Kids got sunburnt
August 21, 2002 7:28 AM   Subscribe

Kids got sunburnt A deputy doing round at a county fair in Ohio noticed three children walking with their mother. Their faces sunburnt like they were "dipped in red paint". Their mother is charged with felony negligence and is facing a 15 year sentence if convicted.
I remember getting a sunburn back in grade school, what's the statute of limitations on charging my 1st grade teacher?
posted by omidius (55 comments total)
I would sue the sun!
posted by einarorn at 7:35 AM on August 21, 2002

There has to be a middle ground between allowing parents to stupidly endanger their children and throwing a woman in jail because her kids got sunburned.

I agree she did something stupid, but why in all that long day did no one point out to her that her kids were turning red? (Why did she not notice?)

And is tossing her into a cell really a sensible or rational response?
posted by AnneZo at 7:35 AM on August 21, 2002

My first thought was: that's just asinine! I got sunburns all the time as a kid! And then I saw that her children were a two year old and 10 month old twins.

And suddenly, I'm all like, "Throw that bitch in jail!"
posted by ColdChef at 7:38 AM on August 21, 2002

My mother would have been on Death Row for the number of sunburns I experienced as a child. I saw the woman's pic on the news. She appeared to be fair with blonde hair. Perhaps her real crime is in her gene code. How dare you give birth to freckle faced toe-heads! Sure, she was stupid, but $15,000 bond? Let's head to the homes of parents who smoke in the house. Cancer risk, just the same.
posted by alou73 at 7:40 AM on August 21, 2002

Come on. I have lived in Florida all of my life and many times while playing at the beach as a kid my sunscreen would rub off leaving me with a sunburned face.

If the sun burn was really bad the kids would be sick and not able to be at a fair. How crazy that you can whack a kid really hard in public and people don't seem to care, but have your kid outside for a while and off to jail you go.
posted by bmxGirl at 7:41 AM on August 21, 2002

Get in line on the statute of limitations, pal, my 3rd grade teacher would be doing hard time for felony assault. Nothing to do with sunburns, though...
posted by y2karl at 7:41 AM on August 21, 2002

Yes, what can we do about these monsters?
posted by briank at 7:43 AM on August 21, 2002

10-mo old is kindof harsh to put in the sun for that long, she does need some kind of punishment. Does it mean double criminal felony charges with 15 YEARS in jail? I don't know. Does she deserve 15 YEARS for one mistake, probably from an innattention to the kids?

Then theres the $15,000 which she still hasn't posted and is still in jail.
posted by omidius at 7:44 AM on August 21, 2002

I suppose the main goal here is to teach her in some manner not to let her kids get sunburnt again (or, more reasonably, just to pay attention to them) - the aim isn't punishment in this case. On one incredibly excessive level, putting her in jail is one way of doing that. She's not going to forget again after that. But there must be more sensible and efficient ways of teaching this woman that sun = very hot and very hot sun = sunburn and hats / suncream / less exposure = good than a prison sentence.

And on a different note, I hate that media thing of ' x faces a fifteen year sentence if convicted', when that's the absolute maximum they'd get for the worst example of the crime under consideration - but that's off-topic...
posted by humuhumu at 7:46 AM on August 21, 2002

Perhaps she couldn't afford Coppertone Water Babies. A tax deduction for skin care. Or a co-pay on your insurance if you purchase it at a pharmacy.
posted by alou73 at 7:50 AM on August 21, 2002

"Mankind has always dreamed of destroying the sun." --- Montgomery Burns
posted by quonsar at 7:51 AM on August 21, 2002

Okay, I don't really think she should go to jail, but c'mon! She's one step from the people that keep babies locked in cars in the summer sun.

Maybe Mr. Burns was right. Maybe we should block out the sun. ("I'm up to here with these rickets!")
posted by ColdChef at 7:51 AM on August 21, 2002

damn you, quonsar!
posted by ColdChef at 7:56 AM on August 21, 2002

Two days ago I was shaking my head at a culture which would prefer a child be motherless rather than be raised by an adulterer. Now my own culture is saying it is better for three children to be motherless rather than be raised by woman who allows them to get sunburned.

There is a very fine line here. Had she left them in the car, I suspect we would be ready to lynch her. But she just seems to be ignorant/careless. Why would the courts fine and possibly jail her for that? Wouldn't sentencing her to parenting classes be a better idea?

