Even her protective measures weren't enough to keep the car from heating up in the early spring Arizona sun, and her babies woke up and started crying. A passerby heard the crying and called the police. The children were hot but unharmed, and when Ms. Taylor came out of the office building, feeling great about the interview and her prospects for a better life, she found her car surrounded by police and her babies already on their way to the hospital to be assessed. She was arrested and charged with felony child abuse.
Her story hit the internet when her mug shot, with tears streaming down her face, went viral. As always, people lined up to take sides. Ms. Taylor became the poster child for poverty in the U.S., the difficulty of getting out of the cycle of homelessness and unemployment, and highlighting what's wrong with the "system," especially for women and minorities. (Ms. Taylor is African-American.) Money was quickly raised both for her bail and for her to find a home, and a petition was started to ask the prosecutor to use his discretion to drop the charges against her. "It's not like she left them alone to go party or buy drugs!", many commented. "She was going to JOB INTERVIEW!" On the other hand, plenty of commenters took the other side, that she made a very irresponsible decision to leave her kids alone for over an hour in a car, that they could have died in the hot sun, or been kidnapped, or her car could have been stolen, and what was she going to do about childcare if she did get the job? Some said she should have called to reschedule the interview, or taken the boys in with her and explain her dilemma, or taken them to a family member to be cared for. Obviously, whichever decision she made could have had unfortunate repercussions for her or her children, but the decision she ultimately made has certainly caused her pain and heartache and cost her both the job and her children. Thankfully, her sons are safe, unharmed, and staying with family until her case is decided.
In Ms. Brooks' case, her child was in no danger for the five minutes she was gone, and whoever took that video and alerted the police after Ms. Brooks had already left was simply wrong. I don't understand behaving that way, interfering in someone else's life like that.
How long is too long for a child to be left intentionally? Is there a difference between five minutes and 10 or 15? Is half an hour too long? An hour? I don't know how you decide something like that. I think a lot depends on the weather conditions, the location, visibility, presence of other families. Is the weather comfortable? Is it a high-crime area? Can the parent likely see the car from wherever they are? It's not something you can paint in black and white.