Arrested for Trusting The World & Their 9-Year-Old

Readers – Here is a story that does not surprise me. It does, however, enrage me and I am hoping that maybe someone who reads this blog knows of a pro bono lawyer in or around Mohawk Valley in Central New York who can help this family. Here is the mom’s letter:

I’m not sure if we did something wrong here or not, and I feel myself being pulled every which way.  But the morning we left our nine-year-old daughter with our sleeping six-year-old son in a car in a busy parking lot (windows open), we really thought they’d be okay.  I figured if someone attacked them, they’d be noticed, because a lot of people were in and out constantly.

My daughter had asked me if she could stay in the car and read, and I had exchanged a glance with my partner – the children’s dad — and then said yes, told her to scream the usual (“This stranger’s hurting me!”) if someone who felt skeevy got too friendly, and to use the cell phone to call 911 if anyone tried to open the doors of the car.

When we were paged, I suspected my daughter had reached the end of her book and her brother hadn’t woken yet, so she’d called the store to have us paged, knowing we’d come out and relieve her boredom.  But when we got back to the car after an absence of half an hour, the cops were there.

My partner was charged with endangering the welfare of a minor. 

I immediately started second guessing myself. If nothing else, I’d been dumb to not think that some well-meaning person would call the cops, right?

Especially since we’ve had CPS called on us once before.  Someone reported that our kids were playing a block from our house with no adult supervision and specifically that they had chased a ball into the street.  It was a bogus charge, but now I’m sitting here terrified that CPS will rescind their previous decision and now declare that we were at fault.  And all my friends agree with the cops, that the kids “could’ve been abducted,” and “What were you thinking?” etc. 

But they are also shocked, because they know I’m so protective: no video games, no sugary foods, early bedtime, homeschooling, etc.  But you know I would let my kids play a block away. 

And so I wonder: Are there other Free-Ranging parents I can ask about what to do when they are perceived as nuts – or worse — by those well-meaning CPS callers? And can they tell me what to do when they or their partners are arrested? We had gone into Wal-Mart just to fill a prescription. The pharmacist kept saying, “Five more minutes,” until that fateful half hour had passed.

I never have been afraid before, but now I’m very afraid — and not of abduction.

156 Responses

  1. The best thing that could possibly happen, for you and your kids, is that the whole thing is dropped.

    But for the rest of us, and I hope this doesn’t sound callous to the real fear you are experiencing, I would love to see this go to court. I would love to see facts and statistics presented. I would love to see Lenore brought in as an expert witness, shredding the so-called experts on the other side, and screaming “750,000 years!” until the jury has that number memorized.

    This, in our society, is how change happens. Sad but true.

  2. I think it’s going to be on the cops to explain exactly what the “endangerment” was. Had there been a rash of kidnappings in the area? Was there a specific known person on the prowl? Is there some published law for minimum age children can be left alone?

    The parents can come armed with the statistics. The cops are going to have to prove their case.

  3. It saddens me that almost every time I try to make a decision about what I will do with my 3-year-old, free-range or not, that I am almost always left with ‘what might other people do’ or ‘what might other people think’ or ‘will someone overreact and call the cops’ as the primary questions in my mind.

    It’s not ‘is my child safe’. I do that naturally and if that were my only consideration I’d be fine. No… it’s my fear that some outrage will occur due to people being idiots. I don’t fear him being abducted or abused. I fear the authorities taking him away from me because of busybodies who are afraid of their own shadows.

    I have no answer to offer. The real world I live in… I have to consider all possible risks, and the primary risk is the overreaction of these morons. It saddens me to no end.

    I guess the only major positives I can take away from this blog and these stories are 1) there is good evidence that my child is as safe as I believe his is and 2) that I have a better idea of just how stupid people can be, so I can protect us from them. Thanks for that, I guess.

  4. While I understand Kenny’s sentiment, I really do, and agree with it too, I also have a friend who is having to go through a court case and DCF investigation for a similar incident (except that she was still nearby her car even!) and I can tell you that the fear and powerlessness she is feeling right now is awful. Right now, no matter the actual outcome of the investigations, it feels like the system has won, because her fear won’t go away any time soon.

  5. Did it take two adults to get the prescription filled? One of those parents couldn’t have stayed in the car?

    A busy parking lot, with two young children, the windows rolled down and the parents see nothing wrong with that? I hope CPS does indeed hold them responsible for their negligent actions.

  6. 9 year olds are completely capable of sitting in the car with a sleeping 6 yr old! people are ridiculous now days. unless the kids were starving and sweating profusely-whoever called th cops should have stayed the heck out of it. that is not neglect. plus the kid had a cell phone to use and probably could have handled rolling up the windows if needed. i see nothing wrong with it. this country is falling apart- what happened to all of us?!
    there are kids that are truly getting abused but the cops are too busy wasting their energy and resources on crap like this.

  7. I’m sorry that the family is going through this, but this is a chance all of us Free-Rangers take. When I weigh the risk of allowing my kids to do something, I have to take in consideration the danger of other interfering adults who might call CPS. If it had been me, I would not have left the children in the car simply because it is law in my state that a child under the age of 8 can not be left alone, babysitters must be 13 or older. The danger here is the parent being arrested, not the child being abducted. If NY has no such law, then it should be the parent’s decision. The first commenter is right, if it goes to court, this might change things. With any luck, a law will be established so that parents have a clear understanding of what they can and can not do.

  8. Andrea,

    You wrote: “With any luck, a law will be established so that parents have a clear understanding of what they can and can not do.”

    I disagree completely with this. I understand where you’re coming from, but I respectfully disagree.

    What we need is for parents to gauge intelligently what their children are and are not capable of, and make wise choices based on their intimate knowledge of their own children. You know… to be parents. If, as you desire, a law were passed that made it hard-and-fast that a child under xx years of age could not be left alone in a car, then in a country this large with so many idiot parents, it would only be a matter of a short time before some child one month older than the law suffocated or kill someone driving off in the car. The parents would consider the law to be a bright line and once their kid passed that birthday all caution would be thrown to the winds.

    No… sorry. I disagree. What we should do is encourage parents to be parents. Not pass more and more laws abdicating responsibility for our children to the state. That’s how we’re getting further INTO this mess.

  9. Ann wrote:
    “Did it take two adults to get the prescription filled? One of those parents couldn’t have stayed in the car?”

    Only one of the parents stay in the car? But what if two paedophiles turn up at the same time? Do you really think it’s safe for two such very very young children to be left in a well ventilated car with only one parent to defend them from the onslaught of attacks they’re going to face?

    I hope if Ann is ever caught in her car alone with her kids, without her husband present, the CPS takes her kids away for her negligent actions.

  10. Ann- How is there anything wrong with that scenario? A busy parking lot- lots of safe, normal adults to hear a child scream that a stranger is hurting her. Windows down- but probably easy to roll right back up in case of danger and definitely the way to avoid suffocation. They didn’t leave them for 750,000 years or even long enough to get overheated. How is that negligent? What do you propose CPS do? Put them under regular observation for a 30 minute perceived lapse in judgment, while sniffing around for more ‘mistakes’? I know! Take their kids away and put them into an already over-crowded foster care system, tearing apart their family and traumatizing the kids for life. Let’s keep future psychologists in business!

    Personally, I (obviously) see nothing wrong with the picture here, and I have NO desire to have that much government interference in my or anyone else’s family life.

  11. How does a child roll up a power window??? I agree with Ann.

  12. This is ridiculous. I’m not worried about child molesters, I’m worried about people like Ann and those cops, people who are so paranoid that they end up teaching their children to be totally dependent on them and to utterly lack self-reliance. It’s because of people like them that college students have their parents talk to their professors for them. It’s twisted. They’re trying to criminalize the qualities which make someone a good parent. It makes you want to move to some other, saner country.

  13. Also, I am puzzled– why was the mother’s partner arrested but she wasn’t? They were together, presumably are jointly responsible for the children and both agreed to what they did. It seems like either they are both guilty or they are both innocent. From my previous comment it should be obvious what I think.

  14. We both went in to the pharmacy because the prescription was in my name but my partner was paying for it. I suppose I could have written him a note, or called to say my partner would be picking it up for me, but we didn’t think of that before we left.

    I’m not sure exactly why it was just my partner arrested. Maybe they went by whose car it was? Or who was driving? I have a non-driver’s ID and don’t drive, and it wasn’t legally my car.

  15. You know, not only do we (with some apparent exceptions) see nothing wrong with what the parents did, the actions of others in calling the police PROVES that there was nothing wrong with what the parents did. Apparently, at least one person was unknowingly keeping an eye on those children. Though that person or persons overreacted to the situation, had real danger come, the children would likely have been under some degree of protection from the people in the parking lot.

    And I’m wondering about the “windows open” statement. Most cars that I know of today do not have their rear windows roll down all the way (possibly so a child can’t try to climb out?). Doesn’t even seem like the rear windows on my Taurus go down half-way before stopping. A window not even half open would be good enough to stop someone from reaching all the way into the car, provided they didn’t come with something to break glass (when a slightly-open window isn’t even required to perform the deed anyway).

  16. Just yesterday, I left my 9- and 5-year-old boys in the car, windows rolled down, in their wet bathing suits so I could run into the library and pick up some manga for the 9-year-old… I am frankly scared to do it again after reading this post, and not because I worry that the boys will be kidnapped.
    I agree with Corey about letting parents be the judge of how well-prepared their kids are to be left alone, and I think that the last thing we need is a law dictating an appropriate age.
    At 8 years old, Ben Franklin was wandering the streets of Boston – at his father’s order – to try and figure out what he would do with his life; good thing nobody called the fuzz on him!

  17. Oh come on!!! My mom has left my siblings and I in the car while she did something since I was at least 7! And she’s the woman who doesn’t even let me go for a walk without a cell phone.

  18. I’m just wondering what day this happened. That area of NY State recently had a fairly long ultra-hot-heat wave – temps were in the upper 90’s. The internal car temperature, even with windows cracked, can easily climb well into the 100’s. A dark colored car will get even hotter. Is it possible that this happened during the heat wave and that’s what the cop was really responding too? Even a responsible 9 year old might not realize how dangerous the heat could be to the sleeping 6 year old (in fact, she probably would think it would be more responsible to let the 6 year old continue sleeping). Just another take on the issue. If the weather is nice and cool, I can’t see anything wrong with letting the kids wait in the car. But during the hot summer, not so much.

  19. singlemom: if it is hot enough that the six-year-old is in danger of more than waking up cranky and soaked in sweat then surely the 9-year-old will also be uncomfortable enough by that point to call the parents?

    But I agree that, although the chance of major harm was small, if this was taking place during a major heatwave both the policemen and the passersby had more reason to be concerned. But arresting the parents is still an over-reaction.

    I do hope that eventually someone responds to this thread who is a lawyer or knows a lawyer willing to defend such a case. We really need to start getting some legal resources together here at freerangekids, otherwise all we can do is watch powerless as yet another family gets subjected to a traumatic investigation and keep telling each other how “outraged” we are.

    Would it help if whenever something like this happened we started writing letters to the local papers of whichever town it happened in?

  20. Maybe it’s just the years of living in Phoenix but my first thought to this was “What were the temperatures outside?”. That’s a real endangerment issue and one that even most well meaning parents can miss. In Phoenix during the summer if you leave your child a car with no AC going (windows down or not) you should hope that someone alerts the authorities quickly because death really can happen fast in that situation from overheating. In places where it doesn’t reach 110+ during the summer it can still get hot enough (yes even with the windows down) to cause damage or death just depending on the outside temperature.

  21. I don’t know where I can look up the temperatures that day (at the library in archived papers?) but I do recall that it was overcast and raining off and on all day.

  22. This is my prime fear, if you will, of implementing free range with my kids. That some over zealous person doesn’t see a 9 year old as capable enough to open a car door and exit if need be, or use the phone in case of emergency, or otherwise form a complete thought.

    I’m very sorry this happened to them. What a nightmare

  23. @Krolik – I was thinking of the possibility that if the 9 year old got too hot, she might just decide to wait for the parents by getting out of the car and leaning up against it while she was reading her book (thinking that she was being considerate of her younger sibling who was sleeping). Small children overheat much more quickly than adults, so hot temperatures to a 6 year old can be deadly quickly.

  24. (shakes head)(bangs head on table)

    Is there no other crime that police could be investigating?

  25. Dear Parent,
    I hope you get the help you need to defend your case. You are INNOCENT until proven guilty; it’s up to the court now to prove that somehow your actions actually put your children in danger, and as LaurelL said “Had there been a rash of kidnappings in the area? Was there a specific known person on the prowl? Is there some published law for minimum age children can be left alone?” If not, and as you say the weather was rainy/cloudy, you *should* be ok. I do not feel you did anything wrong or illegal in this case and hope this situation doesn’t shake up your confidence to free-range or homeschool. Good luck!

