A woman’s life was altered when she allowed her son to play in the car for a few minutes while she briefly went into a store, and a nosy bystander reported her to police.
Kim Brooks related her story in a recent Salon article, The day I left my son in the car.
Nearly 3 years ago, Brooks says she brought her 4-year-old boy on a brief errand performed shortly before catching a flight. The boy was content to stay in the vehicle playing a video game while his mom went into the store for a single item. After a brief protest, Brooks decided to let her son stay and play. She wrote:
I did something I’d never done before. I left him. I told him I’d be right back. I cracked the windows and child-locked the doors and double-clicked my keys so that the car alarm was set. And then I left him in the car for about five minutes.
“I made a split-second decision to leave my son in the car,” wrote Brooks. “It ended up consuming years of my life.”
Her trip inside the store went without incident. She quickly returned with the item and drove home with her son.
“He didn’t die,” Brooks wrote. “He wasn’t kidnapped or assaulted or forgotten or dragged across state lines by a carjacker. When I returned to the car, he was still playing his game, smiling,” she said.
What Brooks didn’t know was that someone had disapproved of her parental decision and reported her to the government. The nosy witness even walked around her minivan with a camera to document it.
The police became involved, and Brooks was charged with “charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor,” a charge she could barely believe.
“I don’t know,” she told her lawyer. “It doesn’t sound to me like I committed the crime I’m being charged with. I didn’t render him in need of services. He was fine. Maybe I should plead ‘not guilty,’ go to trial.”
But her lawyer assured her that the juvenile court sides heavily against parents and would be eager to convict her and take away her children.