Friday, March 14, 2008

Being a Mom - It's Criminal

Just when I think there's nothing to write about...MSN always comes through for me.

Did you hear about this? This mom left her two year old sleeping in her car while she took her other two daughters to put money in a Salvation Army bucket. Some criminal. Anyway, a "peace officer" (not sure what that is. Cop without a gun?) saw her and questioned her. After calling her husband, who told her not to say anything till he got there, she refused to tell the officer her OR the child's name. They ARRESTED her. Without waiting for the husband to get there, even.

She faced charges of child endangerment and obstruction of justice - the cops said that without names, they didn't know if the child had been kidnapped or what (understandable, but if they had waited for the husband, it would have been fine.) She could have gotten up to a year in jail or a $2500 fine. Charges were dropped, thank goodness.

Here's my problem. The punishment of a "crime" should not be more severe than the actual situation. This mom was never out of sight of her child (she didn't go in the store), and she made every precaution (alarm activated, flashers on). What she's guilty of is not wanting to wake up her 2 year old just to step out of the car and back again. A lecture from the cop would have been plenty, and she probably would have cooperated better if not afraid of arrest. It's not like she took off running and leaped over a chain link fence. At the most, they could have waited for hubby to show up. The kid was fine, and there were 2 other kids with the mom - probably not the typical kidnapping scene. And what kidnapper stops at a Walmart, for pete's sake!? And to donate money, too!

That situation is one that gets played out every day, for better or for worse, and usually with less precautions. What mom here in the frigid midwest hasn't left their child in the running vehicle while she dropped off a movie, or some other little errand? Granted, Fargo is not a huge city, and we have a sense of safetly living here.

But here's the pain inflicted on her family because the officer got involved.

1)Mom is freaked out, which means the kids are freaked out. 2 older kids watching mom get arrested? That's probably punishment enough for a vast array of motherhood related crimes.

2) What happened to the kids while mom was getting ducked into the cop car? Were they left unattended? Because that is DEFINITELY worse that what the mom did in the first place.

3) Mom is probably in jail for at least a couple of hours until bail is made. Those poor kids are now wondering WHAT is happening to mom. Is she coming home? Yikes. I'm sure they had a peaceful evening.

4) Lawyers? Not cheap. And I'm sure they got one.

5)If ever there was a case for emotional effects of a situation, this is it. Her trial was to be yesterday, and this happened before Christmas (Salvation Army buckets?) - so for 3 months or so they've had hanging over their heads that mommy could be gone for a YEAR. Not to mention the stigma of a mom with jail time under her belt. Which might be more acceptable for the under 25, pre-baby set. But I wouldn't want to have to deal with that now.

I hope that family has supportive friends and that they won't be cut off by any not wanting connections to a "criminal" mom.


Noel said...

Good to see the charges dropped, but what a hassle. I'm also sure that a real kidnapper would give the child's real name :-/ to a police officer. The article also indicated the mom was always within 30 feet of the car which is closer than the mom would be in some homes.

Suzi said...

Interesting story, I agree with your comments too. I have another little different story.

My sister-in-law went to Kmart yesterday to shop with her 2 kids. Parked in the lot was a running car with 2 kids in it, approximately 3ish and 5ish. The older child was opening and closing the automatic doors.

She waited 10 minutes before calling the cops. After doing so the (assumed) mother came leisurely walking out with 2 big bags of stuff. She figures she was in there much longer than the 10 minutes she witnessed her being gone.

She gave the cop the vehicle description and license number but doesn't know what happend after that since they drove away.

The officer told her that typically they will call the number the vehicle is registered under and talk to them because often times the car is gone before the cops get there.

I'm curious about what our laws are concerning that kind of thing.

Anonymous said...

I agree, this went too far, but, I can also see how her not answering the police officer's questions looked suspicious. I don't think her child was ever in danger, but I also would have hesitated to leave my kid in the car. 30 feet is close, but still.... When my kids were little, I didn't return the shopping cart to the corral if it wasn't right next to the car. I didn't EVER leave my kids alone in the car. Not even to run into the gas station to pay for gas. I took them with me. As a child, I was left for a minute in a car and it began rolling down a hill, so maybe some of my phobia comes from that - or the fact that I had a friend who was turned into Social Services for leaving her kids briefly unattended. I just couldn't do it. But I do think it went too far for this mom. Just my humble opinion. :)

Aaron said...

I see three VERY wrong things with this story:

1. Since when is leaving kids alone in a car illegal? It might not be the smartest thing in the world, but it's hardly worth arresting somebody for.

2. If I'm not doing anything wrong, I'm not going to give just any cop/"peace officer" my name, ID, whatever. My right to privacy doesn't end if the person wanting to see it is wearing blue. This mom did the right thing in that regard.

3. I really doubt the suspicion in this case was kidnapping. I have no idea what the "peace officer" thought they were saving the world from. Probably just some small-minded fool with more allegiance to abstract rules than common sense.

Anonymous said...

Bottom line. Never leave children alone in a car. . . not with the engine on, not with the engine off.
Never leave children alone anywhere... not for any length of time. Don't leave them in the freezing cold nor when it's burning hot. . . there is never a reason to leave a tot.
Never ever, no there is not!
Whether or not you think it's a crime, please don't leave them alone? Not one more time!
Consider yourself needled.
It's my job and I do it very well. NeedledByNydam