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Kids at risk: Say something or bite your tongue?
June 13th, 2011
04:41 PM ET

Kids at risk: Say something or bite your tongue?

In addition to being CNNHealth’s Living Well expert, Dr. Jennifer Shu is a practicing pediatrician and spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics. Today she’ll begin blogging regularly for The Chart on kids’ health.

We see it all the time—the 6-year-old riding in the front seat of a car, tweens biking on a busy road without helmets, young children in the neighborhood pool while mom sits yards away talking on her cell phone.

These situations make us cringe but it can be hard to know how we should react. Is it an innocent bystander’s ethical duty to approach the parent in the name of a child’s safety, or does society dictate minding one’s own business?

As a pediatrician I’m constantly counseling parents about their child’s safety and well-being, from SIDS prevention to proper nutrition and routine immunizations. Our check-up checklists run the gamut, covering tobacco exposure, lead poisoning, car seats, toothbrushing, risky adolescent behaviors, and more.

While most patients willingly listen to this guidance in the office, it’s my job to give them the information and their job to decide ultimately whether or not to take it. But when I step out of my white coat and into anonymity it can be difficult to see the line between offering potentially lifesaving advice and providing what’s perceived as unsolicited—and often unappreciated—criticism.

When a child is clearly in harm’s way, the decision is simpler, and many people would intervene to help. In the case of bodily injury, there are numerous requirements to report even the slightest possibility that child abuse has occurred.

However, more often than not we are presented with a child who isn’t in immediate danger, just potential harm, as a result of a parent’s indifference or lack of awareness. My medical background and inborn tendency to be outspoken lead me to err on the side of caution and speak up more often than not. I’m not sure this is always the right answer but it helps me sleep a little better at night.

Have you found yourself in a situation where you’ve turned a blind eye, hoping that everything would be OK, or did you speak your mind and risk a confrontation? If you’ve been on the receiving end of someone else’s unsolicited advice, how did you take it? I’d like to learn from your experiences and hope you’ll share your thoughts!

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The information contained on this page does not and is not intended to convey medical advice. CNN is not responsible for any actions or inaction on your part based on the information that is presented here. Please consult a physician or medical professional for personal medical advice or treatment.


soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. Sonya

    A very harried mother was on her cell phone in a busy grocery store one day and wasn't paying attention to her child standing in the large section of the buggy. The kid was teetering and certain to fall when I stabilized the child and said "Whoa there, Cowboy!" The mom whirled around (still talking on the phone) and I said "We just about had an accident there!" I then smiled, told the boy to be careful, and kept on going. (While the mother kept on talking).

    June 13, 2011 at 18:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Isabele

      I see this so often! I know a man who works at our local Target who makes it his job to tell kids to sit down. I saw a little girl fall out while Dad was on his cell phone. He nearly lost his mind screaming, "move your arms, move your legs!" Seriously, arms and legs heal, brains do not!

      June 13, 2011 at 19:02 | Report abuse |
    • LEB

      The thing is, this happens to every parent sooner or later... they get distracted for a second, and in the blink of an eye their 3 year old is headed right for the street with an oncoming car. If they're lucky, the driver has seen the child and immediately stops, and the neighbor walking her dog nearby has reflexively lunged to pull the toddler back onto the sidewalk. Thus, the child is safe, and an important lesson has been reinforced for both the child and the parent.

      Was it the mom or dad's mistake for not seeing their 3 year old take off into the street? Of course it was... but like I said, something like this happens to EVERY parent eventually. It does not make them bad parents. That's why folks like the driver and dog-walking neighbor are doing THEIR jobs to be mindful of children and protect them from real physical harm, even when it's not their kid. But does that mean they have the right to get on the mother of father's case and tell them everything they're doing wrong? NO, it does not. Chances are the mom or dad is already upset at themselves, they don't need a stranger to rub it in. I've can't even begin to count the number of times I've caught a tripping child or pulled one away from something hot or caught something about to fall onto them. But I've NEVER lectured the parents, and I never will, because no parent is perfect 100% of the time.

      June 13, 2011 at 20:51 | Report abuse |
    • ATLMomma

      Agreed, LEB. I consider myself an extremely vigilant parent, and for the first time, my 5.5 year old daughter ran out of my sight at a family wedding function on a dark Friday evening this summer. My husband and I couldn't find her anywhere, and we were out of town knowing that she could've disappeared in an instant without being noticed. It was the worst feeling I've ever felt as a parent, and she was happily playing inside the house with her new found friends (we were in the backyard). There's no need to judge, but lending a helping hand is never a mistake- even if it's not always well- received :)

      June 14, 2011 at 00:37 | Report abuse |
    • Mom

      Yes it happens to everyone, but some people it happens to all the time because they don't pay attention.

