Toddler Who Died in Hot Van Deserves Justice

angel graveI swore I'd try to avoid the stories about toddler tragedies for a while -- there's only so much time a mom can spend blogging about that stuff before the state of the world starts getting her really, really depressed. This one, though, I couldn't ignore. It made me terribly sad, but then it made me horribly angry, and now I have to vent.

Two-year-old Jazmin Green died on June 20 after being left in a hot van for two hours following a field trip with her Georgia day care center. Very, very sad, not to mention senseless and too damn common (why are kids being left to bake in cars all the time??). Naturally, the day care center's owner is being charged with cruelty to children, reckless conduct, and involuntary manslaughter, as is the owner's daughter and a 16-year-old girl who apparently worked at the day care center (her name is being withheld). But does the teenager's punishment fit the crime? In my opinion, NO.

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The teen has been sentenced to 40 hours of community service and two years probation. (The adults, in case you were wondering, haven't had their trial yet.) That's it, you say?? Well, no, actually: The judge also ordered the teen to create a memorial in Jazmin's memory in the next six months, something "creative" in a protected public spot where people can see it and pay their respects. The judge also told the teen that she had to consult Green's parents for input in order to "best capture Jazmin."

That's the part that made me horribly angry. As much as I can see what the judge is trying to do here -- the teen, who has no criminal record, cried throughout the proceedings and will now probably spend most of the next six months crying as she thinks about the 2-year-old who died on her watch -- if I were Jazmin's mom, this would not be enough for me. Not even close.

A child has died, and a glorified arts and crafts project is supposed to make up for that fact? It's almost insulting. I understand that the 16-year-old is probably much less worthy of blame than the adults being charged in this case, but I still feel like a more severe consequence needs to be put into place. If not to "teach the teen a lesson," then simply out of respect for the magnitude of what Jazmin's parents have lost.

Do you think the teen partly responsible for Jazmin's death is getting off too easy?


Image via Natalie Maynor/Flickr

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