. Almost everyone has questioned the “significant period of time,” what the aunt was doing, what disability the child has, what child safety measures were in place. Many have questioned Lenore’s outrage at this with so few facts.

  95. Absolutely disgusting!! Goes back to Nanci’s point last week: bad things happen to kids, as horrible as that is. Even when we try our best. No need to blame a grieving parent. We should be holding her in our arms and offering condolences and peace. Our reaction to a story like this says alot about who we are, and who we are ain’t pretty if this woman is prosecuted. Shame shame shame on everyone who does not offer their support to this woman!

  96. “It’s not anti-free thinking for me to state other possible reasons for them to have not called the police at first because your answer (fear) is no more substantiated than mine.”
    and your possible reasons are no more substantiated then mine are.

    I did read somewhere that an amber alert was not issued for this child because he was said to have autism and that does not fall under the reasons to have an amber alert. I am not sure how I feel about that, still trying to work that out for myself…

  97. “”Nora: “growing up in this technical world we are living in, and the possibilities of the internet. “”

    Nora – the “internet” has no other “possibilities” than can be turned off and on by a simple siwtch.

    No boogie man reaches out through a computer screen – it is simply not possible.

    It’s unpopular to admit this simple truth – but if we teach our children self respect and self preservation they won’t be meeting up with stranger for sexual encounters.

    Things like that don’t happen by accident, and like I said before – no one can reach through a computer screen nd grab them.

    Just sayin’…

    Dolly – I raised three kids to adulthood without so much as a broken bone, stitches or poisoning of any kind.

    Anyone out there interested what I did?

    Nothing.

    I was simply lucky.

    And so are you -so far.

    If it is meant to be – it will be. You are not God, although you seem to think you have the power of life and death in your own hands.

    You don’t.

  98. [...] This post was Twitted by CFC_OKLAHOMA [...]

  99. “the “internet” has no other “possibilities” than can be turned off and on by a simple siwtch.”

    I wish the children who committed suicide after being cyber bullied would have realized that. And I wish that their parents would have been more aware of the possibilities.

    The dangers of the internet might not be the same kinds of dangers we faced as children, it does not mean they are not there.

    http://www.google.ca/search?q=cyber+bullied+to+death&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

  100. Things have gotten more outrageous in my 12 years outside the U.S. Must—brace—myself—for—reverse—culture—shock.

  101. [...] This post was Twitted by UpSheepCreek [...]

  102. Well Pentamom and Sgtmom, let’s say that all the other kids the same age as my kids have had some serious injuries and mine have not. Some of them were just total accidents like when their little friend stepped off a curb wrong at preschool and broke his leg. No one was at fault there. And some could have been prevented and I put the fault on the parents or the other caregivers like when a little girl got bashed by a ceiling fan blade that gashed her face because her older cousin was roughhousing on the parent’s big bed. That was probably something that was not a great idea. Or when my friend’s little boy got almost electrocuted to death by a high voltage wall socket that was not childproofed. That could have been avoided with childproofing. It was at a place the boy goes everyday and so therefore needed to be childproofed. Or a little boy I know who almost drowned while his parents were busy loading the car. I put the kids in their carseats while I load and unload stuff.

    Yes, I am lucky and I do thank God for that everyday. But it is not ALL luck. Some of it is the fact that I do watch my kids well. I do think ahead about what can and cannot be a danger. I play it smart. I childproof. I supervise. Yet, I don’t hover because my kids play and get bumps and bruises etc just like everyone else. They just don’t almost die like many other kids we know that come from great households.

    I think it is stupid to sit there and put it all on luck. That is just stupid. It is not ALLLLLLL luck. Some of it is because of the smarts and attentiveness of the parents and other caregivers.

  103. “You can’t have a community when this is what happens when people help each other out.

    I don’t get who decided that whenever anything bad happens to a child it is automatically criminal negligence.”

    correct. It’s got to the point where people are afraid to even look at each other for fear of it being misinterpreted and them being sued or arrested.

  104. “I did read somewhere that an amber alert was not issued for this child because he was said to have autism and that does not fall under the reasons to have an amber alert.”

    A toddler wandering off from his house would likely not qualify for an amber alert, autistic or not. Amber alerts are meant to quickly get word out at extended distances; something you are unlikely to need in the case of an escapee toddler who is highly likely to be found within walking distance of home. They are predominantly used for children thought to have been abducted. I’ve never heard an amber alert involving a wandering toddler. I’ve heard one or two involving alzheimer’s sufferers, I assume due to the much greater ability to travel distances (cars, money, knowledge of public transportation, etc.) than toddlers, but the vast majority are kids thought to have been abducted.

  105. Significant period of time would be important to me also. Things can happen very quickly.

    My aunt has very bad arthritis in her hands, so she can’t open the child proof lids on medications. The pharmacist put her medication in a container with a snap lid. My aunt put her medication on the top shelf of some very tall cabinets. I’m 5′ 11″ and I need a small step ladder to get to the cupboard.

    She was watching her young (less than 3 yo) grandson. She left him watching a TV show to go to the bathroom less than 5 minutes. In that time he pulled a chair over to the cupboards, climbed from the floor to the chair seat, from the chair seat to the counter. Then as near as we can figure he opened the top cupboard – and used the the shelves as a ladder to get to the top shelf. Got back down opened up the medication. He was found with some pill spread all around him and refused to answer if he had eaten any.

    Because of the nature of the medication it would have harmed him before it could be found by blood tests. So the docs pumped his stomach. Turned out he hadn’t eaten any.

    The parents and grandmother were questioned in the ER about what happened. The in house social worker’s comment – I don’t know what else you could have done, you have quiet a little monkey on your hands.

    My aunt found a lock box that she could open with a key, and started keeping her medication in that. Thankfully the imp was old enough to know better than to take other people’s meds by the time he learned to pick a lock. (He can take anything mechanical apart and put it back together again.)

  106. “Some of it is the fact that I do watch my kids well. I do think ahead about what can and cannot be a danger. I play it smart. I childproof. I supervise.”

    Or maybe it’s not. You can’t say that injuries never occurred because you did A when you have absolutely no way whatsoever to know if injuries would have occurred if you had done B-Z. Frankly, as of right now, you have no way of knowing if injuries will occur at some point in the future even though you did A. Many people make it through life without serious injury and without babyproofing. Many kids are injured despite babyproofing.

    Nor is an injury-free kid a determination of how great a parent you are. I’d rather my kid climb a tree, fall out and break her leg than never climb a tree. Often times the experience is worth the risk of injury. I’m not oblivious to the risk; I allow her to proceed despite it. Or I’m able to access the risk and realize that it’s a minimal one and the benefits (to the action or lack of babyproofing) outweigh the risks. If the unlikely happens, say my daughter gets kidnapped walking home from school, I accept that horrible things happen in life and the only person to blame is the guy who kidnapped her.

    In other words, Dolly, the fact that your children have not been injured does not make you the perfect parent or your parenting methods the perfect ones for everyone in every situation. We all have different kids, different living situations, different tolerances, different goals for our children, different ideas about what makes a great childhood and great parents. You need to stop sitting as judge and jury of every other parent on the planet and just worry about your own kids.

  107. Why do Americans insist on criminalizing EVERYTHING. It’s an accident people, it happens!

    So what if you let you kids play in your OWN HOME alone? First, you aren’t allowed to leave them at the park, then you cant let them outdoors alone, now you have to be helicoptering inside the home too? WTH? If I cannot leave my kid to play alone in our home, there is no hope in this world.

    Is nowhere safe enough? I guess “nowhere” is the only safe place, since it doesn’t exist.

    To those who are calling for punishment- this mom drained her pool and took every reasonable precaution. I’m sure her home was childproofed. Let me guess- you never thought your kid couldn’t do something, but found out later they could? amazing! Good for you! leave this mom alone- and don’t be so smug, it can happen to YOU TOO.

  108. Lenore – I have an idea for a new tv show. It would be a little like “Nanny 911″ except it should be called “Smug Parent 911″.

    The premise would be that you go to a mothers home and stay there for a few days to get a feel for it. Then you show the smug mother the video tape of every mistake she made and point out that AT THAT SECOND, when she was peeing, showering, checking her email, whatever…THAT was the moment where she too was a NEGLECTFUL mother and should have her children taken away for endangering them. Because every parent has, in fact, taken their eye off their kids at some point in the lives. The are just stuck up b*tches that think they are perfect.

    I have seen a few here in the comments that we could start with LOL!!! I hated their type in high school and I hate them worse now…

  109. Karin: I doubt you would have hated me in high school since I was the quiet nerd who all the other girls made fun of. So if you are insinuating I was a stuck up bitch in high school, you would be so so wrong. I won’t expect an apology though.