      June 14, 2011 at 15:27 | Report abuse |
    • KrisH

      I was out with my 12 yr old son one afternoon for swimming lessons....we forgot his towel, so I stopped quick at a store to run in an buy one. When I came out there was a woman sitting in her van right in front of my car...the same woman who was sitting there when I pulled in. As I dove out of the lot a cop stopped me, said he had a report of a baby left alone in a car–my car! What a riot...I said to the cop "so my 12 yr old can walk home from school on his own, travel on a plane by himself, and babysit, but can't sit in the car by himself??" It was funny...the copy was like "ok mam, that is fine, sorry to bother you". So maybe people should be more careful when they call the cops over that sort of thing!!!

      June 19, 2011 at 12:31 | Report abuse |
  2. Wizechatmgr

    I often come to the same troubling predicament.

    Do I say something and potentially cause a major incident, or do I stand by and watch something worse happen? I'd rather other customers think I'm a jerk for saving little johnny, than to have johnny end up with a feeding tube and potentially brain dead when the parent whom allowed it to happen blames the kid. Kids sometimes do things, but there is no reason that a few seconds of prevention can't be the norm. On the other hand, I'm not your baby sitter. Watch yours kids, or don't have kids!

    June 13, 2011 at 19:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Cheryl

    I always speak up, better to be safe than sorry and I hate to see a kid hurt due to a parent's disinterest. But then again I am comfortable with a confrontation as well and am happy to tell them what exactly they are doing wrong. Outspoken and annoying as hell, yes, but chances are they'll remember the situation and not repeat it for fear someone in the general public will criticize them again.

    June 13, 2011 at 20:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Christina

      Cheryl, you wrote EXACTLY what I was going to write! Glad to know I'm not the only one out there. I have confronted a mother who was "pretending" to leave her 4 or 5 year old in a grocery store parking lot at dusk while he wailed in terror; kindly spoken to a young mother who ignored her 3 year old at the beach, telling her anyone could easily have taken him without her being the wiser, as she was interested in chatting up some man (she was very thankful for me bringing it to her attention and said I was right); spoken to a neighbor who locked her 6 year old out on the front porch at night because she "couldn't deal with him" and I could go on and on. Maybe its because I was a social worker, but I think its more because I know that children truly have few rights when it comes right down to it. They cannot choose to have the right to breathe clean air if their parents smoke, they cannot choose not to be beaten when its in the privacy of their own home and no one reports it...its very sad as they are so helpless and deserve to have be treated better than adults, but it doesn't work that way. I believe this is partially because 90% of adults feel "its not my business" and turn the other way...to me, this is exacerbating the problem. Of course, there's many times I'd love to give my two cents on how people parent, but the only time I ever say anything is due to the safety and well-being of the child, and like you, I do believe that child will remember that at least once, someone said "this is NOT okay" and this child deserves better.

      June 14, 2011 at 10:11 | Report abuse |
    • ~JENNY~

      I was bullied as a child & sometimes abused by my mom - but I've grown up to be a strong, independent adult and I'm not one to wilt when faced with confrontation. Therefore, when I see a someone in a potentially dangerous situation (whether it be a child, animal or adult), I cannot help but champion the underdog. I've done some quiet things to help people they may not be aware of because I wasn't looking for the praise and I've been outspoken when I felt it was needed. Some have worked out, some have not. When I was 16 & noticed the child I was babysitting for has significant abuse injuries, I contacted authorities & the child was removed. Today, he's living a fantastic life and thriving as an adult thanks to a better placement in a good home. And there's been times it's not gone well - when I was in bumper-to-bumper traffic one day, I noticed movement in the car next to me. A young woman driving the car, stereo blasting, and her 3-4yr old RUNNING back n' forth across the backseat! Each time she came to an abrupt stop due to traffic, the child would bounce off the front seat & fall to the floor of the car. I didn't realize I was staring with my mouth agape until the mother noticed and yelled, "What the %@$& are you looking at?!" I told her I saw her child running in the backseat & was worried he'd be hurt since he wasn't buckled in (no judgement, no harshness, just fact). She immediately started screaming obscenities at me about minding my own business, reached down beside her in driver's door & pulled out a HUGE pair of shears, threatening to gut me like a fish & then proceeded to try to ram her car into mine! I was seriously scared! I got away from her & 15 yrs later have never forgotten it.. but it didn't change my outlook. I still warn someone who's child is about to wander off, point out where I saw the child go when I see the frantic parent looking, catch the kid about to fall, call out to the one about to step off the curb - but I never lecture or pass judgement. My mom always jokes that being the good samaritan might be the death of me someday, but I'd rather go out trying to do good for something I believe in than turning a blind eye to the ills of the world.

