A mother in New Jersey left her sleeping daughter in the car for 5-10 minutes while she dashed inside a store in a suburban mall. Someone noticed, and the mother was charged with child endangerment. But the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in the mother’s favor, making an interesting legal distinction.
In a unanimous decision, the court said that the law must consider only actual harm, as opposed to possible harm. That is to say, we worry about what might happen to the child left in the car (a bad guy could run away with her; she could wake up, start the car, and run it into a building, etc.). But the law can only deal with what does happen.
Thus, as Lenore Skenazy explains the case, parents do not have to be perfect, lest their children be taken away from them. [Read more…]