    I take my eyes off my kids 100 times a day. That is not what anyone is arguing. What I am arguing is if you are going to take your eyes off them, which you should and you have to eventually, it is a very very very good idea to have things taken care of so your child won’t be hurt when you are busy. Especially if you have pools or a lake or a pond near your house.

  110. Donna: and you need to stop being so judgmental about my judgmentalness. You are saying I judge other parents, but you are judging my judging other parents. So you know, pot calling the kettle. Just saying. I don’t have a problem with you judging me, but it is kinda hypocritical.

  111. Hmmm, one is now judgmental for pointing out that someone is being judgmental. Only you Dolly. Only you.

  112. Well yeah actually Donna. Being judgmental means you are criticizing the faults in others and deciding what kind of person that makes them and that is exactly what you are doing to me. It is sad you can’t see that though. I have no problem with judging others. We all do it. I just laugh when people criticize others for being judgmental because there is no way to do that without in turn judging them.

  113. Dolly – the fact that you think I was talking about you says more about you than me. Also, the fact that you feel I owe you an apology.

    People like you feel that a parent is responsible if a child gets out of the house and gets hit by a car. You only need turn your back on a child for 3 minutes for them to get out of the house. Once they are out it’s too late….the time it takes to search the house is another 3-5 minutes – maybe more. That is up to 10 minutes of no parental supervision already…and they are in the street. So – seeing as people like you hold a parent responsible for anything bad that happens while in the street, a parent should be held responsible for not looking at them for those initial 3 minutes. That means – you are recklessly endangering your child every time you pee, blowdry your hair, talk on the phone…etc…

    Bad luck is pretty rare…so most kids are alive not because their parents are so freaking special…but because good luck is much more prevalent.

  114. Ah yes, the whole 24/7 supervision bullshit raising its ugly head again.

    Remember parents, don’t sleep, don’t take a shit, don’t wash your hair or change your tampon or have sex with your spouse unless your children are right there with you in full sight the entire time. Because if you do any of those things, not only will your kids die, you’ll also go to prison.

  115. Does anyone have an actual measurement on how far away the lake/pond is from the house? When my son was that age, he could run a quarter mile in less than 10 minutes, barefoot. How far away does one have to be from water to be “safe enough” to not have to have door locks? I am betting that this family thought they were far enough away.

    And what about if there is a fire after they put the door locks on? Would the parents be charged with homicide for preventing their kids from getting out? Which is more likely to happen? What would the police say? What would the lawyers say? Do I have to go before a judge to figure out if I need to keep my kids in or out in order to keep them safe? Is this what is happening in the apartment fires where families of 4 kids or more die? Because the locks are so hard to use that they can’t get them open? Hey, I have a new product that I can sell: Door locks with sound activation – if it hears a smoke detector it opens easily, otherwise it keeps the kids in. I think maybe there is a magazine that would sell that….but you better keep your batteries up to date in your smoke detector!

    When I was in college, I worked at a daycare. One of the women who worked there had a fish pond in her front yard (like many others in that neighborhood.) In the middle of winter, with 2 inches of snow on the ground, a two year old let himself out of his house when he was supposed to be napping. Approximately 1/2 hour passed from the time the mom checked on him again. It was another 10 minutes before she was able to figure out he was outside and track him down. He was face down in the pond. He was fortunate – it was cold and he was little. He was revived, but did have some disabilities. The mom was NOT charged (although people did wonder aloud how the boy could be gone for so long – people who didn’t have kids of their own.) The town council made a law saying that the ponds had to have fences around them. The kicker was, like so many knee jerk reactionary laws, it did not apply to existing ponds because so many people came in and protested. This woman did fill in her pond, but only because she loved kids and couldn’t stand the thought that it might happen again.

    This boy had traveled about 4 blocks to get to the pond in the middle of winter. Was that too close? Should the mother had known that he would be attracted to the water and had locks to keep him in?

  116. Dolly, your electrical socket thing gets me.

    Two stories. 1. Friend who is adult now, when 3 was told by his 12 year old sister to stick a screwdriver into the socket. No baby proofing, had it existed, would have helped with this one. 12 year old was supposed to be babysitting. Not sure if she did after that or not. (Which is why I feel siblings are always not best for baby sitting each other.)

    2. EVERY doctor office I have been to has never had plugs in the sockets in the wall. In the floor yes. Also they have the blind strings that strangle kids. And they want to talk to me about safety in my home?

    I guess the licensing for a doctor office is different than a school or day care, even though kids are likely to be there too.

  117. I just laugh when people criticize others for being judgmental because there is no way to do that without in turn judging them.

    Yeah, but Dolly, you started it. You always start it. It’s not like sometimes it’s Donna who starts it and sometimes it’s SKL and sometimes it’s LRH and sometimes it’s me and, oh, yeah, sometimes it’s you. Since you’ve started posting, it’s ALWAYS you.

    They are predominantly used for children thought to have been abducted.

    Their original purpose was only for children who were KNOWN to have been abducted and to be in danger when the abductor or his/her vehicle could be identified. Using it for other purposes starts to water it down to the point where, if they’re frequent enough, people start to ignore them.

  118. MichaelEdits said: “Things have gotten more outrageous in my 12 years outside the U.S. Must—brace—myself—for—reverse—culture—shock.”

    I agree. I fly to the States for a family visit on Thursday and have a very independent 12-year-old. He goes everywhere in town on his own and he and his friends solve their own disputes. He also makes his own arrangements to play with his friends and the kids make up their own games and rules. I’m sure that my son will be helicoptered by well-meaning relatives in the States. The last time I was in the States, 3 years ago, people told me that they can’t let their kids walk or cycle around the corner to school because “things are different now.” The other comment that I got was that a big city in the States is different from a small town in Germany and how Europe is much safer. One of the things that’s different between Europe and the States is that over here tragic accidents aren’t criminal offenses.

    Dolly said: “I just laugh when people criticize others for being judgmental because there is no way to do that without in turn judging them.”
    Uly’s response: “Yeah, but Dolly, you started it. You always start it. It’s not like sometimes it’s Donna who starts it and sometimes it’s SKL and sometimes it’s LRH and sometimes it’s me and, oh, yeah, sometimes it’s you. Since you’ve started posting, it’s ALWAYS you.”

    I agree with Uly on that one. Dolly seems to be the instigator in 99% of the disputes here because of her holier-than-thou attitude. Comments like saying that if a child got killed it’s his parents’ fault because they didn’t follow her (Dolly’s) advice about childproofing is extremely judgmental. What happened to sympathy for the parents for their loss? That’s great that Dolly childproofs everything. But accidents can happen even with the best childproofing, as previous posters have written.

  119. On the other hand, now that I’ve taken a deep breath, I can see how this might be a “everybody is misreading Dolly” situation. I’m not saying it necessarily *is* – only she knows what she’s really thinking, none of us are mindreaders – but she started off on such the wrong foot that I know I certainly tend to see the worst in her comments, and I really doubt I’m the only one.

  120. Just saw this on Yahoo as I was checking my e-mail. I know that it’s off-topic, but it relates to FRK. I loved the last line of the story, where the boy says that he would go camping again. It just goes to show that kids aren’t traumatized for life by scary things.

    http://news.yahoo.com/boy-scout-found-building-tree-branch-shelter-231903921.html

  121. @ Cheryl W –

    How often and for how long are toddlers left unattended in a doctor’s office?

  122. When I was a teenaged nanny, a dear friend of the family I worked for lost her child to drowning. They had been playing out in the fenced and gated yard when the phone rang. The woman ran in the house to grab the phone, had a two minute converstation, then ran back outside to find her 3 year old son gone. She immediately called authorities, who began a search. The child was eventually found in the neighbor’s backyard pool. He had unlatched the gate and wandered off, then crawled under a loose spot in the fencing around the pool and wiggled under a pool cover. It seems that nowadays there would have been charges flying – the mother, the pool owners; who was at fault? The sad truth is that it was a terrible ACCIDENT. Everyone realized that at the time (1994). The community rallied around the grieving parents as well as the guilt ridden pool owners. There was never a thought of filing charges against these people who had been the victims of tragic circumstance. What has changed so much in our society in the decade + since this occurred? Why is it that parents are expected to be superhuman?

  123. Karin: My kids have never gotten outside on their own. Ever. Because the doors are blocked off by nice gates. So, it is not all luck. Some of it is that I was proactive about it.

  124. Cheryl: Well we agree on the siblings not always being the best to watch their siblings thing. For exactly the reason you gave. Siblings have known to have jealously issues and I think it can have dangerous consequences. Its a fictional movie but anyone ever see ” The Good Son”? That movie creeps me out. Of course my uncle was the real life version of that movie so I know it can happen in real life. For those that don’t know, he almost bashed his baby brother’s head in with a hammer at age 5 on purpose.