  26. Wendy,

    Maybe you can answer something I’ve been wondering about for a while.

    I recently read a great Gene Weingarten piece about babies who die of hypertermia because their parents had accidentally forgotten them in a hot car. It is a horrible way to die and the guilt these parents will suffer for the rest of their lives is unimaginable. I looked up the statistics on such cases and, thankfully, children dying from hypertermia in cars is still very rare. But one study did a break-down by age and I was stumped by the fact that a sizable percentage (something like 8 or 10 percent) were over the age of 6. Surely most children that age know when they are too hot and are capable of unbuckling their seatbelt, exiting the car and finding help? Or is it really possible for a school-age child, or even an adult, to just suffer heatstroke in their sleep and die without ever waking up?

  27. Very quick web search brought up the following site:

    http://ggweather.com/heat/

    some facts from the page – death can occur in cars when the outside temperature is as low as 70 degrees F. Childrens’ body temperatures rise 3 to 5 times faster than adults. Some of the symptoms are disorientation and confusion, which would account for the younger elementary aged kids not exiting the car and finding help quickly enough.

  28. One thing that I find galling is that cases such as this lead me to feel fear of government and of fellow citizens. I don’t really care about the particulars of this or any similar case, I don’t think that I, a reasonable and responsible adult, should have to make my decisions based on fear of government authorities rather than the risks inherent in the situation.

  29. This is Greg-
    This is the most successful defense to use (& put your well-meaning friends to use, also) when dealing with the CPS folks, now that there’s involvement. They like to use “creative writing” to augment & validate their case, so whenever you’re dealing with these folks, at home or otherwise, use this technique used successfully by my wife & I, and originated by radical groups in the sixties (I’m dating myself). Whenever dealing with anyone related to your case, and wherever, have an unrelated witness with you at all times AND in all places. If they visit your home, have a person in each room. This sound ridiculous, but it drives them nuts and prevents them from building their case against you. Do not allow yourselves if at all possible to be alone with a worker in any discussion without a witness (you’re allowed a support person) or a lawyer, because they are well-practiced in twisting and convoluting your words, and will, to make a case stick. This will make all the difference in the world. Good Luck.

  30. @Ender – Thank you for the LOL of the day!

    @kcab – Exactly.

    @Jen – absolutely, and I hope the woman who posted this reads your response.

    To the woman who posted the story: You did nothing wrong. As far as your rights vs. CPS fears, I am told it takes a LOT for a child to be taken away. Please know you are a normal parent who knows what’s best for your child. I hope you gain the the confidence to stop second-guessing yourself (although were I in your shoes I would probably be very rattled). Your children were not in danger, and you made a choice in judgment that was, in my view (a parent of a 5 and 7 year old), a perfectly reasonable choice. Except maybe, shopping at Walmart, which I tend to avoid! ;-P (hee hee)

    Me, I’m thinking more of us parents who love our children very much – and yes, who exhibit both common sense, and who can weigh each situation with regard to risk and likelihood, and who aren’t paranoid by default – need to stand up and support one another, and proceed with confidence.

    I’d love an update as to how this “case” goes. My best wishes to you and your family.

  31. Wow, this really hits close to home. I live near this area and we are there frequently in the winter for hockey games. I have heard nothing about this. I will certainly try to write the paper about it, maybe the parent could provide me with the name of your local paper? I leave my kids in the car all the time and I have since they were little. Of course, I take into account the weather but honestly, this is CNY – not very frequently do we have weather to be concerned about. A lot of you have made very good points so I will not reiterate them but I do agree that we do not need yet another law passed. We should have the freedom that our parents had to parent us.

  32. I have for sure been known to leave my kids in the car while shopping – but only at their own request. Like The Parent said – her older kid wanted to read. I can understand that. And, at 9, in my book, that kid is old enough to take on some care for the younger sibling.

    My kids are 12 and 9, and I’ve been having them co-baby-sit one another (so they need to work things out, not one pulling rank on the other) for years. I started almost four years ago, half an hour at a time, always minutes away, with phone contact. Rules. Lock the doors, don’t open them for anyone but me. If anyone calls, tell them I’m in the bathroom, etc. No eating of choke-able foods.

    So, my kids were 9 and 6 at the time.

    Also, I let me kids run amok. We have a big lane across the way, blackberries, and the neighbors have horses. My little one, now 9, loves to go talk to the horses through the fence.

    Man, if things were back-when the way they are now, a whole generation of latch-key kids would have been in foster homes, and a whole generation of single, working moms would have been locked away!

    Besides, I was raised in the outback – no running water, a pony to get around on. My radius of ramble by the time I was 7 or so was eight miles on pony-back, or three walking.

    God, I don’t know who I would have become without those lawless days. (Okay, not all of it was good. But those part I just mentioned? Awesome!)

    Best of luck in getting through this, The Parent. I hope the law of the land and the judgment of those in power falls on the right side of commonsense.

    Of course your kids were safe. Don’t let anyone doubt you. Really.

    peace, and gratitude,
    -LaSara

  33. Things like this are why I’m glad Illinois has a law on the books about this. I wish it left a little more up to the discretion of the parents, but at least I know I am allowed 10 minutes if the kids are in the car. No way am I hauling a sleeping child out of the car to run into the post office. But I have to admit that I wouldn’t have left the kids alone in this situation (mine are 8,. 6, & 4). If my hubby & I are together, only one of us would have left the vehicle in this instance; if I were alone they all would have been dragged in with me.

  34. Wow. Just wow. I don’t know WHY I am surprised, as I have been known to get dirty looks from “helpful” strangers when I leave my 9yo in the car (locked, with windows half down) to run into the coffee shop in my neighborhood – with friends sitting outside, and the car within sight the whole three minutes I have rto un in to pick up my coffee.

    I think you did what you felt was best; whether any of us feel that, doesn’t matter. No harm, no foul. You were not careless or abusive. It was a judgment call. I agree with whoever said, Are you saying the cops don’t have anything better to do? Best of luck.

  35. I lived in central Arkansas as a kid and I frequently stayed in the car in the summer to read while my mom ran the “boring” errands. It was so humid and we knew if it was too hot to stay in the car before we tried to stay. I know that’s anecdotal, but based on that experience, I would think that even if you could die of heatstroke without knowing it, if it is hot enough for you to do so within a few minutes, you aren’t going to want to stay in the car in the first place.

    I left my sleeping 2-year old locked in the car once while I paid for gas. The line was longer than I thought it would be and it made me very nervous–like everyone else, more for fear of strangers of the good intentioned type calling the police even though I was only gone a total of 5 minutes and could see the car. It seems that anymore, “stranger danger” means something entirely different than it used to.

  36. So if the kids are left alone inside the car, that’s endangerment, because of the risk of hyperthermia. If the kids are left alone outside the car, that’s endangerment, because of the risk of abduction.

    The moral of the story: no kids should be left alone. Ever. Anywhere. For any reason. Even a 9-year-old. Even a 16-year-old. (Still a minor!)

  37. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/27/AR2009022701549.html

    is the Gene Weingarten hyperthermia story Krolik referred to.

  38. @krolik Its actually pretty easy to get heatstroke without realizing it, especially for the young, the old, and the drunk. It does not sound like this was a huge risk on the day in question however.

    @Ann A 9 year old is not a small child, she is a preteen. 6 is a schoolaged child, but it is at least within the realms of sanity to call a 6 year old a small child.

  39. These are the states that have statutes regarding leaving children unattended in a vehicle.

    http://www.harrisonshope.org/legislation.html

    Free range has nothing to do with not being a law-abiding citizen. Know your laws.

  40. Michele S., at least for my state, that’s a RUNNING vehicle. “Knowing your laws” is a good idea. If the parent posted in this example was in my state, she would not have fallen under the “Not Even A Minute” site’s legal stipulations.

    Oh and P.S. sometimes we have stupid laws. Still good to know them – because maybe we can work together to change them to make sense!

  41. @ann: Are you a troll? Seriously?

    At any rate, this is just another bit of evidence as to the true lack of sanity in this day in age.

    @The Parent: I feel so badly for you and really hope this case is dropped. You know, if people stuck more by the adage “It take a village to raise a child” instead of “Ruh Roh Raggy! There’s a kid by himself! Police! Police!” we might actually be able to help kids grow up with some semblance of self-accomplishment and self-worth rather than the inability to function. You did nothing wrong.

    We’re heading rapidly toward a future of people dependent upon anti-depressants… I’m telling you!

  42. Things like this continue to disturb me. People will pass you on the street and never say hello or acknowledge your existence, but let your child get out of arms length and panic comes over their face and the look for the adult who should be monitoring this child. People want to act responsibly for other people’s children but the first response is always to call the police.as if arresting the parent will make the life of this child they are so concerned about better.

    We need to work on society in general. If we were more communal we would be less likely to turn immediately to the police in these situations and we would have a safer environment in which to raise our children.

  43. Is there some part of this story that’s missing? Was it hot outside or something?

  44. I am retired but once worked for CPS in another state. I would offer some advise and observations::
    1. Lawyer up whenever an arrest is made or a petition is filed. You will be on an equal footing, feel less fearful, and have better access to poiice and cps reports/records.
    2. I don’t know why the father was arrested and the mother not. Possible the police did not arrest the mother so they wouldn’t have to remove the kids. Not logical perhaps but avoids unnecessary and traumatic foster placements.
    3. The children would most likely have been removed at the scene if the police felt both parents were unable to safely parent them. Much less likely to happen later..
    4. I don’t know how specific or vague NY child endangerment laws are, This varies widely around the country but it is possible the police aren’t allowed much descretion when they see certain situations.

    We elect people and then we and others lobby them to pass laws to protect children among other things.. Unfortunately as a society there is often not a lot of agreement on where the lines should be drawn and how tightly defined. Police and CPS are charged with enforcing laws that are passed even when there are alot of folks that disagree with those laws.

    We are a nation of 300 million opinionated individuals each with our own deeply held values and ideas how the system should work. All laws are compromizes trying to find a middle and hopefully sensible ground. There is by it’s very nature a somewhat one size fits all.system. Especially after a couple decades of voters being uncomfortable with allowing judges and LEA very much descretion.

    If you think the discussion is animated and sometimes arguementative here at Free Range Kids, you should hear the conversations in the cps junch rooms, on the cops coffee breaks, and when the judges get together for a drink after work. I promise you they don’t all agree either and at times discussions are intense. Mostly I found a lot of deeply caring but imperfect human beings doing these jobs as best they can under the laws enacted.in their state.

  45. Although I hope with all my heart that you get off with a talking to and a “slapped wrist” I can’t help but think that 1/2 and hour alone in the car was a littel too long. Its not as though you nipped in and were out in 5 mins.
    My own fears with these situations is not what SOMEONE might do to my children, but whatthey are capable of doing themselves.
    The 9 year old can be trusted, but can she be trusted to stop her 6 yr old sibling from getting into trouble. What if he had woken up upset and decided to leave the car?
    I DO leave my kids in the car, but only for 5 mins at a time and in carparks where I can see them from the window.
    I think the big thing here is the time scale.
    If someone saw the parents leave and then after afew minutes started wondering how long they where going to be you can;’t blame them for calling the store.
    When should someone do this?
    1/2 hr?
    1 hour?
    An afternoon?
    One the one hand as free range parenst we presume that the public will (by and large) protect our kids…but when someone is concerned in a situation like this you all click your tongues and shake your heads.
    You can’t have it both ways.

  46. When I was 10, my mom had twins…they had issues & had to stay longer in the hospital than she did. I remember going with her to retrieve one of them–I sat in the car for what must’ve been close to an hour, in August…windows down, nothing for entertainment except the car owner’s manual in the glove box. And I rode home in the front seat, holding the new baby in my arms.

    We’d have all been toast back in the 70’s, wouldn’t we.

  47. I agree with some of the previous commenters, if this was during the heatwave when temperatures were in the 90s then it wasn’t such a great decision. Kids do die of hyperthermia in cars, even with the windows open and especially if they are already asleep. Half an hour is a long time, especially for a six year old. If it was me I would have nipped out of the shop to check on the kids, especially as there were 2 adults in this case, one could easily have stayed to pick up the prescription.

    I also agree with the comment above – you can’t expect other people to watch out for your kids and then complain when they do. Half an hour is a long time, I would say 15 minutes is ok, longer than that and the kids are likely to get bored and start messing about – 15 mins is a long time to a 6 year old! My brother once accidentally knocked the hand brake of my Mum’s car when we were left in the car alone and the car rolled backwards into the road. Luckily no one was hurt but the car suffered some bumps!

