Sunday, October 19, 2003

Leaving Children Alone

From the New York Times:
Last Sunday, as her night shift neared, Kim Brathwaite faced a hard choice. Her baby sitter had not shown up, and to miss work might end her new position as assistant manager at a McDonald's in downtown Brooklyn.

So she left her two children, 9 and 1, alone, trying to stay in touch by phone.

It turned out to be a disastrous decision. Someone, it seems, deliberately set fire to her apartment. Her children died. And within hours, Ms. Brathwaite was under arrest, charged with recklessly endangering her children.

The investigation is continuing, and an arrest in the arson may soon overshadow the criminal charges against Ms. Brathwaite, who is not a suspect in the fire, investigators say. But she is now facing up to 16 years in prison for a decision that, surveys and interviews with experts suggest, cuts uncomfortably close to some choices made every day by American families.
My wife and I were temporarily in a panic last night. Our scheduled babysitter didn't show up, and we had to scramble to find a replacement so that we could go to a fancy dinner put on by the St. Thomas More Society here in Dallas.

After reading that story, I feel like the proverbial man who complained that he had no shoes, until he met a man who had no feet. (Actually, I'm more like the man who sat around whining that the shoelaces on his Guccis weren't quite the right color. Not that I would ever wear Guccis in real life, but you know what I mean.)


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