  125. You are so special Dolly. You should give yourself a big pat on the back for being so perfect and so much better than everyone else. Nothing bad will ever happen to you or your children due to your absolute perfection. You most certainly deserve a medal.

    Enjoy your gloating and smug satisfaction sweetheart, life shits on everybody eventually.

  126. Oh by the way Dolly, are you watching your kids while you post on the Internet? Because if they choked on their own spit and died right now, it would be your fault because your a bad parent. Best get off the net and stop arguing with strangers so you can stare at your kids 24/7 dear.

    Otherwise, you’re basically killing them. Wouldn’t want that now would we?
    /sarcasm

  127. Sera: yeah with doctor’s offices it is not like toddlers are left alone. In the home they will be though.

    People are misreading me again. It is not ALWAYS the parent’s faults. Sometimes it was a very horrible accident and nothing could have prevented it or it was so out there that no one would have thought that would have EVER happened. That can happen to anyone, even me.

    But some kid’s deaths are easily prevented and that is all I am saying. I don’t think the parents need to go to jail in those circumstances, but yes, I am going to sigh and shake my head because that child should be still alive if they had just taken some precautions. I am saddened by a child’s death and all the horror the family has to go through and if it can be prevented in any way, it should.

    I will point out potential dangers to my other mom friends if I see them. Because I care about them and their kids. Moms ask me about childproofing stuff because they see how well I have done with my house. When my friend’s little boy was electrocuted on the high voltage socket and almost died, she was an anti-childproofing person. Like some of you. And then her son almost died. I told her where to look for a socket protector for a high voltage outlet. I actually suggested One Step Ahead since they have more rare child proofing stuff and I suggested Lowes or Home Depot. That is what I meant by advice. Since her son almost died, maybe she changed her beliefs about childproofing.

    .

  128. Kate: You should probably stop posting on the internet and go have sex with your husband. You should really pissed off and tense. Sounds like you need some sexual release there. Jealous much?

    Oh and thanks for totally missing the point again and again. If you childproof you don’t have to watch your kids constantly. That is one reason why I advocate for childproofing. It makes the whole family saner. The moms can poop in privacy and the kids can safely play while the mom poops in privacy.

  129. I feel for you Dolly, I think some people may be misreading many things. I have started and stopped many posts, because I know someone is just going to miss-read it and tear into it, even in the cases that they agree with me! haha

    It is very hard to get what I think out in words. I am trying and I hope I can continue to do so here. I hope you do too Dolly, we are all here to learn from one another:)
    I understand your children are quite young, I hope as they get older you give them many opportunities to prove themselves responsible so they can fly to their full potential!

    I think we have to find a balance of what works for us in our own situation. What works for one might not work for the other.

  130. Actually, Dolly I’m not making any judgments whatsoever about the kind of person you are. You, in fact, may be the best mother in the world and the best person in the world as you claim so repeatedly. I will never know. I am, however, able to give an opinion concerning what you choose to post on the internet. I find most of your comments very unpleasant. I find your judgmentalness very distasteful. I’m entitled to that opinion. As long as we inhabit the same cyberspace, it will probably come up again since you seem unable to relate to the people here.

    “People are misreading me again. It is not ALWAYS the parent’s faults. Sometimes it was a very horrible accident and nothing could have prevented it or it was so out there that no one would have thought that would have EVER happened. That can happen to anyone, even me.”

    The problem is that you view everything involving some parental control over the situation as fault, regardless of how extremely unlikely the eventuality was. You’ve made it very clear that the only things that you truly think parents should not be blamed for are things completely out of their control – kid trips while walking and breaks a leg, not parents fault. However, if you, in hind sight knowing exactly what happened, can come up with any way whatsoever that the injury could have been prevented, you believe that it was clearly the caregivers fault for not anticipating and eradicating a remote possibility. And this is all based on what DOLLY would do – because everything Dolly does is perfect – with no consideration to the facts that children are different, circumstances are different, goals are different, levels of risk are different.

  131. Quote from the Courier Post article linked above:

    “After a frenzied search of the home and neighborhood, the police were notified around 8:23 p.m. and officers began setting up for a coordinated search of the area. Frustrated the search hadn’t reached the lake, Tucker donned a swimsuit and bathrobe and headed down with a friend shortly after 9 p.m.”

    It puzzles me that they wouldn’t check the lake first. If I child I had anything to do with came up missing, one of the first places I’d check would be any nearby water. I’d figure that if the child got to the water, that would be the situation in which a fast rescue would be the most critical, so I’d want to rule that out first. If they are elsewhere in the neighborhood, a few minutes delay in finding them probably won’t matter much, but at the lake minutes could be the difference between life and death.

  132. I find it interesting that the aunt was frustrated with how long it was taking the police to get to the lake and so went on her own. (I think the stopping to change into a swimsuit is a bit odd but people behave in unexpected way during a crisis.) It seems obvious that the police, with all their experience in finding missing persons, didn’t feel the lake was the most likely place to find the child otherwise, they would have started there. Which leads me to believe that all this drama about them living near water and they should have baby proofed better is perhaps not relevant. The articles also state that the family believed the boy was autistic, not that he’d been diagnosed in any way Even knowing the child’s fascination with water, the first place they looked was not the lake. It sounds like no one thought the boy would be there. The whole thing is just tragic.

  133. oh no What a tragedy. Anyone who has a child get out like that and drown is going to wonder whether or not they’re at fault,

  134. Only read about half the comments (got bored around the Nora/Donna “no, you said this” “no, you said THIS” match :) and skimmed to the bottom)….

    As for having locks and gates and perpetual playpens:

    My son will be one this Wednesday. We have exactly zero baby gates in our house, although my son is walking and can go up and down stairs.

    When he was learning how to go up the stairs, I would watch him (ie. be very close behind him in case he fell) but I let him do it. Same with going down.

    If we had gates up and he never knew what to do with the stairs, I don’t think he’d know how to safely climb up and down them. So then what happens when we go to a friend’s house? Would I have to lug over a bunch of baby gates because I couldn’t trust my son to safely use the stairs in the event he escaped our watchful eyes?

    I’d MUCH rather allow that he learn how to do things on his own, so he feels safe doing them, and I can feel safe letting him do them.

  135. I’ve only learned what childproofing stuff I’ve needed when a child of mine surprised me by doing something I didn’t expect. One sleepwalks, and I do live near water, so I do have doors to the outside secured, but only so she doesn’t sleepwalk outside. If she hadn’t gotten out once, I don’t think it would have occurred to me.

    I think it’s wrong to assume everyone needs the child proofing your children need, just as it’s wrong to assume no one needs child proofing your children don’t need. I do think people should wait to see if they need any particular child proofing items instead of just assuming they need everything. A lot of child proofing stuff is just a big marketing scheme. But, then, some I’ve found useful. My two children are very, very different. The older one is fairly cautious, and was highly verbal at a very young age, so she didn’t do crazy things and I could talk to her about what she should and shouldn’t do when she was young. The little one is fearless, very physical, and wasn’t verbal for quite a while longer than the other one. I couldn’t explain stuff to her because she didn’t have the command of language the other one had. And she was climbing, jumping, escaping, running, etc., all the time. The house needed more child proofing with her.

    The key is to know your kids and do the best you can for those specific kids in whatever way works for them. But even if you childproof or teach them, you can have accidents. You can’t possibly predict every potential dangererous situation that could happen – there are too many – so any of our children could die in some unexpected accident. It’s hard to face the truth of that potential, and we can try to fool ourselves by thinking we’ve taught our children too well for it to happen to them, or that we’ve childproofed to well for it to happen to them, but the fact is it can happen to any child.

  136. @Cheryl W you addressed on of my family’s biggest fears. We have now 4 generations of documented sleep walkers. Most of them have ended up outside at one point or another. This is through locked doors that both children and adults have opened. We could have all have had locks requiring keys on the inside installed.

    Problem no one in our who has slept walk outside has been harmed. One of those sleep walkers was on a Pacific Island in WWII. (He ended up getting a diagnoses of a severe sleep disorder from the military and had to serve stateside for the rest of the war).

    We have had family members severely burned in house fires. There is no way in hell we are putting locks that require keys from the inside in our houses. Instead we all have alarm systems. Not so much to keep the bad guys out, but to alert the family if member is sleep walking. I live alone and woke up to my alarm standing in my back yard in my sleepwear. When I talked to the police officer – by the time I woke up enough to call in the alarm company had called the cops-, he decided that it wasn’t a false alarm because it prevented me from wandering around the neighborhood in my sleep. (BTW putting barriers in my way does not help.)

