No time is short enough

While the holiday season apparently brings out the rush in all of us, there is one place we should never cut corners—with our children. While I am all for a ban of foreign-made toys containing dangerous levels of lead paint, there is something more frightening that I have witnessed recently. Apparently people think that it is OK to leave their children unattended in cars. No, I’m not talking about their 10- or 12-year-old who sits in an idling car while their parent grabs something from the grocery store; I am referring to the parent who leaves their infant or toddler alone in the car while they “run inside” somewhere.

In the past month, I have seen two such incidences. One incident involved a mother leaving her several-month-old son alone in the parking lot of a hardware store for 10 minutes while she was inside. Upon returning to her car, the mother yelled at a concerned store employee standing beside the car to get away from her child because she was “only inside for a minute.” Try 10.

Last week, I witnessed a mother leave two of her toddlers in the fire lane of a large retailer for about eight minutes while she rushed to get something inside. She was a little more pleasant when confronted by the store security guard.

Is this an illegal act in North Carolina? It should be. How many tragedies do we need to read about—when children are left alone by accident in cars for long periods of time—to be smart enough not to do the same when we do remember our children are in the car?

I know firsthand that it can be difficult carting an infant around when you’re rushing in and out of stores, but you do it anyway. Because you are the parent, they are the child, and they deserve better than to be left unattended in a car.

— Robin C. Payne

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