Parent Of The Year

There is a guy in Florence, Kentucky, who knows how to protect children. His name, shared by a curmudgeon pal of mine, is Mark Herrmann, and he took a video of a young child in his car seat in a running pickup truck with no parent present.

Because someone could snatch the kid and force him into a life of human sex trafficking. Or worse!  The Florence police think Herrmann is a hero.

WCPO spoke with Florence police about the incident. Capt. Tom Grau said while the department encourages people to get involved and report such cases; he cautions anyone against direct confrontation.

“Call police and give us the information. Let us handle talking with the subject,” Grau said.

Anything. Anything at all, that gives rise to any question whatsoever that something could possibly give rise to one’s worst fears, gravest nightmare, is not only your business, but a reason to make an emergency call to the police. That’s why they have armored vehicles, you know. And if something goes awry, certainly the child’s welfare, threatened by a moment alone, is more important than turning the kid into an orphan.

The windows were down. The father was gone for a couple minutes, but within view of the pickup. The child was in his safety seat.  The keys were in the ignition, and the engine running. A recipe for disaster?

It’s not like when I was a kid, and was routinely left in the car when mom had to run into a store. Of course, I wasn’t in a child seat, as they didn’t have such things back then. Not even seat belts, though mothers developed this incredible skill of sticking their arm out when they stopped short so our heads wouldn’t slam into the dashboard.  And the windows were often up, as parents smoked like chimneys in the car, making it needlessly difficult to see out the windows through the mist. Holy crap, how am I even alive?  But I digress.

At Reason, Lenore Skenazy, the world’s worst mother, takes on this front-runner for Parent of the Year.

Area-man Mark Herrmann didn’t choose to be a hero. No, no, he was just minding his own business when he noticed that a child’s life was in mortal danger. He acted decisively—ensuring the child’s safety, and guaranteeing a police investigation into the negligent parent’s actions. Thanks to the video of the encounter he filmed and posted to Facebook, the whole world shall know of his bravery.

The child he saved was out of his father’s sight for…uh…well, never. But still! The father did leave the child in his truck, in a carseat, with the windows down and engine running, while he got out to drop something off in front of a store. He was gone for two, possibly three minutes, walking to and from the truck.

Gracious, how could any child survive that kind of depraved neglect?

And yet, the child survived.  Whether his father will remains an open question, given that he’s been arrested.  Our hero explained to dad why he had no choice but to stick his nose into this looming disaster.

When the dad came back, Herrmann let him have it, pointing out that, “You know if I was a bad guy, I coulda probably drove off with this guy.”

The dad pointed out, “I was right there at the door…. He wasn’t out of my eyesight.”

This is the beloved paradigm that Skenazy calls “worst-first thinking.”

But still. “Worst-first” thinkers don’t care about what is likely to happen. All that matters is what a bystander, cop, court, or CPS official imagines could happen. And since Herrmann imagined himself driving off with the kid, dad basically left his son to be kidnapped by a stranger.

And while that happens to be pretty much the rarest crime of all, it is a popular one in the minds of folks like Herrmann, and the folks who applauded him on his Facebook page. As one wrote: “You told that meth-head! Nicely done!”

The variation between what is possible in the fertile imagination of fearful hand-wringers and what is so ridiculously far-fetched has closed to such a narrow gap that anything shy of bubble-wrapping kids is tantamount to neglect.  And if you don’t think so, don’t worry. There will be some other person close by to let you know that you’re not doing it right, as they are the authority of how all parents must behave.

Even if the fact that Herrmann was unaware that the father kept his son and truck in sight, which might excuse his arrogance in assuming he knew better, what of the other deadly threats of leaving kids in cars?

For its part, the reporter for WCPO News immediately confused the issue by piling on statistics about how quickly a child in a car can die of hyperthermia.

Except not in a car with the windows open.

And not in two minutes.

The reporter added that, “606 children have died between 1998 – 2013 due to heat related circumstances,” including 18 who were left in the car intentionally.

Which means that roughly one child a year dies when left intentionally in a car. Out of 20 million children under the age of 5 in America.

This is by no means a suggestion that adults shouldn’t be concerned for the welfare of children.  Quite the contrary, assuming one includes in the calculus of child welfare that maybe the boy’s dad isn’t presumptively a “meth-head.”

Rather, this is a challenge to the manufactured state of fear that is rammed down our throats daily, that anything that doesn’t reflect the most stringent safety and protection despite the wildest of long-shot harms, is a disaster waiting to happen. Prevent it! Be the hero! Save a child!

From what? What are the chances that the arrest of Nathan Galloway is going to inure to his son’s welfare?  Will Mark Herrmann sleep better knowing he was responsible for the prosecution of this boy’s father, thus depriving a son of his father’s presence?  Some hero. Some parent of the year.

19 thoughts on “Parent Of The Year

  1. Vin

    Imagine a world where the people in it stop and think, just for a moment, “I might be wrong, let me seek to understand before I seek to call the cops.”

