Friday, July 10, 2009

Over-education

Looseyfur posted an article on facebook that I just didn't get. I've read it clear though, including the first page of comments, twice and I still don't get it. Read it here for yourself and tell me how it goes together.

Basically, a professor took her kids and some friends (ages 12, 12, 8, 7, and 3) to the mall and dumped them. Awhile later, the police called her back to the mall and charged her with child endangerment. They threatened to arrest her when she showed up and tried to "explain her actions" (personally, there is no explanation except that she is a lazy, irresponsible parent). Then, she decided that she was being persecuted for being a highly educated woman because the court wouldn't offer her a plea, instead charging her with the crime she committed.

My take on this is that she got exactly what she deserved. She endangered those kids by leaving them alone at the mall, thus "child endangerment". I also have issues with the fact that not only did she endanger her kids but she was equally cavalier about the safety of SOMEONE ELSE'S child! Besides the child endangerment charge, I know a lot of malls have their own rules about how many children can be in an unsupervised group. I believe our local mall's policy is 3 people under the age of 18 but I couldn't swear to it since I don't hang out at the mall.

I feel that bias is, often, in the eye of the beholder. Too many people feel that being some minority, be it black, female, highly educated, low class, whatever, gives them the right to not only break rules and laws but to expect some type of special treatment because of their minority status when they do. RF is forever having people on the bus say to him "you didn't stop for me at that place that wasn't a stop because I'm such and such minority". In reality, the bus didn't stop because it wasn't a stop but that person felt that it was done on purpose.

In this case a highly educated woman did something stupid. Another highly educated woman (the prosecutor, as I can only imagine a lawyer would be classified as highly educated) chose to not allow her to use her money and education to get a slap on the wrist. Seems like that is exactly what should have happened. It isn't class war-fare or a hatred or fear of educated women. It is exactly how the justice system is supposed to work.

6 comments:

Looseyfur said...

I posted it because I was completely intrigued by the balance between the blogger's write up and the mother's article at: http://www.brainchildmag.com/essays/summer2009_kevane.asp

The whole time I'm reading it I'm thinking: You don't leave kids alone, you don't leave kids alone, you don't leave kids alone... you stupid woman.

And then I got to the part about the rancher and all the stuff he was doing by 12 and I thought about it.

At 12 I was independently babysitting 4 kids ages 3 to 10.
At 12, I could ride my bike 2 miles by myself on back roads and go to the closest strip mall to shop for candy or music or whatever.
At 10, I walked home from school by myself every day with a key and let myself into my house, where I was alone until my sister or my mom got home around 4:30 p.m.
At 12, I walked to the bus stop and waited for the bus by myself.
At 12, I'd taken a red cross baby sitting class that included infant and child CPR training.
At 12, I cooked my own meals, did my laundry and figured out how to get into my house without breaking anything when I accidentally left my keys at home...

And I began to doubt the judgment I passed on the woman. Not because she had a PhD (which I found silly) but because society in itself seems to have changed and sometimes I wonder if it's for the better or if it's just complete social paranoia.

And you know me, I'm a sucker for all good parent v. bad parent discussions.

Mama2SweetBabyJames said...

As I discussed with Debra about this very topic a few days ago, while a 12 year old may be very responsible, he/she is NOT an adult and should not be expected to make adult choices (and in this case the 12 year olds proved this when they left the younger kids unsupervised).

It really isn't appropriate in our society today to leave 12 year olds in charge of a 3 year old, much less a 3 year old plus two other kids, in a public place like the mall. Even after reading the mother's side of the story, I still believe it was a bad choice. Does she deserve jail time? IDK about that, but she does deserve some sort of punishment, IMHO.

I really like the point you brought up about discrimination being in the eye of the beholder. That is so true. It's difficult to discern real discrimination from imagined discrimination. As an outsider reading this debate, I'm having a hard time seeing how this woman is being discriminated against on the basis of being "highly educated."

The Fearless Freak said...

I didn't do most of those things at 12 so I'm still looking at from the perspective of "you don't leave kids alone" We lived in the country and while that was probably safer in terms of crime or whatever, there was literally NO ONE around for miles if there was an emergency. Back in the day, we didn't even have a rural 911 system.

So we were rarely left alone and when we were, it was at home, not in public (which is the huge defining factor in my judgement of this woman, she couldn't have shooed the kids in the backyard while she rested?). And I wasn't super impressed with kids so I only babysat my brother when absolutely forced to and I didn't babysit at all for anyone else (there was one family that was a friend of my brother's but I was almost 16 when I worked for them and it was like twice).

Because, besides the endangerment, I also take issue with parents using older siblings as slave labor to care for younger children. While you are getting this, get your sister that is one thing. Unpaid babysitting is something else entirely.

Looseyfur said...

And this is exactly that kind of social change I'm talking about, Freak. I babysat for no less than 10 families when I was 12. I made $2-3 an hour. Sure, for three of the families I sat for the most my mom was right next door -- but seriously once I entered 7th grade I was fighting parents off with a stick for my Friday and Saturday nights.

And yes, we all know how supremely responsible I am to see how parents would love me :-), but I wouldn't think of leaving X-man with a 12 year old. But maybe I'd have one over to play with him as a mother's helper while I scrub the kitchen floor or organize the basement or something.

But MacTroll and I agree about the idea that if she hadn't taken them to the mall, she probably wouldn't have had a problem. If she'd kicked them outside and told them to stay out on the ranch no one would be the wiser. Or if she'd called an actual babysitter and spent the $20 bucks for two hours, the babysitter could have stayed with them at the mall.... There were so many, many other choices that she could have made.

Do I think what she did was child endangerment -- I don't know. I mean, she wasn't running a meth lab in the basement, or starving them or putting them in locked kennels... but I do think she made a selfish and BAD decision.

Catch Her in the Wry said...

A 12 year old might be quite responsible alone, but once friends are invited to be included during babysitting times, a responsible 12year old will get distracted. That is why most parents will not allow the babysitter's friends to visit while employed.

That's exactly what happened in this case. The 12 year old daughter may have been fine watching her siblings, but adding a friend and her siblings to the mix - well, pre-teeners do get off in their own giggling world sometimes. Any "smart" mother of a pre-teen understands that.

The mother insisted that the older girls were only gone "5 minutes" to try on shirts. That is very hard for me to believe. I have never seen pre-teens get undressed, dressed, undressed, and dressed again in 5 minutes. I am sure those Macy's employess had reason for concern.

I found the tone of the mother's article to be quite arrogant and full of denial. If she showed this same tone to the police officers, I can understand their reaction.

Many, many woman are well educated, work full time, run a household, and raise children, but do not entrust an older child and friend to babysit in a public mall (a place full of distractions for people of any age). She should have punished the daughter for disobeying rules and admitted her own poor judgment immediately. She could have saved herself thousands of dollars and become an example to her daughter.

debra said...

She deserves to be punished. I think she endangered her children by leaving them in the mall with 12 yr olds. I was reading the article thinking "how can she continue to justify her actions? She's lucky she ISN'T a minority (black, hispanic, poor) or she could have easily had her kids taken from her". I am not sure this would be a big deal else where in the world but you gotta live by the rules of where you are and how things are... not how you wish they were.