  137. I hate posting this in the open, but there is no way to PM you all. Dolly is a troll plain an simple. If we ignore her she will become even more outrageous and then fade away. If we continue to engage her and her paranoid ways she will keep being annoying. Most boards would have banned her by now.

  138. @ N – Exactly. I’m not opposed to baby-proofing. I was given a child who didn’t need it. I also moved into our current house when my child was 15 months old so I planned where things would be placed with a toddler in mind. I have friends who have to baby-proof to the hilt due to the nature of their children. The issue becomes the assumption that we all must live in a house with more security than Fort Knox and our failing to do so is negligent if something unexpected (for our child, not every other child on the planet) happens.

    I was a wanderer. My mother had leashes, baby gates, playpens, door locks, etc. to keep me in check. My daughter doesn’t leave the yard without me. She hasn’t exhibited the slightest interest in doing so even with my encouragement now that she’s older. For my mother, not securing doors so that I couldn’t escape would eventually be negligent. I think some amount of blame would have been fair had I gotten out of the house and drowned (obviously never happened) once it was clearly evident that I was prone to roam at a moment’s notice and she did nothing to prevent it. On the other hand, am I truly to blame for not making my door an impenetrable fortress with baby gates and alarms if my child suddenly decides at 5 that she wants to go swimming and, against all prior evidence to the contrary, dons a bathing suit, sneaks out of the house, walks to the closest pool and drowns?

    And how remote does the problem have to be before we are released from blame? I’d probably have some safety measures in place if I had a backyard pool, regardless of the nature of my child. The risk is so great, and the pool so attractive, that I’m not going to rely on the impulse control of a young child. Should I be required to engage in the same level of safety in the case of a gated (only reached by scaling a fence unless open with many lifeguards) pool a mile down the road?

  139. I am not a troll, but you do have one thing right Kherbert, if people stop arguing with me and insulting there will be no reason for me to respond back to defend myself.

  140. Even if you know your kids, they are complex human beings who do unexpected things sometimes. My older son ripped out 3 front teeth at age 7 trying to swing by his teeth from a backpack hanging in the basement (he said he wanted to ‘challenge himself’). I had just sent him downstairs to get something for me. What does one do? Never send a kid downstairs? Remove all backpacks from the house forever? Spend two hours pointing out every single thing in the basement he could possibly hurt himself on and say ‘Don’t touch that’? It would never occur to me to say “Don’t swing by your teeth” because it would never occur to me that he would. Lesson learned by him at the cost of a $50 ER copay.

    I am presuming this woman watched this toddler before. This toddler probably did something unexpected. They do that you know. Don’t really see that there is some great cosmic wrong that has to be righted by sending this woman to prison.

  141. Dolly, childproofing isn’t perfect. Kids get around it. My two year old climbs over baby gates. If I relied on baby gates to keep her in, it wouldn’t be enough. These days I only use them is I want to slow her down or make her rethink climbing the stairs. As you say, a break. But they don’t keep her completely safe and I know it. She’s a wanderer and I know it.

  142. @Dolly– you never did explain how someone without central air puts alarms on their doors to keep a child from potentially wandering to a nearby by lake or road or whatever. It gets over 80 outside regularly during the summer– and with little shade, my house soars over one hundred degrees those days. Without the windows and doors open and fans going, we’d all pass out from the heat. What solution do you have? Since you believe that certain child proofing is necessary, I’d really like to hear you address this concern.

  143. socalledauthor: Get air conditioning! That is the most logical and probably something that would benefit everyone. Another option is if you have young kids to install window guards or buy a child pen or child gates that will confine the child safely away from the open doors and windows. I think you figured you would stump me on that one, but you didn’t. http://www.ecrater.com/p/8148799/child-proof-your-home-w-guardian

  144. Dolly will tell you if you can’t afford central air you can’t afford kids. You should adopt them out to people who can afford central air.

    I know people are prone to make the goof ball statements Dolly does – but not the same person every time. I think I realized we were being “had” when she suggested a poor single parent forced to take a city bus everywhere should have a car or grocery delivery service or else give up her kids for adoption.

    When I was a kid I felt unloved and uncared for because my parents refused to spend .25 cents to have my feet x-rayed at the shoe store to make sure they fit properly.

    That’s what “good” parents did in the ’50’s. I remember all those “lucky” kids bragging about seeing their feet x-rayed…

    It turned out that bit of “good parenting” was a really bad, bad idea.

    I can only suspect that one day all this climate controlled heppa filtered sanitized safety capped security childhood “experience” is going to turn out just as badly.

  145. I’ve had people look down on me because I don’t drive a $40,000 tank, but rather a 14 year old 2 door convertible Geo Tracker with (gasp) no AC and no power windows, power locks or anything else. Yes, I (gasp!) ride around, with my kids, with the top half down. Have since they were little. Sometimes, I even take the top completely off.

    So, am I a bad mom? I mean, if we get in a car accident, we’re probably all toast, even with car seats, seat belts, and a roll bar. But you know, I could either get the kids home (international adoption – free kids, $20K each for shipping and handling) or I could buy the Stupidly large Utility Vehicle. Which would be better for my kids?

    We could either get a newer home with central air in a town 90 minutes from work with a crappy school district, or we could get an older house with no central air and lead paint to keep covereed up in a town with a great school system and an easy 25 minute commuter rail ride to work. Which is better for my kids? Do I sacrifice their education and family togetherness or do I sacrifice central air? Not sure what world some folks live in, but the one I’m in has some real, and not particularly easy choices.

  146. Dolly doesn’t love the planet, apparently. Nor does she have respect for anybody else’s pocketbook.

  147. It really is that simple, isn’t it, Dolly? Just spend money! Sure, EVERYONE has an extra 4k to spend on central air (when opening the windows really does work just fine.) And yes, we got quotes on central air because we were kind of interested in it. But instead, we had to replace the roof, tear up the downstairs and are still saving money for a radon-abatement system (which is another 2-3k, and you cannot install central air without it.) Yeah, we all have an extra 6-7k ready for LUXURY items.

    But, I guess I’m just a bad mother, for not finding away to spend gobs of money on the illusion of safety. Since you have extra money, Dolly, I’d love a donation towards making my child safer.

    Our house is an open floor plan. There is no place to put gates. And honestly, I can’t see how a gate would even work in an open door or doorwall (and I tried– either our gates are defective, or they just don’t stay put well in doorways.)

    We have a saying in our house. Usually applies to corporate-style think, but individuals can exemplify it as well. “What’s the solution to World Hunger? Just feed the people. It’s so simple, it’s amazing no one else thought of it!” Dolly, you strike me as this sort of person. The solution is really just that simple. You KNOW the best solution for EVERYONE’s situation… except, you don’t.

    And, Dolly, you clearly live a life of luxury that I, and many other hard-working, lower-income people, sort of envy (aside from the part where the haves always see the solution as “just” spend money, “just” get a better job, etc.) I would love to have the money to solve every less-than-perfect thing in my life.

    (For the record, I have a Master’s Degree, my husband a Bachelor’s. We both work middle-income jobs, but alternate shifts to save money on child care. The only debt we have is our mortgage as we either buy cash or do without.)

  148. Regarding air conditioning, I remember Lenore doing a great piece on how it may be keeping people indoors more instead of outside, interacting with neighbors and playing with kids.

    We’ve got central air, I hate it and open windows all the time (my mom always opened them, even in winter, saying we need fresh air for our health.) My kids are outside right now in the pouring rain playing soccer and muddy beyond belief. Summer’s almost over, they have to get in the fun while they still can.

    As for the child proofing, I over did it for the first one, who removed it all for the second and third. We have video of my first born pulling off the foam corners on the coffee table and the protective foam around the fireplace. He then chewed on it. He laughed when he watched the video, saying why didn’t we just remove the table while he was learning to walk instead of child proof it? Duh.

  149. Sera, how long are children left alone in a doctor’s office? Probably not at all. Just like they are not supposed to be alone (except bathroom) in a daycare or school. Which someone had posted about a kid with an electrical socket at what sounded like a daycare or school.

    But, when I go in with my 3 kids, and I am trying to talk to the doctor, I try to pay more attention to the doctor than I do to what the kids are doing (who are SUPPOSED to be sitting and reading, playing on a Leapster or coloring.) And the doctor is paying attention to me. Even with one of my kids as a toddler, it still meant that I had a kid picking up stuff and moving stuff, and getting in drawers and such. And before anyone says he needs rules, I have rules, but he is special needs and while the other two do just fine, he needs a bit extra.

  150. Lollipoplover, I am with you. I hate AC. Even with apparent allergies this summer, I want the windows open as much as possible. Which means, that we have the windows open all night to get as cool as possible as it is over 95 most summer days. I guess I will be liable if someone kidnaps one of my kids now because the windows are not locked. (Hopefully the dog would knock down anyone who came in the yard, but then, he is supposed to go after coyotes, not people.)

