If you’ve watched the news in the last few weeks or are on social media quite frequently, you have seen this picture and heard about this case.
It is the case of a Phoenix woman, Shanesha Taylor, leaving her two children in the car to go on a job interview. A passerby saw the children in the car sweating and crying. The police were called and the children were removed from the vehicle and taken to the hospital. When the mother returned to her car 45-60 minutes later, she was greeted by the police and questioned. She allegedly stated that she is homeless and couldn’t find child care.
There are a ton of articles for and against this case. Some state that she is not homeless and lives with a parent. Some say she had family in the area and was either estranged from them or too proud to ask for help. Some even questioned if she actually had an interview.
I’ve spoken with friends and co-workers( of diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds), particularly women with children to get their thoughts. They were all torn and couldn’t provide a concise answer.
So as the old folks say, let’s eat the meat and spit out the fat.
These are the facts:
- Mom left her 2-year-old and 6 month-old in a car unattended
- It was very hot in the car and the children were sweating. Click here to see the dangers of child heatstroke.
- Mom went back to the car when she finished what she was doing.
- It is clear in every article that I have read that she didn’t intend to abandon or harm the children.
- The children appear not to have suffered any injuries.
Everything else is left up to our opinions, biases and interpretations.
So for the purpose of this post, let’s assume she is homeless, didn’t feel she had someone to watch the children and didn’t intend the children harm.
There has been an outpouring of support for Ms. Taylor and a woman has put together the Shanesha Taylor Fundraiser. There was a goal of raising $9,000 to assist her in raising bail. The total raised has reached $101,000 and is set to be used for an attorney, court fees and items related to the children and shelter.
There is a section on the site that contains comments and of course a hot debate is brewing. One of the commenters named Karen had this to say:
“While I can certainly sympathize and empathize with Shanesha …. I was a single mother of four ….. leaving a 2-year-old and a 6 month old alone in a car in the heat, with the keys in the ignition is just WRONG! I have 3 dogs and wouldn’t do that to them, let alone a child …. and for over an hour??? If it was not for an apparent passer-by who saw the children ‘sweating profusely’ who called the paramedics, those children might not be with us today. Rewarding bad behavior only encourages more bad behavior. Ms. Taylor should have rescheduled the interview to a day and time when she would have had childcare available rather than risk the lives of her children….which is exactly what she did, and why her children were taken into protective custody and she was arrested.”
This is where I will sit for a few.
I was kinda with Karen until she got to the section in bold. It is clear that ”Karen” comes from a background of privilege. She probably has had no real struggles and has no clue of what’s it’s like to live in poverty. If indeed this woman was homeless and is desperately trying to find a job, there is no re-scheduling of anything. When you are fighting for your life each opportunity is seized when it comes.
Unfortunately, her opportunity resulted in making a terrible choice. But haven’t we all been guilty of making a bad choice?
Oh, I’m sorry. This is the part where we get self-righteous and say that we make bad decisions, but not decisions like that.
What I can say after 19 years working with children and families in the school system and ministry, coupled with my recent personal drama, I am making a concerted effort not to judge people. People have a lot of ish going on in their lives and you would be amazed at the things that people have to endure to survive.
The real issue
What needs to be identified is not the issue of right or wrong, but what put her in the predicament where she felt her only option was to leave the children in the car. Once the root of the problem is discovered and dealt with, a plan can be put in place to deal with everything else.
A recent episode of Oprah’s Life Class with Iyanla Vanzant showcased the issue of guilt with a woman who was driving drunk with her two children in the car. One child ended up in critical condition when she ran off the road and slammed into a tree. This clip tells her story and the root of her issue was revealed.
There will be repercussions in regards to Shanesha’s actions. This could show up as probation, parenting classes, jail time or losing her children.
She made a bad decision and her children are unharmed. Mom deserves a second chance. My prayer and hope for her is that she is surrounded by people who have her best interests at heart, get her through these trials and take her to the next level.
At the end of the day, I’m rooting for the kids. Why make their lives any more difficult? If that means the best thing for them is to get their mom back, so be it.
Let’s have some candid conversation about this issue or anything else related to decisions that had to be made in dire circumstances. Weigh in and leave your thoughts in the comments section below. All responses are valued!