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Author Topic: Child abandonment
Gnat
I Am Curious, Yellowtail


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I'm wondering if anyone else who works in a place that caters to children (but is not a child-minding facility) has to deal with the following situation(s)...because at my workplace it's becoming an increasing problem, and it both baffles and angers me. I work in the children's department of a large bookstore. We have a few toys, such as a train set, available for children to play with while in our section, but have large signs posted saying not to leave children unattended. We are not baby-sitters; I have a job to do and cannot possibly be watching peoples' children, even if I wanted to. I had to basically tell off (while, of course, still remaining professional) a father tonight for leaving his six-year old son alone there for at least 15 minutes (the child was there alone when I got back from my break, and I stayed with him until the father got back, so I know it was at least that long). The father's response to my calmly but firmly requesting that he can NOT leave his young child alone in the store, as it isn't safe, was that he was only gone for five minutes. It was, as I said, much longer than that, but I only replied that it didn't matter how long it was, our policy indicates that children must be with their parents in the store. New policy also indicates that if we can't find a parent by paging them, we are to call the police. Sadly, this has had to happen several times. Once some parents left their young child (again, about 7 years old) alone there and went to dinner across the street. The problem seems to be increasing, and parents my coworkers or the managers talk to don't seem to see anything wrong with leaving a child (I've experienced kids as young as 3 years old being left alone for significant stretches of time) alone in a store. As my manager put it...you wouldn't leave your purse/wallet unattended; why would you leave your child? And just to note...I don't live in a small town or anything where everyone knows each other; this is a decently sized city with many dangers to a young child. Anyway, I just needed to get that off my chest and ask...is it just here? Or has anyone else experienced this?
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candycane from strangers
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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I work in a retail store with a children's section. Parents often leave children as young as 3 to play with the toys for half an hour or more while they shop. I've had to call more code Adams than I can count, though luckily the children have always been found unharmed so far. It pisses me off, especially since there have been crimes in the shopping centre quite a few times.

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Ogre4Hire
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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And when something does happen to an abandoned child in your store, it's not going to be the parent's fault. No sir, doesn't matter that you've got signs everywhere warning them not to leave the child, doesn't matter that they left the child unattended all day. Nope, it wasn't their fault. Why would it be?

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Radical Dory
God Rest Ye Merry Retail Clerks


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The museum I work at requires parents or chaperones to accompany children through the museum. About 90% of families and school groups are okay; plus, as long as older kids have a buddy and are following the rules (no running, no yelling, no breaking the exhibits), we're fine with them going through sans adult. But we have run into the occasional brat with an appetite for destruction, and we will call parents on it. We don't have enough money to keep fixing the things the child keeps breaking, for one thing.

I once pulled a three-year old child off of the top of a two-story tableu he had somehow climbed on top of; nothing but concrete and a deep pool suitable for drowning below him if he fell. And of course, no parent in sight. When I returned him and explained where he had been, I got a snort and an indignant look. You're welcome, ma'am. Yeesh.

If your management backs the policies, then you shouldn't have any qualms about following proceedures. For the safety of the children, I wouldn't hesitate to make an announcement or call the police.

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"But about the reindeer...what kind of a nose shines? How did he get it? Maybe it's not a reindeer after all. It could be something else."

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Robofication, Lightly Roasted
Jingle Bell Hock


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Some sick piece of me wishes the child would be abducted just so the idiotic parent could feel the loss and outcome of their actions.

Then I wake up, shake my head, and realize that's far worse than getting mad about parents leaving their children unattended.

I used to work in a video game store attached to a video rental store. We had demo game systems set up for people to play new releases and try out used games.

Every single frickin' night turned into Romper Room. Parents would send their children to frollic in the electronic garden while they slowly tooled around the rental store, leaving us to babysit. We clearly had signs posted "Unattended Children will be eaten" and, more professionally, "Unattended Children will result in a page to the parents to retrieve the child."

Also, we had signs saying "Please do not play game systems for longer than 10 minutes."

Of course, the kids would be in there 30-40 minutes. We'd kick them off the system after 10 (out of spite) and they'd start wailing, move to the next system. We'd kick them off of that one immediately.

The kid would run off and cry to the parents who would come yell at us for kicking their kid off the system. Typically, we'd just point to the sign and say "It's clearly marked."

Me being an NFBSKhole would typically get in a barb "It's clearly marked. It's not my fault your child's illiterate."

Or, "Would you rather your child be abducted by a pervert?"

It's a wonder I wasn't fired earlier for this. Heh.