      June 14, 2011 at 11:50 | Report abuse |
  4. ks

    Working in the hotel business, you bet I will tell the parents! even outside work I will tell parents. It is amazing to me that there are more and more parents that can't keep their children under control.
    And like everyone else here better to be safe than sorry, what if you didn't say something and it had fatal consequenses? I am often told by bystander "good job"

    June 13, 2011 at 20:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Rob

    I have to say – let whatever happens happen. It's evolution in action. Kids don't learn from living in a bubble – they learn from hurting themselves.

    June 13, 2011 at 22:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chartreux

      Yes, because if your child was hurt or killed you'd just chalk it up to evolution and let it go, right? You wouldn't be angry or file a lawsuit or blame anyone but your child, would you? [/sarcasm]

      June 14, 2011 at 15:51 | Report abuse |
    • Orange Pekoe

      No, I don't think so. Kids getting hurt is not an option and everyone shoudl eb doing their part to prevent it. While things like this do happen, it's the morons who can't stop yacking on their cell phones who NEED to be told to do a better job. I would speak up, definitely. I even call animal control when I see a dog left in a hot car so yeah, I'd definitely speak up to a negligent parent.

      July 6, 2011 at 09:43 | Report abuse |
  6. SB

    I think that we should speak up, but we should also be very careful about when we speak up, i.e., that there is real potential danger to a child. I speak from experience. I am a very careful parent, made even more careful because I'm married to a pediatric intern. I'm the sort of parent who buckles her child into the cart at the grocery store but still pays close attention to her throughout the shopping trip (interacting with her about what we're buying, etc.), holds her hand whenever she's walking, carries her as we cross the street, makes sure that her car seat is installed correctly, checks the tightness of the straps in her car seat each time I put her in, etc.

    That being said, I've had the negative experience of someone saying something to me about my child's safety *when she was not in danger.* When she was just over a year old, we were at our local warehous club with a cartful of items. She was, of course, safely strapped into the cart. I was standing at the side of the cart, less than an arm's reach away, and making sure my coupons were in order before we got in line. I would glance down at the coupons, look up at her, glance down, look up and speak to her, etc. Well, a man came by and grouchily said, "That baby's about to become a bouncing baby boy!" I answered pleasantly and with a smile (in spite of my irritation that he wasn't paying enough attention to see that I was paying attention to her, that she was strapped in, or that she was dressed like a girl), "She's strapped in." He said something like, "Hmph!" and kept on walking. He passed us again on our way out of the store; at that point, my daughter was crying because she was thirsty, and I was in the process of getting out her water. (Please remember, she was *just* over a year old!) He commented, "Spoiled already." Needless to say, I was very offended.

    In other instances of unnecessary advice, I've had a stranger tell me, as my daughter and I walked from the store to our car, that my child was going to get sunburned (to which I smiled and said, "She's wearing sunscreen."); two ladies imperiously tell me that my child wasn't saying what I knew she was saying (to which I just smiled); etc. In my experience, it's older people who already assume that because you're younger, you automatically don't know what you're doing with your child. There have been soo many moments that I've wanted to stop and share a little bit about who I am, but I've never done that; I try to just let their comments roll of my back, especially since I was raised to be polite and respectful to everyone, especially those who are older. Still, it's frustrating.

    June 13, 2011 at 23:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SB

      *off my back, not of my back; and *particularly those who are older, not especially those who are older

      June 13, 2011 at 23:19 | Report abuse |
  7. Rosa

    I think it is good to give unsolicited advice to the parents who should be more aware of what their child is doing. It is very important to always supervise your children.

    June 13, 2011 at 23:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. cyberwave

    Don't interfere with natural selection.

    June 13, 2011 at 23:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. DP

    A woman talking on her cell phone yards away from kids in the pool...what's wrong with that?

    June 13, 2011 at 23:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Josh

      Obviously, the mother should be in the pool while talking on the phone.

      June 14, 2011 at 08:30 | Report abuse |
    • EMT

      I worked as a lifeguard for 5 years and you have NO idea how many times a rescue took place because the parent was to busy talking on their phone or to their neighbor to notice that their child was too tired to keep swimming, had gone to a section of the pool that they coudn't stand in, or was simply fooling around and got hurt.

