One dad is now speaking out about a daunting incident he experienced after leaving his 2-year-old daughter alone in a car. According to the Birmingham Mail, Tim Haines left the toddler in the car for less than five minutes while he ran inside a store to pick up her prescription.
He was quite shocked to see two police officers standing next to his car when he returned. Haines stated that the officers refused to let him drive the vehicle home, citing an issue with his tires. Unfortunately, he was forced to walk home carrying his child. Although he thought the incident was over, it was only the beginning. Three weeks later, two more police officers arrived at his home to place him under arrest.
“Then, about three weeks later there was a knock on the door and there were two policemen there. They said I was being arrested for willful exposure of a child to risk of harm,” Tim said. “I didn’t have any idea what was going on. I didn’t think I was doing anything different to what you see people doing when they drop off one child at school and leave another in the car or go in to pay at the petrol garage.”
The shocking arrest also led to an investigation conducted by social services. Tim and his wife, Julia, were faced with the possibility of having their daughter taken away from them. Julia also weighed in, recounting how the daunting experience has shaken up their lives.
“It was a massive emotional upheaval. We didn’t know what might happen. It was a very real fear,” she said.
Although he was bailed, he refuses to accept the charge because he doesn’t want the criminal offense to blemish his record. He recently filed an appeal to have the charge overturned.
— Daily Mirror (@DailyMirror) March 27, 2015
Several reports that the law lacks clarity because there is no specific age that has been deemed acceptable for parents to leave their children unattended. However, if parents opt to do so, they face the possibility of being arrested and charged with counts of child abuse, neglect, and even child cruelty, reports Breaking News. Chris Cloke, head of NSPCC Child Protective Awareness, recently released a statement in reference to cases faced by people likes the Haines.
“Although there’s no legal minimum age for leaving children at home alone, no-one should leave a child unattended if they think they’ll be at risk. And it’s never acceptable to leave babies and very young children on their own for any length of time. Children mature at different rates so it’s vital we have a common sense approach that ensures flexibility for parents, as they are best-placed to know what is right for their child.”
A spokesperson for the Association of Chief Police Officers said, “There is no current legislation that gives a clear definition of when leaving a child on their own at home would constitute child neglect. However, the law is clear that you should never leave a child at home if they would be left at risk. We would always encourage parents to think strongly about whether or not their child is of an appropriate age and responsible enough to look after themselves before they are left alone.”
The incident has sparked quite a debate online because some readers have agreed that the law lacks clarity. However, many readers have specific opinions about this particular incident. Although he only left her in the car for minutes, some have questioned why he left her alone at all.
Do you think the law lacks clarity? Share your thoughts.
[Image via Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]