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"As convenient as it may be, it's time I started taking responsibility for the messes I've created instead of always blaming everything on the law of entropy"

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Little Pink Pill
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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quote:
Or, "Would you rather your child be abducted by a pervert?"

It's a wonder I wasn't fired earlier for this. Heh.

I would have promoted you for it. Idiots.

I got chills reading this thread. I just can't fathom it. As the OP said, you wouldn't leave your wallet unattended, why your CHILD???

I think the policy of the Gnat's business is an excellent one. I don't think a parent should be paged. What if they are next door, but a nearby pedophile thinks, "Ooo, time to strike while the iron is hot!"?

I know if I lost my child accidentally, I would be absolutely fine with the police being called. I would prefer it, actually. And if I intentionally left her unattended, I would deserve it.

That said, I really hope there are no pedophiles reading this, because now they know where to look.

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The technical term is narcissism. You can't believe everything is your fault unless you also believe you're all powerful.--House

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ange84
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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I am a brownie leader and we used to have one mother (well she's still around but i have moved groups and don't have either of her daughters in my group now) who would often drop her older daughter off to brownies and leave her younger one there as well, without us leaders being told. We just saw this girl walking around and had to have her join in. If the mother had of let us know prior we would have had no problem with it, but she just left her there not even saying anything to us. This same parent would drop her daughter off without warm clothes in the winter etc and one night i got a phone call from her saying her eldest daughter who was in the wednesday night group( i'm Thursday) wouldn't be able to make it, and when i said i wasn't her leader and to please call one of them she said oh well you'll do and hung up. I hear she still uses us as glorified babysitting services, often dropping them at events and leaving them and returning late to pick them up. I wish we could call the police, but we have no policy to do so.

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Love is a sudden revelation: a kiss is always a discovery

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The Ota Faction
Happy Holly Days


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The mall I frequent has a playland area where you can drop your kids off for a fee, and yet I still see more young kids left in the arcade with a handful of tokens. [Frown]

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Zorro
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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I used to work for a tutoring center. The kids would stay for their two-hour tutoring sessions and the parents were expected to pick them up immediately afterwards. One Saturday afternoon, there were two teachers left, myself and one other. (It was the policy of this center that there was NEVER one staff member left with children, always at least two, for which we were very appreciative.) The center closed, all the other parents came to pick their kids up, except for this one kid. I called the home- nothing. I called the mother's cell phone (the only other number we had) and the mother told me she was "...at the mall. I'm leaving now, I'll be there ASAP." Well, there's one mall ten minutes' drive away, so I asked her if she meant that one. Nope, she was at another one that was at LEAST 45 minutes' drive away!! [Mad] She'd "lost track of time". WTF??

She showed up an hour and ten minutes after the center closed, and I told her another policy of the center: because two staff members had to stay late to keep an eye on her kid, that money would be applied to her next bill. Well, you can imagine the hissy fit she threw!! "I pay you people enough money...blah, blah, blah..."

I calmly said, "Mrs. Bonehead [no, I didn't call her that, although I dearly wanted to], the money you pay to the center is for your child's tutoring. It is not for the glorified babysitting we have done for the last hour and ten minutes. If you have a problem with this, my manager will be in Monday morning at 10am."

Sure enough, I later found out that she was on the phone Monday morning at 10am, screaming at my manager about my rudeness. [Roll Eyes] I'd left a note explaining what happened, though, and my manager backed me up. [Big Grin]

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Auntie Witch
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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Good job, Zorro!

Wasn't there a snopester who said they put (or wanted to put) post-its on unattended kids that said, "If I were a child abductor, your child would be gone" on unattended kids?

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Doug4.7
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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This is not a recent thing. Back when I was a kid (60's), it was considered perfectly alright to leave a small child in the toy section of a grocery store while the mom shopped. Granted, the store did not have a policy against it, and the kid did not tear things up, but it happened all the time.

Now forgetting the kid and leaving him there was not as common (but it did happen [Wink] ).

We seem to be going through phases. It was okay, then not okay, now parents are doing it again.

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And now for something completely different...

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Little Pink Pill
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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quote:
Originally posted by Auntie Witch:
Wasn't there a snopester who said they put (or wanted to put) post-its on unattended kids that said, "If I were a child abductor, your child would be gone" on unattended kids?

That's brilliant. It would scare the bejeebees out of them, but a scare is certainly better than the real thing.

