Children should not be left in cars to die


I have been seeing too many stories of children being left in cars to die recently, and what I have just read is even more shocking.

I did not know that this year, there have only been 18 reported deaths from children being left in cars. That number is down from last year which apparently according to this website that last year the number was 44. The average number of children who die in cars each year is 38 and since 1998 there have been 624 reported cases of children who have died because their parents either forgot, purposefully left them in their cars, or the children were playing in cars and got stuck.

An examination of media reports about 606 children who died in cars have the following circumstances. 51% of the children were forgotten, that’s 312 children. 29% were playing unattended, that’s 177 children. 18% were left intentionally, that’s 111 children and 1% which are 6 children are all unknown causes of death.

184 children who died were all under the ages of 1 year. 134 were all 1 year, 118 were all 2 years old, 84 were all 3 years old, 35 were 4 years old, 19 were 5 years old, 9 were 6 years old and the numbers keep dropping as the ages go up, including up to 14 years old, of which there are 3 deaths.

This is unsettling to me because I cannot imagine any reason for this to happen. I think I can understand if a parent is forgetful because they have a lot on their minds. Like the movie Home Alone. They had so many children and someone miscounted, so they thought they had everyone, until the mother realized Kevin wasn’t with them. How could anyone forget Kevin? Luckily that all worked out in the end, but he wasn’t left in a car, he was left in a house where it wasn’t hot outside, but still, that shouldn’t have happened either. Then again, if they remembered him, we wouldn’t have had a funny movie to watch for Christmas.

Now before anyone calls me a jerk, I’m not saying the parents who accidentally forget their children are horrible people. In fact, I’m not passing judgment on anyone. I am simply saying I cannot believe that this is happening. Not only can I not believe it is happening, but I cannot believe it is STILL happening knowing it can happen.

If you leave your child in a car and it is 70 degrees outside, your car can heat up about 10 to 15 degrees. When it is 80 to 85 in the car and the windows are all rolled up with barely any oxygen, they will suffocate. If the temperature can go up 10 to 15 degrees when it’s 70, imagine how hot it will get if it is 100 degrees outside. We went to the movies today and it was about 102 degrees outside. The car said it was 120 degrees, and boy was it hot inside there. We had to open the windows to let all the hot air leave before the A/C would do any good.

I can never have children. Never. Ever. Why? If you read my book you should know why. I was diagnosed with HIV in 1991 and I was upgraded to AIDS in 1994. When I came out of the hospital from nearly dying in 1994, I was told to apply for disability and I have been on permanent disability since. I was supposed to die from 2000 to 2005, but here I am. In 2010 I was told by one of my doctors that I probably only had 10 more years left. That’s what prompted me to start writing my book in 2010. It was a bucket list thing. I’ve always dreamed of writing a book and my memoir was the only thing I could think to write because it didn’t take much thinking to write. Memories are easier to write down than having to make up an imaginary world with imaginary people. It was just easier to write. My childhood dream was fiction, but I didn’t think I had any time for that.

Not only do I not have the income to raise a child, but because of my AIDS status, I get sick at the drop of a hat. If a child is sick and is coughing, I get bronchitis. That is not hyperbole either because my neighbor’s children gave me bronchitis at least 4 times a year when they still lived next door. I also have scoliosis and carpal tunnel syndrome. I’m not in the best health. My liver is dying from all the HIV medications, so it would be completely irresponsible of me to put someone through the emotional turmoil of losing a father if I ever adopted a child. I’m not going to put anyone through that.

I digress…

My parents always left us in the car when we were kids. I remember my parents going to the grocery store and we weren’t allowed to go in with them because back then in the 70’s children were seen and not heard. I mean, it wasn’t like it was in the 1950’s, but when you are being raised by someone who was born in the 1950’s, you were being raised the way their parents raised them. My step father had a rule that we were not to be seen by company unless company requested our presence. We had to stay in our rooms until we were called out. So when they took us anywhere, we had to stay in the car, unless we were going to a restaurant, in which case we obviously came inside to eat.

I remember sitting in the car while my parents were looking for a new car. A man was bleeding and he came up to the car and my sister and I both freaked out. I remember how frightened I was that this was happening and I remember waiting very impatiently for our parents to come back.

See, that’s another thing. I was in these children’s shoes. I was always left in the car, so I understand what it was/is like for them. I know what was/is going through their heads because it was going through mine as well. They aren’t sitting in the car with nothing on their mind, or merrily singing a sea shanty or acting out a scene in Hamlet. They are frightened. They are freaking the fuck out. “When is mommy or daddy coming back?” “Why do they always leave me/us in the car when they take me/us somewhere?” They are constantly looking out the window at the door of the place their mother or father went in. These kids aren’t thinking about anything but “when is mommy coming back?”

It is unfair to the children to make them go through that. If you cannot bring your child into the place you are visiting, then you shouldn’t have brought them with you in the first place. Leave them at home with a babysitter, or a relative or someone you trust. If you can’t find someone to take care of them for the length of time you wish to be gone, then bring them with you, but don’t leave them in the car. Not only is it unfair to torture them like this, but you are stealing their lives from them when they die.

People are so concerned about abortion, but those same people kill their kids by leaving them in the car. How is that okay?

I’m stepping off my soapbox now. I just had to say something. You can call me a horrible person for having an opinion, but I am standing up for the children who have no voice.