    However, I think this was a mistake in judgement on the mother’s part and she shouldn’t suffer anything more serious than a “slap on the wrist”.

  48. To anyone wondering whether there was nothing better for the police to be doing: Yes, undoubtedly there was SOMETHING. They don’t necessarily get to make the call on whether or not they go to a call, though. If they get the call and are told to go, they go- and I suspect they’re especially likely to be sent out to investigate if a situation involves children.

    If a child really was in danger, we’d be pretty pissed off if the cops didn’t show up because something “more important” came up.

  49. Somebody said there were “normal” looking adults around the car park. You do realize that pedophile, kidnappers and murderers don’t actually wear signs stating that they aren’t normal. They look just like regular people.

    Piss poor excuse for why they both had to go in. I pick up prescriptions that aren’t in my name all the damn time and could Mom not have gone in and taken the money from her partner.

    It IS child endangerment in this day and age to leave children unattended in a car and in my opinion the charge fits the crime.

    Considering that the parents were already in trouble for their kids playing alone out of sight once already…shouldn’t they have learned their lesson?

  50. Last summer I visited the L.A. area with my family. One afternoon I decided to take my kids (age 1 and 4) to the beach while my husband went to a business meeting. I loaded kids up in the car but then remembered I’d left the stroller at the front desk of our hotel. I parked as close to the front door as possible, noticed a police officer parked in the spot behind me (which made me feel secure enough to leave my kids for all of 60 seconds), locked the doors but cracked the windows and ran to fetch the stroller. Big mistake! I received the lecture of my life (I was endangering the lives of my children, negligent, on and on). I think he wanted to give me a ticket, but didn’t when I told him I thought my kids would be safe 10 feet from his patrol car. Needless to say, I never leave my kids in the car! Except yesterday when I had to run in the the gas station and pay…

  51. Somebody made a comment way up there somewhere about FreeRangeKids providing legal services for stuff like this. And while I disagree that FRK should PROVIDE the services, as in have free legal assistance available for all FR parents who run into trouble, I think it would be an outstanding idea, Lenore, to simply have a directory on here of “FR-friendly” lawyers and other legal professionals. Maybe listing them per state or something like that. It might be quite an undertaking to put something like that together, but it would be a great resource for parents who find themselves in this situation.

    That being said, I do however agree that FreeRange Parenting does not exempt us from following the laws, obviously. It’s still our responsibility to know and follow them (however silly they may be), and not expect “FreeRange Kids” to come save our butt when we don’t. Cheers!

  52. Here’s a question for those who believe this was endangerment:

    At the ages of 6 and 9 (school aged children) can, and in many cases do, walk to school or to the bus stop on a daily basis with little or no supervision. At the age of 6, I was in charge of getting myself from the back door of my house to the bus stop, unsupervised.

    How is leaving the same kids in the car any more dangerous than letting them walk to scheel or to the bus stop?

    “If they get the call and are told to go, they go- and I suspect they’re especially likely to be sent out to investigate if a situation involves children.”

    Often it is not what happens that defines who we are, but how we react to it. Yes, the police have to respond to the calls they get. But they do not have to take action just because someone makes a phone call. See the City of Cambridge vs. Prof. Gates bruhaha…

  53. I think we can safely blame Harrison’s Hope for this one. Basically, the Harrison’s Hope people are punishing every child for the fact that two toddlers put a car in gear and it killed their son.

  54. @The Parent

    I feel for you here and even though it’s not worth an ounce of practical good I have to tell you that I do not believe that you and your partner have done anything to endanger your children.

    Personally, I think you need to ignore the comments you see or hear that criticize you for the decision, because all it will do is make you doubt yourself. You are experiencing enough doubt already and you don’t need more. You need to feel confident about yourself, your children, your decision, and your knowledge of your children and their capabilities in order to fight this and see it through. You love your kids. You take good care of them. You don’t make baseless decisions. Remember that. Now, as for the law…

    According to the link provided by another commenter:
    http://www.harrisonshope.org/legislation.html

    you can access NY States Laws:
    http://www.harrisonshope.org/m_images/Individual%20State%20Laws/Proposed%20Laws/New%20York.pdf

    A quick read shows the part that is relevant to your case:
    “Being a parent, guardian or other person legally charged
    with the care or custody of a child less than seven years old, he or she leaves such child inside a motor vehicle without the supervision of a person who is at least twelve years of age, under conditions which knowingly or recklessly present a significant risk to the health or safety of such child.”

    Ok, so, you may know this already, but I think it’s worth repeating for everyone to read. In short there wasn’t anything “legally wrong” with leaving your 9 year old in the car alone. She’s older than 7 and doesn’t need a guardian in the car according to NY state law.

    Now, the problem for you is that according to the law the 6 year old needed to have someone aged 12 or over in order for it to be legal.

    Essentially, according to the law, the 9 year old is deemed responsible enough to look after herself but NOT deemed responsible enough to look after herself AND another child who is under the age of 7.

    The really sticky part is the phrase: “under conditions which knowingly or recklessly present a significant risk to the health or safety of such child”

    While the theory of our judicial system is that you are innocent until proven guilty, that tends not to be how it works in real life. While the police officer should have to prove that the conditions were a significant risk to the health and safety of the child it is more likely that you will have to prove that the circumstances were NOT a risk.

    I wish you nothing but luck with this case. Please come back to the site and update us on what’s going on.

    God bless you.

  55. @Lenore

    I know you are looking for suggestions on how to improve the site. I think it would be great to have a forum for people to post these experiences and access the helpful responses that have been given in the past. And also have a forum so we can keep up with the families and find out how things are going as their cases progress.

    Thanks!

  56. Legislators need to learn the difference between a tragedy (a child dies when left in a car with the windows rolled up for 8 hours on a 90 degree day) and a threat to public safety. Get a grip please! If we legislate every possible danger, risk, or questionable decision a person could make we’ll be living in a Big Brother State. Let’s see the big picture here people!

  57. We do this all the time. My girls (now 14 and 11) are book worms. They have a cell phone and the vehicle is locked. Our world has become too paranoid.

  58. @ACarLessFamily,

    “One the one hand as free range parenst we presume that the public will (by and large) protect our kids…but when someone is concerned in a situation like this you all click your tongues and shake your heads.
    You can’t have it both ways.”

    This isn’t about having it both ways. Because calling the police isn’t “help”.

    Concern, I have no problem with. Let me break it down for you. Let’s say you’re a grownup who personally wouldn’t leave your 6 and 9 year old in the car alone. First, hooray for you – but that doesn’t make you any kind of parenting authority on what everyone else should do (with their different children, different circumstances, etc). If you’re concerned and actually want to look out for the kids in question then hey waiting by the car, sure. If you’re paranoid or worried or if something doesn’t feel right (remember intuition? It works), coming into the store to check things out, sure. Asking Walmart to page the owner of a such-and-such car. Heck yeah, help out or show concern. Do it with humility and kindness if you’re going to do it.

    Calling the authorities when there is NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER of anything bad happening? No.

    We don’t have enough information in this article to know what happened but it sounds like the cops were called without any investigation. In any case I know this happens – it’s that “well-wisher”

    @RayD

    “Half an hour is a long time, I would say 15 minutes is ok, longer than that and the kids are likely to get bored and start messing about – 15 mins is a long time to a 6 year old”

    I’m glad we have your sophisticated algorithms for time, weather conditions, ages, temperament of individual children. It sounds like you are the authority on what is the “OK” thing to do – and after all these considerations that you as a stranger can make in this scenario, you support that if it goes on a minute longer, and the police should be called. Do you have a number so we can call you to consult? I often have trouble knowing exactly how many minutes I can leave my kids in the car alone.

    [/ sarcasm off]

    I mean we COULD just leave this to parents to decide, being as they likely know their own childrens capabilities and what the circumstances dictate.

    I am all for other parents being concerned if they see something they personally wouldn’t do, or if they are just paranoid ninnies. But calling the cops without confronting the parents or doing some investigation is what I call an over-reaction, it can be upsetting for all involved, it is a waste of the police’s time, and it creates a “police state” of fear – as we see in example above of the woman who got the big lecture after stroller-fetching and now claims she will NEVER let her kid sit in the car, even for a minute.

  59. @Kelly

    You are right, we don’t have the full story..but your point is….? As we DON’T have the full story all we can do is comment on how WE would react and our opinions on the post as given, not childishly deride other peoples comments….did you read my comment? I do leave my kids in the car, I think 1/2 and hour is excessive, but thats my opinion..others have diffrent levels, just like bed time or TV time..thats called freedom of choice.
    You might also note that I gave MY opinion and didn’t decide to belittle other posters with my opinions….oh..but did I leave my ” sarcasm off” ?

  60. @ACarLessFamily

    In responding to your comment I did not belittle you whatsoever. I used logic, because I am definitely going to deconstruct the “You can’t have it both ways” argument when I hear it.

    “As we DON’T have the full story all we can do is comment on how WE would react”

    Exactly, and I’m suggesting for those who think “something should be done” they might try any of my suggestions. Not calling the cops by rote.

  61. Ah, I’ve always loved the “SOMEBODY SHOULD DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS!” argument. People never stop shouting long enough to realize THEY are “somebody”. You don’t always have to deflect every little thing to the authorities, you know?

  62. @AWB – More succinct and better said than my long-winded above post.

  63. I don’t think you should be arrested for this, you clearly took precautions, but I do feel that 30 min is kind of a long time.

  64. So I’m tippy-toeing across the middle of this one.

    I think leaving the kids for ten or fifteen minutes in the parking lot at my local convenience store, or the library, or anywhere I could have gotten back to them quickly if I needed to, would be fine. my rule of thumb about that is: if the kids get scared or need something, can they walk into the store and find me fairly quickly? If it’s yes, then great; stay in the car and read.

    I think that half-hour in the Wal-Mart parking lot is something I would not have done. After it was clear that the errand was not happeining quickly, I would have elected for one of us (because there were 2 adults), to go back and hang with the kids. That’s just a long time to leave kids in the car alone, whether it’s hot or cold out. After the first ten minutes or so, it’s not a “quick errand” — it’s a shopping trip. And if they have to have you paged to find you, you’re probably too far away.

    This isn’t the same as having kids walk home from the bus stop, where they are in familiar territory. This is the parking lot at Wal-Mart. Not the same thing.

  65. I can’t help but agree partly with ACarLessFamily – not on the ’30 minutes is too long’ or ‘not more than 15 mins, and always within my sight’ bits, but on the ‘you can’t have it both ways’ one.

    At FRK we advocate for saner, more conscious (and what we overall consider better) parenting – but at the same time we jump at the decisions made by cops. Putting children in these situations, danger-free or not, inherently puts you at risk in a society that disagrees with your views. Justified or not. As conscious individuals, we have to make choices around that – I am going to let my kid take a ride on the subway even if someone could potentially call the police, or I frankly don’t want to cause a mess with the authorities so I will shut up and live as everybody else.

    What we can’t do is focus on our isolated views as if we frankly lived up in the mountains in a microsociety composed by the family members only, shake our heads at people everytime their opinions don’t match ours and pretend we are somehow justified in doing so. The person who called the police arguably interfered with the life of the parents who left their kids in their car, but then again – don’t we advocate for the entire community to keep an eye on the kids?

    I also vote FRK because I consider our means are more justified than those of paranoparents, but there is a very big step between doing that and actually expecting society to embrace this lifestyle as well. We live in the real world where people don’t think like us – not in a world of virtuous actions where there is one absolute moral followed perfectly by everyone. If we want this to change, we need to work for it – we need to do lobbying for laws, work on the defense of parents like the ones of this post so that there is a good precedent for us in court, we need to do campaigns and communicate with our people.

    Sighing at them and going on about how god-awful they are and how they deserve to have their kids taken away is not getting us anywhere near.

  66. Why exactly, would you trust the world with your kids? Leaving them in the car in a Walmart parking lot no less, what planet did you just fly in from or what prescription med did you run out of to lose your personal responsibility of providing a safe environment for your children? Apparently, you felt compelled to test the CPS again; or maybe, your 9 year old is an old soul who would rather sit in a car then be seen with you in Walmart? Common sense, sound judgment and personal responsibility is lacking in this couple’s life.

  67. Quoting Kelly,

    “I am all for other parents being concerned if they see something they personally wouldn’t do, or if they are just paranoid ninnies. But calling the cops without confronting the parents or doing some investigation is what I call an over-reaction, it can be upsetting for all involved, it is a waste of the police’s time, and it creates a “police state” of fear – as we see in example above of the woman who got the big lecture after stroller-fetching and now claims she will NEVER let her kid sit in the car, even for a minute.”

    I agree with that. But I don’t see how this stands against ACarLessFamily’s original argument.