  151. Duh, socalledauthor, get air conditioning! Aren’t you happy that you have Dolly in your cyber-life to give you that wonderful bit of information. I’m sure you’ve been sitting at home and thinking “Wow, it really is hot. I wish someone would invent a device that could pump cool air into our house so that we are not so damn hot all summer.” Well, now you know that someone has.

    Can’t afford air conditioning? I guess you have to put the kids up for adoption because someone who can’t afford air conditioning should not be allowed to raise children in such an unsafe and hot environment. My daughter has been asking for a sibling but I don’t really want to do babyhood again. Do you have a child between 3-6 or so that needs to go to a cooler house? I have air conditioning.

  152. Coming late to the party…what an odd conversation. Much of it I skipped. Maybe if everybody quit jumping on Dolly, and Dolly quit defending herself, this would seem like a useful discussion.

    As it is — as usual, there’s just not enough information. I can’t buy the argument that in other countries 4 year olds look after toddlers. That’s true, but it’s not because it’s a good thing, it’s because there’s no other choice. Was she negligent or not? NO IDEA. I have to assume the police had some reason to suspect she might be (apart from being black — I’m learning that racism is alive and well in the US in ways I’m sheltered from here). It amazes me how many of us seem to just know that this was an accident based on what the media has reported. Because North American media are renowned for presenting the whole story, indeed.

    Ok — AC or no AC, do you people not have screen doors in the US? “I can’t keep track of the kids because it’s hot outside” is just ridiculous. Free range or not.

  153. Name I really liked the link you provided “the 6 dumbest things schools are doing in the name of safety.” No touching, no photography, fining kids money (which the parents have to pay, presumably) for minor throwing spitball types of offensives? As I declared tonight to my friends, “if any of our schools are like this, wait ’til they get a load of me, they will wish they never heard my name.” You better believe it.

    LRH

  154. Okay FrancesfromCanada, let me tell you–kids will roam, and SHOULD roam, within reason, and I think how other people parent with a more laid-back and less regulatory and “thinking like lawyers” manner is revealing–not for its supposed desperation due to alleged lack of choice, but for how well it works despite the criticisms, and how maybe we could learn from them.

    Maybe people don’t have screen doors, and your point is? I don’t have screen doors, does that make me a horrible parent? My kids are sleeping in the same room vs their own room because the cooler in our room broke and we took one of their rooms so we won’t burn up while we deal with replacing the cooler in our room. Should our kids be adopted by better parents who would never have to do such a thing?

    Do you want to be the one to erect said screen door to my premises besides tracking down the right size & purchasing it, or replacing the air conditioner in our room which broke? Do you wish to elect to be financially responsible for my kids, for disciplining them, for feeding them, for loving them emotionally?

    If not, then your opinion on my parenting, based on that I let them free-range and don’t (among other things) have a screen door–is IRRELEVANT to me, and not your concern.

    LRH

  155. Screen doors are really not going to keep a determined child inside. Push on a screen really hard and see if it stays in the frame… didn’t when my friends son (just a few months older than mine) leaned on it to see better outside. So, if I have just screen doors and my child gets out through them, people like Dolly will still blame me for not having central air and a bunch of alarms on it… which is the issue here. When is “enough” precaution enough and when is it “blameworthy.” No (well, few) parents want harm to come to their child, and many of us, including free-rangers, balance the need for a child to grow in skill and independence with the need to protect them and the realistic chances of something happening and the need for parents to take care of running the household. I’d say it’s enough to periodically check on the child while keeping an ear on them, while also being aware of possible leaps in skills (such as opening doors or climbing, etc.)

    I have screen doors, I think they’re sufficient to at least slow the baby, but like a baby gate, I know it’s only a temporary measure as a determined or curious child will circumvent any type of child-proofing. I’m not going to cage my child like a misbehaving dog, restricting his ability to explore or his ability to visit me while we both work. That’s NOT free range, to lock a child in a small space for fear of the unthinkable. This decision is influenced by the fact that, unlike some self-righteous parents– I don’t have handfuls of money to spend on a luxury like central air (or $500 strollers or $300 car seats that aren’t rated any safer by independent testing than the $150 models or other such things.)

  156. FrancesfromCanada – Of course there are screen doors in America. Was that an offer to buy them for those on the blog who don’t have them? The latch broke on my front one and my back one has a chunk of the screen missing thanks to the cat.

    We are in a substantial recession with may people out if work and few jobs available. That’s on top of those already low income. Throw money at the problem is simply a ridiculous suggestion. If people missing them could afford screen doors and air conditioning, they’d probably have them

  157. I also don’t think this woman should be found guilty of negligence because the child drowned. (If she left him alone for an hour, that’s another story.)

    Latches and alarms and baby-gates are all wonderful things, but nothing is fool-proof. Heck, when my husband was a toddler, his parents locked him in his room for a time-out. They came back to find that he’d taken two of the three hinges off the door and was trying to figure out how to get up to the top one!

  158. “Get air conditioning.” That’s hilarious.
    I grew up in two houses that had no air conditioning. My parents probably had the money to put central air in, but they’re stubborn and cheap, so we used fans and left the windows wide open and I sweated profusely every night in the summer. It was a similar story in the winter, as my parents wouldn’t raise the thermostat above about 68 and instead told me to put on more clothes, wrap myself up in a blanket and sit next to (but too close to) the kerosene heater sitting in the middle of our carpeted living room floor. This was in the 80’s and 90’s, by the way.

  159. “Ok — AC or no AC, do you people not have screen doors in the US? “I can’t keep track of the kids because it’s hot outside”

    The argument was not “I can’t keep track of my kids because it’s hot outside.” The argument was “my house is not suited to being hermetically sealed up like a minimum-security correctional facility, even if I wanted to do that. I keep track of my kids using common sense and training.”

  160. Is having door alarms really the norm now, for ordinary typical non-special-needs kids?

  161. “Nor is an injury-free kid a determination of how great a parent you are.”

    Bingo. My point exactly. By no means was I saying that it’s not good to keep your kids safe from serious injury or death, or that doing so is not better than not doing so. But “my kids haven’t been hurt yet” isn’t qualification for your advice being sound, as Dolly was holding it out to be. It’s not a BAD thing, but it’s not really a credential.

    And FWIW, my five kids, ages 10-20, have been to the ER or urgent care center for an injury a total of two times — once for a 2nd degree hot soup burn, once for a bead up the nose. ;-) And I wish I’d been MORE free range! I consider my track record a good credential on how to keep kids safe, but NOT necessarily on how to raise them as well as I might have.

  162. I’ve had stitches in my knees three times. The first happened when I was about eight and I was walking into the county fair with my mom and my grandma right beside me. I slipped on some loose gravel and fell and apparently hit my knee on something. My mom took me to the first aid tent and they told her I should go to the ER, so we went and I got three or four stitches. My mom could not have prevented that.
    The second time happened when I was about 10 and I was riding my bike down my neighbor’s gravel driveway. There were some larger pieces of gravel and I thought, “I wonder what would happened if I were to twist my handlebars back and forth very quickly?” Well, what happened was that I fell and cut my knee open. Another ER trip, another few stitches. Even if my parents had been standing right next to me, they could not have predicted that I would have tested physics at that moment.
    The final time happened when I was about 13 and we were visiting my dad’s family in a very small town near ours. I always got to take my bike and ride all over that town by myself. On this particular trip, everything had been fine and I decided to go back to my aunt’s house, but before going home, I got an ice cream cone at Dairy Queen. I had the brilliant idea of riding my bike while holding the ice cream cone. Not such a brilliant idea. I crashed, the bike landed on top of me, and the back tire bolt when right into my knee. I limped and pushed my bike back to my aunt’s and told my mom I needed to go to the hospital. Six stitches outta that one!
    This incident could have been prevented if my parents had not allowed me to ride my bike alone. But as I’d been riding my bike alone for about five years at this point with zero incident, it wouldn’t have made any sense to not let me go this time. I think they figured that at 13, I had the sense to not try to ride my bike and eat ice cream at the same time. Sadly, I didn’t have that sense until AFTER I’d crashed my bike.

  163. Keisha– while I think your parents did fine, there are quite a few parents today that DON’T let their children ride their bikes alone even into high school. (I have some students who live in town, but they’re not allowed to ride or walk to school because our middle- to upper-class suburban town is apparently too dangerous. Our biggest crimes are theft [from unlocked places] and drug use, usually by young people who’s parents think that they got away from that by leaving Detroit.)

