Ken Curtis: Neglect laws are messed up

Published 08/20 2014 11:55AM

Updated 08/21 2014 01:40PM

Dothan police made two arrests over the past few days alleging child neglect. One was a mother who left her eight year old and 18-month old children alone in a car while she shopped. This is not a hot car case but only children left unattended in parked car.

The other involves a man accused of leaving his 9-year old grandson in Wal-Mart while he shopped at another store. Grandpa earned a trip to jail.

When I was a child—and it’s been a long time ago—parents routinely allowed children to roam around town without supervision. The only rule at my house was that I had to be home by dark or dinnertime---whichever came first. It was not unusual to walk or ride my bicycle downtown, to school, or just meet friends.

Times have changed and children are not as safe in 2014 as they were in the 1960’s. No doubt leaving children unattended is not exactly exemplary parenting. Leaving a 9-year old at Wal-Mart for a short while---frankly I don’t see the crime. Questionable supervision but not a crime.

Government is dictating every phase of our lives these days including how to parent and care for our children. Before you jump on me for these comments understand that I don’t condone leaving children unsupervised. If children are harmed because of neglect those responsible should be prosecuted and the punishment should be stiff.

What you may not realize is that while it’s against the law to leave a 9-year old alone in Wal-Mart it is not against the law for that same child to drive a tractor down a busy highway---a highway with lots of traffic including those 80-thousand pound big trucks. That same 9-year old child can legally operate dangerous farm equipment for hours with no adult supervision.

The two people arrested for child neglect will pay a fine and all will be forgotten. What police view as an offense serious enough to land Grandpa in jail will all be forgotten when he hands over a few dollars.

It seems our child neglect laws and the way Dothan police enforce them are, from my point of view, messed up.

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