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Support group for parents who leave their children in cars

Posted: 6/26/2014 7:09 PM

Support group for parents who leave their children in cars 


http://abcnews.go.com/US/saddest-support-group-par ents-left-infants-die-hot/story?id=24271577

It's been seven years since Lyn Balfour realized she left her 9-month old son in the car while she was at work, mistakenly thinking her precious baby boy with was the babysitter. The boy overheated in the backseat of the sweltering car and died.

Balfour, an analyst for the U.S. military, realized her mistake too late. Now she's devoted her life to helping other parents who have lost a child by accidentally leaving a baby in the car, and fighting to change auto laws for better safety features.

"I'm honest with them," Balfour, 42, told ABC News. "It's one thing when you lose a child. It's completely different when you lose a child and it's your fault. The pain does not go away. It's something you learn to live with."

Dad Charged With Felony Murder in Son's Heat-Stroke Vehicle Death

Hospital CEO Leaves Child to Die in Hot Car

Every summer, stories like Balfour's emerge. This week a Georgia dad was charged with felony murder after leaving his 22-month old son in a mini-SUV on a day when the temperature reached 92 degrees by noon. Every year in the U.S., an average of 38 children die after being left in a hot car, according to the nonprofit Kids and Cars.

Balfour, from Earlysville, Va., works with the organization to reach out to parents who have accidentally left their children in cars. Some face murder charges and criminal trials, while others got lucky and realized their error before the unthinkable happened. Since 2007, when her son Bryce died, Balfour has talked to about 15 to 20 parents who have gone through similar experiences, she said.

"I always tell them, you're not a bad parent," Balfour said. "No one is going to judge you more than you do yourself. I know that I did not leave my son in the car intentionally when I left that day. People tell me I need to forgive myself -- I don't feel like I have anything to forgive. I made a mistake and it cost me my son's life. But I certainly didn't leave him in the car to go bowling or to get my nails done."

PHOTO: Bryce Balfour died of hyperthermia in 2007 after being left in a vehicle.
Courtesy Lyn Balfour
PHOTO: Bryce Balfour died of hyperthermia in 2007 after being left in a vehicle.

Janette Fennell, the founder of Kids and Cars, says parents like Balfour are uniquely suited to help other parents who have lost a child to hyperthermia after leaving him or her in the car.

"No one understands what you're going through except someone who has gone through this," Fennell told ABC News. "They don't understand how it could happen. We try to give them as much info as possible about how their brains work, some of the science behind it. At least a portion of why this is happening is because the kids are out of sight and out of mind. They're in a rear-facing car seat. Most of them are under one. Parents that first year are so sleep-deprived. Add all these things together and it really is a recipe for disaster."

She and Balfour are fighting to get auto companies to consider a feature to help exhausted parents to remember to check the back seat, perhaps motion or weight sensors, she said.

"The auto industry already knows we're human," Fennell said. "If you don't put your seatbelt on, you get a beep. If your key is in the ignition, you get a light. Today you can't even buy a car that doesn't turn your headlights off or warns you that they're still on. It just begs the question, who decided that it's more important to not have a dead car battery than a dead baby?"

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Posted: 6/26/2014 7:19 PM

Re: Support group for parents who leave their children in cars 


A few highlights here:

"I always tell them, you're not a bad parent," Balfour said. "No one is going to judge you more than you do yourself. I know that I did not leave my son in the car intentionally when I left that day. People tell me I need to forgive myself -- I don't feel like I have anything to forgive. I made a mistake and it cost me my son's life. But I certainly didn't leave him in the car to go bowling or to get my nails done."

This person thinks forgetting about your child leading to them dying after being in a hot car for 8 hours doesn't make you a bad parent?  If I'm an owner of a company and my company goes out of business because of my stupid choices then I was a bad owner.  If I'm a coach of a football team and forget to practice this week leading to my team losing then I'm a bad coach.  And if I'm a parent and my actions directly lead to my child dying then I'm a bad parent. Then, she thinks it makes it ok to forget her child and causing him to die because she wasn't out doing something fun at the time?