    Remember, the best way to prevent anything bad from happening is to make sure you guard against everything. Or so the theory goes. Wanna bet which of my kids are the most helpless, even to the point they don’t even know how to ASK for help?

  164. Kiesha – Your poor knees! Sorry, but’s it’s pretty funny that all of your stitches were in your knees.

    Beth – I sure hope that’s not the norm. I never had them. Although I may not be a good test, I never even had baby monitors.

    How do you child-proof against something your kids have never shown any indication of doing? Are we supposed to be phsycic and know that tomorrow they’ll try to get out the front door, even though in the last 2 years they’ve never tried? If moms have to be mind-readers now, there had better be a test they can take before they have kids or the jails are going to be pretty crowded.

  165. @ Robin – But it’s clear. Every parent is supposed to live in a house with more security features than a maximum security prison just in case.

    “there are quite a few parents today that DON’T let their children ride their bikes alone even into high school.”

    This is really annoying me about school. My kid just started kindergarten and the school is in the dead center of a residential neighborhood. Many of the kids have to walk no more than a couple blocks. Kids from one side only have to navigate residential streets. The others have a busier street to cross but there’s a crossing guard. I have yet to see a single kid get to school on his own. Many walk or ride bikes and scooters. There is even a walk/ride to school day every month. They all just have parents who walk or ride with them. I’m not even sure that walking to (well more home from) school by yourself is allowed since I have to sign my child out every day.

    And the crossing guard thing is subsequently annoying. If no kid walks or rides a bike to school without an adult, why exactly are my tax dollars paying for crossing guards? We’re cutting parapros and teachers, but we’re paying to employ a crossing guard for ADULTS.

  166. LOL you guys are so dense. So you just jump all over the AC solution and IGNORE the much much cheaper window guards I gave with a link to prove they exist. Or the baby gates or pen solution. Window guards are not that expensive and work great if you like to open your windows but don’t want a kid falling out of them.

    I have explained on this board before but my family has enough carbon offsets at my mother’s house to pretty cover everyone on this board. My mom owns acres of land she keeps undeveloped with trees and all kinds of plant and animal life. She has endangered species that are protected and animals that are protected from hunters living on her property. We have seen them with our own eyes. So you know, you can apologize for the environmental crack, but I don’t see that happening.

    I don’t drive a gas guzzling car. I drive an older sedan. Which is better than everyone else I know with twins. They all have a van or SUV. Most of the parents I know with one kid have a van or SUV. So again, big whoop. We are also not rich. We are lower middle class. We just CHOOSE to spend the little money we do have on our kids and not on ourselves. We don’t have fancy trips for hubby and I. We don’t have fancy cell phones or cable. We don’t have fancy clothes. Hubby and I don’t get birthday presents or Christmas presents. But our kids get the best of everything we can afford. That includes childproofing stuff along with clothes, schools, toys, medical care, trips, etc.

    So don’t give me that rich crap. My husband only makes $40,000 a year. It is about where you prioritize to spend your money. I am happy having a $20 purse so my kids can have good childproofing instead of buying a Louis Vuitton purse.

  167. @Donna, I know you have a demanding job; how are you able to sign your child out of school every day at dismissal time? How can they seriously expect parents to be able to do this? Do they hold her at school until you arrive?

    I’m not trying to be confrontational; I just marvel at how things have changed in one generation. My kids (24 and 19 now) took the bus when we lived in our first home, then biked or walked when we moved closer. They left school when the bell rang, without being monitored, and I knew they were home when they walked in the door. I wasn’t required to sign them out, meet them, walk them, bike them, or even meet the bus at the stop that was two blocks from home. I work nights so had the luxury of being home after school, but no WAY would I have been happy to drag myself to school every day to sign them out.

  168. ps childproofing does not HAVE to be expensive. I sold a child pen that cost over $120 for $20 at a yard sale. If you shop yard sales and craigslist etc you can get that stuff used and cheap.

    There are also free ways to childproof like blocking off outlets with furniture or using zip ties to keep a cabinet closed with the medicine or just putting stuff where a kid cannot get it. etc. It is about thinking what is a potential danger and they being creative to fix it. We did not buy a fancy new entertainment center when we had kids. We just bought a child pen to go around the entertainment center we already had that was not good for kids. Problem solved. That was more about protecting our electronics than the kids.

  169. Good Golly Miss Dolly! Does it ever end?

    (Note to Lenore: If you feel compelled to contact me & tell me you had to disprove this comment because of its tone, I understand & please accept my apology in advance. If this post has the effect of “you’re bringing yourself down to their level & you’re better than that,” again, please accept my apology.)

    I try & not judge other person’s parenting, or at least offer the advice in a way that isn’t hateful or mean-spirited, and is instead respectful. However, you seem unable to do likewise, and so let’s really tell it like it is, shall we?

    Let me tell YOU what I think of YOUR parenting, based on your last post.

    Frankly, if you parent the way you say you do, you are insulting yourselves & your husband, and raising your children to be spoiled-rotten brats. To be blunt, you’re a sorry excuse of a role model if this is what your’e doing. You & your husband don’t get any Christmas gifts while the children get toys? You take no vacations together to bond as husband & wife without the distractions of kids on occasion? What in the hell kind of parenting is THAT? You are the head of the house, and you let your kids see the two of you get nothing while they get everything? That’s called SPOILING, sweetie. You exist as nothing more than unpaid slaves to serve your every child’s whim–not NEEDS, but WHIM. You’re treating your husband as nothing more than a sperm donor who fertilized your eggs & now exists to serve the whims of every one of your two children’s nagging and pleading for everything they think they’re entitled to, while he is treated like a second-class citizen.

    The way I was raised–which wasn’t perfect, mind you–the ADULTS got the best gifts. It was called SENIORITY. They were the ones busting their ass mopping the floors and cooking the food we gobbled up like hogs in a trough. They were the ones toiling in the heat working to pay for the food and the electricity and the rent and on & on. Why in the HELL should we, the kids, get all of the goodies when THEY are the ones busting their ass on our behalf?

    Every year at christmas, yes we grandchildren received gifts at our granddaddy’s house, but the kids (his grown children) got better gifts, and he, the grand-dad, got the best gift of ALL. We all understood that this was because he was granddaddy, the one who had raised 8 kids to adult-hood & was opening up his home to 20-odd grand-children every Sunday, providing us with free soda pop & a free-range yard to explore, and a place that all of us could meet as one and spend time together. He was doing this at a time when he was now a single bachelor who could’ve easily viewed all of us as nuisances to keep away while he enjoyed his solitude, and was instead the most giving person of every single person that ever set foot in that house. Why in the HELL should he get NOTHING for Christmas while we get EVERY freaking thing?

    That was called teaching us children some RESPECT, to learn that you get to watch what you want on television when either your parents are NICE ENOUGH to LET you pick, or when you save up your allowance and buy your OWN damned television. Contrast that the kids I see today, barking at their paretns with a disrespectful tone DEMANDING what they think they’re ENTITLED to, and idiots like you are more than happy to give them all they want while treating your life-long partner and yourself like shit by comparision. That isn’t parenting, that’s SPOILING a child damn rotten, and you can take that sort of parenting & shove it where the sun doesn’t shine.

    Now–how does THAT feel to have been so judged?

    The time for restraint where it regards you is OVER, sweetie pie.

    LRH

  170. @ Robin – There are many options for after school pickup. All require something just short of a DNA test to get your child.

    You can pick up immediately after school by car or walking. If by car, they come to the car with a walkie talkie, ask the name of the child and call for him/her to be delivered. If parents are walking, the kids go out a different door. You give your child’s name to a person at the door and she calls down to the classroom. So you don’t have to sign anything but they don’t just cut all the kids loose from class at 2:30 like they did when we were kids.

    If you work, there is an after school program until 6pm. You have to park, walk in the door and sign your kid out. The secretary then calls back and the kid comes to the front.

    There is also a free bus to the YMCA for their after school program. Picking the kid up from the Y requires a signature and an official pick up card that you get when you enroll.

    Oddly enough we’ve only been in school for a week and a day and I’ve made use of all these ways of getting my child (I probably drive the school crazy since I don’t do the exact same thing every day) and I find them all a complete hassle. Since I live too far for a 5 year old to walk by herself, I haven’t asked if walking alone is permitted (maybe I’ll do that at curriculum night on Thursday just for fun). I know that I’ve yet to see a kid without a parent at drop off. This afternoon I only saw kindergarteners so I don’t know if the older kids head out on their own or not. I had planned on allowing my daughter to stay home by herself after school by 5th grade. I guess she may have to take the bus instead of the much healthier walking or riding her bike.