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The technical term is narcissism. You can't believe everything is your fault unless you also believe you're all powerful.--House

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Little Pink Pill
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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quote:
Originally posted by Doug4.7:
We seem to be going through phases. It was okay, then not okay, now parents are doing it again.

In certain places/eras where it is safe, it may be ok. In America, 2006, it is not.

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The technical term is narcissism. You can't believe everything is your fault unless you also believe you're all powerful.--House

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Doug4.7
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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quote:
Originally posted by Little Pink Pill:
quote:
Originally posted by Doug4.7:
We seem to be going through phases. It was okay, then not okay, now parents are doing it again.

In certain places/eras where it is safe, it may be ok. In America, 2006, it is not.
I never said it was a good idea.

Now if a store has a policy, then I would follow it. However, I would have no trouble leaving my 11, 13, & 15 year old kids in a bookstore while I go look at other things (or even the store next door).

Bad things can happen to kids anywhere. All it takes is a second for a killer to get your kid. So as a parent, you do what you can to protect your child, but you can't be there for them 25/7 throughout their whole lives.

I'm letting my #2 & #1 go to parties without me. Could there be "bad things" going on at the party? Yes, but I trust my kids to make the right decisions about which parties to go to and what to do when they get there. I've done my best to train them to be self-sufficient.

Now I would NOT leave a 3 year old in a store alone. At that age, my kids liked to climb, and I would not want to be called by the store management about the kid swinging from the light fixtures.

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And now for something completely different...

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Manic Soprano
Deck the Malls


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I work at an Arts school. We offer after-school dance classes, art classes, and private lessons on a variety of instruments. We also have a small public access computer lab (8 computers) that anyone can come in and use. Most parents are very good about watching their kids while they use the computer.

We used to get 4 kids (of which at least two were siblings) who would come in after school until 8pm every day, Monday through Thursday (we're technically closed on Fridays, though we still schedule lessons on those days). This went on for months. I don't know when they finally stopped.

I have a few other stories of parents using the computers as a babysitter.

We have a great sign that's posted in the office for a giggle. There hasn't been any incidents of children being left to their own devices in the computer lab in a while, but if they pick up, I'll have the boss lady post it.

"Unattended children will be given an espresso and a puppy"

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Cowboy Joe
Deck the Malls


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First, let me say that in now way am I saying it is ok to leave kids unattended to play with the toys in the bookstore.

But, as long as those toys are there, you will have parents who think they are allowed to leave their kids there, no matter how many signs you hang up.

My advice - remove the toys from the store.

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"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda." -George W. Bush, Greece, N.Y., May 24, 2005

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Sandman
Deck the Malls


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Here's one for you...I'm a teacher in an urban middle school in Cleveland. The school has been here for more than a century, and let's just say the neighborhood isn't what it used to be...

I have a parent who, in order to avoid paying the 10.00 per week fee for the after-school care we offer, has their 12 year old boy and their 7 year old girl WALK THE STREETS in the neighborhood for 45 minutes until they can get there to pick them up. Every day I see the dad's car go by as he cruises the streets trying to find his kids as they wander around saving him ten bucks. I have spoken to him, shown him the police flyers we get at the school about registered sex-offenders living withing a 10 mile radius, mentioned the CRACK DEALER who typicaly stakes out the corner three blocks away, and expressed my concern about the fact groups of rowdy teens from the local high school are ALSO wandering these same streets at the same time.

No dice.

Oh, and the 10 bucks? I thought that might be the problem and was going to offer to fudge the records to get his kids into the after-care for free...but that car he cruises around in? It's a damn Escalade.

[EDIT: LOL just so you don't think I'm a heartless bastard 'cause the dad is a cheapskate, I have reported it to Child Services, and I have asked the school board to just let them stay in the after-care. The board said it was OK, but the dad has said no. (Because, if I understood his rantings, he "don't need no charity." Sigh.)

[EDIT II: I removed the slightly racist comment the dad made to me in his reply because I don't want this post to be about that.)

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Christie
The Bills of St. Mary's


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quote:
Originally posted by Cowboy Joe:
First, let me say that in now way am I saying it is ok to leave kids unattended to play with the toys in the bookstore.

But, as long as those toys are there, you will have parents who think they are allowed to leave their kids there, no matter how many signs you hang up.

My advice - remove the toys from the store.

That was my first thought as well Joe. I think, of course, it should depend on the age of the child but I don't think it is unlikely that parents would leave a child in the children's section of a bookstore while they go browse for a book for themselves.

If the store really doesn't want them to do that then it would probably be a good idea not to make the book section into a play area.