Boy, now I'm wondering if she fed them funnelcake and without parole!
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:00 AM on August 21, 2002

Mmm... Corndogs...
posted by y2karl at 8:04 AM on August 21, 2002

Summer vacation at the beach over, I am right now recovering from my worst-ever sunburn, not just peeling but seared flesh across my shoulders. "Hey, I'm from Southern California! I tan, I don't burn." Heh-heh.

She deserves a strong talking-to, and needs to be reminded of her responsibility, but not jailtime and public humiliation.

And please, listen to Mr. Kurt Vonnegut, wear your sunscreen!
posted by planetkyoto at 8:04 AM on August 21, 2002

I believe that one of the children had a collapsed lung as well and that the sheriff was concerned that the mother was going to return to the fair.

I mean, imagine the outcry if the sheriff knew that the children were in danger and that he let them be taken back to the fair and worse things happened.

My understanding after listening to an interview with the sheriff is that he doesn't want her to serve any extra jail time - he wants her to get some help so that she can do a proper job of parenting. Arresting her puts her in the system so that she can get that help.
posted by iceberg273 at 8:06 AM on August 21, 2002

Yes, what can we do about these monsters?

HAHAHHAHA Good one !

2nd degree sunburns. Is that blistering? That is pretty serious for a 10 month old I would think.

She is guilty of poor parenting, that is for sure. But, so are most of the parents on the planet.
posted by a3matrix at 8:07 AM on August 21, 2002

my father just had a 5"x4" tumor removed from his forehead and is getting a skin graft today. skin cancer due to sun exposure when he was a child. this was before sunscreen, of course. as was said, this woman does need a good talking to--but jail seems excessive. and where's the father all this time?

3 kids aged 2 and under. my god.
posted by witchstone at 8:10 AM on August 21, 2002

let's sue those responsible for the depleted ozone and the fact that you need SPF 2000 to leave the house these days.
posted by adampsyche at 8:14 AM on August 21, 2002

From the link:

The children had second-degree sunburns and were treated with cold compresses,

Second-degree sunburns not only damage the upper layer of skin called the epidermis, but also the layer beneath it called the dermis [more here, plus diagram] Second-degree burns can cause blisters, and are extremely painful. If the blisters become infected, medical attention is required.

Knowing this, I think that the cop was right to arrest this women. Her behavior was definitely negligent, and she has also recklessly disregarded her children's health:

Serious sunburn in childhood may raise the risk of developing the deadliest form of skin cancer as an adult, research in mice suggests

The bail and maximum penalty seem way out of line for her stupidity, however. Chances are there will be some sort of plea bargain involving a dramatically reduced sentence, something like probation for some period of time, perhaps a mandatory child care class and some fines/community service (any of which are embarrassing enough to qualify as effective punishment)
posted by thewittyname at 8:15 AM on August 21, 2002

The Akron Beacon offers an AP story that mentions that the mother had been in trouble before over issues of child endangerment. I don't think anybody's suggesting the kids be taken away from her, or that she gets the maximum lockup for the offense charged. But second degree burns are blistering, and Mom should know better and deserves some punishment. Interestingly, the same AP story quotes the hospital as saying the burns "weren't that bad," and that they usually see much worse sunburn cases. Still, "SECOND DEGREE burns are more serious. They are deeper than first degree burns, look red or mottled and have blisters. They may also involve loss of fluids through the damaged skin. Second degree burns are usually the most painful because nerve ending are usually intact, despite severe tissue damage." (from here.)
posted by luser at 8:15 AM on August 21, 2002

iceberg273, I didn't see any of those details in the story I read. sounds worse than it did originally.
posted by AnneZo at 8:16 AM on August 21, 2002

iceberg273, I didn't see any of those details in the story I read.

The sheriff was interviewed on CBS this morning. I have not found a transcript as of yet.
posted by iceberg273 at 8:20 AM on August 21, 2002

As a parent who has 3 young children, I would have preferred that the sheriff used more of a home town approach, brough her and the kids home, gotten the doctor, and told her not to leave the house with the kids 'or else'.

Kids can get sunburned pretty fast, without you noticing it. Hell, you can burn yourself without noticing. My sister was 9 years old and got sun poisoning - couldn't even open her eyes.. should my parents have been put in jail for that?