    Yes, that is a view at FRK, and that’s what we’re working to bloom in the mindset of paranoparents, and the view that makes us enraged when parents like the ones of this post go what they go through – but thinking we can have it BOTH ways (advocating that community as a whole keeps an eye on children AND does so our style, free-range) just because it’s the right thing to do is like religious people wanting the State to leave room for personal moral decisions, AND people to make the moral decisions that are coherent with the group’s religious beliefs — because for them these religious beliefs are the right moral to abide by.

  68. @Youngadultinmexico

    You are belaboring your point over and over re: we can’t decide Free Range is “Right”, and then decide everyone else has to think the same.

    As a Free Range parent, I live with this reality every day. Lots of people don’t agree with my mindset. Which is why I’m happy to suggest some alternatives to calling the police – as you quoted in your most recent post.

  69. @Kelly

    We CAN decide Free Range is right. We CAN’T decide other people will agree.

    We CAN suggest as many alternatives as we want to calling the police. We CAN’T jump at people because they decided to call the police. Not justified. Best we can do is go to court, bring the army of reason and facts, and defend the case well to leave a good precedent. We can try our hardest to persuade people to not call the police (we’ll always wonder if the person who called the police would have acted differently if there had been a sign that said, ‘hey, my name is x, my phone number is x, and I am gone starting at x’ to make an informed decision), but we cannot expect them to act our way, as justified as we are in acting like this. It doesn’t grant people the moral personality we ourselves ask to have.

  70. FYI, in Illinois it’s child endangerment to leave a kid alone for 10 minutes in the car without someone 14 or older. 10 minutes, explicitly. 5 is legal, 10 is not.

    I have a 2 month old daughter, and honestly I’m terrified to tell people about how we parent her, lest I get CPS called on me. I’m glad we’re the only people who’ve noticed that my baby has a tan (as she LOVES being outside), because I’m certain someone will have a serious problem with my child not having a vitamin d deficiency.

    It’s seriously little things like that. I’m scared someone will notice my daughter enjoys the sunlight.

  71. “We can try our hardest to persuade people to not call the police”

    Yup. Me personally, I enjoy taking this route – not just a cop-calling discussion, but a discussion about “safety”, statistics, living with risk, supporting parents rather than criticizing them by rote. For me, having these discussions has proved successful many times.

  72. @Kelly

    And sorry for saying exactly the same for the third time now, but I don’t think you really are understanding my point or ACarLessFamily’s. To elaborate a fourth time, on simpler words, suggesting ways for people to act differently is not enough to go on about ACarLessFamily’s algorithms in your brilliant sarcastic way, or to satanize the people who acted in this case for what they acted. I guess we can both do better on our writing/reading skills.

  73. @Missy Jones – I was one of those “old souls” you seem to be skeptical of. I always wanted to stay in the card and read rather than shop or run errands with my parents. I was allowed to mainly because if I had to go I would read my book while walking. That irritated my parents because I was so slow and kept bumping in to things. My 9yo son is the same way. He would much rather sit in the car than accompany my 11yo and I into any given store. I usually let him if/when circumstances permit. There is nothing wrong with letting a child have a few moments to themselves. IMO kids get far too little time by themselves nowadays with every minute being scheduled. Find the time where you can.

  74. @Elizabeth, @Lenore

    “I think it would be great to have a forum for people to post these experiences and access the helpful responses that have been given in the past. And also have a forum so we can keep up with the families and find out how things are going as their cases progress.”

    I think this would be a great idea, too. I have been reading these stories for some time now, and whenever there is a “so-and-so got into legal trouble for such-and-such”, I often find myself curious as to what happened.

  75. @ kelly and young adult – You’ve both made your points multiple times now. Isn’t it time to agree to disagree? We can’t make other people see our point of view just by repeating it incessantly.

  76. MaeMae – Yes, as you can see by my recent comment, I am definitely moving on.

    In reference to your “old souls” – I have one child this way, and the other who’d probably take an opportunity to get out of the car and hitch a ride to Seattle. Of course he’d probably do it safely, but he IS five.🙂

  77. Somebody said there were “normal” looking adults around the car park. You do realize that pedophile, kidnappers and murderers don’t actually wear signs stating that they aren’t normal. They look just like regular people.

    True enough, but they don’t generally go around in packs. If the parking lot was “crowded” the odds are great that most – if not all – of those people would never have any intention of harming your child. And even if by some coincidence every last person there was thinking about harming your kid, I suspect they’d all assume nobody ELSE was and that if they tried it they’d be stopped by the bystanders.

    It IS child endangerment in this day and age to leave children unattended in a car and in my opinion the charge fits the crime.

    What makes this day and age different from others? Please cite your sources.

    Considering that the parents were already in trouble for their kids playing alone out of sight once already…shouldn’t they have learned their lesson?

    WHAT lesson? That they aren’t allowed to raise their own children?

    Why exactly, would you trust the world with your kids? Leaving them in the car in a Walmart parking lot no less, what planet did you just fly in from or what prescription med did you run out of to lose your personal responsibility of providing a safe environment for your children?

    Are Walmart parking lots especially unsafe or something? Has there been a rash of killings there lately that I don’t know about?

  78. @Uly, I was going to copy and paste and ask the same questions but you did it for me.🙂

    What, exactly, was the danger? The temps weren’t hot that day, from what The Parent has shared with us. My nine year old is capable of getting out of a car if needed, and knows to hold a younger child’s hand if necessary. She can also dial a cell phone. What was the danger lurking for this particular nine year old?

    Fifteen minutes turned into thirty. It happens a lot. I might call out to the car, but you know, I’ve left my kids in the car for years now and my oldest tends to call me to whine that we’ve been in there too long.🙂 I can’t help it if someone managed to pick up every item in the store that had no tag on it and endless price checks are happening. The risks of kidnapping STILL HAVE NOT INCREASED IN THAT EXTRA FIFTEEN MINUTES. 750,000 years, remember.

  79. While I commend this site for allowing parents and people of all persuasions to discuss the intriguing intersection of personal freedom and responsibility, I must say that I am greatly put off by the enraged and paranoid tone and content of many who write in.

    Some of the writers seem to be living in a post-apocayptic version of America, where private citizens have no rights, where basic civil liberties are continually under threat and where there is an insidious effort to make the lives of parents sheer misery.

    Oh, and where “government” is the enemy and cops are out to get innocent, fun-loving people who are just committed to giving their kids some good clean freedom.

    Also, there seems to be a degree of denial regarding the concept of responsible parenting. Guess what? Being a good parent, no matter how committed you are to your child’s freedom, does most certainly entail a certain degree of vigilance/stewardship and oversight of your kids.

    And no. It is not always wise or even acceptable to leave your kids alone somewhere.

    On such a website, I would expect to encounter positive-minded people who are committed to restoring the fun of long-ago childhood.

    Instead, I am disheartened to read a whole lot of ranting and raging at the machine.

    Folks, you can give your kids an endless array of liberating, mind-expanding, self-sufficiency-building experiences without leaving them in a Wal-Mart parking lot.

  80. Babe, I don’t necessarily disagree with you. However, where was the danger? WHAT was the danger?

  81. Hi. My suggestion, as someone who grew up in the Mohawk Valley and probably sat happily reading at age 10 or so in a car in that same parking lot while my mom went into the store for a “quick” trip that turned into a 45m wait at the checkout line (it happens), would be this:

    – Familiarize yourself with the local climate surrounding the idea of kids being on their own in the first place. As a kid growing up in the MV, I found that there wasn’t much going on in sleepy-city and suburbia-ville, so every time a child abduction happened, it was big news for months and all the parents tended to freak out about it. My mom woke me up in the middle of the night while I was asleep to tell me that a girl I’d never heard of had been abducted five towns over, and wanted to remind me to be safe. Tragic? Yes. Should parents and children be aware of abduction? Yes. Should kids and parents inform themselves of what they can do to resist abduction, etc., on the slim chance it might happen? Sure, and I think teaching your kid to yell and call 911 is a great start.

    Do they need to freak out? No, but they do, and I think that, especially in places like the MV, people tend to freak out about things like abductions, in part because the family atmosphere in that area is a Big Deal and the whole place hasn’t had anything exciting happen to it since the Erie Canal went through 200 yrs. ago. You need to find out how much people freak out or how much they don’t, locally, and take that into account.

    (Side note: why do people tend to freak out? Being aware of a problem doesn’t mean that your awareness insulates you from the possibility of having that problem, but modern society seems to accept this fallacy as fact. Because it accepts this fallacy as fact, it doesn’t like to talk much about what your reaction should be if you have the problem anyway, because that shatters the fallacy–when, ironically, if you are actually in a dangerous situation, one of the only things that will help you create a better outcome for the situation is what your reaction is. (I think that this is part of why we Americans talk so much about tragedies like child abduction, but won’t let our kids go to Tae Kwon Do because they might get hurt…)).

    – Familiarize yourself with the law. Are the NY cops legally required to charge you or your partner and/or report you to CPS, after the kid has been alone for x number of minutes? If so, both they and the CPS people are doing their job, and you can’t blame them for that.

    – If you find out that there is such a law, you have three choices:
    1.) Adapt your behavior to the law:
    – bring your kid in with you; they can sit in the chairs inside the Wal-Mart pharmacy and read there just as well as they can inside the car.
    – have one of you stay with the kids in the car. Singing along with songs-on-tape is an awesome parent/kid activity to do for 20 min. while one parent runs an errand, and your kid will feel closer to you.
    – schedule time to do errands like that when your kids aren’t with you.
    – make “errands” a cool activity where your kids get to learn more about the world around them and grown-up jobs. Start a conversation with the pharmacist or the banker or the guy at Hapanowicz and include your kid; maybe your kid will learn about what pharmacists or bankers or butchers do and learn that it’s important to make connections with the mysterious people behind the high counters (and get a slice of bologna); maybe your kid will get a summer job in 10 yrs. working behind one of the high counters because of a friendship they struck up at age 7. And maybe the people behind the counter will enjoy chatting with your well-mannered, intelligent, non-screaming kid, and think better of kids in general for it.

    2.) Adapt the law to your behavior:
    If you think the law is stupid, work to change the law; don’t blame the people who must enforce it.

    3.) Don’t adapt your behavior and don’t adapt the law:
    You could choose this approach, but then you have no excuse to be suprised when the police and CPS come a-calling next time.

  82. And no. It is not always wise or even acceptable to leave your kids alone somewhere.

    Fair enough, however the converse – that it is never wise or acceptable to leave your kids somewhere – is also not true.

    Again I ask, what, specifically, is so bad about wal-mart parking lots? People keep stating it like this is some specially bad place to leave your kid, but I don’t see it.

  83. It’s great that we are able to opine about this case.

    So what can we do?

    I’m disgusted by the fact that everything is legislated down to whether I can or cannot let my child sit in a car while I go into a store for a gallon of milk, or drop my twelve year old off at the mall, or let my kid ride his bike down our street. And I don’t even have kids. I’m a teacher, and I’d like to have kids, but seeing that I won’t get to make my own parenting decisions terrifies me.

    What can we do? I can write letters and emails to my legislators. But wouldn’t it be more effective if all of us who feel the same way worked together? Perhaps that can be an upgrade to the site- a place where we can work together to effect change and meet up to discuss how we can make a difference.

    It’s sad that people like the woman in this case who have to spend thousands of dollars defending themselves for making a choice about the capabilities of their children – in which no one was hurt! And she risks being branded a child abuser (neglector?) for the rest of her life. It’s sickening.

    I’d like to work with other free rangers to see that this stops happening, instead of just posting my opinion about it and going on with my day.

  84. @ Bungalow Babe

    Letting a 9 year old stay in a parked car with the windows rolled down and read her book while the parents run an errand is not the same thing as abandoning “stewardship of your kids”.

    Even NY state law (where this happened) says it’s ok to leave a 9 year old in the car unattended.

    My parents were the LEAST free-range one could imagine when I was growing up in the ’70s and ’80s. But it was ubiquitous for my mother to leave us in the car when she ran into the grocery store to pick up dinner. No, I wasn’t 4 when she did it, but by the time I was 9 it happened a lot.

    Please don’t confuse free-range with negligence. It takes a great deal of time, energy, care, concern, and yes, vigilance and stewardship to raise a free-range kid. Teaching the skills necessary to become self-sufficient is harder than it sounds and requires constant attention and awareness of your child and his/her skills. No one who is truly committed to free-range style parenting is lax about child-rearing.

    It’s not “ranting and aging at the machine” to recognize that additional and more specific of legislation don’t actually make anyone safer it just makes us more limited. Any educated civil libertarian would agree; free-range or not. Remember, the people who are actually dangerous threats to our children are criminal, so adding a few more laws isn’t going to thwart them. The additional laws only limit parents and genuine good Samaritans who have a child’s best interest at heart.

