You might recall that back in 1997, a Danish mom was arrested in New York City for leaving her baby in a stroller outside a restaurant while she went inside to have a drink. She claimed false arrest and received over $60,000 in damages. Fast forward 14 years and the same thing happened again in Amherst, Massachusetts.
A mom left a baby outside in a stroller while she went in the Bueno Y Sano eatery to order food, and police were called to the scene. While this woman (whose name has been withheld) was not arrested, Amherst police contacted the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families to file a report of potential abuse or neglect.
Reuters reports that the woman said she “found nothing wrong with the situation” and that it was common in Sweden to leave young children alone outside a restaurant.
The big question looms, who was right? The mom or the police?
I find myself understanding both sides to a certain degree. This mom grew up under the common practice of leaving babies outside in Sweden. While that sounds strange to most of us, it’s completely normal to her. I wonder what it must be like to live in a society so trusting that moms don’t worry about anything happening to their baby outside in the street alone.
But on the other hand, she’s not in Sweden, so she must abide by U.S. customs if she doesn’t want to cause a stir. It’s odd to find a baby on the streets here alone. Naturally, concerned onlookers would call authorities. The police didn’t arrest her (but could have). They left it to the social child welfare agencies to further investigate when they realized it wasn’t a criminal situation.
This case was probably handled in the best way it could have been. One shouldn’t assume that their own customs are practiced in other countries. Of course, it’s possible that she forgot or didn’t even know it would be problematic here.
Was this a case of bad parenting? Or merely a cultural difference? Should one just assume their own cultural ways when in another country? And would you ever leave your baby outside a restaurant alone?
Ever wonder about How They Do Parenting in Japan?