As a parent, yes, I stay conscious of the kids in the sun, keep them in the shade as much as possible and all, but even in a carriage, sometimes you don't notice that the sun isn't being blocked by the sunshade or anything else.
posted by rich at 8:25 AM on August 21, 2002

So.. a mum in need of support (acknowledged by the sherriff's comments about parenting classes) and obviously not exactly well-off (the kid's father is a fairground employee) has a bail bond set at $15,000. Whose crackpot idea was that? That there guaranteed that 3 toddlers were gonna experience emotional trauma.

Sheesh! Wonder if she coulda been done for trespass, too? Lets look at that curfew in detail...
posted by dash_slot- at 8:39 AM on August 21, 2002

...even in a carriage, sometimes you don't notice that the sun isn't being blocked by the sunshade or anything else.

Rich, no offense intended, but why not? Why would you not notice this? I really would like to know.
posted by luser at 8:42 AM on August 21, 2002

I saw the interview on the CBS morning show, too. The arresting sherrif did state that the mother had plans to be at the fair "all week" (her husband is a fair employee) and that one child had a collapsed lung.

He also offered the fact that the mother claimed she'd "never heard of sunscreen" and wondered where she might buy some. Sounds like there are problems beyond poor parenting, and maybe having a record in the system is not such a bad idea.
posted by donnagirl at 8:51 AM on August 21, 2002

Thanks, thewittyname, for being the only person here who read the article, apparently. These were second-degree sunburns -- the same degree you'd get if you spilled burning water on yourself or stuck your hand in a fire.

Folks always seem to get riled up about these issues without knowing the facts. Reminds me of the old woman who spilled coffee on herself. If you had to stay in the hospital for 7 days because of third-degree burns, you'd sue too. (Please, read the other few facts before you argue.)

So -- this woman is walking around a fair with her children, who likely have extremely painful blisters on their faces. They obviously required medical care and she didn't give it to them. Do you really think this is spurious?
posted by tweebiscuit at 8:58 AM on August 21, 2002

Several years ago in my brief stint of fame on talk radio, I once made the mistake of arguing on the show that spanking is ethically wrong and we shouldn't be violently abusing children in this country for wrongdoing, that it only encourages violent behavior in return. Negative conditioning countered with ignoring them when they do right (another thing I observe many parents do) tends to inadvertently teach young people to behave poorly because at least then they get some kind of attention.

I was inundated with calls from people telling me how full of crap I was and until I had children of my own I had no right telling them how to raise their children. I was to admit I do not. I sounded like a cowardly idiot on talk radio, and have never recovered from that demeaning incident in which I was proven irrevocably wrong. I'm not a parent. I have no opinion in the matter.

A parent should be able to raise their own flesh & blood however they want, even if they want to raise the kid as a cannibal or a satan worshipper. Or AMISH. It's not the government's duty to step in and tell parents what to do with their kids.

The gov't shouldn't step in and tell parents to force their kids to go to any kind of schooling. If children want to be truant and juvenile delinquents, so long as their parents say it's okay I don't see what's the problem. Drug abuse? Drinking age? City or State enforced curfew laws? These are affronts to civil liberties and an embarrassment to America's parents, as if parents don't know how to raise their own children. How dare our own government tell us what to do? It's shameful. Children have no rights, of course, but parents should be able to raise their kids like weeds or wild animals if that's their inclination. Sunburn? Heck, those kids got off easy. If the mother wanted to pour gasoline on her own flesh and blood and read Catcher In The Rye to the light emanating from the flames of her screaming children engulfed in flames, it's her God given right to do so!

Can you hear the sarcasm in my voice? ..Just checkin'. *smirk*
posted by ZachsMind at 9:01 AM on August 21, 2002

Time to launch the sunburned jihad!
posted by Hackworth at 9:17 AM on August 21, 2002

It's a good idea if we all get on the same page as to the definition of second degree burn. This is from

Second-degree burns turn the skin bright red. The skin can also appear blistered, swollen and moist in appearance. Blisters are the distinguishing characteristic of second-degree burns.

