What is going on these days with parents leaving young children unattended in cars? Yet another dad, this time from Connecticut, is in custody and is being charged with risk of injury to a minor after he left his 2-year-old daughter alone in his idling car while he stepped out. We aren't sure yet of the circumstances surrounding this incident -- including where dad went and how long he was gone -- but this story has an unfortunate twist: the child was somehow able to either wiggle out of her car seat or, if she wasn't in one, stretch over to the front seat to shift the vehicle into drive, striking two parked cars.
Oscar Chicas, who is 33, is being held on $15,000 bond. His daughter is, thank God, not hurt and is currently staying with an uncle while dad deals with his legal issues. The toddler caused minor damage to the cars she hit. It's unknown whether dad or a bystander stepped in to retrieve the little girl and stop the car from moving.
When we were younger, I remember my mom leaving my brother and me in the car for five or so minutes while she stepped out to buy milk at a store. But my brother is four years my senior and she didn't take this risk until I was at least 7 or 8. I would argue that even seems too young nowadays. You just can never be sure that your young children are safe alone in a car. There are too many things that can happen.
They can become curious -- hey, kids naturally are -- and experiment with the various buttons and switches on your car. They may want to sit up at the steering wheel just for a minute to feel the sensation of moving that wheel. If they accidentally move their elbows just slightly in one direction, they can easily set the car into drive. It isn't impossible to fathom how this could happen.
In the case of really small children, like toddlers or babies, I'm almost more able to understand how parents could think it would be okay to leave them alone for a few seconds. I'm not talking about moms and dads who do insane things like leave their children in hot cars so they can have sex or to go shopping for 25 minutes. But I'm sure there are times when otherwise responsible parents remember they left their keys in someone's house or inside a store and dash back and forth from car to site of keys before anyone can blink an eye. In that moment, they're probably thinking: Babies don't move. Toddlers are, usually, strapped into their car seats, RIGHT? What could happen?
Ugh, the truth is -- this could happen. An active toddler could shift the car into drive and cause a whole lot more trouble than, fortunately, what came out of this incident. Anyone who considers leaving their young child in a car by himself for even a few minutes should think twice.
What do you think of this incident? Have you or would you ever leave your young child in a car alone?
Image via brownpau/Flickr