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