"The auto industry already knows we're human," Fennell said. "If you don't put your seatbelt on, you get a beep. If your key is in the ignition, you get a light. Today you can't even buy a car that doesn't turn your headlights off or warns you that they're still on. It just begs the question, who decided that it's more important to not have a dead car battery than a dead baby?"

Now the person is putting it on the car makers?  So everyone should have to pay more money for cars just so some idiots can be reminded they are parents and shouldn't let their kids die?  Then she compares leaving your headlights on to leaving your kid in the car and not thinking about it through an entire work day?

The scariest thing to me is the comments section where so many people are taking up for the ones who do this. How many times do these stories not turn out to have been done on purpose anyways?  It's starting to become more and more clear the guy in Georgia knew his kid was in the car.
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Posted: 6/26/2014 7:28 PM

Re: Support group for parents who leave their children in cars 


The auto industry should spend time and money developing a warning for people that leave their baby in an unoccupied vehicle? Do you need someone to remind you to wipe your ass? What about breathe or blink?



That ladies and gents, is what you call an ignorant ****.
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Posted: 6/26/2014 7:46 PM

Re: Support group for parents who leave their children in cars 


Next on the list of government mandates...
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Posted: 6/26/2014 8:29 PM

Re: Support group for parents who leave their children in cars 


I think I would probably go ahead and put a bullet in my head.
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Posted: 6/26/2014 8:49 PM

Re: Support group for parents who leave their children in cars 


I believe the support group gathers daily...in prison.

And the Atlanta "dad" who's sparking this thread doesn't seem to be someone who confused his child with a sack of groceries or cell phone being left behind.

Disgusting (seems like it was done on purpose)

http://wreg.com/2014/06/25/sou...eft-in-hot-car/

Last edited 6/26/2014 8:51 PM by fhellandjr

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Posted: 6/26/2014 8:54 PM

Re: Support group for parents who leave their children in cars 


I agree JR...I agree. I can't fathom something like that happening.
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Posted: 6/26/2014 9:05 PM

Re: Support group for parents who leave their children in cars 


"I always tell them, you're not a bad parent," Balfour said. "No one is going to judge you more than you do yourself. I know that I did not leave my son in the car intentionally when I left that day. People tell me I need to forgive myself -- I don't feel like I have anything to forgive. I made a mistake and it cost me my son's life. But I certainly didn't leave him in the car to go bowling or to get my nails done."


Wow. WOW.

Skipping over how unbelievably ludicrous that statement is, I find it interesting that she said, "it cost ME my son's life." Not, "it cost my son his life." Like she's the victim. Hard to understand the way some people's brains work.

Last edited 6/26/2014 9:10 PM by Nevermore0

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Posted: 6/26/2014 9:08 PM

Re: Support group for parents who leave their children in cars 


A veterinarian up in Lake Norman had this same thing happen over a decade ago.

In my old age, I've gotten so absent minded I could easily do this.  Thankfully my kids are old enough to get in and out themselves.
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Posted: 6/26/2014 9:22 PM

Re: Support group for parents who leave their children in cars Post Rating (1 vote)


Damn Straight! To some people, kids are just like pets...a possession.

On another note, what world does that person live in? "nobody is going to judge you more than you do yourself"...lmfao! Okay bud.

My mother would have been in jail 10x over by today's standards.

Locked up and lost in the system. She was certifiable at times.


---------------------------------------------
--- Nevermore0 wrote:

"I always tell them, you're not a bad parent," Balfour said. "No one is going to judge you more than you do yourself. I know that I did not leave my son in the car intentionally when I left that day. People tell me I need to forgive myself -- I don't feel like I have anything to forgive. I made a mistake and it cost me my son's life. But I certainly didn't leave him in the car to go bowling or to get my nails done."


Wow. WOW.

Skipping over how unbelievably ludicrous that statement is, I find it interesting that she said, "it cost ME my son's life." Not, "it cost my son his life." Like she's the victim. Hard to understand the way some people's brains work.

---------------------------------------------
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Posted: 6/27/2014 6:52 AM

Re: Support group for parents who leave their children in cars 


I am just going to say as a father of two, when we started taking my son to daycare on the way to work when he was 10 weeks of age, I can understand possibly going straight to work.