Note that the second sentence says can also appear blistered. So the kids could have been bright red but not yet blistered.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:23 AM on August 21, 2002

And please, listen to Mr. Kurt Vonnegut, wear your sunscreen!

vonnegut didn't say that.
posted by lotsofno at 9:25 AM on August 21, 2002

yesterday afternoon i watched a thirty-something man pushing a two or three year-old boy in stroller. already visibly looped, the guy had a open bottle of beer and lit cigarette in his hand and was jerking the stroller impatiently through pedestrian traffic, muttering "shit" and "damn it" every few minutes. at one point the poor child dropped his stuffed animal and cried, "daddy, daddy," at which point the man angrily stopped, walked back to pick up the toy, handed it back to the boy and slurred, "you better hold on to that or i'm leaving it on the fucking street."

too much sun one summer afternoon at the county fair? i understand in some cities and towns law enforcement officials have real criminals to apprehend. but where's the sheriff when you really need him
posted by jellybuzz at 9:33 AM on August 21, 2002

What about their eyes? Aren't small children's eyes especially sensitive to the sun?
posted by Songdog at 9:38 AM on August 21, 2002

I went home for lunch and saw a picture of the kids of TV. As I figured, "dipped in red paint" was a bit of an exaggeration. They did look decently sunburned though (no sores on the face or anything...yet)
posted by stifford at 10:13 AM on August 21, 2002

Yet another example of why we should require people to get licenses before having children.

But of course, this will only be possible when I run my own private fiefdom. Hmm, not any time soon.
posted by beth at 10:23 AM on August 21, 2002

gosh, as a kid i'd rub all the waterproof sunblock off myself running along and regularly got blisters all over my back and chest. This wasn't my mums fault, she was always chasing me with a bottle of sunblock and sneaking them into my bags. To

Luser who thinks one can easily notice sun movements and strength, you don't. Suddenly you are itchy, you look down, and hey, red paint, despite sitting in what looked like shade. The sun reflects and comes at you from all angles including above.

perhaps it's common to forget to protect kids in the states, my seven year old nephew [as freckled and fair as me] certainly was not used to my mums undivided attention with the sunblock bottle, as if his [american] mother never did that. Before he flew home again she'd manage to sneak several bottles into his bags.

the mum in this case seems to have forgotten common sense, i doubt 15000 USD in bail will make her any smarter.

on preview - I'm with beth on the whole licence deal. My mum would pass with flying colors, I need to read up, I'm sure.
posted by dabitch at 10:24 AM on August 21, 2002

Jellybuzz: Sad to say, the situation you saw is probably not too abnormal.

Children really can get the short end of the stick.

License child bearing !!! Think of the revenue !!!
posted by a3matrix at 10:30 AM on August 21, 2002

I was playing softball on the weekend and ended up getting a 2nd degree burn on the back of my throwing hand. I had applied sunscreen to it before I went outside, but had accidently removed it due to a nervous habit of rubbing my hand against my hip while waiting for a ball to be hit to me.

I didn't notice I had burned my hand until about 4 hours later when the damage was already done. If it's a generally hot and sweaty day where you don't get a chance to sit down and relax, you just won't notice the burning until it's too late. It didn't even really hurt until I got home and finally noticed the small blisters that were forming and the sensation of heat radiating from the burn.
posted by grum@work at 11:27 AM on August 21, 2002

the mother claimed she'd "never heard of sunscreen" and wondered where she might buy some. Sounds like there are problems beyond poor parenting,

anyone check to see if they'd closed down the public libraries where she lives?
posted by tolkhan at 1:27 PM on August 21, 2002

Tsk tsk tolkhan, but anyone in Ohio who's been to a Wal-Mart or any other convenience store or department store (and that's just about everyone) will see sunscreen prominently on display in the summer.

I haven't seen any libarries with sunscreen education programs.
posted by insomnyuk at 2:22 PM on August 21, 2002

I wonder, really wonder, how many low-income (and I don't think that's a question here) people don't buy or use sunscreen because they've never seen the need, and are therefore unaware of what it does or why its important? If you searched the homes in Brilliant, OH -- a less-than-blue collar kind of place -- how many bottles of sunscreen would be found? I wouldn't want to place a bet for very many. While there are people who are religious about its use, there are just as many who never bother at all, and while they may end up with a sunburn every now and then, most of the time, they're perfectly fine without it. Mrs. Hibbits may well be one of those people.