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If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, it's just possible you haven't grasped the situation. - Jean Kerr

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Jelly Bean Queen
I Am Curious, Yellowtail


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I worked in a large toy store chain while I was studying at university. We had quite a bit of trouble with parents leaving kids in the shop for hours on end. The amount of breakages caused by these unattented rambunctious youngsters combined with the flagrant pilfering from the candy aisle often had a significant impact on the shop's bottom line.

It is quite understandable that a two, three, four or five year old left alone for a few hours is going to get hungry and help themselves- especially when there's a pick and mix candy dispensary quite handy.

We were located in a suburb noted for it's socio economic problems so parents were more likely to tell us to do something anatomically difficult when asked to please not leave their children in our shop and could they please pay for the food their children have stolen. One woman was such a chronic offender that we regularly called the police as soon as she walked out of the store leaving her three destructive (and probably emotionally damaged)children.

The whole situation ended up causing the company to close the location- leaving a staff of 60 part timers unemployed in an area where it was difficult to get part time work that allows you to fit shifts around classes. They only hired part time staff-usually uni students- on a casual basis so we all only got two days notice. And all thanks to scum who think that toy shops are free baby sitters. [Mad]

I now work as a teacher in a primary school- we have some parents who reguarly pick up their children over an hour late because they think that we who are trained, professional educators with degrees from internationally accredited universities (a minimum of four years of intense study in the area of education)are good for a free baby sitting service. [dunce] Never mind that my work day ends officially half an hour before they turn up and that I have a ton of work to do when I get home. I of course have nothing better to do than wait for them to mosey on back from work after dropping in at the supermarket on the way over. I've even been abused by one parent for not providing suitable educationally beneficial activities for her brats to amuse themselves with noisily while I try to do my afternoon work. [Confused] I had sat them in front of a pointless video featuring capering cartoon characters so they would just leave me alone for a while.

We now have a policy of dropping children at the school office if parents are more than ten minutes late they are called. If they are unreachable then emergency contacts are called which can get embarrassing for repeat offenders. (Grandma is usually unamused at being called twice in a fortnight)

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Gnat
I Am Curious, Yellowtail


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quote:
Originally posted by Christie:
quote:
Originally posted by Cowboy Joe:
First, let me say that in now way am I saying it is ok to leave kids unattended to play with the toys in the bookstore.

But, as long as those toys are there, you will have parents who think they are allowed to leave their kids there, no matter how many signs you hang up.

My advice - remove the toys from the store.

That was my first thought as well Joe. I think, of course, it should depend on the age of the child but I don't think it is unlikely that parents would leave a child in the children's section of a bookstore while they go browse for a book for themselves.

If the store really doesn't want them to do that then it would probably be a good idea not to make the book section into a play area.

That would seem like a good idea, but unfortunately is not likely to happen anytime soon...my store has a reputation for being one to "hang out in", which corporate I guess has decided makes people more likely to buy in the long run. When we do remove the toys briefly for specific purposes (i.e. for March Break when we were using the area for crafts for the kids), we get lots of complaints from parents. Having these toys is fine with me as long as parents are hanging out there WITH their children...we have a table and chairs where parents can read their books beside the train table while still keeping an eye on their children. The majority of parents will keep their child with them to gather all the books they want to look at, then proceed to the children's area to read them while their child plays. This results in extra work for me, since I have large piles of books left to deliver back to the areas of the store that they belong to, but I don't mind so much because it at least means the child is being monitored. So anyway...yeah, I do like that suggestion, but because of the uproar it would cause by the parents, I can't see it happening. Oh, and someone mentioned being fine with leaving kids 11+ at a store...we're actually generally fine with that too. The basic guideline is that any child old enough to baby-sit (which is around 11 or 12 here, I believe) can be there alone or watch siblings; we just may keep an eye on them as much as possible to make sure everything's okay. It's the young children being left alone that is really the problem.
Posts: 35 | From: Ontario, Canada | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
bab5nutz
I Saw Three Shipments


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I work in the childrens' section of a library, puttng books away. I often find parents leaving their kids there - often for long periods of time.

