Don’t leave your kids in the car

I walked through a parking lot on a hot day the other day and saw a child unattended in car. The windows of the car were rolled up but the sunroof was open. The little girl sitting in the car playing on her ipad couldn’t have been more than eight years old.

What would you have done?

I stopped immediately, pulled out my cell phone, and began to call the police. Thankfully, the child’s mother walked up as I punching 9-1-1 into the phone. I had to explain to her that leaving her child was against the law and would potentially put her into danger. I was embarrassed, the mother was appalled, and the little girl was oblivious to it all, continuing to play angry birds in the back seat.

Leaving a child under the age of ten years old in an unsafe place is criminal negligence. It violates ORS 163.545, child neglect in the second degree, if leaving the child “may be likely to endanger the health or welfare of such child.”

There are things I never thought I’d have to do as a lawyer — going to rubber chicken dinners, taking so many continuing legal education classes, and especially being a mandatory reporter of child abuse. But I’m not the only one — state law has detailed such duties for medical personnel; teachers and other school personnel; almost all the state’s public employees; the vast majority of law enforcement officers, and therapists and counselors. That’s a lot of eyes looking out for our state’s children — which is terrific.

And while I don’t work 24-7 (although I do always think about wine and the wine industry, trust me), my duties never stop.

We mandatory reporters aren’t flying blind. We must regularly take continuing education classes to remind us of our duties and how to recognize and report child abuse. But I hope to never have to apply what I learn in those classes.

Be safe, be well.

Foto kindly supplied by Big Foto.