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Car KeysLeaving little kids in extremely hot or cold cars for any length of time can be fatal. It’s a bad thing to do to children.

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.

Cheryl Spengler has been forgotten.

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.

5 Responses to Kids Alone in Cars Law

  1. April 17, 2013 at 9:16 am lynn e responds:

    Good for those kids and parents refusing the tests. Personally I think parents should take on vacation during testing time. But it is very courageous when adults are in charge of making you do something and threatening punishment. I’m sure the adults are secretly proud of them while they are forced by the district and state education Dept. to do this to people. I’m sure that at Sidwell Friends where Obama’s kids go, there isn’t an obsession with testing. What isn’t being said is that standards education and the Common Core Standards are he problem along with the agenda behind them. The Common Core is an untested mandate being thrust upon the nation’s schools, the goal is to create failing public schools so corporations can take them over with public funds. The roots of the standardized testing is behaviorism which was widely discredited years ago. Education is something ghat should be interesting and fun and peak one’s interest and create individuals not robots. I think it has a lot to do with fear of minorities and controlling them while Whites receive superior education.

  2. Rachel,

    I think the main point you are trying to make is that today’s children are supervised from birth, using web cams and audio monitors… to college, with the helicopter parents. They do not get to learn the independence and resourcefulness of previous generations. Heck, they don’t even get to imagine or daydream without a spy.

    The statistics of scary things happening is very low, and yet as a society we panic.

    I remember when you were young,there was a time when getting your children fingerprinted was the rage. My friends thought I must not care about you and your brother as much as they cared about their children because I wouldn’t go along with the trend. I told my friends that I didn’t want to put fear in your heads about bad people stealing them. I wanted to raise my kids with a trust of people, with a measured sense of caution. A few years later the practice was stopped when psychologists agreed with me, but it is once again the rage.

  3. Somebody should tell our legislators that their job is not to create as many laws as they can think up; laws are to protect the rights of citizens, not to infringe upon them.

  4. Such conduct is currently successfully prosecuted under the “endangering the welfare of a child” statute. That would suggest to me that the current law is sufficient.

    We don’t need more laws. We need more people to take responsibility for themselves and for the people in their care.

  5. May 6, 2013 at 11:32 am Julie responds:

    I wrote Mark Johns on this and it is clear from his response that he’ll vote in favor. “While I believe this legislation has merit, I do understand how this bill could intrude on personal freedoms. If the Assembly Majority brings this legislation to the floor for a vote, I will consider voting in the best interests of our community’s families.” I expect that next we’ll be told that our children may not walk to school unaccompanied!

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