About a fortnight ago, a woman in her late 30s or early 40s came into the library, and brought a little blonde girl with her.
The little girl went over to the computer, which is for children to play games on and listen to stories on. The mother vanished. When the child could not get the computer to do what she wanted, she began to bash her fists on the keyboard, and scream "mum! Help!"
She continued smashing her fists on the keyboard for a several minutes, until I had had enough, and say "hey, don't do that."
"I can't help it!" she whined. And continued smashing her fists on the computer.
Mum turned up once or twice or help her with the computer. But for the most part she was gone for well over an hour. All this time, the kid continued to smash the keyboard with her fists, and screaming at the top of her lungs.
At one point, I offered to help her. "I don't want your help!" was what I got.
Believe me, seldom was I more tempted to take my hand to a child, than I was to that one.
If my three and a half year old nephew had behaved like that, he would have been sternly told that you don't damage property belonging to other people, and marched out of the library in disgrace.
By total contrast, there was a little boy the next week. He was 16 months old, just mastered learning to walk, aod so was a bit wobbly on his legs. He toddled around quite happily, examining things, checking things out. When he saw something, he would say 'Ook! Ook!" with enthusiasm. He did this for about an hour. All that time, Mum was never more than a few feet away. Despite tumbling down a couple of times, he didn't cry, but got to his feet, and happily carried on.

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Starla
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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Gnat- Parents leaving their kids in your store to go to another store is a big problem. Parents letting their kids play in the kid's section while they shop in the bookstore, not so much of a problem. My daughter is 4 and I would not dream of letting her out of my sight, but when she is 8 or 9 I might let her sit and read books while I browse Barnes and Noble. Assuming she is still the well-behaved, worthy of trust child, and having taught her to scream "You are not my Mommy/Daddy!" if need be I think she would be perfectly fine alone for a few minutes.

When that day comes I may not be able to do it, I tend to hover if I don't watch out, but if the child is trustworthy I don't think it's a problem.

Those may be some big ifs, but I don't think a parent letting their children stay in the kid's section is indicative of bad parenting in and of itself. The kids being destructive, the parent leaving the building or not checking in every 10 minutes or so, things like that are definitely problematic.

And I would complain kindly if B&N removed the toys from the local store. When I need to run errands a promise to play and read books at B&N is often Starlet's reward for being a good sport. We have a great time, and it often results in impluse buying a new book for one or both of us. I am also instilling a love of books into my child and, indirectly, encouraging her to become a book-buyer later. So it is good for the store both short-term and in the long run to make it parent friendly.

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This used to be the life, but I don't need another one.
MyBandwagon

Posts: 3254 | From: small town Texas | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Neffti Noel
We Three Blings


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Didn't someone on Snopes once post a sign displayed in a shop reading:-

"Unattended children will be given an espresso and a puppy"

[Big Grin]

Posts: 1157 | From: Westcountry UK "It's Bootiful" | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Chimera
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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I don't know I greatly appreciate when a store has toys. Especially those little play tables sometimes found by the registers. They make checking out much easier.

Although I'm also shocked at what some parents do. While its not a store there are free roaming children as young as five that come to my house on a daily basis (and there are even younger ones roaming free down the street from me). I feel a bit bad about it but if my kid ain't here I turn them away (some days I honestly have to turn them away every 10-15 minutes for hours at a time... if I don't acknowledge them they start peering in windows and through the mail slot) not knowing where they'll be headed next. When my kid is here its his call on whether they can play here or not.

Also I only let "my kids" (got about a dozen regulars) play here. If a kid wants to play then I need to talk with a parent or guardian first, if not they don't come over. Its really absolutely heartbreaking. I've had bubble machines going, kids on swings, kids on trampolines, kids drawing with chalk in me yard, ect. before while a kid or two just stood outside the fence and sadly watched us play. I pretended not to notice and kept pretending to do lawn work (I pretend not to notice a lot). I don't really know where they go when they're not here but I think most of the parents are rarely home. I'm also not sure about my rules. I think I'm pretty relaxed on most things but I don't feel that comfortable giving in on certain issues, and one of those issues is parental consent (I'm fairly sure some of the parents I can never find would have no problems finding me if their little precious gets a boo-boo or does something here that they don't approve of.). I already worry about what some neighbours might think about the creepy lady having so many kids at her house, although at least now I have a kid so I have an excuse. I really, really worried about it when teen boys came over everyday to play basketball and I was living on my own with no children.

I'm sorry but I just think its incredible the amount of kids that don't have anything better to do than bug me. Although I guess I really don't have my own kid with me all the time so maybe I don't understand. Since my boy doesn't have a dad he spends a lot of time with his grandfather. However even when he's not here I still think about him, miss him (I don't have anyone to play with). But more or less I always know where he is or at least who he is with.

