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Legal Disclaimer

Please Don't Leave Your Children Alone!

by Marnie Larsen Ko

© SKYDIVECOP - Fotolia.com All rights reserved.

Recently the front page of the news carried a story about a three year old child that was left unattended in a car that was subsequently stolen. This happened in your typical North American city - a city where people should know better.

The stolen vehicle containing the three year old hit a parked car and a police car, and was finally apprehended by police forty-five minutes later. The family's pit bull was also in the car but that didn't deter the suspect. Police worried that pursuing the car might lead to traffic fatalities or injury for the child. They also expressed the concern that the car, child and dog might be left abandoned in freezing temperatures.

I've watched a mother leave her children, ages 3 months and about 4 years, alone in a car while she went into the bank. I've sat in my car watching the children left alone waiting for the mother to come back because I've been so scared for their safety that I couldn't bear to leave.

I've gone shopping to the grocery store on a cold winter night, and yes, taken my children into the store with me. It takes an extra few minutes and it's cold out, but knowing they are safe with me is worth the extra effort. I've come out to my car and found a parked car beside me with a tiny newborn baby all alone in the car, crying uncontrollably.

It only takes a second. The father who left his child this week to go into a hotel found that out. His car was stolen with his baby in it!

The car can roll out of park and into gear. The car can be stolen if left unlocked with the child in it. A stolen car can be crashed by the thief with the child still in it. The car can be abandoned in the middle of nowhere in the dead of winter with the child still in it, as the police feared might occur in this situation. The car can start on fire if left running. The child can be kidnapped when unattended. A child can choke while the parent is paying for gas. A small child can wriggle out of a car seat and start the car moving, or worse, open the car door and dart out into traffic and be hurt, killed, or just disappear. An infant can start crying and cry for long enough to go into unconsciousness. A child can freeze in the car in the winter, and can suffer from heatstroke in the summer.

IT ONLY TAKES A SECOND. Why risk it? Anything can go wrong in the one minute or less that you're in the bank, in the store, in the house, and you'll have the rest of your life to regret it. Your child's life is worth the extra two minutes it takes to unbuckle the seat belts and take the child with you.

Even if your child is sleeping, it's worth your child's life to wake them up and take them with you. Or, let whatever it is you're doing wait until you can take them with you. That's what's at stake here: A child's life. Yes, it's more work to drag kids in and out of the car, especially in the winter. Yes, it's hard to wake up cranky, sleeping kids and take them out of a warm car to do errands. Yes, it's tempting to leave them just for a second because it's so much easier and faster.

But, is your child's life worth it? Children need to be watched, every minute, every second. One minute is enough time for someone to get into your unlocked running car and drive away with your child in it. It's a rare event that an incident like this one, with the three year old taken in a stolen vehicle occurs, but it can happen. It could happen to you..... Unless you take very clear and conscientious steps to keep it from happening.

When you go to get gas, take your children in with you to pay the cashier. If you have to, go to a full-serve so you don't even have to get out of the car.

When you go to the corner store for some milk, take your kids in with you, or ask your spouse to get the milk on the way home, or to drive to the store to pick it up when you need it. The extra trouble is worth it to keep your kids safe, within sight and alive.

If you have to go to the grocery store, even if you only need one loaf of bread, even if you think it will only take one minute, remember that ONE MINUTE IS ALL IT TAKES. Why risk it?

This winter especially - it's going to be cold and miserable and so tempting to leave the kids in the car alone for "just a minute". Please, think carefully about all the things that could happen in that one minute when you aren't there. Don't leave your kids alone in the car; don't leave them unattended. It doesn't matter if the car is locked, it doesn't matter if the car isn't running, or even if it is. One minute-- that's all it takes. It's just not worth the risk.

Marnie Larsen Ko is the full-time mom of two, and Editor/Publisher of Nurturing Magazine, an international natural parenting magazine.

Copyright ©1997 M. Larsen Ko. All rights reserved.

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