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.