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NJ Supreme Court To Decide If Leaving Child In Car Is Bad Parenting Or Criminal

By Jim Melwert

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) - Is it child abuse if someone leaves a toddler in a car to run into a store? That's a question the New Jersey Supreme Court is going to take on.

The case revolves around reckless endangerment charges against a New Jersey mother who left her 19-month-old in her car for five to ten minutes to run into a store for party supplies.

She was arrested when she got back to her car and earlier this year, an appellate court ruled her actions amounted to abuse.

Parents Thursday morning shared their thoughts with KYW Newsradio, including this mother of two:

"I can't see me jumping out and leaving the car on and going shopping or anything like that because anything can happen, it just takes a second," she said.

But she adds while she thinks it's bad parenting, she is not sure it's abuse:

"I still say a warning and I don't think she should have been arrested. That's a bit extreme."

"It's something you don't do as a parent, but, you know, we all make mistakes," this father said.

He says instead of criminal charges, "there could be some fines or something that the judge can require her to go through some type of program to make her a better, responsible parent."

New Jersey's DCF says under no circumstances should a child be left in a car for even a minute -- warning of abduction, dehydration, injury or even death.

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