It is hard to take young children out to run errands without their quickly growing cranky and misbehaving. Sometimes, parents feel it is in the best interest of both of them if they leave their kids in the car while they do what they need to do. However, this decision can turn into a deadly one for the children and a legal problem for parents. The number of children dying of heat exhaustion while being trapped inside vehicles has risen to 340 deaths in the past 10 years. Whether these kids are accidently forgotten or intentionally neglected, the results can be the same. Another thing is that parents are given a wide range of penalties for their actions.

It has been shown that mothers who leave their kids in cars are punished more harshly than fathers. Mothers are 26 percent more likely to do time and serve two years longer than fathers, who are given about three years of jail time. Day care workers and baby sitters are more likely to be charged than parents but are jailed less frequently and for less than half the time. Regardless of who is responsible, charges are filed in half of all cases, even in those where the child was unintentionally left in the car. Most of the time, it is not drug users or parents with a history of neglect who leave their children behind. These parents only make up about 7 percent of these cases. In fact, many were those who were respectful people with admirable careers who meant their children no harm.

About a quarter of all of these deaths took place in the month of July. Many of them were in places not known for having hot weather. Texas leads with the most deaths at 41 followed by Florida with 37, California with 32, North Carolina and Arizona with 14, and Tennessee with 13. There were 44 states total who have reported deaths by heat stroke in cars. Some children also voluntarily entered the sweltering cars or trunks on their own and were found dead by unknowing parents. Those children who are forgotten have increased since car seats were told to be installed only in the back of the car. It doesn’t take long for a car to heat up, and if trapped inside, their skin grows red and dry, their body becomes unable to produce sweat, and they die of heat stroke. Who is responsible and who pays is up to the courts, but parents have to live with the consequences for the rest of their lives.

For related articles visit http://abcnews.go.com/US/WireStory?id=3424550&page=1 and http://www.kidsandcars.org/.

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