When someone walked by a vehicle in a Texas movie theater parking lot, they were probably not expecting to find a baby strapped inside, alone. However, that is exactly what they found.
So police were dispatched and what they discovered is pretty surprising: The parents were inside watching a movie with their 4-year-old.
The infant was unharmed and no charges were brought against the mother or father, who said that, indeed, they had left the baby in the locked van alone on purpose. That's pretty surprising considering this mom was arrested a few years ago for letting her 9-year-old daughter play at the park while she covered her shift at a nearby McDonald's. Or this mom spent a year fighting charges brought against her for leaving her 4-year-old in the car right outside the Radio Shack she'd run into for 5 minutes.
And then there's this family with the kids walking home alone from the park. For over a mile!
Have we turned a corner on parenting missteps? If so, does that corner include babies alone in a parking lot for a full feature-length film?
The reason given by a representative of the authorities was the parents own understanding of what standard practices are. Police talked to the family and found out that they are from Saudi Arabia. Apparently there, leaving a child by itself in a locked vehicle is an acceptable cultural practice in their home country.
So instead of arrests and Child Protective Services, parenting classes or even a ticket, police chose to show cultural sensitivity. They let them go. Although it remains an active investigation, there have been no charges brought, no arrests made and no tickets written for child endangerment.
Kanisha Lara, who came across the child in the vehicle and posted a video of it on Facebook, couldn't believe what she saw.
But cultural background apparently matters. The spokesperson for the police told reporters that had it been a family who is from the U.S., charges would have likely been brought against them. Leaving a baby alone is against the law. The spokesperson also said that they will look into the situation more deeply to determine whether or not it is, in fact, standard cultural practice in Saudi Arabia to leave an infant unattended in a vehicle.
Hearing about a child being found in a locked car is usually cause for concern. Every year, we read news reports of baby deaths, after a child is accidentally left in the car for hours. Fortunately for this family, southern Texas at 11 p.m. isn't hot this time of year, and the child was not in peril.