We've all thought about it, or maybe even done it.
You just have to run inside the post office real quick or pick up a child at preschool and you've got kids in carseats and you think, "Wouldn't it just be easier to just run in and leave them buckled in for just a minute?"
So what's the official word on this, is it illegal? Just frowned upon? Or up to parental discretion?
None of the above.
Minnesota State Statute says that child supervision guidelines are to be used. "It's not a crime, but it is a supervision issue," Jessica Nelson of Wright County Child Protection said this week.
"It's just not a good idea because it's not safe, there are countless statistics on kids getting hypothermia, kids getting unbuckled and getting the car out of gear and so on," she said.
"I get it too, we've all been inconvenienced, it takes a little planning," she added.
Leaving your children in the car in general is not a crime, but not supervising children properly is a violation of child protection department standards of care.
The state statute states that the following scenarios, both at home or elsewhere, including the car, would be considered a lack of supervision and a violation of the state's supervision guidelines:
- Children age 7 and under who are left alone for any period of time.
- Children 8 - 10 who are left alone for more than 3 hours
- Children 11 - 13 who are left alone for more than 12 hours
- Children 14 - 15 who are left alone for more than 24 hours
- Children 16-17 may be left alone for over 24 hours with a plan in place concerning how to respond to an emergency.
While it may not be a crime to leave your kids in the car unattended, it is reportable. Meaning, if you leave your kids in the car even for just a minute, someone can call the police and report you. When law enforcement arrives they will most likely discuss the state statute with you and then send your information over to child protection. Child protection then opens a file and possible investigation due to lack of appropriate supervision.
What do you think? Is this an issue around St. Michael-Albertville? How do you feel about leaving the kids in the car for just a minute here or there?