Not Using a Car Seat

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Parent at my child's school isn't using a carseat

May 2006

What to do?

I was horrified to discover that one of the fathers at our school does not use a car seat for his 4 year old son. Not only this, but he has his son in the front seat of a car that looks like it might have airbags. I am told that he got a ticket for this recently. Since his ticket, even worse, (if you can imagine), he has his son sit on the floor of the front seat with his down so that the police won't see him.

I am told that the father was offered a free car seat and refused it. Incidently, the boy's mom has a car seat in her car that she uses.

I honestly don't know what to do. I geuss I'm most likely to mail this and any responses I get to the family. I could approach them. I could notify the police. Please please advise. What would you do? I saw the father leave with his son like this at school today and asked someone about it to verify if I had really seen what I thought I'd seen. Anonymous

You definitely should let the police or let the school officials know that you believe there is a potential pattern of child endangerment occurring with a child. Refusal to buckle up a child is a criminal offense. And for good reason: traffic crashes are the leading cause of death and injury to children ages 0 - 15; six out of 10 children killed in crashes are completely unrestrained. Inform officials of your impressions of the potential danger. It is in the best interest of the child. You may even save a life
Call the non-emergency number at the police station and tell them what you saw and what you can do. His behavior is NOT acceptable and good for you for trying to save that child. Can you write the Mom a letter or get someone at the school to talk to her? yikes!! DiAnn
Please report the father to the police. What he is doing is tantamount to child abuse and must be reported. He is endangering his child and is also forcing his child to be complicit in breaking the law (more of a moral issue, I know, but I also don't think it's fair to get kids to help a parent not get caught breaking the law- it puts the child in an inappropriate position- I've been there). Does the child's mother know about this? Are the parents divorced? If the father has already been ticketed but still refuses to use a car seat, maybe a call to CPS would get him on track. I know there is a moral dilema here about how and when to intervene with the parenting of someone else's child, but I think if you can intervene without further jepordizing the child's saftey, then it should be done. my 2 cents
I would call the police, explain the situation, give a description of the vehicle and license plate number. I would feel awful if something happened because this numb-nut won't use a seat. Chris
While not using a car seat and sitting in the front seems simply like bad judgement, asking a four-year-old to sit on the floor of the front seat of a car specifically because one knows what he is doing is wrong and illegal seems a bit shady. I would notify the mother in a non-confrontational way (she may be completely unaware and embarressed to find out). If you do this and nothing happens, perhaps alert her once more and after that, consider contacting higher authority. Lawrence
If the father's car is a two-seater in the front, there may be a way to disengage the airbag. That way at least, the airbag won't deploy when the child sits there. But that could be life-threatening, too good luck
Wow, that's a tough one. I think that you should probably tell the police. It's a serious safety issue that he isn't taking seriously. There is also a likelihood that he would or does dismiss other safety criteria. I just don't get some people.. anon
If the father simply does not get it, you need to approach the mother and tell her to handle the situation and explain to her husband the huge risk he is taking. It might also be a cultural misunderstanding (if it applies)as my parents never put my brother or myself in a car seat and made us duck when the police was near. Where my parents came from they didn't have carseats nor was it illegal. But then again this was back in the seventies/early eighties. I really hope someone can reach him before something dangerous happens... concerned parent
You are right to be concerned. Unfortunately, it looks like the penalties in CA are only $100 for the first offence and $250 per subsequent offence. Parents in other states have been sent to jail charged with child endangerment for this same thing. Maybe the school director can call a parent/teacher conference with both parents to discuss this issue. If he is not concerned enough about his child's safety, maybe sheer embarassement that other parents have noticed this and are concerned will make him change his ways. Jennifer
This is child endangerment. If you see the father drive off with the child on the floor of the car in the passenger area, I would suggest calling 911 and reporting him. He is putting his son in danger every time he does this. If you don't feel comfortable calling 911, then get the non-emergency number of your local police and give them the license plate number and any other details you might have - where they are going, where they live, etc. Lori
If it consistent behavior, nform the police to monitor the school drop off concerned mom
I'd print out every response you get and mail it to the parents - i'm sure every single response you'll get will say they are horrified with the father's actions. I'd also try and speak to the mother directly. and then i'd definitely talk to the police. jot down the license plate number and any other information you may have. you have witnesses, also - anyone who has seen this going on will feel guilty later if they don't speak up now and something happens to the toddler anon