  85. Wow. Just wow. 9 years sitting in the car reading is dangerous in the USA? I guess I should warn all the parents I know. No, not about being careful, but to look for other vacation destinations.

    Perhaps if that madness is being taken seriously and tourists stay away, something may change.

  86. Val, in California leaving the kids (age 1 and 4) as you did is illegal. And you did it right in front of a cop! No wonder you got a lecture. When that law first took effect they made sure that all parents knew it meant never leave your kids in the car EVER. Even if you loaded them into your car and then had to run back in the house to get something. Now I don’t know anyone that wouldn’t just run back in the house, but it is illegal to leave them in the car in the situation you describe.

  87. @Missy Jones “what planet did you just fly in from or what prescription med did you run out of to lose your personal responsibility of providing a safe environment for your children?”

    Right. That is the discussion.

    The children were perfectly safe in that car.

    Paranoia does not create an automatically dangerous environment. Anecdotal evidence and flawed parallels do not correlate to a dangerous environment. There is no evidence and no empirical data that those children were at risk.

    Kudos to this parent for allowing their children a degree of independence in a world where we’ve all lost our damn minds with paranoia.

  88. in defense of the parent, when you go to the WalMart pharmacy you never know how long it will take. sometimes it’s 5 minutes, sometimes it’s an hour. that’s one of the reasons i use my independent local pharmacist.

    but the greater point … i think by the time a kid is 9 s/he can figure out if they are too hot & take reasonable action. we have not had a/c for the entire history of the world. that said, i don’t do it at walmart or similar big box stores b/c the one time my husband let our son sit on the hood on a beautiful cool sunny day, with his father sitting in the car while I ran in to grab a few things, we received a warning for child endangerment. that’s just not worth the risk.

  89. Well, if your kids get in trouble in your car, I for one am training myself NOT to help, to just walk by.

    And why?

    Because you and so many others have taught them to scream ”This stranger’s hurting me!

    Free Range Kids deserve better than that crap. First, if that’s their chief weapon, than you should rethink how free range they actually are. Second, just what the hell are you teaching them? Third, you are leaving it up to a 9 year old to judge skeevy?

    Fourth, I doubt you’ll be the person telling the police, oh, they were probably over-reacting when that guy came to the window to ask where their mom was.

    You should have demanded to be charged and arrested along with your partner. You are clearly every bit as responsible in this situation as he.

  90. I wasn’t going to say anymore, but I must. No one seems to remember that there was a 6 year old asleep in the car with the 9 year old.
    Yes a 9 year old can be trusted in the car, but there is a big difference between 9 and 6.

    @The parent I am not wagging my finger at you, I am not saying you did a bad thing. What I am saying is as parents (yes even the saintly free range kind :P) we all make mistakes, we all make errors of judgment, we all have moments when we look back and think “WOW, lucky I got away with that!” I have a million in my belt.
    As posted, free range shouldn;t mean neglected. (again I am NOT accusing you of neglect) but it has to be remembered that the person who reported you (and NO to call the police wasn’t a good thing either) may have had tragedy in their life..may have left THEIR kid in the car and had something bad happen. I don;t for one minute think anyone would call the police if they were not genuinely concerned (in their opinion) for the childrens welfare.

    In fact a 9 year old on her own would be fine…but she was in effect babysitting her 6 year old brother.
    In the UK that would be seen as neglect.
    A babysitter should 14 or over in the uk.

    I have been told off by the police, I left a buggy outside a friends house (I stepped in pulled the door to to stop her dog escaping while I put my elder childs coat on.
    I got a lecture from a policeman about putting my baby in danger.
    I wonder what tragedies the police see everyday that makes them so quick to pull you up for something so seemingly small.

  91. DUDE. I would not have made it to 3rd grade without being taken away from my parents if I was being raised nowadays.

    When I was in 2nd grade, my mom would leave my baby sister and I in the car to run into the grocery store. My sister would cry the whole time and I would have to comfort her. Eh. That is just the way it was. I was also babysitting her, including cooking lunch by the time I was in 3rd grade. Again with the “eh”.

    These stories terrify me because I feel as if I always one phone call away from someone reporting me simply because they disagree with my parenting decisions. And that? Infuriates me that I am losing the power to decide what is BEST for MY children. I want them to be independent and to not be scared of their world.

  92. Hey cagey, et. al.,

    I am genuinely curious about how you feel about parents who decide not to vaccinate their children for various reasons, and then claims they are hurting everyone’s herd immunity, and moves to make more vaccinations mandatory.

    I am genuinely curious about how you feel regarding stories of CPS and the courts called on parents that won’t vaccinate their kids.

  93. It’s scary and sad, but her statement is true “I never have been afraid before, but now I’m very afraid — and not of abduction.”

    It’s what I fear — the senseless actions of supposed well-doers. It’s one reason that I’m making sure my 11-year-old takes the Red Cross Babysitting course this fall (that she is eligible to take when she turns 11). If nothing else, I have legal “proof” that she should be able to care for herself for a couple of hours. . . . .

    My heart goes out to this parent. You did nothing wrong. A nine-year-old should be able to sit in a car with a book with a sibling sibling.

  94. I didn’t have time to read everyone’s comments, so I apologize if this has been said.

    Just by comparison, below is the law in TX (quoted from CPS). Hot weather is a major issue here so the law is more explicit about cars than homes:

    “We do not recommend leaving a child in a motor vehicle for any length of time… it can result in heat exhaustion or heat stroke, leading to permanent disability or death in a matter of minutes….

    Leaving a child in a vehicle is punishable under the Texas Penal Code, Title 5, Chapter 22, Section 10 LEAVING A CHILD IN A VEHICLE. A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly leaves a child in a motor vehicle for longer than five minutes, knowing that the child is:

    1. younger than seven years of age; and

    2. not attended by an individual in the vehicle

    who is 14 years of age or older. An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor. If the child is injured, the charge is then elevated to child endangerment, which is a felony. The penalties are six months to two years in jail and a fine up to $10,000…”

    For the record, I have kids the same age and one younger. I have made those 5-10 minute grocery trips (in mild weather). Happily, no one has ever called the cops. Maybe our tinted van windows with screens help.

  95. @Peter Bruelis has it right – the thing these parents are being hassled for would not have caused the slightest concern in some other countries. Not because those countries are so much safer necessarily, or because nobody cares about kids there, but because of the greater emphasis in child-rearing on developing the skills and independence to function in society. From afar, this sort of story makes the US look neurotic.

  96. Oy.

    I wish there was a more relaxed attitude towards points of view that challenge the absolutist position on kids, parents and their ability to do whatever they please wherever they please.

    Please read what I wrote. Nowhere in my post am I stating that the act of leaving a 6 and 9 year old in a car for half an hour in a Walmart parking lot is tantamount to child abuse or even neglect.

    Having raised THREE incredibly independent kids, two of whom are grown, ALL of whom are self-sufficient and world travelers, to boot, I neverthless would have to characterize something like this as NOT A GREAT IDEA.

    Can ya live with that? Someone who successfully raised independent kids thinks it is not the world’s best idea to leave a 6 and 9 year old for half an hour in a Walmart parking lot.

    This is not a negation of Free Range Parenting.

    It’s a judgment call based on my subjective assessment of the variables of the situation.

    Again, there tends to be a shrill, up-in-arms tone to some of the comments which reminds me not of mature adults trying to figure out how to create a better world for their kids but of sulky adolescents stuck in detention. trying to figure out how to get back at the school administration.

  97. Can ya live with that? Someone who successfully raised independent kids thinks it is not the world’s best idea to leave a 6 and 9 year old for half an hour in a Walmart parking lot.

    This is not a negation of Free Range Parenting.

    It’s a judgment call based on my subjective assessment of the variables of the situation.

    Okay. What variables are there? We can’t agree or disagree with your point until and unless you back it up.

  98. I’m the other parent, the one who was arrested.

    I’d like to add that 6 year olds who live within a quarter mile from school are expected to walk to school in this county without adult supervision. They get dropped off at movies alone at this age and picked up an hour and a half later. They even run around the state fair and the mall without an adult hovering. None of these things I would allow for fear of what might happen, but in a parking lot far from a bar or any other danger with 21 security cameras watching every inch of the place, where my children know exactly where we are 100 yards away and have the ability to get out of the car and come to us if they need to, yes, I thought they were safe.

    I’d never leave a child in a running car. Also, it’s a small point, but it was the officer who said 30 minutes; I looked at the time and corrected him that it was in fact 22 minutes; but he said that didn’t matter and later said 30 minutes again. Plus, it was not one small child alone; it was two big kids (6 3/4 and 9) together, practicing “The Buddy System” which my eldest son (23) and I were taught about by the School Safe Kids program when he was 6.

    Children need to be safe, but they also need to gradually learn
    independence over a period of time rather than clicking from one age to another and being unleashed on the world. Using the buddy system in broad daylight watched by 21 security cameras . . . I thought was a safe time and place.

  99. I got my first ticket 3 years ago and at the class I was forced to take to get it off my record I was the ONLY person who knew the Calfornia kid ages for leaving them in the car. Ya know why? Because I wanted to know when I could tell some busy body to EFF off when I left my 12 yo, 5 yo, and 2 yo in the car. It never happened though (sigh). The WA pisses me off. A 14 yo can’t stay alone in a car ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?!??!

    My youngest is now over 6 (the minimum age). I can leave them all alone if I want. I won’t though because A will end up messing with the controls. I leave C (now 10) is the car all the time.

  100. Question of “The Parent”,

    Would you consider explaining why you were charged and arrested and not, well, the both of you?

    Thank you and best wishes to your whole family

  101. A few months ago, a friend of mine in California left her older son (5 years) in the car while parked in the small lot at his younger sister’s daycare. The car was in the shade with the windows down. Her son had asked if he could remain in the car while she ran into to grab his sister. My friend was in and out of the daycare in less than six minutes. The daycare is located on a private street in an upscale neighborhood.

    Upon her return, two parents and a teacher were standing next to the car. She asked if there was a problem. The parents left but the teacher remained and said they had been concerned because the boy was carrying on in the car. At this point her son was smiling and seemed fine. My friend assured the teacher that her son was prone to dramatics but was perfectly content. She assumed that was the end of it.

    A week later, she received a phone call from social services. In a nutshell, the teacher had made a report about my friend based on the incident. As a result, my friend spent over a week dealing with child protective services and her daughter’s daycare (which she promptly pulled her child out of after the incident). Her children were interviewed by CPS at their respective schools without her knowing about it until she spoke with the case officer. She and her husband were interviewed twice. Thankfully, the case was dropped since there really was no “there” there. Even the case officer said there was nothing wrong with what my friend had done but she was legally obligated to follow up on the teacher’s call. Regardless, it was an incredibly painful and eye-opening experience for my friend.

  102. Nine year old in a car? Playing a block away from the house? This is what gets the Child Stealing Agency on alarm these days? You have got to be kidding me! I was staying at home, watching two younger brothers when I was nine. I was riding my bike all over town when I was nine. I certainly stayed in the car many, many times during shopping trips when I was younger than that.

    What about kids walking home from school? Is that negligent, and if so, of the parents or of the school district? It is time to say enough is enough with these monsters, and the paranoid busybodies who are aiding and abetting them.

    Even if we accept the false premise that their paranoia is founded, to what end? Save children from being kidnapped randomly by abusive psychopaths so that the state can kidnap them and pay abusive psychopaths to keep them? A child under care of state programs is much more likely to be abused and violated than one standing on the street alone, that’s something to think about right there.

  103. As others have mentioned, the legal age for leaving an unattended child in the car in California is six (provided the car isn’t running and doesn’t have keys in the ignition), and I predict this gets tossed as soon as a judge hears about it.

    One could wish the cop would face some disciplinary action over it, but alas, that’s not likely.

  104. I don’t know much about this site — but I do know how easy it would be to have a simple PayPal (or something) button people could use to contribute to a legal fund for exactly these situations. Is there something like that — here or elsewhere?

  105. I want to ask a question then point out one thing that no one’s mentioned.

    First, I want to know how people think they are “free ranging” children who are, oh, let’s say, 5 and under? I ask because it sounds so silly to me. I have a 4,5 year old and I can’t think of a single free range thing I do with him, because he’s a small child. My older kids (9 & 12) have all sorts of freedoms, But a small child? Seriously?

    Second, as a former insurance adjuster, I just want to point out that the danger of leaving a child in a parked car is not that someone will try to abduct them. That risk in impossibly tiny. What’s really common is for parked cars to be hit by other cars trying to park next to them in parking lots. That’s not rare at all.

