Less than a year after Leiby Kletzky was murdered and dismembered, Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) was shocked when he recently encountered not one, but two unattended children – one infant and one toddler – crying in their strollers while parked outside different stores on 13th Avenue in Boro Park. Both children were observed crying and by themselves for more than ten minutes. It is a dangerous phenomenon Hikind says he sees all too often in Boro Park. "Would you leave your purse unattended? Of course not! So, why do so many people leave their most precious asset of all – their children – unattended?"
Hikind Decries Leaving Children Unattended Outside Stores While Shopping
Brooklyn, NY - Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) was shocked when he recently encountered not one, but two unattended children – one infant and one toddler – crying in their strollers while parked outside different stores on 13th Avenue in Boro Park. Both children were observed crying and by themselves for more than ten minutes. It is a phenomenon Hikind says he sees all too often in Boro Park.
“This issue has been going on for years in Boro Park,” Hikind said. “Time and again, I have pleaded with parents, telling them that leaving their children alone in their strollers while they shop or dine in local stores and restaurants is incredibly dangerous. Would you leave your purse unattended? Of course not! So, why do so many people leave their most precious asset of all – their children – unattended? It makes absolutely no sense to me. We must protect our children.”
Hikind said that his concerns are reflected by many in the community who have complained to him that something needs to be done. “Constituents and I discuss all the time that the possibility for a real tragedy exists any time children are left alone. Our community already suffered a tremendous tragedy last July. I cannot bear the thought that something similar could God forbid occur again because people are being reckless with their children’s lives and safety.”
Hikind is urging parents to exercise better judgment and to use common sense before deciding to leave their children unattended.
Haredi parents have many children that they are often poorly equipped to care for. This happens because, thankfully, modern medical science has made infant mortality and death in childbirth very rare things.
Because of that, haredi families are larger today than they were 100 or 200 years ago.
But while the ability for haredim to have very large families has grown, training and help for parents of these now huge nuclear families have not.
Haredi rabbis have focused on increasing the population, but they have been derelict when it comes to child safety and even basic parenting support.
Leave your baby or toddler alone outside a store while you go in and shop will get you charged with child neglect and endangerment in most jurisdictions in the Western world – but not Borough Park, Williamsburg, Crown Heights, Flatbush, Midwood and in other large haredi population centers in New York State.
But do the same thing in Bed-Sty, Hicksville, Albany or SoHo and you risk both having the state take custody of your children and a prison sentence.
There are several reasons for this discrepancy.
One is the false perception that haredim are all non-violent. peace loving, family friendly people, and that everyone in haredi communities looks out for everyone else.
Another reason is that police view haredi communities as largely self-policing when it comes to internal crime. (This is, of course, wrong for many different reasons.)
But the most important reason is that haredi political power trumps a lot of things, including child safety law, and this is especially true when haredi 'fixers' wield so much influence with the NYPD and the DA that many cases like this would never make it to trial, and the kids will almost never be removed from the parents' custody. The pain and aggravation a cop goes through in haredi cases like this make cops ignore crimes they would otherwise respond to. And that's what haredi leaders and fixers want.
At any rate, I'm sure haredi leaders could find a good solution to this and other child safety issues in their community if they would put as much time into do so as they currently put into various bans and modesty pronouncements.
Where there's a will, there's a way.
The problem is, so far there is no will.
[Hat Tip: Seymour.]