    Spider-Man, a fictional character, has a sense that is generally 100% accurate.

    Real men, don’t. (sorry, not men, people)

    1. SHG Post author

      Please spare me your passive-aggressive politically correct sexist micro-aggressions. And remember, “if you see something, say something.”

      1. Jeffrey L. Boyer

        You should have received a trigger warning for that passive-aggressive politically correct sexist micro-aggression.

        I will heroically dial 911 and report Vin’s failure because as a good citizen, I must clearly say something to some authority about anything that counters my personal sensibilities…and if there is no such law for this transgression, well, there should be! And an internet police to track these kinds things down and punish because internet commentary is rife with nouns-without-warnings and we need to put a stop to that.

        If this trigger warning meme continues, we’ll probably soon need a trigger warning warning, too 😉

  2. John Barleycorn

    I wonder if US Senator Mitch McConnell has sent Citizen Mark Hermann his merit badge yet?

    P.S. Only bad guys say “If I were a bad guy I could have__________.”

  3. Pingback: Trial Debrief: DCS, Fear, and the Nanny State. | The Collaborative Compound

  4. Alex Stalker

    When will we start arresting and prosecuting all of the parents who let their children out of the house? Because, after all, if I were a bad guy, I could run their children over with my car.

    1. losingtrader

      I AM a bad guy. I have 2 cars.

      I can run your kid(s) over with one and kidnap them with the other. Right now I’m on meth trying to figure out how to drive both at once, so I’ve already conqured typing, doing meth, and driving. That’s 3. Only 50% to go.

  5. Fubar

    It’s not like when I was a kid, and was routinely left in the car when mom had to run into a store. Of course, I wasn’t in a child seat, as they didn’t have such things back then. Not even seat belts, though mothers developed this incredible skill of sticking their arm out when they stopped short so our heads wouldn’t slam into the dashboard. And the windows were often up, as parents smoked like chimneys in the car, making it needlessly difficult to see out the windows through the mist. Holy crap, how am I even alive?

    You could have been injured, or worse,
    They might cart you away in a hearse.
    If a cobra had bit you,
    A meteor hit you,
    You wouldn’t be reading this verse!

    Today, some might account that a blessing.
    But, what do they know? I’m just guessing.
    Mister Herrmann’s stupidity
    Prevents child morbidity
    From the onslaught of microaggressing!

      1. David M.

        They’ve already gone, my good sir.
        They came to acquire a chauffeur,
        but left, foiled, unsated
        as Florence created
        a knight of this creepy voyeur.

  6. delurking

    I used to think that the existence of the Maryland law regarding this topic was stupid, but now I see that the law is a welcome defense. Here it is:

    (a) A person who is charged with the care of a child under the age of 8 years may not allow the child to be locked or confined in a dwelling, building, enclosure, or motor vehicle while the person charged is absent and the dwelling, building, enclosure, or motor vehicle is out of the sight of the person charged unless the person charged provides a reliable person at least 13 years old to remain with the child to protect the child.

    So, now, I can’t go get the trash can from the end of the driveway without taking my seven-year-old with me, because a tree obscures my view of the house. But, at least it isn’t open to creative interpretation.
    If Nathan Galloway were in Maryland, the police wouldn’t hassle him since he was always within sight of the car and therefore within the law.

    Right?

  7. Curtis

    Anyone remember dad getting some new tires and you got to ride up on the lift sitting in the car?

    One thing I am thankful for from my parents, is life’s little childhood adventures.

    Walking or riding our bikes to the beach, the store for a soda pop, a friends house across town. The skinned knees, busted lips, falling out of trees, the broken wrist. Sitting in the car just people watching while mom got groceries. Going to Disneyland and meeting at such and such place in 2 or 3 hours.

    And not one damn cop saying a word.

  8. Dave B

    I hope that with the suggestion to report and call in anything, that the dispatchers are equipped to handle any asinine call.
    I mean nobody should wear dark or even black clothing. A black shirt could soak up warmth from the sun and lead to deathly overheating and hearts stopping and heads exploding.

  9. Village Idiot

    I too survived a similar childhood of Cheech & Chong-like smoke in a car (Winston cigs though), windows up, and without seat belts. Well, they were (intentionally) stuffed in and behind the seats and almost impossible to find anyway.

    But if I had to pick one incident that has caused me irreparable harm, it’s got to be that evening 48 years ago, and almost certainly having occurred in the back seat of a brand new Ford Mustang, and I figure at a local drive-in movie joint. An evening that must have been rife with alcohol and maybe even weed — who knows. I wasn’t there, but I would be around soon enough.

    1. SHG Post author

      That Mustang was a hot car back then. The best I ever had as a kid was a ’61 Chevy Impala convertible, where the back seat turned into a pool after every rain.

  10. DM

    A creeper was cruising the lot,
    When he happened upon a tot,
    He pulled out his . . . phone,
    Asked the boy if he was alone,
    Then proceeded to abuse his pop.

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