      June 15, 2011 at 17:26 | Report abuse |
    • momma

      I agree–what IS wrong with that?!?! I have four kids and always allow two of them to swim while I am on the deck. Sometimes, I even indulge myself in a phone call. The little two are even allowed to play in the pool with their floaties on while I watch. Gasp again. Sometimes I get in, sometimes I take a break. I haven't killed one yet. But I agree with the majority of the posters–I am sure every parent has a "mistake" moment. We are not infallible. But pointing out every little mistake is unreasonable.

      Where do we draw the line? Do we target smokers? It's legal to smoke with your kids, but dumb as hell. DO we attack them? DO we attack duel income families for lack of "quality time?" Do we attack single moms? NO, that would be unreasonable.

      We should all, as mentioned, look out for egregious mistakes–toddlers untended to, bruises on children, children who appear to be molested, children unrestrained in cars.....But leave the little the little decisions to each family and butt out.

      June 17, 2011 at 23:25 | Report abuse |
  10. RM

    I have seen things that I absolutely can not keep quiet about (chlld pulling a small plastic bag over his head while his mother was turned picking something off a shelf. the only fault of hers was in leaving a plastic bag near a young child, but just one of those things we don't always think about. I simply grabbed her arm and alerted her quickly, as jerking the bag off the childs head myself would have scared them to death!) but if it's simply a 'lesson learned' type of thing, why is it my business? It is not my place to tell a parent when or how to apply sun screen or anything so trivial. My child can not stand to be buckled into the shopping cart and prefers to sit sideways. I am always watching and she knows that if she tries to stand she will be buckled immediately. it's a compromise that works. I have heard nasty comments from strangers about how she is going to fall out and 'crack her head open' while I have my hands on her! some people just take it to far. like the woman who stated she welcomed the confrontation and was okay with being annoying. no one listens to that person, all you do is aggravate and anger people. It sounds like you are not looking to help but looking for attention. sorry but, are you my mother in law? the age old "I hate to say this, but it's the truth' when the truth is you just like to say it to be heard but what you are saying helps no one. most parents can find their way out of a paper bag without the unsolicited and often rude directions from strangers. and I for one function better as a mother when I am not completely ticked off over some insensitive busy body. immenent danger, absolutely. obviously harmful actions, absolutely. someone raising their kids in a way that we would not but is not actually harmful, maybe just annoying, no dice. mind your business and let them mind their kids.

    June 14, 2011 at 00:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DP

      People who use language like "crack her head open" in front of kids aren't the child expert/advocates they take themselves for.

      June 14, 2011 at 00:46 | Report abuse |
  11. Jez

    Lady – you are waaaaay too uptight! I thought this article was about child abuse! As a child, my friends and I rode in the back of pick up trucks and thought it was the coolest! We never heard of "bicycle helmets"! We drank out of garden hoses and skate boarded downhill. Oh My!!!! Even your picture looks neardy! Snap out of it and let kids be kids! There will be skinned knees, the occasional broken bone, etc. That's part of being a kid.
    Jeeze!

    June 14, 2011 at 01:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Just Me

      I also know of children seriously hurt or killed from riding in the back of trucks and because of the lack of helmets "back then." I wish they'd had helmets when I was 8 years old and nearly died when I wrecked my bicycle going down a hill. The would I remember are a concusion, torn up knees (beyond just skinned), the skin off half my face, and I bit through my tongue. I wasn't riding wrecklessly, the bike just toppled and I landed head first before continuing down the hill without my bicycle. I missed at least a week of school. I would've still been skinned up with a helmet, but not nearly as bad. So preventable injuries and even death are a part of a normal childhood? I don't think so. I think many parents go way too far, but seat belts, safety seats, helmets, and COMMON sense have saved many lives. As a sidenote, as an adult, seatbelts have SAVED MY LIFE or at least prevented extremely life-threatening injuries three times.

      To answer the question, if the child was in danger, I would say something and have. Even the best watched children will get away from a parent, for example. Yes, I have been snapped at by parents but would rather have that happen than watch a child get injured. Usually I'm thanked.

      June 14, 2011 at 09:44 | Report abuse |
    • hlscruggsma

      @ JEZ; I totally agree. I feel that parents nowadays “protect” their children from too much. Granted there is more violence in society that causes us to keep a closer eye on our children, I see nothing wrong with that. But seriously, do we really need to wipe down every surface with antibacterial wipes before our children come into contact? Do we need to cover them in pads and helmets to ride their bikes in the driveway? I too grew up in the generation that left home early in the morning to play outside all day away from home, rode my bike without a helmet and pads. We are raising our children to think the world is perfect and I’m afraid that as they grow up they will be sorely disappointed. As adults, who’s gonna double check that they’re eating the right foods, driving safely and so forth? Our jobs as parents is to teach our children to survive in society, we seem to have lost sight of this.

