From the HSLDA E-lert Service:
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Date:
From:
Subject:

1/21/2003 3:51:03 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Nebraska--Unattended Children in Motor Vehicles Law Proposed

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From the HSLDA E-lert Service...
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Dear HSLDA Members and Friends,

The Nebraska legislature has introduced a bill which would make it a
crime to leave a child six years of age or younger unattended in a
motor vehicle. Legislative Bill 129 specifies that if the child is
supervised by a person over the age of twelve, however, it is not a
crime.

HSLDA has received many calls from parents who are being investigated
by Child Protective Services for leaving a child alone in a car for a
brief time. This statute would clarify the law regarding this issue.
Even if this law does not pass, each homeschool family should be
aware of the risk of being investigated for child neglect for leaving
a child alone in a car.

HSLDA does not take any position on this particular bill, but we
encourage our member families to contact their legislators to discuss
the issue. You need not identify yourself as a homeschooler, since
this bill affects all parents equally.

ACTION REQUESTED

1. If you have children six years of age or younger, please make sure
that you are not reported to Child Protective Services for leaving
them unattended.

2. Please forward this message to other parents of young children, so
that they can contact their legislators if this is a matter that
concerns them.

3. Contact Senator DiAnna Schimek (District 27, Lincoln) at 402-471-
2632. Her address is Room 1114, State Capitol, Lincoln, NE 68509 to
let her know your position on this issue.

BACKGROUND

Few states have laws that prohibit a parent from leaving a child
unattended in a motor vehicle, but more and more citizens are
reporting such children to Child Protective Services. HSLDA has
received hundreds of calls from families who are being investigated
on this matter.

A typical scenario might be a mother has just been to the doctor with
a sick child, who is prescribed medicine. She drives straight to the
pharmacy, and her child falls asleep in his or her car seat. The
mother parks the car right outside the pharmacy window (or even in
the fire lane) and runs in to get the prescription filled without
waking her baby. When she returns, her car is surrounded by police
cars with blue lights flashing. Social workers then demand entry into
her home and interviews with each of her children. In Virginia, one
mother was charged with three felony counts for leaving three young
children for mere moments.

Illinois is one of the few states that have adopted a statute
governing this issue. While HSLDA does not believe the government
should punish parents for leaving their responsible children alone in
a safe place for a short time, there is some advantage to having a
clear statute that spells out what one may or may not do. Since
Nebraska already treats this situation as a possible form of child
neglect, parents may be better off with clearer rules to govern their
behavior.

This issue affects all parents in Nebraska, not just homeschoolers.
Please pass this message on to other families so that they can share
their comments to elected officials.

Very truly yours,

Scott W. Somerville
HSLDA Staff Attorney


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