    I’m working from home today so the dog and I walked to pick up my daughter from school. The crossing guard walked me across the street even WITHOUT my child. I looked like anyone else walking a dog in running shorts, sneakers and a t. So, yes, the crossing guards are helping ADULTS cross the street.

  171. Sorry that comment should have been to Beth, not Robin, since she asked.

  172. Used kiddie equiptment from garage sales are a KNOWN death trap, how did you escape THAT fact, Dolly?

    You are NEVER to use “used” kid stuff – what kind of mother ARE you?

    Only brand new, inexplicably expensive equiptment is acceptable. Are you trying to get CPS called down on us? Think of all the diseases and germs!

    My second grandchild was born last Friday morning(Riley Corin 6lb 13 oz) – as I was adjusting the straps on her car seat I saw the dire warning “Don’t Use This Equiptment After 01/13″ on the bottom.

    Honest to God, the car seat came with an expiration date! I don’t know if it blows up or disintegrates on that date…or what!

    I was sort of amazed to be trusted strapping the baby in her car seat for the ride home, what with all the other dire warnings posted in the hospital room (90% of all car seats are installed incorrectly. Da da da DUMMMMM!) The business card holders with Report Domestic Abuse hotline numbers added to the beauty of the child birth experience as well…

    Wow. Just wow.

  173. Honest to God, the car seat came with an expiration date! I don’t know if it blows up or disintegrates on that date…or what!

    Plastic, despite lasting forever, disintegrates fairly quickly and loses structural integrity.

    If you use an expired carseat, you’re running the risk that instead of restraining your child in an accident, it may simply break, leaving your child totally unprotected.

    Obviously it’s not as specific as “If you use it after this date, it blows up”, but neither is the expiration date on milk. When the expiration date comes around, if you haven’t already switched to a new car seat, you should start looking around. Because it really is pointless to have your kid in a useless carseat.

    With that said, I would never ever get a crib or playpen from a garage sale. Bedbugs aren’t a myth, and they aren’t a rare risk either. Just this past month, two families on my block had to throw out their mattresses and carpets, and although I didn’t ask, I’m pretty sure that’s the reason why. And once you have bedbugs they are a major hassle to get rid of.

    So you know, you can apologize for the environmental crack, but I don’t see that happening.

    Nobody’s going to apologize because carbon offsets are, at best, not going to work for everybody – which is pretty much what you suggested.

  174. I once tried to donate a bunch of baby stuff like a car seat(not expired), baby bath, play pen, baby gates etc and the local Salvation Army said they can not take any of it due to safety reasons because if someone bought it and had an accident they might be held responsible. They also told me if I left them on the curb for trash and someone came along and took them to use and had an accident I could be held responsible. Same goes to items you buy/sell at garage sales etc…

    I do not think anyone has actually been charged for such a thing, but if the thrift stores will not take them for legal reasons I have to assume they have some sort of reason for it…

  175. “carbon offsets are, at best, not going to work for everybody”

    And at worst, a joke. The fact that your mother chooses not to consume more than she does, does not create some kind of “offset” for you to consume, it simply means that her consumption is X instead of X + Y. It’s roughly the equivalent of saying that not stealing the other kid’s lunch money is actually doing the whole class a favor and making them all richer. The whole theory behind offsets is horribly flawed from an economic (meaning not just money, but the counting of how resources are used and distributed) perspective.

  176. “So you just jump all over the AC solution and IGNORE the much much cheaper window guards I gave…”

    Because the mere fact that you propose air conditioning as a solution to a childrearing issue, regardless of how good or workable your other suggestions are, shows that your way of thinking is just strange to most of us.

  177. Being free-range is about giving children the room to grow. For some parents, but not me, this may include bars on windows, alarms on doors, and central air. For me, this philosophy is about taking small risks in exchange for the development and growth of the child.

    And the question is always– what is a reasonable safety measure? Too many judges think that alarms and locked doors and otherwise a prison environment IS necessary, and are ruling against parents, like myself, who ask not to be treated as such (or that I be forced to treat my child like a prisoner.) THAT’S the part that worries me most– being found guilty of the “Crime” of not being as paranoid or overprotective as another parent, for not having alarms, gates, etc in my home.

    But there are always parents, like Dolly, who have ALL the solutions for everyone, even people they’ve never met and know little about. Instead of judging other people for choices they’ve made, perhaps you could try some compassoin and tolerance of diversity. I would never presume to tell you how to raise your children, but you think it necesary to tell others how they should raise (and childproof) theirs. Why? What do you gain from this? Are you really helping anyone by passing judgement and making broad claims on the “only” acceptable child rearing? Are you not able to understand that there is more than one way to skin a cat– and that yours may not be as perfect as you think?

    Parenting has everything to do with the parental philosophy of the parents. While you may judge parents for being more free-range than you, you don’t seem to understand how unhappy a parent would be defying their natural inclinations (ie, what that parent thinks is the best way for THEM to raise THEIR kids) and how that unhappiness would affect the child and the home in general. I would be unable to live in a prison environment with bars on the window– this would make me crabby and I would not be much fun for my son to be around. To me, parental happiness and comfort is crucial in the happiness and welfare of the children. The most anxious kids tend to come from the most anxious parents.

  178. LRH – You’re showing your Rosemond again. Try to keep it tucked in. I hope you feel better after your rant, she probably deserves it. :)

  179. Ok, irony clearly doesn’t read on this site. I will withdraw my screen door crack, which was meant to point up the ridiculousness of the AC-as-a-measure-of-parenting skirmish…after I point out that even if said door doesn’t stop a determined toddler (though the one on the cottage my grandfather built, which I’m pretty sure he rescued from a dump lo these many moons ago, sure stopped us…and it’s held together with twist-ties), they SLAM. Excellent low-tech warning system, used by many generations of frugal free-range moms up here in mosquito country, where hardly anybody has AC but everybody has screens. Including people in less expensive housing, which here tends to be older and come equipped with such practical solutions as screen doors and clotheslines.

    BTW you can block many windows from opening further than you want them to with a piece of dowel, or a stick for that matter. No bars necessary. No money either.

    I will stand by my premise that despite the need to keep our houses warm or cold or ventilated or whatever, if our kids are young enough that we have to worry when they wander away, we should still be able to keep track of them. Which is not a comment in any way shape or form on anybody’s parenting style or skills or qualifications (especially not yours, LRH, no way would I go there). Nor does it imply “hermetically sealing” your house, or imprisoning your kids.

    We are talking about toddlers, aren’t we? Is it really ok for them to “roam” without a parent at least knowing where they are?

  180. Grr. I get really, really incensed over the ‘never buy ANYTHING from a yard sale’ mentality.

    Salvation Army doesn’t want to get sued by the heliparents who decide that if junior gets hurt on that used playpen it is obviously the fault of the charity who sold it, not say, the manufacturer, the idiot who put it together, or the fact that you were too stupid to check if the thing was sturdy before buying it. So they have to say no.

    But this does not equate to “All used things are death traps” I never paid a cent for a crib for either of my two children. I got two cribs that had been sitting in attics unused. I splurged on new mattresses for the cribs. Everyone lived.

    No idea how a baby bathtub is supposed to become dangerous, but if you are that worried, how about using the kitchen sink? Yes car seats do expire, usually in about 5 years. No child is in an infant seat for 5 years. So if my friend uses it for a year, then I use it for 2 years (2 kids) then I give it back to her for her second kid to use for a year, it’s still good, as long as no one got in a crash with it. So why should the two of us buy 4 car seats when we can process 4 kids through 1 seat? Less money, less strain on the environment. Bought a used pack and play, used it for three years, passed it on to a friend. Cost: $20 for 4 kids to use it, no one died. I can count on 1 hand the number of new pairs of shoes I’ve bought for my kids. Everyone ‘knows’ that used shoes are bad for kids, but somehow, my kids don’t have distorted feet and haven’t developed a fungus, or a complex because they don’t get new Nikes like some of their classmates.

    Go out and read the book The Tightwad Gazette. The author makes a great case for using and reusing things, for kids and for the rest of the family, and has done extensive research to find that really, a lot of the CYA crap the manufacturers put out is just that – CYA crap.

  181. Is that directed at me BMS? Most of your previous post seams to be directed at my post about my own personal experience, but none of you post actually applies to anything I said.

    I guess if I should have made it clear my post was directed towards Dollys unsafe and possibly illegal suggestion to low income familys on child proofing, I just assumed anyone reading this far into the thread would have realized that was what it was about.

    I’m getting used to everything I type being taken out of context, I am trying to work on it, I never have been good with words. I do still feel I have something to contribute here so I will not stop posting.

  182. ^^^ I guess *I* should ^^^

  183. No, it’s not directed at you personally, although I have heard the same argument from a zillion people, in real life and on line.