According to the Steubenville Herald-Star coverage, the baby collapsed a lung by crying excessively. For a child to cry long and hard enough to cause a lung to collapse, it has to be nigh unto hysterical and unconsolable for quite some time. Now maybe Mrs. Hibbitts ignored her baby crying that way but I wouldn't bank on it. I'd wager that the crying that led to the lung collapse happened after the baby was taken to the hospital.

Imagine being an infant in pain, in a confusing and scary situation, surrounded by strangers and being poked and prodded. Then, a part of you which is really hot has a really cold compress placed on it -- something that babies don't tend to like normally, let alone when they're burned. If you were that baby, you'd wail your head off, and you'd have every reason to.

If the local news report is to be believed, the cops bungled this, big time. Huge. Not only did they separate injured children from both of their parents, they never bothered to find out or do anything about the fact that the Hibbits' older child, aged 11, ended up being left alone at the fairgrounds. She was on her own until someone found her crying because she couldn't find her parents. Anything could've happened to her.

But what's most troublesome to me is that a parent who takes their child to the hospital with a second degree sunburn on their own isn't likely to end up in jail afterward. It seems to me that in the case of childhood injuries and accidents, doctors only call in legal intervention if they believe that the parent intentionally caused the injury, were outrageously negligent in allowing the injury or weren't capable of understanding how to prevent the injury from recurring. I don't know if there's any evidence of any of those situations being the case here.

It seems like Mrs. Hibbits just wasn't thinking about/aware of sunburn, and probably felt that since she wasn't suffering from the sun, neither were her babies. Perhaps her experience with her 11 year old left her believing that so long as she was okay, her child would be too. Relying on that experience and/or lack of knowledge isn't a crime. But now, because a cop saw this family, an unfortunate incident where a mom didn't realize how bad something was has left her family is torn apart and left her at risk of becoming a convicted felon.

If the police were truly concerned only that the children were better cared for, they could've chosen not to make this a criminal matter. Instead of charging Mrs. Hibbits with multiple felony counts, they could've just called in child welfare services to make an assessment -- they are, after all, the ones who are trained to make the determination if children are in danger and if parents are neglectful or need parenting education,. They have the legal right to decide that a family needs to be monitored, and no criminal charges need to be filed against anyone in order for them to do so.

Charging this woman, therefore, was clearly punitive. For injuries which are in no way permanent or scarring, and given the short memory of toddlers, will be forgotten as soon as the pain subsides.

And to add insult to the injury, we've got the sheriff running to the national media (and if he is who a google search makes it seem that he is, he's no stranger to it, implying that the mother is responsible for the collapsed lung, trying to justify an arrest before the woman even has a preliminary hearing. Meanwhile, the family's trauma has no end coming soon.
posted by Dreama at 3:15 PM on August 21, 2002

The police say they only arrested her to "get her in the system, so she could get some help." I don't know enough about Ohio child welfare to say if it's possible to ensure she gets the help she needs without arresting her. And so what if it's punitive? Dreama, you spend an awful lot of energy rationalizing for this woman... I still don't see what's so hard about protecting your kids from sunburn. My wife and I have three kids and we NEVER, never, have them out in the sun for any amount of time without sunscreen. Are we completely anal? I don't think so. We know sunburn isn't fatal and (probably?) doesn't cause permanent damage. But we still lather 'em up, cause we know it hurts like fuck. Parents who don't know this, or know and don't care, are unfit parents IMO.

And I absolutely reject the argument that it's no big deal to cause kids lots of pain and injury as long as there's no permanent damage and they're young enough to forget it over time. "[she shouldn't be punished for inflicting] injuries which are in no way permanent or scarring, and given the short memory of toddlers, will be forgotten as soon as the pain subsides."

That's just a bizarre line of thought. I know you want what's best for these children, but this woman had a history of endangerment and if she forgets and locks that infant in the car next week, we would all be wishing the "system" had intervened with her earlier and more decisively. This is that intervention. Close call? Maybe, but ties go to the kids.
posted by luser at 5:59 PM on August 21, 2002

Dreama: I agree with your assessment, but I would like to add one or two items:

According to Abdalla on Crossfire, the 11 year old daughter holds a different last name, and Hibbits didn't tell them she was there. He also said, but offered no background information, or evidence, that this woman had been in contact with child services before, which means they knew she was a problem and he said that this newest incident is proof that she did not respond to previous instruction. The sheriffs justification was "what would you be telling me if one of her children died? I did what I thought I had to do."

