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Law Creates Orphan

June 23, 2009 permalink

Most of us know what child abandonment is: dad leaves his wife and kids without support while he goes off to another life. Legislation aimed at abandonment usually evokes this pattern.

Abandonment to child protectors is a different act entirely. A typical case is the mother who runs into a store for five minutes and returns to find cops surrounding the car with her child inside. We enclose two articles about a similar case in New Hampshire, the first giving the raw police facts, the second an opinion piece applying some common sense, a characteristic lacking in family courts. In its zeal to strictly enforce abandonment law, the court has created a half-orphan.



UNH prof charged with leaving baby in car

Associated Press - June 17, 2009 6:25 AM ET

DURHAM, N.H. (AP) - A University of New Hampshire professor has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child for allegedly leaving his infant son alone in a car while he was sitting outside a restaurant a few feet away.

Police arrested 55-year-old John Collins on Saturday. Deputy Police Chief Rene Kelley said officers observed the 16-month-old boy was suffering from heat-related signs of distress. He said it was about 70 degrees, with the interior temperature of the car likely running higher.

The infant was taken to a hospital and released to the custody of his mother, who wasn't present when the child was left in the vehicle.

Collins said the baby was never out of his sight, and he was letting him sleep.

Collins is an associate science professor at UNH.

Source: WCAX Burlington Vt

The real child abuse is by the Durham cops

By Michael Graham | Thursday, June 18, 2009 | | Op-Ed

Not everything that’s dumb should be illegal.

So even if you think the University of New Hampshire prof who left his 16-month-old in the car is a moron, does he have to be a felon, too?

Here’s the story:

Saturday morning, science professor John Collins drove to a coffee shop in (for lack of a better word) “downtown” Durham, N.H. He brought along his son who, as babies often do, promptly fell asleep in the car. So Collins left Junior sleeping and went inside for a cup o’ joe.

A sleepy child on a sleepy Saturday morning in a sleepy New Hampshire town. What could possibly go wrong?

Fast-forward to this headline from Foster’s Daily Democrat: “UNH prof charged with leaving baby in car on warm day.”

For the record, it was 70 degrees. Or as we called it in South Carolina, “sweater weather.”

A passer-by called police, who decided the baby was “in distress,” took custody of him and arrested Collins for child endangerment.

Ah, but where was dad at the time? Collins says he was sitting at an outdoor table - just a few feet from the car.

Deputy Chief Rene Kelley refused to tell a reporter where Collins was when he was arrested, or even what symptoms the child displayed. Instead he said, “The bottom line is you don’t leave an infant strapped in a car on a hot sunny day, or any day, and leave it unattended.”


I know that many people - particularly non-parents - have this Norman Rockwell image of parenting where the children play quietly at mom’s feet while she cooks and dad does yard work in his pressed cotton dress shirt. But as the father of four I know the parenting reality: On a good day, controlled chaos. On a bad day, total anarchy.

You spend 16 months wrestling with a stinky, screaming colicky baby 24/7, then tell me you’re going to wake him from a sound sleep to come sit with you during your Saturday cappuccino?

Sure you are.

This isn’t a matter of parental convenience. It’s a matter of pure survival.

Millions of parents have done the “sleeping baby vs. risk to safety” calculus and left a child in a locked car for a few minutes. Those who scream “child abduction!” have no idea what they’re talking about. As ABC’s John Stossel reported in “The Kidnapping Hysteria,” there are fewer than 100 cases of children abducted by strangers in the entire country each year.

Sure it was warmer than 70 degrees in the car, but child “endangering”? Every summer my kids go south and frolic in the 100-degree heat. So far, no arrests.

Which, as we approach Father’s Day, is the key issue in the Collins case. His arrest.

You may think the professor is a dumb dad. Fine. But a criminal?

A term of Collins’ release is “no unsupervised visits.” He can’t be alone with his own little boy, all because of a parenting decision some people don’t agree with?

There is no evidence that Professor Collins has ever hurt his son. Which is more than can be said of the cops and courts handling this case.

Source: Boston Herald