Humans are creatures of habit. It was wonderful that during that time my wife and I rode to work together. There were a number of occasions where I got into the lane to go straight to work and my wife would say, "what are you doing, we have to drop the boy off first".

If I had been alone AND my son didn't make a noise, I could see how this type of **** happens. I was sleep deprived and I was in autopilot mode driving to work the way I had been going for 7+ years. The fact that my son is also very quiet doesn't help the issue. Would I have screwed up and left my child if my wife hadn't been there? Who knows, I can't know what didn't occur.

I am just saying that as a sleep deprived parent, I can see how it happens. It doesn't make it any the less horrible.......
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Posted: 6/27/2014 8:27 AM

Re: Support group for parents who leave their children in cars 


The stats don't really support that Neb. All parents of babies are sleep deprived and less than 1% by a large margin forget their kids in the backseat of a car.

I think the fear of doing it, the experiences of forgetting things and the sympathy for grieving parents makes us feel like it could happen to any of us but the truth is, it happens to bad parents.

Last edited 6/27/2014 8:27 AM by JRLAKE

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Posted: 6/27/2014 2:44 PM

Re: Support group for parents who leave their children in cars Post Rating (1 vote)


So, any person's child who dies of a tragic mistake are bad parents?
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Posted: 6/27/2014 2:48 PM

Re: Support group for parents who leave their children in cars 



Nebula wrote: I am just going to say as a father of two, when we started taking my son to daycare on the way to work when he was 10 weeks of age, I can understand possibly going straight to work.

Humans are creatures of habit. It was wonderful that during that time my wife and I rode to work together. There were a number of occasions where I got into the lane to go straight to work and my wife would say, "what are you doing, we have to drop the boy off first".

If I had been alone AND my son didn't make a noise, I could see how this type of **** happens. I was sleep deprived and I was in autopilot mode driving to work the way I had been going for 7+ years. The fact that my son is also very quiet doesn't help the issue. Would I have screwed up and left my child if my wife hadn't been there? Who knows, I can't know what didn't occur.

I am just saying that as a sleep deprived parent, I can see how it happens. It doesn't make it any the less horrible.......
I can understand the going past the exit for daycare and driving to work thing out of habit, I mean heck our baby is in the car so often that whenever she's with someone else I have quite often found myself opening up the back door to get her whenever she isn't there.  Heck, I can maybe even understand an initial getting out of the car and walking towards the workplace door before recalling you had the baby in the back, and I can even ALMOST wrap my brain around going into work for a little while before it hits you, but an entire 8 hour work day and it doesn't hit you a single time that you put the kid in the car seat earlier that morning and didn't drop by the daycare?  I don't think 5 minutes ever go by where I don't have at least a quick passing thought of my daughter, and I'm pretty sure as soon as one of those hit me that I'd recall that she was in my car.  

I've seen several people use the excuse of the father not being the one used to dropping the kid off so it would be easier to forget, and I don't buy that one for a single second either.  For starters, I would think for most nearly everyone that if you aren't used to having your kid with you in the car that the thought they are there will be the #1 thing on your mind as you drive.  I remember leaving the hospital to go home with our daughter after she was born and I don't think I've ever been as nervous while driving as I was that day.  When she's in the car with me and awake I'm constantly talking to her, and whether she's awake or asleep my radio is on much lower than normal or off completely, and I find myself looking back at her through the mirror constantly and even turning all the way around to look at her whenever we're at a red light.  

On top of that, if the mother is normally the one to drop the kid off and the father is doing it as a rare event then that tells me most likely the wife is either sick or out of town.  Either way any woman I've ever known is going to be calling her husband shortly after he gets to work to ask him if everything went ok, and also either way the husband is going to think about his sick or out of town wife at some point during the day which would in itself be a reminder to anyone with a brain that the wife didn't drop off the kid at daycare.  Plus in this day and age what are the odds you'd go the entire day without at least sending your wife a text or email?  

I realize you were simply talking of being tired and being able to forget, but in your example that would perhaps explain a lapse in memory like driving all the way to work and then having to turn around to drive to daycare to take the kid back, or getting all the way to work and out of the car before remembering you forgot.  No way any normal person or responsible parent simply forgets they left their child in a car long enough to die.  