He just kept repeating himself. This woman probably has mental health problems, and needs help raising her children (I don't think she has malicious intent), but putting her in jail is not the answer, by any means.

I don't know enough about Ohio child welfare to say if it's possible to ensure she gets the help she needs without arresting her.

I live in Ohio, and I had never heard of jailing mothers in order to provide welfare for her children, unless she was expressly trying to kill them (which I think happened in Dayton, four children drowned in a tub a few years back). Sounds like one nutjob Sheriff who thinks Child Services gives him the authority to be a jerk.
posted by insomnyuk at 6:03 PM on August 21, 2002

What Dreama said.
posted by dejah420 at 6:06 PM on August 21, 2002

Luser: The police say they only arrested her to "get her in the system, so she could get some help." I don't know enough about Ohio child welfare to say if it's possible to ensure she gets the help she needs without arresting her.

Well, I didn't, so I called someone (a friend who works in child protection) who does. Anyone, including police, can call child protection at any time that they feel that a child may be endangered and the agency is obligated to investigate. Period.

And so what if it's punitive?

This is what -- you don't always have to punish people for making stupid mistakes. You especially don't have to punish people for being ignorant. This woman supposedly doesn't know about sunscreen (we only have the sherif's word for that, btw) and at the very least it's clear that she wasn't aware of the importance of protecting babies' skin from sun exposure. That's not malicious, that's lack of education and experience. It's a sad day when we make being unaware or even just plain stupid into a criminal act.

Dreama, you spend an awful lot of energy rationalizing for this woman... I still don't see what's so hard about protecting your kids from sunburn.

Because you've had the benefit of learning about it and why it's important.

We know sunburn isn't fatal and (probably?) doesn't cause permanent damage. But we still lather 'em up, cause we know it hurts like fuck. Parents who don't know this, or know and don't care, are unfit parents IMO.

I am a person of colour. I have no idea what it feels like to be sunburned. I know that I have heard varying reports of what the pain is like from people but sunburn is the furthest thing from my mind when I'm out with my kids. I guess I'm an unfit parent. Take my 8 away.

As for her supposed "history" with child welfare, that's a prejudicial little tidbit that the sheriff has released, but we have no idea what it means. We certainly cannot presume that it means that she has a "history of endangerment" or mental health problems (being ignorant is not a disease) or anything else -- even if that's what the sheriff would like us to think by seeding the public with that insufficient data point.

Insomnyuk: he said that this newest incident is proof that she did not respond to previous instruction.

To which I call bovine scat, unless she was previously instructed specifically to not take her children out without sunscreen. If that were the case, I'm sure we would've heard that specific bit of information by now.

The sheriffs justification was "what would you be telling me if one of her children died? I did what I thought I had to do."

If one of her children had died from sun poisoning, then he'd be justified in jailing her on felony charges. Speculation on various and sundry "what if" scenarios, however, are not a justification for the charges currently pending against her, nor legally relevant. The more I hear and read from this sheriff, the bigger a hole he's digging for himself.
posted by Dreama at 8:25 PM on August 21, 2002

... while they may end up with a sunburn every now and then, most of the time, they're perfectly fine without it. Mrs. Hibbits may well be one of those people.

There are no such people. Living in the country with the world's highest incidence of skin cancer, we see plenty of information about how it is caused. There is much more at stake in cases like this than a simple sunburn.

Dreama - the following is from the site above

Everyone, regardless of skin colour, is at risk of skin cancer. Just six cases of sunburn in a lifetime can double your risk of developing melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. While sunburn is one risk factor in skin cancer, the other major risk factor is cumulative exposure to UV radiation over a lifetime.

Still, there must have been an alternative to jailing the woman and separating her children from their mother. I suspect that there is more not being told here than has been told though.
posted by dg at 9:18 PM on August 21, 2002

In a bit of an update:
STEUBENVILLE, Ohio - A woman who was arrested on charges that she let her three children get severely sunburned has been released from jail after pleading innocent to a lesser charge.

A prosecutor in Steubenville says three felony child endangerment charges were dropped because Eve Hibbits' children were not as severely injured as officials initially thought.