I don't know why but I think I'm a kid magnet. I'm really not that pleasant to be around. I've been out in public many times sometimes with my kid sometimes without and random children will come up and talk to me or ask me for help or even want me to play with them (if I'm places like the park, even if I'm alone). If their parents are there they don't make themselves obvious. The last time I was at the mall (I finally went to the mall again for an egg drop) I was playing with my kid in a little play area. Another kid about his age (6 or 7) came up to us and wanted to play with us... umm, there was no parent in sight. I'm not a child abductor but sometimes I'm afraid that I might look like one (I can see it now... random stranger: "you have such cute kids" me: "they're not mine" random stranger: "who's are they?" me: "don't know". There must be a lot of 'good' people in this world since most of these kids don't go missing.

I was actually shocked by our local library's policy. Unattended kids that come by during school hours are automatically chased out regardless of age. I don't know about sending small children out on the streets but it does make for a more peaceful library.

BTW radical Dorry, my child was once misplaced at the mueseum you work at... sorry about that. He decided to run and hide behind some pettition thingy and didn't understand why we were upset... because he followed the rules and didn't leave the great hall area. I do understand that even with the best of intentions kids can get lost. Also my kid is at the point I'm trying to give him freedom... set him free but spy on him. E.g. he can now play "alone" in the yard... I sit by the window and peak out. Sometimes a child might be more supervised than it appears, and sometimes they are just feral creatures released on society. I try not to rush to judgement (I'm not saying anyone here is either, sometimes its just obvious the parents aren't concerned). But after seeing obvious stupidity I have to occasionaly remind myself that the whole world isn't that neglectful... or at least hope they aren't.

Chim "sorry for writting a novel about this" era

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"The question for joining the protected forum for real magicians should be:

What is the use of women?"
Steve W. from JREF's 'This is no fun'

Posts: 7622 | From: North Carolina | Registered: Aug 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Elkhound
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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Get a written policy, preferably one involving calling CPS and post it prominently. Then follow up.

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"The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart."--Iris Murdoch

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Spamamander in a pear tree
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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Yarrgh. Not much else I can say, as I can't imagine leaving my kids out of sight, with the exception of my oldest (almost 13) who I have allowed to go to the toys or books for a while now, since she was 11 perhaps ... but she is well-behaved and never more than an aisle or two away.

I used to work at Fred Meyer, and I liked the setup we had there. At the larger stores there was a free child-watch up front where you had to check them in, get a bracelet, etc and there was a qualified caregiver. The only door in the front was kid-sized so there was no chance of an adult coming in... they brought your child to you when you came to pick them up. For an hour they could watch videos, color, or play while the parents did their shopping. I think they figured out mom and dad will buy more when they are relaxed and unharried by their small children.

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"There is a race between mankind and the universe. Mankind is trying to build bigger, better, faster, and more foolproof machines. The universe is trying to build bigger, better, and faster fools. So far the universe is winning." -Albert Einstein

Posts: 1058 | From: Yakima, WA | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Little Pink Pill
Little Sales Drummer Boy


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Spamamander, I haven't managed to read your post yet. I'm too busy laughing at your avatar!

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The technical term is narcissism. You can't believe everything is your fault unless you also believe you're all powerful.--House

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Zekaille
I Saw Three Shipments


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Like Babnuts, I work in a library. This thread has stirred up some distressing memories.

Every branch in our system has a BIG sign clearly posting a state law that children under twelve MUST be accompanied by a parent. We might as well tear the signs down for kindling and heat the libraries with them in the winter. Parents will say "Well, Abner (13 year old child) is watching Lisha and Trave (ages 4 and 5)." But Abner is only 13, he is actually playing computer games and ignoring his brother's screams for attention. We stock toys now and spend time reminding the big brothers and sisters they are responsible for their siblings.

It's frustrating. Parents dump children as young as six months with us and then sneak off, reappearing hours later and screaming at us if we have called in the authorities.

This was our big horror story: a family of four kids, plus their several cousins were sitting in our teeny little branch one Saturday. We didn't think much about it. The kids were in every day and we had long since stopped telling their mothers about the law and didn't even call authorities anymore since no one ever showed up to do anything. It was just a typical day.

Then the six year old who had, I'm sorry to say, a reputation for behaving like, oh, a demon from hell, burst into tears. "I want Mommy," he said "I'm hungry." Turns out his Mom and her sister had decided they wanted to go to the Big City for the day. And they didn't trust the kids not to eat all the food in the house. So they kicked them out early and took off. By that time it was after twelve, so my boss took some money out of our slush fund and sent them out to get lunch. No, she didn't call the authorities. We already knew the story with the family and knew that calling anyone would only result in us getting screamed at and the kids suffering. Three of the kids had asthma, but Mom wouldn't let them have their inhalers...when one of them had an asthma attack, I wound up pounding on her door, begging for the inhaler. It wasn't pretty. I was glad when they moved away, not because I didn't like the kids (I did) but it was just too stressful worrying about them constantly. Their guidance counselor and teachers used to come in to sympathize...but nothing could be done.

