On a cool and overcast day, a mother in New Jersey left her sleeping child in a running car for a few minutes to enter a store, with no injurious consequences — except that she herself was tossed onto a child abuse registry. She is now contesting the denial of a hearing, and David Pimentel summarizes what is at stake [Lenore Skenazy]:
If the N.J. Supreme Court upholds the lower court, child-left-in-car cases in New Jersey will be very straightforward. Even if the investigation shows that no criminal child endangerment occurred (so charges are dropped), absent extenuating circumstances, it will be virtually automatic that the parent will be branded as a “child abuser” for the rest of his or her life. Not only is the parent presumed guilty, the parent is not even entitled to a hearing to prove his or her innocence.