This is a true story.
Prevent Child Abuse Gaston joined many other organizations across the United States 3 years ago, telling people, “Never leave your child alone in a car.” That plea resonates every time a child ends up in a hospital or dies from hyperthermia or heatstroke from being left in a hot car, or every time a child is injured from knocking a car out of gear and it rolls into something, or someone else decides that car is their next ride.
Cars are not play areas for children. They are car size bullets in the wrong hands. They are ovens when closed and locked, even on days with mild temperatures. They are meccas of temptation for a small child alone, who is bored and looking for something to do. Such was the case in the following story:
I was a brand new child protective services investigator. I took my position’s responsibilities very seriously.
One afternoon, a co-worker and I were walking into the Gastonia City Hall together. To our left we noticed a young girl, 5 years old, moving around in the back of a sports car. We watched her climb into the front seat, leaning on the console between the two front bucket seats. She was fumbling with something in her hands.
My co-worker stepped over to the driver’s side of the car as I approached the passenger side window. It was very warm outside that day; both front windows of the car were completely open. As I approached, I saw the girl was trying to light a rolled piece of paper with the car cigarette lighter. The paper was sparking and just flamed up as I reached the window. I said, very softly, “I would not light that if I were you.”
She jumped, blew out the flame and looked at me. She immediately started to cry. My co-worker and I talked to her for a while, got her name, her Dad’s name (she said he was in City Hall paying a bill). She told us she was acting like she was going to smoke a cigarette. We told her how dangerous it was to light a piece of paper in a car.
She stayed in the car while we talked. We never touched her or attempted to remove her from the car as she did not appear to be in any distress. We simply waited for her father to return to the car. Approximately 45 minutes later, he came back to the car. We attempted to talk to him, tell him what we had seen. He totally ignored us, got in his car and drove away.
We filed a Child Protective Services report using the info from the car’s license tag and the names the child gave us. The family was counseled about the dangers of leaving their daughter in the car and the potential danger of that piece of paper flaming up and if she dropped it. The father, at first, was very angry but finally, in the end, he was very remorseful.
The point of this story is don’t take the chance of something unplanned or unforeseen happening. Take Them With You! Don’t Leave Your Child Alone in a Car. Period.