  106. @Kelly I apologize if you took my opinion as prescriptive advice for you to follow. I think half an hour is a long time to leave a 6-year-old in a car (a 9-year-old reading a book no, but the 6 y/o yes). I did not say the police should be called after 15 mins, I said I, personally, would have popped out of the store to check on the kids. Is that really such an offensive suggestion?

    I just read the Harrison’s Hope story – I had never heard of this before reading these comments – and I have to say I think the zero seconds thing is ridiculous. But what I do find interesting is that the mother says the woman who left her toddlers in the van had previously been warned, by a concerned member of the public, not to leave them alone in a running vehicle. She did it again (probably more than once) and the little boy was, sadly, killed.

    I don’t know what to make of that as I still think Harrison’s death was a sad, tragic, but ultimately rare and unlucky accident. However it does make me wonder at what point should an authority figure step in? Those kids were 2 and 3 and left in a RUNNING vehicle – a lot different to 6 & 9 year olds in a parked vehicle. I, for sure, would be concerned if I saw that but I’m not sure what I’d actually do about it, if anything. Interested to hear what other people think they would do/if you would be concerned at all?

  107. Just to correct someone who posted about the legal age to leave a child in the car in California. Per this link: http://www.carseat.org/Legal/CVC-15620.htm :

    A parent, legal guardian, or other person responsible
    for a child who is 6 years of age or younger may not leave that child inside a motor vehicle without being subject to the supervision of a person who is 12 years of age or older, under either of the following circumstances:
    (1) Where there are conditions that present a significant risk to the child’s health or safety.
    (2) When the vehicle’s engine is running or the vehicle’s keys are in the ignition, or both

    So a child 6 years or younger can’t be left in the car without supervision IF there are conditions that present a risk to safety and/or the vehicle’s engine is running or keys are in the ignition (or both). However, if none of those situations are present, I assume based on the code wording that it is ok to do so. Of course, the law is somewhat grey in the “conditions that present a significant risk to the child’s health/safety” which means a situation one person deems perfectly reasonable and safe may not be defined in the same way by another person.

  108. I have a 4,5 year old and I can’t think of a single free range thing I do with him, because he’s a small child.

    It could mean they are parenting now with the intention of adding freedom at a reasonable rate when the kid gets older.

    It could also mean they let their kid do things with an amount of supervision that other people don’t – my older niece at 5 flipped pancakes and broke eggs (she totally messed it up the first few times, and was surprised when we said we KNEW she’d get egg all over herself, we only let her do it because we had extra eggs!), and by six we were letting her chop vegetables unaided so long as somebody else is in the room.

  109. Especially interesting in that many nine year olds are, or have been, ‘latch key’ kids home alone after school day after day…and sometimes I have heard of nine year olds ‘babysitting’. Personally, I’m not usually OK with the whole latch key thing, and I think nine is too young to care for other kids (although in countries around the world it happens all the time in large families).

    It’s hard to know how to judge this…How long were these kids alone? What kind of an area were they in?

    But given what has been written it does sound as if this is another sad example of over-reaction on the part of ‘do-gooders’ and the police.

    What troubles me in particular is the reaction of the police, which seems typical for so many communities and so many instances today, and that is that their response is to automatically arrest and charge–in the absence of harm–when they could simply investigate and advise.

    We live in a time and a place that is, and has been for years, increasingly reliant on the police and court systems to address just about every thing we don’t like, or approve of, in our communities. Whoever called the police in this instance could have, if so concerned about these kids, simply kept on eye on them until their parents returned, or could have said something discretely to the parents upon their return to the car. If they cared enough about the whole situation to call the police, why not? How does it help anyone–the parents or the kids or the community at large–to turn what MIGHT have been a lack of judgment on the part of Mom and Dad into a police matter?

    Another point: This letter does not reveal much detail about this community, or what actually happened. I have the impression from reading it that this occurred in a small town, and the writer makes reference to previous contact with CPS. I can’t help but wonder if the person(s) who called the police in this incident knew these people, or if the local police even knew their car! In other words, was this family being subjected to extra scrutiny by residents and/or the police?

  110. Addendum to my comment above. Here is another way of thinking about this whole kid-left-the-car mess, and that is that compared to even just 20 years ago, kids are spending a MUCH more time in cars today than in the past, as we all are. Compared to 30-40 years ago, well, there is little comparison.

    When I was growing up in the ‘burbs in the dark ages 40 years ago, many mothers didn’t even drive! I was rarely driven ANY place, and by the time my mom had gotten her license most of us were old enough to be left in a car safely. Since she didn’t drive, we walked all over the place, sometimes when it was late in the day, or alone, or for distances that would raise all kinds of alarm bells today. And kids DID sometimes get in to trouble, or be victimized. But for the most part, we were fine.

    But my point is that because so much child care today involves driving kids a awful lot, often with siblings in tow, that how, when, and where one can or should leave kids ‘unattended’ in a car is a matter open to a lot of disagreement, and relatively recent legislation. As has been said often before on this blog, the irony is that the most pressing danger to kids is being driven, period. But as no one is willing to give up that luxury, we can, and will, instead obsess over how to make our kids as safe as humanly possible while we schlep them all over town.

  111. I am not a parent, but when I am I will have serious second thoughts about what freedoms to provide to children, and like others have said, not at all because of concerns for their welfare, but for those who are skeptical about giving their children freedom.

    Growing up in the 80s by around age 8 or 9 I was allowed to bike 15 minutes to a friend’s, and could play down the street and around the corner by 5 or 6 (without parent supervision). I can remember around age 11 moving, and sitting in the car with our dog while my parents went inside to look at houses. It was winter, and they left the keys in the car and the heat on for me. By age 13, I was babysitting a 4 month old and a 4 year old at any hours of the day or night. I think many of these things helped me develop more of a sense of responsibility and accountability. While I agree some of these things depend on the specific child, I see no problem with any of this, even today.

    That being said, will I give my children some of these freedoms that I had? Probably not, because today, it wouldn’t be accepted by others.

  112. @Lindlau_Lou

    If the risk is that other cars hit the car the children are in, in which way is that less of risk when the parents are around?

    Are cars with kids more likely to be hit or to explode on impact?

    Or is it really very likely that children who may have been hurt in such in impact will not get medical treatment if their parents aren’t near them?

  113. Peter,
    I was simpy pointing an ACTUAL risk as opposed to a theoretical “fear of kidnappers” risk.

    My concern with my own children is that they’d be afraid if something unexpected happened. I am very free range, but I would not leave my 9 year old in the car to supervise his 4.5 year old, sleeping brother in the parking lot of a large chain store. Their 12 year old sister ~ MAYBE. Normally we all go in to those kinds of stores all together because it takes some time to get through them and they’re huge. If something did happen, it’s not as though the children can go in the front door and just find you. If I was just running in to our local grocery for a gallon of milk or something, I wouldn’t think twice about it. In fact, I’d be pretty likely to just SEND one of the older kids to the store on bike or foot for me.

    At any rate, this is not to say that I think these parents did anything wrong. I find it puzzling that the police were involved at all, actually.

    In my own parenting, I trust my own instincts, not anyone else’s though, and this scenario would be outside of my comfort zone. In my own neighborhood I feel a sense of community. We can’t walk a half block down the street without running in to someone we know. I can’t say I feel that way when I go to Target.

  114. Uly,
    Thanks for answering. No one else really did. I guess I see things like cooking with supervision to be a normal, everyday part of childhood. My 4.5 year old loves to help in the kitchen. He loves to fold towels. He loves to dust with his very own swiffer duster.

    But seriously, I always cringe when I people post about their very young children being out and about in the neighborhood unsupervised and such. I sincerely don’t get why people think this is okay in any way. I think it sort of makes all us free rangers look a bit crazy! I don’t want to be identified with someone who lets their toddlers or preschoolers out to play alone on the sidewalk. I have as little in common with those people as I do with the parents who hover around their 10 year olds on the playground. I like moderation and common sense, I suppose.

  115. As a police officer, I do not want to believe that there are “responsible” parents in this day, that believe it is okay to leave a 9 yr old in charge of a 6 yr old, locked in a car, windows rolled down in a busy parking lot. As a father of two, and seeing what I do in my work, it just horrifies me. As a first time visitor to this site, I do see a lot of similarities on how I have, and am, raising our two children. But at the same time, common sense has to prevail in some situations. I have not read all 113 posts here, but have read enough to touch on a few things.

    1. Point was raised, “what if one parent stayed behind and then was approached by two pediphiles. Could that parent take on the attack from both?” I have a better chance of getting hit with a frozen turkey on the expressway. The pediphile is one who is weary of doing his/her activities where they can be seen by another adult or person who can defend their prey. They dont want a public confrontation. Had a parent been present in the vehicle and two were to be “cruising the parking lot looking for prey” (which rarely occurs – 2 working together like this) they would have avoided this car like the plague.

    2. What is more likely to get a call to 911 from a passer-by (90% of whom dont want to get personally involved in anything); two small children sitting in a car by themselves, doors locked, but windows rolled down, or a screaming child with an adult yelling “NO, I dont want to go, I dont want to go”? Had you seen the later, would you call 911 or simply think to yourself “another spoiled kid. That mom/dad needs to discipline them better.”? and be honest with your answer.

    3. Leaving them with a cell phone is a great idea. They can play games, call grandma/pa, set it on the dash, have it fall to the floor or between the seats. Its always a nice comment to tell the Detective, “I dont know how my Johnny got abducted from the store, he had a cell phone to call if a stranger tried to take him.” With most phones have GPS chips in them now, what do you think is ging to be the first thing removed, destroyed or left behind by an attacker?

    4. “If they saw a stranger getting to close for comfort, they could always just roll up the windows.” LOL! If they were in a 1983 Omni perhaps, but when was the last time you saw a car that did not come with electric/auto windows? My guess is that the only way to “rollup the windows” is to turn the power on. That means leaving the keys in the ignition and turned to power. Now, that is a whole nother set of laws that have been broken.

    Sorry folks, but the charges here sound well founded. Child neglect/endangerment and even possibly child abandonment is what the law calls for. Should the children be removed? With what is told here, I would say no. Should CPS be involved, yes. There is nothing wrong with raising your children in a “free-range” type lifestyle. It’s unfortunate but true, that you need to also watch out for society and the creeps that it brings with it in the protection of our small children.

  116. A 9-year-old in the situation as described should be fine for that duration. Ridiculous charges!

  117. I am 38 years old…when I was 10 I was left alone with 3 younger brothers for hours at home and nothing was thought about leaving all four of us in the car for an hour…this is ridiculous and outrageous. No one was hurt, they could get in touch with their parents and it was a busy area.
    Yes, the world has changed but it is our own over protective, paranoid, reactive behavior that has caused issues like this. Remember the 80’s when everyone was accused of molestation? ha! now most of those who were accused of it are being freed without prejudice for being falsely imprisioned.
    Get real people…your over protectiveness is creating a world of scaried cats who depend upon mommy and daddy until their thirties! and you will wonder WHY they won’t get a job, keep a job and can’t finish school and move out.
    There are clear cases of abuse, neglect and endangerment that NO ONE bothers with, why not spend your time looking for that instead of harassing and hurting parents who are responsible

  118. […] I posted links to this Free Range Kids Blog Post about a 9 year left in a car to wait for mom and dad with her 6 year old sleeping sibling. Someone […]

  119. @Jim: as you are a police officer, I know you see a lot of horrible things. In my short time working for a police department (not as an officer) I saw just a fraction of that and I understand there are terrible people out there in the world. The point of “free-ranging” is that we do not spend our lives dwelling on those horrible things and people. If we let ourselves guide every action based on what could happen in the incredibly rare circumstance that someone or something horrible randomly comes along to harm us or our children, those people, those monsters, win. They ruin our lives by proxy, without even taking any effort.

    Child abductions by strangers in the middle of the day surrounded by people at a busy store happen to people with the same frequency as shark attacks and lighting strikes. We can’t let that dictate our lives. There are reasonable precautions to take based on your circumstances. If it’s a bad neighborhood, sure take the kids with you. If you have a relative or ex-SO who you fear may be looking to take your kids, absolutely – don’t take your eyes off them.

    As far as the law goes, I hope you can agree that there are some ridiculous laws that are a waste of your time to enforce and take you away from doing your real job – intervening in crime and when that’s not possible pursuing suspects. You may not agree with me on which laws those are, but you do have discretionary power to decide how your time is spent (at least within the bounds set by the chain of command). My suggestion would be – don’t waste your time putting loving parents in jail who’s only crime is trusting their children to take care of themselves without constant supervision, or not bowing to the hysterical fear that we’re expected to be haunted by as parents. We have to decide for ourselves, as individuals, what risks are reasonable and what are not – and live with the consequences.

