Parents never think it could happen to them. However; in this country, approximately 34 children die from hyperthermia (elevated body temperature) each year, with the majority of these deaths occurring in the month of July.
Prior to 1995, the average number of children dying of hyperthermia in the United States was about 11 a year. Since then, the number of children who died of heat exhaustion while trapped inside vehicles has risen dramatically, totaling around 340 in the past 10 years. Ironically, one reason was a change parent-drivers made to protect their kids after juvenile air-bag deaths peaked in 1995: they put children in the back seat, where they are more easily forgotten.
An Associated Press analysis of more than 310 fatal incidents in the past 10 years found that prosecutions and penalties vary widely, depending in many cases on where the death occurred and who left the child to die–parent or caregiver, mother or father.
Mothers are treated much more harshly than fathers. While mothers and fathers are charged and convicted at about the same rates, moms are 26 percent more likely to do time. And their median sentence is two years longer than the terms received by dads.
Why are mothers treated more harshly than fathers? Are we living in a society of double standards?
Deborah Calvert is associate executive director.
Photo by Debs. Used with permission.