      June 14, 2011 at 11:55 | Report abuse |
    • Chartreux

      Yes, Jez, and kids I went to school with were thrown out of the back of the pickup truck and killed in the accident. Two of them. You were lucky, as was I. Traumatic brain injuries happen every day to kids who aren't wearing helmets, and those are the lucky kids, the ones who aren't killed instantly.

      I went to college with a guy who had a massive head injury and who was struggling to become a landscape gardener. He was previously a gifted mathematician but he had an horrific accident on his skateboard and smashed his skull open. He lost three years in rehab and a great deal of his ability to do complex problems as well. He had to learn to read all over again.

      You and I were just lucky, Jez. Bad things happen. One day something bad will happen to you.

      June 14, 2011 at 16:05 | Report abuse |
    • MJ

      One of the things that irks me the most is when people go on and on about safety items that they didn't have and they lived. Well, lots of people didn't and developing these safety items are a part of being a progressive society. I feel especially strongly about helmets as a family member's life was saved because he was wearing a helmet. He was a serious cyclist and careful about watching where he was going, but something unseen in the road (in his own neighborhood) caused him to fly over the handlebars of the bike. All he walked away with was some bruised ribs and a helmet cracked in half instead of being brain-dead or in a permanent vegetative state. Everyone in my family is a firm believer in helmets.

      June 15, 2011 at 09:57 | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Good Post! (Though calling the author a nerd is a bit disrespectful) Sometimes terrible things happen, but that doesn't mean we should live scared. Germs are good for kids building immunity. Tall Jungle Gyms on cement were a staple of my childhood. Did I fall and hurt myself, yes. Did I learn to be careful when climbing them after that, yes and that is a valuable lesson you don't get by taking away danger.

      February 8, 2013 at 14:43 | Report abuse |
  12. KDR

    I recently saw a young woman, about 8 months pregnant, puffing away on a Marlboro while hanging out with her trashy friends, who were also smoking. Was I horrified? Yes. Did I say anything to her? Nope. From the looks of mamma and her friends, I figured the poor kid was doomed anyway.

    June 14, 2011 at 01:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Patricia

    My son recently took up for a women who was being verbally abused by her boyfriend...the boyfriend punched my son in the face and when he fell to his knees the guy kicked in the face breaking his jaw...interfere or walk away...

    June 14, 2011 at 01:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tori

      I'm glad your son interfered. I hope he pressed charges for assault. He probably saved that woman's life.

      June 21, 2011 at 07:18 | Report abuse |
  14. rebecca

    I was at costco and a women with a little girl about two years old was on her cell phone. the girl was running behind her trying to keep up and she fell. the mother kept going all the way down the aisle while several people tried to speak to her. i was not close by and walked over and picked the girl up from the floor so she would not be run over by a cart and the mother was on her way down another aisle still on the phone.

    June 14, 2011 at 02:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. velobaby

    I think it is best to help when you can and keep your mouth shut. As this happens to every parent, you can be certain it will happen to you. Your sense of risk is not the same as another parents' sense of risk. But if you can help do it. And then move on. There is no reason to launch into a lecture. Be part of the village, not part of the jury.

    June 14, 2011 at 02:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • twotired

      You are right. If an accident is about to happen, do or say something, otherwise, mind your own business.

      June 14, 2011 at 09:44 | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Smartest answer on these comments. Its not people's place to tell anyone how to raise their kids. But every parent knows they could use some help at times.

      June 14, 2011 at 14:55 | Report abuse |
    • momma

      well said. i am sure a lot of these people have little ones who are not "adventurous" yet or no children at all. i agree wholeheartedly. it will happen to EVERY parent at some point!

      June 17, 2011 at 23:40 | Report abuse |
  16. Jonnie Farkas

    I work at a gas station. One day a woman came in and was upset that she had to wait a few minutes while I changed shift. She said I had to hurry because her baby was in the car. I sincerely told her that I was sorry that she was breaking the law. Not to mention putting her child in harms way. She called the owner of the station and complained about my comment. I was severely disciplined for it. Was told that it wasn't my job to police people. When it comes to the safety and well being of a child I will continue to stand up for their rights to be safe.

