Kim explored why we seem so determined to harass and even criminalize parents for leaving their kids in a statistically very safe situation. (How safe? Far safer than the kids were while getting DRIVEN to the store.)
But maybe the reason for the pitchforks is actually "informative" shows like...Good Morning America. For the final word on this story, it turned to its expert, ABC News Senior Legal Correspondent and former Federal Prosecutor Sunny Hostin.
Hostin recalled a time she'd accidentally left her child in the car for two minutes and how terrible she felt, which is understandable. She meant to take the kid but forgot. (Which is one reason a "Never leave your kids in the car" law is pointless: The forgetters don't realize they HAVE left their kids in the car). But from this she concludes:
Listen, I don't think you can be too nosy when it comes to little kids. I think we are a village.... Err on the side of protecting your child.
To which the host replies:
Correct, because that's the intention of anyone who's getting involved typically is to protect your child.
But of course, forgetting your kid in the car is NOT topic of debate here. Making an informed judgment is.
We should NOT err on the side of "protecting our child” / criminalizing the parent when the children don't need protecting -- like when a parent knows they're running a short errand and deliberately DECIDES to let them wait briefly in a car. If you're worried the parent isn't coming back, wait a little bit and see, don't call 911 as if you've witnessed a crime. And when the parent does come back, don't treat them like an outlaw for doing something statistically very safe.
Defaulting to an absolutist position of "safety first" means we’d have to keep our kids in bed in bubblewrap all day (on their backs, of course). It’s ridiculous to remove good judgment from the equation, and yet that is what Good Morning America recommends: Always assume a child is in danger anytime it is not with its parents -- and that the parents are bad.
Where does that lead?
In an article accompanying its video, GMA quotes a doctor who says:
If your 12-year-old is capable of walking home from the bus stop by themselves, that's something that you might make a decision about where another 12-year-old may be too impulsive.
As if having a 12-year-old walk from the bus stop is a controversial, even dangerous, thing to do.
When we overestimate danger, we treat everyone as fragile and in need of supervision from on high. Lately, this is considered prudent and kind.
It is actually judgmental and terrifying. - L.