Some folks will tell us it's because of our location (we're as close to the ghetto as makes no never mind) but I've seen this sort of thing happen in the "upscale, middle class, ritzy" branch. Like the woman who, unhappy with our black and white copy only printers, left her petrified eight year old daughter with us and drove around until she found an office supply store that had what she wanted. She returned forty five minutes after closing and screamed at the head of the branch for calling the police. She wasn't gone THAT long.

NONE of these parents give a d*** about their kids or what their kids do...until something happens and they smell what they think is a lawsuit. Remember the kids who were abandoned all day? Their mother came in and cursed us because her son got beaten up near the library and we didn't help him. She was going to sue and have all of our jobs. Didn't happen. It escaped her notice that her son wasn't IN the library, that the incident didn't happen where we could see it, no one told us and, honestly, that kid was so vicious to us that we couldn't promise we wouldn't have gone out and HELPED.

And then there are the summer camps whose counselors are barely teenagers themselves and, once here where they are supposed to WATCH their little charges, they take off for the romance novels (girls) or computer games (boys) leaving twenty seven to nine year olds to run riot. There was one guy who used to hise out in the back of the stacks and sleep and got pissed with us for waking him up to do his job.

Some days, it breaks my heart and some days I am so angry I want to hurt someone. Mostly, though, all I can do is shake my head, point occasionally to the sign, keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best.

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"Oh, you're nothing but two ears and a hat!"--my (then) 4 year old niece, following an argument with her uncle

Posts: 100 | From: Bridgeport, CT | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Robofication, Lightly Roasted
Jingle Bell Hock


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When a mother confronted me about not watching her children once, I gladly reminded her that I'm an employee of such-and-such company not her personal babysitter.

If nasty trenchcoat man comes in and makes off with your little Johnny--who is wailing, kicking and screaming--I'll obviously run to his aid.

But we all know nasty trenchcoat man is really a fictionalized image of true child abductors. To employees of stores not catering to children (and even those catering to children), abductors look like and could very well be the child's parent (as in, could be a mother or father with a restraining order who violates it and kidnaps his/her own child).

So, in other words, I'm not babysitting your brat. If he/she gets abducted, I feel bad for the child (not the parent; coldhearted, I know), but, honestly, it's the parent's damn fault for hoisting that child on employees who's job is not to pay attention to the child (and/or not teach the child what to do if a stranger approaches them).

It really upsets me that a lot of parents expect you to both do your job AND watch after their child--as if you're a full-time babysitter with a part-time job.

You know, because those other customers or other people who need your help come second to the safety of their child (who they left in your care without asking and under the assumption that you're going to be watching them like a mother hen).

Grrrr.....

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"As convenient as it may be, it's time I started taking responsibility for the messes I've created instead of always blaming everything on the law of entropy"

Posts: 453 | From: Denver, CO | Registered: Apr 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
queen of the bah-caramels
Jingle Bell Hock


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I used to go to a pub which had a sign "Unattended Children Will Be Sold As Slaves".

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Focus On The Family- An opinion group who think more about Gay Sex than gay people do- Rick Mercer

Posts: 590 | From: Rawdon, Quebec | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Pondicherry Pi
Deck the Malls


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I work at a library. As has been noted, it happens all the time.

I rather like the post-it note idea.

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If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket

What the NFBSK is Glurge? Or, a link to Snopes Lingo

Posts: 218 | From: Nashville, TN | Registered: Jan 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
FrogFeathers
Grandma Got Run Over By a Gift Card


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This doesn't just happen at places that have "play areas" for kids or toy sections of stores. My son's first tae kwon do academy had this all the time.

There were signs all over the place: "Your child is welcome to stay for more than one class, but you must ask [instructor's name] each day." and "Please do not leave unattended children in the lobby." (The "lobby" being the area of chairs we parents sat in off the mats).

There were three children's classes- 4 PM, 5 PM, and 6 PM. The academy is in a shopping center with a couple restaurants, the DMV, a Curves and a bar called "The Pitcher's Mound". The anchor store is like a Walmart, except smaller. The parking lot is huge with a Pizza Hut at one end, a KFC at the other and it was next door to a McDonald's and another bar.