    June 14, 2011 at 03:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • dee

      Good on you, Jonnie. Because while you got reprimanded this time, the day may come that someone gets hurt at your station, resulting in a lawsuit, which wouldn't be good for the owner at all. Keep up the good fight, and remind the owner of the possible consequences of turning a blind eye.

      June 14, 2011 at 04:01 | Report abuse |
    • JM

      Good for you, Jonnie! Obviously you know this, but you definitely did the right thing. We need more people like you. I've been in similar situations where I received discipline for butting in. I was a school teacher in the public school system in New Orleans for several years, and I repeatedly got in trouble for trying to talk to parents about things like physical and verbal abuse, nutrition, reading at home, etc. I was told often to only worry about what happens in my classroom. Of course, when the child can't read in 6th grade, only the teacher is blamed, right? Always.

      June 14, 2011 at 04:03 | Report abuse |
  17. safety seat technician

    Years ago, I received training and became certified as a safety seat technician. Once you have such training and learn what truly happens to children that are not properly buckled up into properly installed safety seats, it's hard to stay quiet when you see a child bouncing around inside a car–or simply in a seat that is obviously misinstalled (which still occurs 9 out of 10 times).

    I used to simply introduce myself, but more often than not and understandably so, parents would say "thank you," and look to get away as soon as possible. Either the fact that I was a stranger seemed alarming to them (I can't say I'd let a stranger start messing around inside my car either), or they simply don't think the safety seat issue is valid (even more sad).

    What I started doing was carrying material around with me in my car. Now when I see a child not in a seat or in a poorly installed seat, I still introduce myself, but I also hand them a few pamphlets with the statistics and info. If I know of a place they can go to attend a safety seat check-up, I write that down for them. I still get parents that roll their eyes at me, but as Dr. Shu said, I sleep better at night. And quite honestly, if I succeed just once and save just one child's life, it would've all be worth it.

    On a separate note–the only individuals that a stranger will actually trust are law enforcement officers. The uniform gives them the credibility right there on the spot. Because of this, I've always thought that more law enforcement officers should be trained to spot ineffective car seat installations, misuse patterns, etc. I'm certain many lives could be saved.

    June 14, 2011 at 03:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Karmaslaugh

      The safety belt issue is one that I will always comment on. In Fort Smith Arkansas, my cousin was Four years old, on her way to her ballet recital at the UAFS college. Because her hair and outfit were fixed for the recital, her mom let her ride in the front seat, and they were tboned, and Megan died thanks to her not fitting the seat belt properly in the front seat and most importantly the airbags. My inlaws like to make fun of me, or get mad when my daughter can't go with them because they don't have the proper seating in the back, but I stick to it. I have called 911 before on mothers driving around with their kids bouncing in the seats, I give the liscense plate number and follow until I am assured the police are on their way. Since it is illegal to smoke with a kid in the car in Arkansas, I have also called on that. I am a smoker, and I never smoke in my house, or car with the kiddo there. If can do it, they can to. And I think Arkansas is especially prone to the trashy type of people that do that stuff.

      June 14, 2011 at 13:24 | Report abuse |
  18. katie

    I let nature take its course...

    June 14, 2011 at 06:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Josh

    I don't think the article is about actual serious situations, like the one post about a kid with a plastic bag over its head. The article is about more "distant" hazards, like the 6yo with their car seat in the front because the father just came from HD and the back of the van is filled with supplies. The kid is still in a car seat and hopefully, the passenger air bag has auto-disabled.

    June 14, 2011 at 08:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Samantha

    I was at a mall and there was a fairly steep escalator that went to the first floor of the mall. I was standing there reading a sign with my mom when I saw a toddler, maybe 2 yrs old if that, heading for the escalator. He was clearly not very balanced and was going to go head first. No one was around him. I quickly stepped over and scooped him away just before he hit the first step and put him down away from the escalator. This young chick walked over after a few seconds and loudly berated me for "touching her child" and proclaimed to a passing security guard how I should be arrested for child abduction. My mom ripped her face off and a few people told the guard what really happened. I was too shocked to even respond. So you know what? No. I try not to involve myself with other people lives. If I saw a child in immediate peril I would help but in retrospect I would just get on the elevator in front of the kid rather than picking him up, but its turned me pretty cold to "helping".

    June 14, 2011 at 08:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Tina {Bama}

    Slightly different case....but same point..... I often call the police on erratic drivers I see, when I feel the driver is impared. I'd rather have them stopped by the cops, that read tomorrow's newspaper and see a DRUNK DRIVER CRASH that killed others.

    June 14, 2011 at 09:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Tori

      I've done that and followed at a safe distance (if I could) so the cops had an idea of where they could find the jerk.