  120. “First, I want to know how people think they are “free ranging” children who are, oh, let’s say, 5 and under?”

    I have a 2 year old, and I’m trying to go free range. Some things I do:
    I let her climb on the playground and go down the little slide by herself. When she tries to go down the big slide, I stop her.
    She plays in the back yard by herself, but that doesn’t mean I’m not watching. I sit in the corner of the yard doing homework and keeping an eye on her while she looks at bugs, pokes stuff with sticks, and plays with dirt.
    I let her fall (though not from great hights) and teach her to shake it off and keep playing.
    If it’s not crowded in the grocery store, I don’t make her sit in the cart, and I have her help with the shopping. For example, she’s big enough to carry a package of diapers while I carry the milk and bread.
    She picks up her own room and she cleans herself (with some “finishing touches” from me) after mealtimes.

    I don’t think free range is about letting your kids do everything all at once, but it’s about helping them be more involved in their own lives. Letting them choose their own games, help take care of themselves, and (to an extent) set their own limits. It’s also about knowing your kids and knowing what’s appropriate for them, not what other people say is appropriate for your kids.

  121. I’m always amazed at these stories, but not because you think.

    Moms are, given their legal privilege as women, allowed to parent their kids in a “free range” fashion. Dads are not – as from the above case – they are held responsible for their actions in the eyes of the law, unlike mothers.

    This movement is all well and good, but it hinges on he reality that mothers can get away with anything they want, generally, where their kids are concerned. Dads don’t have that option – they only have responsibilities in the eyes of the law.

  122. @TressaRay: I have an 18 month old, and I take it in little steps, based on a set of principles. I do not allow him to violate the person or property of others without consent, that is the only rule he’s held to on threat of punishment. Beyond that, I allow him to experiment freely, but I keep a close eye on him and direct him away from things that will potentially cause a lot of harm (hot stoves, stairwells, etc). Things he does that might by accident cause a few bumps and bruises I don’t restrict. I’ve found that is a very effective way of letting him learn; for example, falling off the arm of the couch a couple times taught him much more effectively not to climb on it than any amount of admonishment or punishment on my part (we just made sure there was nothing harmful for him to fall onto). When he gets bigger and is capable of understanding language better, I’ll hover less and let him make his own mistakes more – at least, that’s the plan. So far it’s worked out great for us🙂

    @mjaybee: Let’s get causation straight first – you aren’t “granted privileges” by a government. You have rights, which free human beings hold to be self-evident. The government restricts those rights via privileges of regulation that *we* grant to *it*. Make sure you understand that concept thoroughly, because the inverse situation that you have presented is called a dictatorship🙂 You may think I’m nitpicking but the language we use shapes our perceptions, and if we allow that kind of perception we find our rights evaporating ever more quickly and ourselves without an argument against it.

  123. Thank you to TressaRay and Justin for answering. I guess I just consider a lot of those types of things normal (especially after 3 kids.)

  124. Sentencing disparities between men and women are common knowledge in the legal community:

    http://www.terry.uga.edu/~mustard/sentencing.pdf

    http://www.ussc.gov/15_year/chap4.pdf

    law.bepress.com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1003&context=alea

    Our rights are evaporating quickly, what few are left, that is.

  125. We hear so often how wonderful women and mothers are.But the job I have has permitted me to observe just how often scattered ditzy moms leave their kids alone in parked cars while they run into the store,often for 30 minutes or more.And yet we are supposed to believe that children are in better hands with mom than dad.

  126. Virginia, personally I don’t think people’s plumbing has much bearing on abstract concepts like child care and personal responsibility🙂

  127. @Justen: Thank you for your sound and rational response. I agree with you on what you have said. As a parent, you can not raise your child under the fear that there is something terrible lurking around every corner and in the shadows for them. As you said, with that mentality, the bad guys have won. However, we do need to consider these “possibilites” when we make some decisions and then weigh the pros and cons and make a better, more thought out decision. Because of what I see through my job, this is second nature to me and admittedly, I do it mcuh more than the avarage parent not exposed to such experiences.

    As for “some ridiculous laws that are a waste of your time to enforce and take you away from doing your real job – ” I couldnt agree with you more. I also agree that although we may agree on some, we will not agree on all. But whether I personally agree with the law or not, I am required to uphold and enforce the laws that we have. Every police offier has discretionary powers when we are working. That is why you may only get a warning verses a ticket in many situations. However, when called to a situation by a citizen, those “discretionary powers ” are severly restricted and we will adhere to what the law states, and requires, much more closely. Could this situation have turned out differently if the officer observed the children on his/her own while making a routine patrol through the lot verses being called by a concerened citizen? All I can say is, possibly.

    As for your comment “…….same frequency as shark attacks ” I would beg to differ, somewhat, being that I am a shark attack survivor.

    I had read in someone’s comment about “20 security camera’s watching the parking lot”. Please, PLEASE do not think for an instant that your child, your car or your packages are any safer in a parking lot with these cameras than in one without. These cameras do NO GOOD while the crime is being commited unless they are being carefully monitored by store security personnel, accompanied by a swift and successful response. Many stores no longer have, or have greatly reduced their Loss Prevention departments and have policy in regards to such a response for personal safety. These camera are good for simply documenting what happened, when it happened and possibly, how many were involed. Very rarely do you get a clear enhancement of the person(s) commiting the crime or a license plate number.

    Finally, please do not let yourselves think that just because an area is busy, that it is safer. Society in general pays less attention to things in a busy area than in a slow, less fluid environment. Just think of the phrase “hiding in plain sight.”

  128. Because of what I see through my job, this is second nature to me and admittedly, I do it mcuh more than the avarage parent not exposed to such experiences.

    Or you do it worse, because of what you see. You assume that these folks are everywhere when, really, you’re just in a position to see them more often than is statistically likely for anybody else.

    As for your comment “…….same frequency as shark attacks ” I would beg to differ, somewhat, being that I am a shark attack survivor.

    What does that have to do with statistics and numbers? Having had an unusual event happen to you doesn’t mean you’re qualified to talk about the odds of it happening again.

    We hear so often how wonderful women and mothers are.But the job I have has permitted me to observe just how often scattered ditzy moms leave their kids alone in parked cars while they run into the store,often for 30 minutes or more.And yet we are supposed to believe that children are in better hands with mom than dad.

    Perhaps because moms are more likely to be the ones with the kids where you work?

    Moms are, given their legal privilege as women, allowed to parent their kids in a “free range” fashion. Dads are not – as from the above case – they are held responsible for their actions in the eyes of the law, unlike mothers.

    Hard to say. You couldn’t prove anything from one single case anyway, and in THIS case the man was the father, but the woman was NOT the mother – perhaps that had something to do with it?

  129. I have read all the messages….and I am scratching my head…I am 66…was raised on a farm in Indiana….I learned how to drive a tractor when I was 9…to help my father farm…..I and my sister also…when we were 9…baby sitted….when we were 9…we took a bus into the big town of Ft Wayne…to go to the eye docter…we were given just so much money…we knew what buses to take..we had to make a few transfers…and we knew when to get off and walk a few blocks to the eye doctor…all without our parents beings with us….we were also allowed to walk around in our area….to our friends house…who just might live 5 miles from us…or to ride our bikes there…without a helmet or pads…and we are still alive today….and just sometimes we would be gone all day…playing and having fun….one rule as long as we were home before dark….we had no cell phones then….it seems that kids cannot do that anymore today…with out the government and busybodies…(which are good at times)….we..the parents now..would all be in jail…hung up out to dry….and you also have to take into account…how responsible that 9 year old is…..there are some 21 year olds…that would not trust any further then I could throw them…..one more then one occasion all of us kids..and there were 9 of us….left in a car…anywhere from 5 minutes to 1 hour or longer…and sometimes just a few of us….I personally find its the signs and times of this generation that is the cause of all this….the government thinks it knows what is best for the parents or children…on any given thing…and it is brain washing and dumbing down further generations…to think and follow them…..I could go on…but I won’t…I think you get the drift of how I think…

  130. Jim (officer who posted comment above)–I agree with some of the comments above. I am a former prosecutor who worked for some time in abuse and neglect. I have raised two kids–very much alive, healthy, and active–to their early 20’s. If I had let every scenario that got played out in my courtroom define ‘reality’ for me I’d have never had children to begin with. Come to think of it, if I had let every criminal law case I was ever involved with in any manner define reality for me, I’d barricade my home and never leave it.

    The ‘reality’ is that we run risks every minute we are alive. Which shall we, as individuals, change our behavior to avoid or minimize? And what risk taking behavior should we, collectively, criminalize?

    The legislature of the State of NY has evidently seen fit to criminalize the ‘leaving’ of children ‘unattended’ in a parked automobile if the children are younger than a certain age. But that is just statute. An officer of the law has discretion to arrest or not; arrest is not mandatory and should not be. An officer has the discretion, and is indeed obligated, to exercise his or her judgment in each and every situation the officer encounters than might involve law breaking as to whether or not an arrest should be made.

    In this instance, unless the readers of this blog are not receiving some key piece of information, no harm or damage resulted from the actions of these parents. The parents or parent was arrested not for something they did, but for the possibility that something harmful could occur. And did not.

    I don’t see what good can or will result from this arrest. I do see that among the readers of this blog it is generating fear, anxiety, and resentment. I expect that these parents will never leave a kid of theirs alone anywhere, under ANY circumstances, ever again.

    If that is considered a ‘good’ and a legitimate exercise of legislative and police power, then there you have it. To me, it sounds–in the least–wacky and overblown, and perhaps grossly unfair, and even destructive.

    The desire and impulse to make the world safe for each and every child is a good one, but obviously impossible to effect. Arrests such as these, in my opinion, deflect valuable (and expensive) police and governmental time and energies away from the myriad pressing dangers facing our children and young people….Don’t even get me started on gang violence!

    Lecture finis.

  131. wellcrtaftedtoo, thank you for such a well-written response. And it is great to see that lawyers such as yourself are reading this blog. What do you think about the merits of FreeRangeKids putting parents in touch with lawyers willing to defend such cases? Do you know any such lawyers or are you perhaps one yourself, now that you are no longer working as a prosecutor?

  132. when I was young (about mid 1970s), no older than 6 but I think even younger, my mom – a registered nurse – saw someone choking outside of a restaurant. She found a parking spot across the street, told me and my younger brother to sit tight. Meanwhile she ran across street, performed the Heimlich and saved this man’s life. My brother and I ended up sitting in the car alone for quite some time, and we didn’t know what was going on. But later when we found out, and much later when we were old enough to appreciate the situation, imagine how proud we were of our mother! Now, if this were to happen today, would she have been cited for negligence b/c she left us in the car alone while she saved a life?

  133. I have never commented before but feel the need to. First of all, I wish we had all the information. Was it really only 30 minutes? How hot/cold was it outside? Was the 6 year old crying? What drew the outsider’s attention? I have a 9 year old…I have no problem leaving her in the car while I run in the store for coffee etc…I let her stay in the waiting room when I go to the MD (differnet situation though i guess). I think the issue here is the “time factor”. 30 minutes would seem to be a long time. For some reason I think this situation is different than being home alone for 30 minutes etc…you are in a public parking lot with strangers. Again most strangers do not want to get involved. Why didn’t one of the parents step out for a moment to check on the kids if they knew they were going to be delayed? Should CPS be involved? I have no idea. Probably not. In my opinon it was poor judgement that is all, I realize others may disagree. What is confusing to me is that they had a prior CPS report, that is not the norm, so as someone mentioned…maybe it was someone that know this couple.

  134. one other issue I noticed…it appears they left their cell phone with the 9 year old to call 911 if there was an incident. …
    “When we were paged, I suspected my daughter had reached the end of her book and her brother hadn’t woken yet, so she’d called the store to have us paged, knowing we’d come out and relieve her boredom. But when we got back to the car after an absence of half an hour, the cops were there.”

    I guess I just assumed the parents also had a cell phone on them as well so that they could be called if the kids needed them. So actually the only way the kids could get in contact with the parents was to call the store and have them paged? or go in the store and try to find them? Did the parents leave them with instructions on how to have them paged? Whole different story now in my book. In order to have a free range kid I had to “relent” and get my child a cell phone. Once again, seriously not attacking the parents, CPS probably should not be involved but reading it again I respectfully disagree with their decision to leave the 2 kids in the car.

  135. That’s actually a fairly easy issue, elise. Sometimes, cell phones just don’t work. They might be set too low, might have turned off due to a low battery, never turned on to begin with, the signal is bad, or the calls are just dropped (I’ve encountered this a lot). I’d have to hear from the parents on whether this was true, but I suspect they told the girl the number to the store in the event of being unable to reach their cell phones. Then, being paged in a store, the parents would make the assumption that the child tried to get hold of them via cell, but couldn’t, so she called the store and had them paged.