He says Hibbits pleaded innocent to a misdemeanor charge of child endangerment, and was released from jail on her own recognizance.
Yep, looks like a little gloryhounding on the part of that sheriff. He saw a chance to run in a carny's wife and get himself in the national news while doing it. So he did. Meanwhile, he traumatized the kids, the little girl who was left alone and at the mercy of predators at the fair, the mother, the father and wasted god knows how many tax payer dollars before some clever DA realized that this was a no-win case.

Now, because this is America, and litigation is how we do things round here, I can almost guarantee that she'll sue for wrongful imprisonment, false arrest, and anything else that some clever civil rights lawyer can come up with.
posted by dejah420 at 9:21 PM on August 21, 2002

I guess we can agree to disagree here, Dreama. You're willing to ascribe her behavior to ignorance, which I agree is not worthy of punishment. For my part, I just don't buy that a fairskinned adult (which apparently she is) could NOT know about sunburn, the damage it can do, and how to protect against it. It's not like it's some specialized, esoteric factoid that you have to have grown up in a certain environment to be exposed to. It's the sun! I believe that she either knew and didn't care, which I think is criminal when it results in injury to the child, or is so mentally deficient that she is unfit to parent without assistance. Either way, given her history, the authorities were correct in arresting and charging her. I'm glad her kids are OK and I hope this whole episode results in her getting the help she needs before she makes some other ignorant/careless mistake (U pick it) and the kids pay the price. I appreciate your point of view, thanks.
posted by luser at 6:00 AM on August 22, 2002

If her kids are OK, does she still require help? If her kids were never in danger, and it was an over-reactive sherrif, then how does that change everyone's opinion of her?
posted by rich at 9:13 AM on August 26, 2002

I havent been paying much attention to the news lately or even reading metafilter. I knew there was a national controversy over a mother not putting sunscreen on her kids. But, I had no idea this national upstir was over something from my own county.
About not being able to afford suncreen it cost $6 per person to attend the fair.
Sherrif Abdalla is not exactly a well respected man in these parts. He's basically a moron.
The police around here seem to love useing their authority. I attended the fair and later that night I was parked in Bloomingdale Ohio, the actual town the fair is held (population around 400 people) . The one and only Bloomingdale police officer gave me a $75 ticket for makeing a U-turn on a deserted street in the middle of nowhere.
posted by Recockulous at 2:53 PM on August 26, 2002

rich, it doesn't change my opinion of her - the damage she has done by not protecting her children is permanent and (perhaps an unfair assumption) is most likely not the first time this has happened. The links I posted above show just how much damage this does to children and there is no valid excuse for not knowing about this.

Of course, that assumes that every country has a similar level of information bombardment that we do about the risks of skin cancer - is that the case?
posted by dg at 5:31 PM on August 26, 2002

dg, my kids have gotten a sunburn. And it most likely will again. Does that make me a danger to them? Regardless of me knowing about it, and trying to take steps to prevent it, it'll happen.

Have you ever had a kid in a stroller? I'm on my third kid and I still end up looking down, thinking I have them in the shade to find out the sun has found a brand new way to bend light.

I tend to think the sherrif was grinding an axe.
posted by rich at 8:23 AM on August 27, 2002

rich, I should have made it clearer that I agree the Sheriff seems to have overreacted drastically, although there are hints that there is a lot more to this case than has been reported. Perhaps this was simply the latest in a series of problems with this family and the authorities decided to finally act to protect the children. Wouldn't be the first time someone has cried foul in this type of situation after being the centre of repeated problems in the past.

That your kids have had a sunburn before does not make you a danger to them but, if they were to get sunburnt every day that would make you a danger.

My kids have been sunburnt in the past too, but never to that extent. I am much more conscious of sun protection now that in the past, as is everyone I know, and I do not know anyone who does not apply (and re-apply) a 30+ sunscreen and a hat whenever their children are outside, shade or sun. A stroller does not provide any real protection from the sun, nor does most shade unless you are a long way back from the sun - light doesn't bend, but it does reflect off almost every surface that is not black or very dark. I don't know about where you live, but here skin cancer is a very serious problem and information is everywhere on the risks and how to avoid them.
posted by dg at 4:00 PM on August 27, 2002

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