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Column: Child-neglect arrests troubling trend


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Some things, you would think, should just be automatic.

Lock your house at night so a stranger can’t enter easily.

Lock your vehicle when leaving it in public so valuables aren’t stolen.

 

Don’t leave your children unsupervised in a vehicle during hot temperatures.

Unfortunately for some children, that third item is not always followed.

The Republic received a news release Monday stating that a mother and father, both Columbus residents, had been arrested Saturday on Class D felony neglect of a dependent charges. The parents are accused of leaving their 6-year-old son in a car in the parking lot of a retail store on the city’s east side.

The details made me shake my head in disbelief.

Because the boy didn’t want to go shopping with his parents, his mother and dad told police that they left the car running so the air conditioning would keep their son cool and gave him grapes to eat, thinking he would be OK while they shopped.

The problem was that the air conditioner wasn’t functioning properly. It blew hot air instead of cool air, causing the temperature in the car to reach 100 degrees.

Unfortunately, leaving a child in an unattended vehicle during hot temperatures has become a trend locally. Saturday’s arrest marked the fourth time since May 26 that Columbus area parents have been arrested on child-neglect charges for leaving children alone in a hot vehicle.

In the first case, police said a 5-year-old was left for about 20 minutes in a vehicle in which the temperature reached 124 degrees.

The second instance involved a 2-year-old boy who was inside a vehicle when outside temperatures were in the low 90s. The father was passed out and slumped over the wheel, and marijuana was found in the father’s hand, police said.

Police said the third incident involved a 7-year-old and an infant who were left in a locked vehicle — with windows cracked and the sun roof open — while their father shopped in a supermarket with two other children, ages 4 and 6.

While all these parents are innocent until proven guilty, there’s no good explanation for leaving kids alone in a vehicle during hot temperatures — or even cold ones — in my opinion.

First and foremost, leaving a child unattended is an opportunity for another person to break into the vehicle, snatch the child and possibly cause harm. Isn’t that reason enough for parents to take their children with them?

Leaving a child alone in the car presents other dangers. A child could choke on food he or she is eating. If the vehicle is left running, a child could possibly put it into gear and cause an accident and injuries. Should the temperature in the vehicle become too hot, the situation could prove fatal.

Don’t all parents worry about the safety of their children? As a father of two, I do all the time. Parental instincts, you would think, should kick in and cause mothers and fathers to think twice before placing their children into potentially dangerous situations.

Maybe it’s naive to think, but my hope is that through these recent accounts published in The Republic, parents will think twice before leaving little ones alone in cars.

For the sake of their children.

Kirk Johannesen is assistant managing editor of The Republic. He can be reached at 379-5639 or johannesen@therepublic.com.

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