That said, a bill passed by the New York State Senate to protect children from this danger likely goes too far. It makes it a misdemeanor to ever leave a child under the age of 8 alone in a car without someone aged 12 or older inside.
The legislation’s justification section makes it clear this isn’t just about trying to protect kids from extreme heat or cold:
“In addition, there are other dangers created by leaving children unattended in motor vehicles, including an increased risk of abduction and the risk for an unintended motor vehicle accident if the child attempts to operate the vehicle. The dangers created by leaving a child unattended in a motor vehicle can be severe.”
How many times are kids kidnapped from cars? How many times do they decide to drive? Is this really such a huge problem? The odds of either thing happening are so small they’re statistically zero.
The press release touting the bill calls children under 8 “helpless.” There’s a big difference between a toddler and a 7-year-old. You’re telling me a 7-year-old can’t open a car door if it gets too hot or cold? The bill also makes it a crime for a parent to leave an 11-year-old and a 7-year-old alone inside of a car. Such a pair is not “helpless.” (I was walking to school and waiting at bus stops without adult supervision throughout elementary school. Children haven’t changed and the crime rate is lower today than it was in 1980s.)
This kind of legislation represents “worst-first” thinking. Let’s come up with 100,000 things that could go wrong to justify putting these kinds of laws in place. You know what else could go wrong? Mom walks little Johnny into the supermarket so she doesn’t break the law and he gets hit by a car in the parking lot. Meanwhile, he would have been safe reading comic books in the back seat. We can play this “what if” game all day long.
I’m not saying it’s okay to leave your kids in a car alone, no matter their age or the circumstances. The question is whether it’s up to the police – and state lawmakers – to judge parenting decisions when children are in no real danger. We need to accept the fact that a child alone in public is not always in danger. The opposite is true.
The bill is now in the hands of the Assembly.
Links of the Day:
– A Rush-Henrietta parent says her child won’t be allowed to play baseball if he refuses to take the state exams for the second day in a row.
– The state says it’s okay for school districts to discipline kids who refuse the tests.
– Good news. Rochester will soon clean up the debris lining the Inner Loop.
– Governor Cuomo remains opposed to medical marijuana.
Boston Marathon Bombing Links:
– “That was his son with his legs destroyed, wearing a favorite shirt. That was his son.” Man recognizes his son in grisly photo.
– “The girl on the ground is Sydney Corcoran, a 17-year-old Lowell High School senior. Her femoral artery was ruptured.” Victims face a long road to recovery.
– Rochester native and war veteran Matthew Zeller writes, “the tactics of our enemies abroad may finally have followed us home.”
– “I tell people if it’s in the news, don’t worry about it. By definition, news is something that almost never happens.” If we let fear rule after the bombings, the bad guys win.