People would dump their little kids off- some parents not even bothering to come in with them to make sure they were all the way in the academy before leaving- and not come back till the 7 PM adult class started. And most times, after the first class, the little kids didn't want to participate in the next two classes. I've been stuck putting up with a bored hungry kid that was not my own many times.

There was one incident where a woman came in and asked if we were missing a kid. The couple of us parents who were there said no, that our kids were right there. She said there was a boy (he was around seven) wearing the academy uniform, darting in and out of cars in the parking lot all the way over by the anchor store. We knew exactly who he was- his mother and grandmother dumped him there all the time. I went out there and corraled him back to the academy. He kept saying he had to wait for his ride. I told him to wait inside the academy doors and then go out when they pulled up. My son and I left at 8 PM after the adult class (my son was in the adult class from 11 years old) and that kid was still there.

It happened at that old academy a lot. There was even an older girl who really didn't like martial arts much, but her parents dumped her for all three classes and the new instructor never said a word to them. It was a *cheap three hours of baby-sitting to these people, meanwhile, it was taking away from the quality of training from the other kids because the dumped kids would get bored and start getting disruptive.

I'm so glad my son is fully in the adult class now. If he's attending a child's class, it is because he's teaching. That and the new academy (we've been there for a year and a half) enforces the policy. Of course, there's still a husband/wife who take the class too, and many times dump their 6 and 4 year olds in the lobby area while they train. I told them outright I'm not their babysitter and I'll even leave the academy if they're there.

*the usual fee was $80 a month for a four-day a week program which typically included one class a day and two on Saturday morning. Not bad for 48 monthly hours of "babysitting".

edited to change a repetitive word.

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"Is it ME? Am I a MAGNET for these idiots?"~Pearl Forrester MST3K
Die-Hard Engineers, Big Red One my Dad's website
"Must be a 'snopes' thing..." ~my entire family when I try to explain something.

Posts: 4524 | From: South of Madison, Wisconsin | Registered: May 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Chimera
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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I hate when parents use cheap things that are meant to be fun and/or educational as a baby sitting service. When I was younger I was a CIT at a local Y day camp. Not a single one of the kids wanted to be there. It was like pulling teeth to get them to do anything (although really the only thing I had to get them to do was put on swim attire once a day and spend an hour in the pool area, but that was not an easy task at all... at least I didn't have to make them actually go in the water). Crafts would sit out on tables and the campers would sit around ignoring them. It really didn't matter what the activity was they were going to try their damnedest not to participate. I thought bagging up their "projects" (throw handfuls of suplies in bags) to give to their parents would be a good idea. Then when the parents asked about what they did in camp they could explain "not one damned thing" and they could see it wasn't due to lack of supplies or instructions. The worst part of the story is after they admited they didn't want to be there they also let me know their parents knew quite well that they didn't want to be there. Needless to say I never made it past CIT. I decided I didn't want to be there either. Those kids killed my spirit.
Posts: 7622 | From: North Carolina | Registered: Aug 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Starla
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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Chimera- Isn't the YMCA day camp supposed to be a baby sitting service? I worked at a summer day camp and most of the kids weren't happy to be there, but they were there because their parents didn't get the summer off! Many good parents have to find someone to watch thier child during the summer so they can keep food on the table. Y camp is a good way to go; at least they get some educational activities instead of staying home alone or with a bored babysitter all day every day.

It was my job to make the kids happy to be there and sometimes it was a hard job, but it was what it should have been.

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This used to be the life, but I don't need another one.
MyBandwagon

Posts: 3254 | From: small town Texas | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Spamamander in a pear tree
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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I always thought the YMCA day camps were there for that purpose as well, at least for the most part- gives parents a safe place to take their children who are not old enough to be alone when they aren't in school as well as providing activities. When I was a kid I was in a similar kind of program, except that I think it was sponsored by Campfire... it was a low-cost way for me to spend my summers. They even had early opening/ closing hours for slightly extra so parents who worked long schedules could pick up and drop off. I had a lot of fun there though... poo on the kids who can't get into the activities. That I would blame on them being entertained constantly by television or video games and not wanting to work to actually "do" something.

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"There is a race between mankind and the universe. Mankind is trying to build bigger, better, faster, and more foolproof machines. The universe is trying to build bigger, better, and faster fools. So far the universe is winning." -Albert Einstein

Posts: 1058 | From: Yakima, WA | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
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