      June 21, 2011 at 07:21 | Report abuse |
  22. JLB

    While I agree that you need to be aware of your child and vigilent, I also think that kids do need more freedoms to make small mistakes and learn from them. I am sure I get parents who think I am a bad mom because I give my son freedom to make mistakes. I let him run around the corner of an aisle in the grocery store, then realize he's lost his mom and just when he is starting to freak out walk over and remind him that this is why he should stay with the cart while shopping. I have had parents tell me that my son went 'that way." Yes, I know. I am keeping an eye on him. But if I don't let him learn why we have some of these rules life will be much harder later.

    June 14, 2011 at 09:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Erica

      I agree with you JLB. This allows a child to learn and thnk for themselves. You know where your child is. You sound like a great parent to me.

      June 14, 2011 at 09:27 | Report abuse |
    • Nora

      Absolutely agree with you. Safety... ofcourse, but it can get so over the top, kids have to get a chance to figure things out by themselves. Life threatening situation? Definitevely help out, do what you can, otherwise, just lend a hand if necessary and go on, no need to lecture parents, we all make mistakes.

      June 14, 2011 at 09:33 | Report abuse |
    • EMT

      JLB, it is just too bad that not enough people know how to balance letting their children figure things out on their own with protecting them from easy to avoid but very dangerous situations

      June 15, 2011 at 17:37 | Report abuse |
  23. Erica

    Parents cannot prevent all accidents. It's impossible. Are you going to put childen in a bubble because it is safe? No. They will bumped around, hurt, injured. But in the end, they will grow, learn and become responsible, free human beings. Reminds me of a story called "Little Bug". Leave the safety of your home. It's scarey, you might get stepped on, but in the end, you lived a full great life. As it should be. There are no guaratees! Let em run! Not wild, but free and happy.

    June 14, 2011 at 09:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Rhonda

    It's one thing to say to a parent..."your child is running into the street," and in fact a toddler has run into, let's say, a busy street. This is stating the obvious, which the parent can do with the information as he or she sees fit.

    It's another thing to approach a parent and say something like, "I think you should keep a leash on your child." That's criticism.

    In either case, instead of pointing out the obivious's, for those who really care, you can try approaches such as offering information about activities designed for children and young adults...plays, musicals, theme adventures, maybe even host an event of your own...where in the course of these activities parents might, or children themselves, might pick up on habits that lend to keeping them safe.

    June 14, 2011 at 09:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Gretchen

    I once had a lady chastise me in public because my children's winter jackets weren't clean enough for her. Ouch. At least once a week someone asks my why my children are not in school. (They are homeschooled) I have found that there are many parents who enjoy critizing other parents. It takes a village to raise a child. I consider all children my responsibility when necessary. I also consider myself not to have any rights when it comes to other peoples children. Yes I will do whatever I see fit to help any child who crosses my path without appology, but I won't presume to believe that I am any better at parenting then that child's parent.

    June 14, 2011 at 09:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. babybear

    The bruises on my daughter's legs tells people that she has a fun and active life. But I wouldn't risk her life being unrestrained in a car or unattended in a pool. Accidents happen, but minimize the fatal ones by following rules and guidelines. Natural selection should be done on the reckless parents... not the child.

    June 14, 2011 at 09:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. PotentialPrincess

    I saw a young woman in the passenger seat of a moving van leaning forward. I first noticed she wasn't wearing a seatbelt (which isn't surprising) but then I saw she was holding an infant. I could have screamed. I could see through the open windows that there was no car seat inside but there were other seats she could have occupied (there were other children in the minivan). Not that holding an infant in your lap is safe in any seat of a moving car, but a back seat has to be better than the front. I looked all around for an officer; I seriously wanted to just alert them to the danger. Whether you are driving appropriately doesn't matter; it's all the other drivers around you who may not be. I pulled alongside them and then wondered, what do I say? Do I offer her my son's seat since I have a spare at home (and he wasn't with me)? Do I offer to buy her an inexpensive seat from the Target she just left? In the end, I said nothing because when I pulled alongside them she looked at me with such a look of "what're you looking at?" that I kept going. She'd been breastfeeding the baby. Maybe I should have taken down the tag number. I regret not doing/saying something.

    June 14, 2011 at 10:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Tracey

    I was getting gas when this care pulled up beside me. There were two men and a baby and a little boy about 2 years old inside. The driver got out and went inside. When I was finished, I looked at the other car and both adults were in the gas station. So I waited for them to come out. I waited for about 10 minutes. While I was waiting the little boy tried to open the car door and get out. When they finally got back to the car, I lectured them on how irresponsible they were. They tried to make excuses but I wasn't hearing it. They ultimately apologized for being so dumb and thanked me for making sure the little boy didn't get out of the car. I'm sure they were not happy with my unsolicited advice. Frankly, I don't care. I did the right thing. Anything could have happened to those kids.

