Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Cat’s in the Cradle

Did you see the story about the New Zealand mother who left her newborn child in a vehicle while she ran into a store to do some shopping?  It’s not just that she left the child in the car unattended, but she left a note on the sleeping newborn that said she was in the store shopping and if there was a problem to call a phone number she left on the note.

Unfortunate as it may be, Overland Park police respond to calls for service from time to time to check the welfare of a child, or children, left in an unattended car.  Sometimes these callers report an infant was left secured in a car seat and unattended in a vehicle.  Sometimes the children are a little older, but left in a vehicle exposed to the elements.  Officers have even found young children wandering a busy parking lot and after they made contact, they learned that the children left an unattended vehicle.  Upon finding the unattended vehicle, they found even younger children still in the car.
Besides it being illegal, there are so many things that can happen to a small child left unattended in a vehicle.  A malfunction with the vehicle can cause it to catch fire, the child can fall victim to a predator, the vehicle can be stolen, the child can be overcome by the elements, and these are just a few things.  Think of the worst possible things… it can happen.

In Overland Park there is a law that prohibits minors from being left in an unattended vehicle by any adult unless such child has the present ability to release themselves from the vehicle.  In the case where the children were found wandering the parking lot, officers considered child endangerment to be an appropriate charge.

All charges and consequences aside, children rely on us to make good decisions and keep them safe.  It is imperative we protect our children.  They are our future and one day we will rely on them.