Java Zen:Thinking Out Loud Thursday, 2017.04.27
What most of us are really in favor of is higher taxes on other people. If we
wanted higher taxes on ourselves, we'd give the money to charity.

		Megan McArdle

2007.06.03

When Napping Is Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Nap

Take a nap, go to jail No rest for the wicked? There will only be rest for the wicked.

A teenage girl could face criminal charges after the two toddlers she was baby-sitting drowned in a nearby pond in a rural Pennsylvania town.

The coroner says the deaths were accidental. But the 18-year-old, who is related to one of the girls, could be held responsible if she is found to have been negligent or reckless.

The baby sitter told state police she put the girls down for a nap Wednesday and took a nap herself. When she woke up, she said the two girls were missing from the house.

There are a few other clichés that could be rewritten to match the sentiment.

It’s a tragedy with potentially far reaching repercussions. I suppose the sitter was negligent, 18 years is certainly old enough to understand the responsibility – or at least it was when I was 18. My sense is that kids these days are more isolated from the ideas of consequences and responsibility. We can thank the shift toward a nanny state mentality in public education and draconian social services for much of this. But Dr. Helen asks:

So, if taking a nap while babysitting turns out to be a crime, what would napping while parenting be called? And if cases like this are prosecuted–isn’t it too dangerous to babysit for anyone, relatives included?

Glenn Reynolds observes:

Everybody wants to demonstrate that they care about kids by ratcheting the standards for parenting and childcare ever-higher. But in doing so we raise the costs of having kids — you can’t even go out, because who’ll babysit if the liability is so extreme? — and that probably does more societal damage.

I also note that when I was on the state’s Juvenile Justice Reform Commission, I heard a lot of child-welfare authorities who testified make the same kind of excuses for the neglect or abuse of children in their care that they refused to accept from parents, etc. — we’re so busy, there’s not enough money, it’s not our fault they live in a building that’s old and unsafe, etc. As Reverend Lovejoy said, when the state does it, it’s not wrong!

I’m not surprised that the same excuses are used by bureaucratic authorities. Government institutions are not made up of socially enlightened people with superior intelligence and impeccable moral vision (although they themselves may think they are such divine beings.) It’s much more likely the wheels are cranked by regular people who have a lot invested in having acquired the position they occupy. So they want to protect their position and do so with regular people excuses. In the worst cases, however, the wheels are cranked by folks matching the lowest common denominator. These people are scariest of all as they will actively work to insure there is a market for their “skills.” What do you suppose the Baby Sitter Police might look like and who would join the force? I can think of a few models in place right now.

[Edit History]

2007.06.06

There’s more to the story (H/T: Instapundit):

A teenager had been up all night drinking at a party before coming home to baby-sit her stepsister and another toddler, who both wandered outside and drowned in a nearby pond while the teen slept, state police said Tuesday.

“OK im finally done drinking and im rocked lol,” she text-messaged a friend — using the shorthand for “laughing out loud” — between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. last Wednesday, police said. A few hours later, the children were dead.

The emerging facts are more than a little disturbing. As it turns out, the teenager is actually 19 years old and is telling conflicting stories. I’ll say it again: “My sense is that kids these days are more isolated from the ideas of consequences and responsibility.”