To further Lakes point from above about the number of people who do this.  I think I read each year between 20-30 kids in the United States die each year from being left in a car.  About 4 million kids are born in the United States each year which means 0.0000075% of parents forget about their kids in a car long enough for them to die each year, and that's not counting the number of these 20-30 which likely do it on purpose as it seems this guy from Georgia did.
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Posted: 6/27/2014 2:57 PM

Re: Support group for parents who leave their children in cars 



TigersontheRock wrote: So, any person's child who dies of a tragic mistake are bad parents?
Depends on the mistake and who caused it obviously.  If say you're holding your baby while walking down the stairs and trip causing you both to fall and the baby dies then that's a tragic mistake and doesn't make you a bad parent/person IMO.  If say you leave your child with a babysitter and the baby falls and dies as a result of the fall while under their watch then that's a tragic mistake and the parent could not have seen this coming, and again they are not a bad parent/person for this.  If on the other hand the parent had been told from multiple people not to leave the kid with this sitter because the sitter liked to smoke crack all day and would likely not keep an eye on the child, but left their child their anyways because this was the only person who could watch their child that night and they wanted to go out drinking then you're a bad parent IMO.  

Obviously not all mistakes are created equal, but if you manage to forget you even have your child with you and it leads to the child dying what would have to be a miserable and suffering death then I at least don't see how on earth you can call yourself a good parent.  

I'll put it this way.  You drop your child off at daycare and when you go to pick up your child you find out he walked out a back door and got hit by a car outside leading to his death.  When you ask how this could happen the people at the daycare tell you they were tired that day and forgot they had your kid.  Do you just accept this as a tragic mistake and decide not to press charges or sue?  Would you still consider this a good daycare for people to take their children to because they only made 1 mistake?  If you had more kids would you take those kids to the same daycare?
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Posted: 6/27/2014 2:58 PM

Re: Support group for parents who leave their children in cars 



TigersontheRock wrote: So, any person's child who dies of a tragic mistake are bad parents?
I'm not the one who gave you the down vote btw which I only point out because it would likely appear that way since I replied to your post shortly after you made it.
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Posted: 6/27/2014 3:28 PM

Re: Support group for parents who leave their children in cars Post Rating (2 votes)



TigersontheRock wrote: So, any person's child who dies of a tragic mistake are bad parents?

I realize my opinion is extreme but I'll say that, yes,  the 0.0001% of parents that bake their babies alive in a moment of absent-mindness are in fact, behind the curve.
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Posted: 6/27/2014 3:40 PM

Re: Support group for parents who leave their children in cars Post Rating (2 votes)


I bet none of those parents would have forgotten their phones in the car. We could be talking about Lucifer himself and DT would somehow defend the SOB.
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Posted: 6/27/2014 4:53 PM

Re: Support group for parents who leave their children in cars Post Rating (1 vote)


IOP is my one star bandit.  :)  Kidding, whoever it is has more time on their hands than they should admit to.

I'm not defending this dude at all.  The guy in GA seems like it was intentional, and that he even checked on him at lunch and had a google search for how long it takes an animal to die in a hot car.  GFY

I too agree that by definition it makes you a bad parent, but tragedies and accidents do still happen.  They were a bad parent for an instant, a moment, a workday, and the child lost his/her life.  Sometimes you're a bad parent and the cost isn't your child dying in a horrific manner.  Like you turn around for one instant and your child tips over and bumps his head.  My wife and I were discussing this and I was making a point that sometimes accidents like this and others happen and I wasn't sure that calling someone an all out murderer over an accident is right.   And then my wife pointed out that you can't just not charge people with this either because then deadbeats like this guy, use it as a way to murder their children thinking they can get off on the "it was an accident."   I think Jay's point is right too, that this happens to less than .1% of parents is very valid.  My wife and I check on each other and I make it a point to park in a garage just so that if I did forget, he'd at least be in the shade all day.  I can't even think about this topic.  Our daycare even calls us if we dont' bring him before 930.
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Posted: 6/27/2014 5:35 PM

Re: Support group for parents who leave their children in cars 


I can promise, I'm definitely not the one star bandit.
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