    That’s at least something I would do (and actually encourage). That way, the child has a backup way to reach the parents to tell them something important, like “It’s getting really hot in the car, so we had to get out.”

  136. Did the parents leave them with instructions on how to have them paged? Whole different story now in my book.

    You have to teach kids how to have their parents paged? I knew when I was six – you go to customer service, say that you need to find your parents and their names are So-and-so and Such-and-fuch and wait for them to be called up to you.

  137. Krolik,
    I like your idea of writing letters to the local papers and those who are so inclined should certainly do that, but i think there is a force at work in this blog that is so powerful it affects the world even if people do no more than read it and its comments. I think the discourse here at Free Range Kids is helping to change the zeitgeist. Through this blog and its comments like-minded people unite and those who have felt disempowered by our fear culture are able to acquire confidence. I think all parents who follow this site leave each time with a nugget of confidence and dignity that they can keep and carry with them and pass on to other parents in private daily conversations.

  138. @Jim. This weekend I had a long conversation with a sane, likable policeman whose daughter (almost 7) used to attend school with mine. He agreed rationally with a Free Range outlook BUT because of his fears, partly through what he’s seen at work, his daughter gets to, umm, stand on her front porch to get the mail. That’s it — everything else is supervised. It reminded me of a pediatrician who admitted that his son wore a helmet to swing, because he (the dad) “had seen things.” Worst-case-scenario living is irrational.

    @ everyone: This excellent point made above bares repeating–

    “In this instance, unless the readers of this blog are not receiving some key piece of information, no harm or damage resulted from the actions of these parents. The parents or parent was arrested not for something they did, but for the possibility that something harmful could occur. And did not.”

  139. in regards to someone who commented that neither a 9 year old, nor a 16 year old, for that matter, should be left alone in this situation : what is this country going to be like if all children are continuously chaparoned until they are legal adults? Does that mean an adult need be with each young adult even, at all times while out? Some amount of trust and space needs to be given well before reaching maturity in order to develope a sense of responsibility. Sending a prayer.

  140. I NEVER leave my daughter alone in the car- not even for a five-minute trip into the store…

    but not because I’m worried she can’t take care of herself, or that she might be abducted….

    I don’t leave my daughter in the car because I’m worried that some well-meaning fear-mongering idiot will call the police on me…

    The world has TRULY become a sad place when I’m more afraid of the “good” people than I am of the bad guys….

  141. I grew up in the 70s. I did a lot; I was free range—we’ve read a ton of stories of what kids “used to” do on here. I thought the 70s and 80s were great. My parents pitied my life as it wasn’t the wonderful 50s they grew up in. There’s a lot of pity for our world and the world our kids are growing up in, but, you know what? I really hated that pity. And, in part, I blamed my parents and their generation for any of the issues with my time. I didn’t create the world I lived in after all; I simply lived in it. If there was something wrong with it, they—not I—had the ability to work to fix it–until I was an adult, at least.

    Sure we’d love to allow our kids to run the streets, stay out all day and come home when the sun goes down, etc. What I find interesting here is that folks are either angry or sad that they can’t allow their kids to do the exact same things they themselves did 30 years ago. It simply is a different world. HOWEVER, it’s not because there are more pedophiles in WalMart parking lots. We all know that we are exposed to more information than before. Good or bad, news is on ALL THE TIME. And, news and websites that get attention and traffic are those that have an interesting story. And, like it or not, humans are perversely attracted to the tragic. This means that every tragic story that appears anywhere in the world is always top of the news and top of mind. And, on top of that, this event took place in a country where people are not only litigious; it seems you’re _expected_ to sue if anything ever happens to you.

    Because of that, I’d say there’s an awfully high probability that the person who called the cops in this case probably worked for WalMart. They saw the kids out there, didn’t want a law suit if the kids got out, got hurt, whatever so they called the law—not necessarily protecting the kids or being busy bodies, but, essentially, protecting themselves.

    All I can think about in this case in particular is that I don’t like car accidents. Any possible accidents I’ve avoided, I’ve done so usually not out of fear of death (fender benders, side-swipes, etc.), but, to avoid annoyance. Sure, if someone runs the red light and it’s actually my green, I could go ahead because it’s my RIGHT to drive how I want to when it’s my turn to go, but, it sure would be stupid to do so when I know I’ll get hit. Not because I’d die or even get terribly injured, but, I’ll have to deal with filing a police report, insurance, I’ll have to get my car fixed, I’ll have to rent a car while mine is getting fixed…or I could just wait 2 seconds and then go through the light without incident.

    In this case, sure, the parents know and trust their kids and were only going to be 5 minutes and it _is_ inconvenient to waken a sleeping child. But, they also must be aware of the world we live in (even more so than most of us if folks had called on them just for letting kids play a block away!) and like it or not, that’s what it is—until/unless we do something. So, kids can read books in stores too—where it appears there are no laws against them hanging out on their own. Most WalMarts have a restaurant up front with benches—even a 6 year old could lay down there—under the watchful eyes of the entire Walmart village and in the comfort of air conditioning. It’s inconvenient and it’s not how you want to raise your kids and your child wanted to sit in the car and read, I know. But, unless it was your plan to get arrested and bring attention to the “issue” of being allowed to leave kids in cars if parents feel like it, there was always another easier option. Much like a car accidents I try to avoid, I imagine dealing with CPS and legal fees—not to mention the stress of an incident like this on your family—is far more inconvenient than letting your kids sit in the Walmart or having one parent stay in the car.

    And, as for what to do that everyone is asking about…you’re not going to stop legislation in this country. For us all harkening back to our “good old days,” we’ve neglected our history. That is: if something bad happens anywhere and to anyone in this country, the typical reactionary someone else says “There outta be a law.” Then, poof, out comes a law. So, what can we do? Well, how about contacting news agencies? Sure, we can’t expect them to not report on an abducting or something tragic, but, well, ‘there outta be a law’ where any news report about a tragic incident—be it abduction, bear attack, rape, shark attack, lightning strike, hit and run, butterball incident, etc. be followed by an up-to-date statistic on crimes such as the one reported and even on the likelihood of such a thing occurring again/in that area, etc. If they’re going to peddle fear for ratings, they can at least be responsible to tack on a fact or two as an accompaniment.

    But, now that I’ve said all this, I have a question—when we all are deciding about situations such as leaving kids in cars, riding buses or subways alone… are there any of you out there who do consider these “rights” worth getting arrested for on purpose? How might a group even stage “protests” to the loss of these rights? I just don’t know for myself and I’m inclined to say no. I do a lot of “free ranging” with my kids, but, I’m also aware and make them aware of the fact that there are things that are out of our control and we must follow what rules or norms apply—depending on the situation. Curious though.

  142. I haven’t had a chance to read all the comments, but want to add that nowadays if I have the bad luck to have to run into a store while my kids are in the car with me, and they protest “why can’t we stay in the car; we’ll be good, it’s so boring going into the store….etc etc” I tell them “If I let you stay in the car by yourself, the police will arrest me”. (Not “if I let you stay in the car by yourself a bad person might abduct you”). Our local police posted a notice at my daughter’s gymnastics stating that any parent who left a child in the car while they ran in with another child (kids have to be signed in) would be charged. I’m much more worried about over-reaction from police than any threat of abduction.

  143. Nicky – One of the stores I frequent just posted a sign on their door that says “No child under 18 permitted in store without an adult.” What?! You can get your license at 17 but mommy still has to go in the store with you. I almost died laughing. However, I sent my 9yo in yesterday while I waited in the car and they didn’t say anything to him. I think maybe they posted it so they could throw out the troublemakers. 18, really? How’s that 18 that never shopped alone gonna go away to college and provide for himself? I don’t get it.

  144. Gloxie:

    “We choose to … do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”

    — John F. Kennedy, Houston, Texas September 12, 1962

  145. Apologies if this has already been answered, but (1) why couldn’t the partner have given the mother cash, or his debit card and PIN number, so she could pay for the prescription, and he could wait in the car with the kids; and/or (2) why couldn’t the 9 y.o. have read his/her book in a chair in the waiting area near the pharmacy? Is the car the only place a child can read? Seems like more of a case of the parents wanting to do what they wanted to do (go in the store together and not wake the sleeping child) than the parents following some free range philosophy…

  146. I sorta hear ya, MITBeta, but,

    1. I just don’t equate leaving your kids in the car as the same _type_ of hardness as wanting to go to the moon. The decision to do so may be difficult (given the potential consequences), but the act is, in fact, the absolute easiest option a parent has in that scenario.

    2. That said, I’m sure you weren’t exactly equating them, but, using the spirit of the message to say that we must choose the harder things to meet our goals.

    So, given #2…that goes back to my question. Seems a lot of folk (myself included) are willing to complain and possibly write letters, but what I’m asking is…Is there a “movement” for free range kidding? And, if so, what does that movement look like? Will it be more parents leaving their kids in cars–these on purpose to get arrested? Will it be a return to very young latch key kids? Protesting/boycotting news providers that spew fear and refuse to include facts? I, myself, live in a suburban environment, but also have a farm so my kids have lots of free-ranging of the non street/parking lot variety…I know urban families have a different situation so I’m also wondering what are all the things that fall under free-range that folks are willing to protect?

  147. Also, the 9 y.o. was instructed to call 911. Is that what the child did, ergo why the police were called out? Or was the child given the Wal-Mart phone number, which is how the parents were paged?? Something doesn’t entirely compute here, at least not in my mind…

  148. For me, personally, “free range” is something I practice in the appropriate circumstances because it is character and esteem building for my child, not because it is more convenient for me. As an example, my 7 y.o. is allowed to walk and ride his bike freely around my parents’ 100 yr. old gated mountain cottage community in TN (speed limit 14 mph), but I wouldn’t leave him in a car at the local Wal-Mart because I didn’t feel like waking up his 5 y.o. sister, or because he wanted to keep reading his LEGO Club magazine.

  149. @LindaLou, I also have a 2.5-year-old that I am attempting to raise with a free-range mindset. In addition to the things others have mentioned, for us this means preparing her to be independent in situations in which we may not necessarily CHOOSE to have her be independent. So we drill into her not to go past a certain point in the driveway, how to check for cars before crossing the street, to stop running and check for Mama or Daddy periodically when at the farmers’ market or downtown, to ride her bike on the very edge of the street (no sidewalks in our neighborhood), to “go to the grass” when a car is coming… Not only do these things make her generally more capable and serve as building blocks for future free-range competence, but they’re safety checks – so that she is able to function as well as possible on her own if (when) she wanders off.

    @TressaRay – I liked your comment about free-ranging allowing your kids to be more involved in their own lives.

    @Lenore, I think this would be an interesting positive topic for a blog post sometime – starting a conversation about what we do with our kids that we consider “free-range” at different ages, from toddlers to high-schoolers (and beyond in both directions, I suppose).

  150. I like the comment above (Gloxie@3pm Sept 2) that it seems likely that the person who called the police was an employee of the WalMart.

    This makes some sense to me…and fits well (and sadly) with the apparent reality of our world that more and more of our behavior is being guided not by appraisal of actual risk, but by appearances–both legal and social–and the fear of lawsuits.

  151. Gloxie:

    Nothing worth doing is every easy. I don’t think that people should go doing things with the intent of getting themselves arrested, since likely that would actually endanger a kid from time to time. But rather we should all hold true to our convictions. We shouldn’t care what other people think if what we think makes sense to us and is not illegal. If it is illegal, yet seems unjust, then we should work within the system to right the wrong. If it’s not illegal, then we should stand up for our rights as citizens and as parents.

  152. If, as The Parent said, it was only 22 mins that the children were left alone in the car, how long did it take the cop to arrive. In my experience, it would take them at least 15 mins to arrive, depending on how close the cop was when he/she received the call. So, that means that the call was made to the cops at about 7 mins. How long was the call to describe the scene? 2 mins, maybe. So the person who made the report called the cops after seeing the kids alone for about 5 mins.

    Chances are the person who made the report saw the parents go into the store in the first place… now that is creepy.

  153. Are there any updates to this story? I leave my 4y/o in the car when running to the ATM at times, but now I think I won’t…

  154. Of course the entire situation is ridiculous, but what worried me was “My partner was charged with endangering the welfare of a minor.” Why single out the father? Both parents are equally responsible for the kids since the both agreed on what to do.

  155. I can understand why there would be concern for the children. But unless there is evidence of physical or sexual abuse should Child Services be involved?

  156. Very Nice website. I recently built mine and i was looking for some design ideas and your website gave me some. May i ask you whether you developed the website by youself?

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