    For me, it just feeds into the whole mentality of ‘There is one right way to raise a child, and that way is the most expensive, and if you’re not doing it that way you don’t deserve to be a parent.’ Over and over again I’ve had to challenge people’s perceptions of what you can and can’t get away with in terms of raising kids (which is a lot of what this blog is about). There are parents who go to my kids’ school, who are 100% convinced that you can never buy anything used for an infant, that used clothes and shoes are somehow harmful to kids, that no responsible parent would ever let their kid ride in a convertible, that taking the communter rail twenty minutes and then riding the subway is too dangerous and impossible to do with children, etc. And (per the original post) if the attitude is now one of “Any mishap or accident could have been prevented, so if it didn’t it is obviously the fault of the parent” coupled with the attitude of some that “If you spend enough money on safety gear and home alterations then your child will never get injured, thus if your child gets injured it is your fault and thus you don’t deserve to be a parent”, I just can’t keep silent. A lot of the dangers supposedly facing kids today are really dangers to the insurance companies’ bottom line.

  184. Nora, it seems that BMS is directing her comments to the general “they” of our society that think they know what’s best for us. I didn’t take it as a slam against you.

    Most of my baby stuff was used. I have a cradle that’s been in our family for 50 years. Why wouldn’t I use it? And I hope my kids use it when they have kids.

  185. Much of it just depends on where you live.

    When I lived in southern California, I never met a single person who would dream of putting their children in anything used – clothes, baby gear, etc. While the cribs and other big furniture items may get reused for subsequent kids, many never even used hand-me-downs from their own older children. Each child got all his own brand new clothes, toys, strollers, etc.

    Where I live now, in a more earthy location, used is perfectly acceptable. We have several kid’s consignment stores. There are two large kid’s consignment sales twice a year. They sell car seats, playpens, big toys, little toys, shoes, tons of clothes. I can usually make over $150 selling the clothes and toys my kid has outgrown – more if I have large items. And you can always check out the thrift stores, although that is hit-or-miss depending on what has been turned in. My child wore almost no new clothes as an infant and toddler. (I find decent used clothes more difficult now. The selection sucks because kids tend to wear clothes for longer at 5 than they did at 2 so the clothes look worn).

  186. “We are talking about toddlers, aren’t we? Is it really ok for them to “roam” without a parent at least knowing where they are?”

    Of course not, but my point was that no one was suggesting it was, just that we were objecting to the implication that there’s only one good solution to that, which involves sealing up your house, which isn’t always workable, even if it were desirable. I wasn’t suggesting that you were supporting that solution, I was clarifying what some people’s objection to that solution was. The objection was not, “It’s too hot, I can’t keep my kids in!” It was, “that it’s necessary to do something that can’t be done by some people when it’s hot is a ridiculous suggestion, because there are other ways to keep kids safe.”

  187. I suppose whether or not using handmedowns is acceptable depends on who you associate with too. I’m in southern California, and unlike Donna’s experience, my sisters, my friends and I all do handmedowns, lots of them. I had to buy school clothes for the first time ever this year due to a need for school uniforms, which none of the cousins or friends have had to do.

    My crib is a drop side, and now that my youngest has outgrown it I’m trying to decide whether to order the fix for it so I can sell it, since drop side cribs were all recalled and you can’t legally sell them unrepaired.

    Honestly, I don’t get the reluctance to use handmedowns that some people have, especially for baby clothes. Babies don’t care what they wear, where they sleep, or if they have a new or old toy. So much the better for the budget to go used as much as possible.

  188. I don’t have bars on my windows. I keep them closed and locked so no danger of them falling out of them. They are really hard to open too. I can hardly even open them so I know the kids can’t. We have central heat and air and when we want fresh air we go play outside or in a park on the woods or go camping or go the zoo or the nature center etc. So my kids are not unhappy.

    You guys contradict yourselves. First my kids are unhappy and then they are spoiled. LOL.

    Kids can have nice things without being spoiled. My husband and I choose to give our kids the best we can give them because we want to do better by them then our parents did for us. That is just a part of our unselfish personalities. They are not allowed to get away with no bull either though. We get compliments about how well behaved they are in public constantly so I am not worried about it. We never get the “OMG” looks from people either. We get smiles and compliments.

  189. I’m totally with Stephanie. I don’t get the reluctance for second-hand items for kids anyway. As Stephanie said, babies don’t care–and once they get the age to where they DO, they tend to have inflated expectations like wanting the latest designer label to impress their school friends. Besides, why should it not be okay for my kids to wear garage sale clothes etc when my wife & I wear them ourselves?

    Garage sale doesn’t HAVE to meet tattered & “ghetto,” and what’s the big idea of thinking my kids’ needs are more important than mine? Where is that written? Either all people are created equal & all of our needs are equally important, or we’re categorizing some as more/less important than others, and it won’t limit itself just to kids vs adults. Old people are less important because they’re going to die in 5-10 years anyway, a father who has kids is more important since kids depend on him, the penalties for murdering a doctor should be more than the penalties for murdering a garage mechanic–to that end, I actually disagree with the penalty for killing a cop being more than the penalty for “other” people. I’m not comfortable with the idea of playing God that way with categorizing the importance of different humans & how important their life is.

    LRH

  190. [...] well. If you'd like to hear more from my side of the table, I'd welcome you to read the following: Outrage of the Week: Don’t You DARE Throw This Woman in Jail! And more generally: FreeRangeKids Reply With Quote + [...]

  191. I have to laugh at the notion that new clothes automatically look nicer.

    My older son got a new t-shirt from camp. Nice color, attractive small logo, etc. Within 12 hours of having received it, he had gotten paint on it working on his train layout. Now, it matches the rest of his clothes.

    On the other hand, he has several Hawaiian shirts that we got as hand me downs, that we have been able to pass down to his brother, that still look awesome. This is because he mostly wears them to non painting events. But if you looked at both of these shirts side by side, you would never be able to tell which one they got new. Ditto shoes – the dress shoes we got him new for first communion now look worse than the used dress shoes we got. He liked the new ones so much that he refused to take them off after church and trashed them. Sigh.

  192. to weigh in on the used baby and kids items: I actually ran an consignment sale. Basically because of the lead paint scare a couple years ago, now you are required to make sure the used item is not recalled before selling it. At our sale, we tried to keep an eye out for things that were recalled that we knew about. I tried to go ahead and get them to stop selling drop side cribs even the not yet recalled one because I knew it was a matter of time before they recalled all of them and I didn’t think we needed the liability.

    There are some things I would not buy used and many things I would. Cribs are fine as long as they are newish and not drop sides. The problem with drop side cribs is over time the hardware gets worn down and then it breaks and kids get trapped and strangled in them. So I would personally avoid those. It sucks because drop side cribs are way easier on your back.

    I would not buy a used car seat because you have no way of really knowing if it was in a wreck or not. We were not allowed to sell car seats over three years old. We also had them sign an affidavit saying the car seat was accident free and the purchasers also had to sign a wavier saying they don’t hold us liable.

    Toys are fine to buy used and most of my kids toys were used. They were in great condition and I made sure they were not recalled. Then I turn around and sell it again when they outgrow them. Sometimes I made a profit off of owning a toy or at least broke even. Equipment like high chairs, exersaucers, etc are fine to buy used as well just again, check the recall list.

    I actually wish I had known how awesome consignment sales were because at first we bought a lot of the baby gear brand new and we could have saved money. I did sell everything and got some of the money back. I found selling clothes to be more hassle than it is worth because it takes forever to tag them and I never made too much off of them.

    I do however buy used clothing if it is really cheap for playclothes or if there are nicer name brand clothing in good condition and for a good price, I will buy it.

    Nothing wrong with consignment sales. They are a great thing if done properly.

  193. Larry, we’re getting really far afield here, but the reason for the higher penalty for cop-killing being higher is not not because cops are more “valuable,” but because a fleeing/trapped suspect has more incentive to kill a cop, therefore a stronger deterrent is needed.

    Whether that’s a correct view or not is a separate issue, but that’s the purpose, not a higher “value” on a cop’s life than yours.

  194. The death of a child is tragic. The death of ANY life is tragic. Unfortunately bad things happen to good people. What upsets me the most about this story, (and so many others like it) is that we are so quick to judge and deem this woman as negligent when there are far worse parents and guardians out there. I am sickened when I hear stories on GMA or the Today show about moms who are injecting their 5yr old daughters with Botox, forcing them to strut around as if they are in their 20’s, so they can win pageants. I am infuriated when I see magazine covers and print ads depicting 10yr old girls in “lingerie for children”. How absurd these prosecutors and police are to think this woman caused the death of her nephew! We need to start shifting the focus where it should be and not persecuting parents/guardians/caregivers for tragic ACCIDENTS.

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