    June 14, 2011 at 10:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Janet

    My dog does ! A normally placid Newfoundland "threatened" a woman jerking her screaming child off the ground by the arm. She quickly let go of the child who the dog protected. I was relieved the dog understood the difference between the one being hurt and the one hurting.

    June 14, 2011 at 10:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. B-dog

    While waiting in a doctor's office, I saw a young girl about 10 wearing a dress with no underwear, with her legs up inadvertently showing everything. I am a man in my late 40's, and didn't know how to address the child's mother. My wife chided me for looking when I asked her to tell the mother. It took a lot of guts, and when I finally told mom that her daughter was "inadvertently being indiscreet" and not dressed for it, she made her child sit properly, but looked at me like I was some kind of pervert. Still, I was glad I said something.

    June 14, 2011 at 10:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      Remember a pervert would have just kept looking and not said anything. Its kinda like when you notice a guys fly being down. One cant help but notice their surroundings.

      June 14, 2011 at 15:13 | Report abuse |
    • Gary

      Hey, I just found a very funny video of some fool jpuming into the potomac river...he's giving away a free iPad too! Check it out at capitolshortsale. com

      February 1, 2012 at 00:38 | Report abuse |
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      February 6, 2012 at 03:32 | Report abuse |
  31. Dave C

    I'd rather risk some rebuttal for making a comment that prevents a tragedy from occurring than ignore something that might be tragic.

    http://www.feelgoodtracker.com

    June 14, 2011 at 19:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Virtualzane

    Four years ago, one of the neighbor kids that hang around my house, mentioned some items in his family life that drew red flags to my attention. It became clear, he was being emotionally and physically abused. I got to meet his parents and over time confronted them, which was met with resistance of course. Over the following years, this kid spent more time at my house than his own. I often counseled this young man on survival in an abusive home. Upon turning eighteen, the young man asked if he could live with me and move away from his biological father and the physically abusive atmosphere. I said yes. It's been two wonderful years later, I gained an excellent companion, he gained a safe and loving environment. His parents seldom visit and supply no financial support. I dared to open my mouth for a child, I regret his parents loss of a son, but I gained a great companion, and the child gained a promising life.

    June 14, 2011 at 23:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Lacy

    Kids will be kids... yes they get hurt they learn but it is just ridiculous when parents dont pay any attention at all. My daughter is only 18 months old she falls down crashes into everything. I dont baby her because of it though. Id never let her do anything that could end fatally. So if the childs parents are not correcting their childs behavior well someone has to. Its sad how so many children get overlooked and ignored just because parents are more interested in their latest gadgets. Some people should just not be allowed to reproduce. Being mommy or daddy is not always easy some days its really hard but thats life.

    June 15, 2011 at 01:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. NickM

    Some of these comments are sickening. Anybody who talks about doing too much to protect children has obviously never planned their child's funeral. You obviously never ran into Children's Hospital to be told your son was dead. Sad.

    June 15, 2011 at 11:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Jennipher

    My son sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury as a result of Shaken Baby Syndrome / Abusive Head Trauma in October of 2006. Since then, I have learned so much about brain injuries of all types and simple ways to prevent them that it is very hard for me to keep my mouth shut when I see a child who is clearly not properly protected. (I.e. a child not wearing a helmet, a high school football player who sustains a concussion but then goes right back into play the next game without medical clearance, a parent who is clearly overly frustrated with a young child in a store, etc.) Right or wrong, and whether it makes people mad or not, I always err on the side of speaking up because I figure if there is even a chance that it would protect a child, it is worth the parent getting mad.

    July 18, 2011 at 18:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Kate

    I was recently in the pool with my twin boys. Another mother, had 3-4 children, smaller than my boys (who I choose to be IN the water with due to their age), with one in a stroller, was busy talking on her cell phone. I looked over to see her child, no older than 18 months, struggling under water, which was at least 4 feet deep.

    I immediately picked up her son and carried him out of the pool. The mom did not even notice, except to give me a harsh look for touching her child. I obviously would do it again in a heartbeat, to prevent a child from drowning. But I so badly wanted to lay into her for not even noticing that her child was drowning, in a pool with no lifeguard, while she was judging me for touching her child.

    February 8, 2013 at 01:47 | Report abuse | Reply

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