Because No Child’s Death Can Go Unpunished

Friday, August 12th, 2011

The insanity continues . . .

The aunt of a Monroe toddler who drowned last week has been charged in connection with the boy’s death.

Felicia Tucker, who was watching the child Aug. 1 when he wandered away and drowned in a nearby lake, was arrested and charged Tuesday with second-degree endangering the welfare of a child, the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office announced Wednesday.

Tucker, 26, faces up to 10 years in prison.

Tucker was watching her 2 1/2-year-old nephew, Joshua Moore, at the home she shared with the boy’s mother when he wandered from the home and drowned in nearby Victory Lake. In a release announcing her arrest, the prosecutor’s office said Tucker “endangered” the child “by allowing him to leave the residence and drown.”

Prosecutor’s spokesman Bernie Weisenfeld said a factor in the case was the finding of a “significant period of time when the child was not supervised.”

A devastated Tucker said she was feeling “extremely guilty” when she talked with a reporter last Friday. Neither Tucker — who was released after being charged — nor the child’s mother, Leanne Tucker, could be reached for comment Wednesday.

Last week, Tucker said she had been doing paperwork in her room the evening of Aug. 1 while Joshua and her 4-year-old daughter played around the house. The boy was discovered missing around 7 p.m. when his 15-year-old brother came home and found the front door ajar.

Tucker searched the area herself before calling police around 8:23 p.m. She found the child floating in the nearby lake about an hour later.

(Via Lenore Skenazy)

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49 Responses to “Because No Child’s Death Can Go Unpunished”

  1. #1 |  JS | 

    I can picture the angry rage filled mob with pitchforks and torches that didn’t get to see Casey Anthony go to prison liking this.

  2. #2 |  Mike | 

    In some tribal societies, whenever someone dies (no matter WHAT the cause – accident, old age, disease, whatever), it is assumed they died because a witch cast an evil spell on them, so there is a search for the witch.

    We do the exact same thing. Only instead of searching for witches, we search for negligence, for culpability, for liability, for someone somewhere who may have made the slightest mistake. Then we crucify them, figuratively.

    Should truly culpable people be punished? Of course. Should people be punished because life happened to them? Only in the diseased mind of promotion-seeking prosecutors and the pirhanna press.

  3. #3 |  Dave Krueger | 

    CNN had a segment yesterday about “at what age do you let your children go outside and play?”. Or something like that. It might have been HLN, but there’s no doubt that the focus was on child abduction (much different than the case here, of course).

    I think there is no doubt that, by today’s standards, my parents were criminally negligent in letting me go outside to play, unattended at age 5 and by age 6 I had free reign in the neighborhood around our apartment located on the very busy Capitol Drive in the Brookfield suburb of Milwaukee. By age 9 I was permitted to go out shooting alone on my uncle’s farm.

    I thank fucking Christ I wasn’t raised in today’s paranoid, child abuse obsessed, society. Living in perpetual fear just can’t help but leave an unhealthy impression on kids.

  4. #4 |  darwin | 

    I see nothing wrong with this. The child died because of her. Of course she endangered the welfare of a child and should be charged. Get serious.

  5. #5 |  efgoldman | 

    Sorry, but a child that age, unless in a safe, confined area (indoors or out) *requires adult supervision at all times.*
    Whether the irresponsible adult should be charged with a ten-year felony (I don’t think so) is a separate issue, but it doesn’t mean her only punishment is her own guilty conscience, either. At the very least, she was irresponsible.

  6. #6 |  Brian | 

    I have a 2 1/2-year-old of my own, and his days are pretty evenly split between eating, sleeping, and trying to discover new and creative ways to injure/kill himself.

    I don’t even want to think about the possibility that there might come a time when I’m not paying close enough attention at the exact wrong moment. And then to imagine some prosecutor piling on in order to advance his career. Awful.

  7. #7 |  Dave Krueger | 

    If only we could, with the wave of a hand, guaranty children a right to grow up. If only we could grant them immunity from the consequences of mistakes that plague every living species on the planet. Oh, wait! We can! We can just outlaw mistakes. Presto! Stupidity can be suddenly eliminated by an afternoon legislative session and all children everywhere will be magically saved. And once they’ve outlawed mistakes, government can take on the really tough challenges like learning how to generate a budget that doesn’t saddle all those children they rescued with a huge debt that they had no part in creating.

    The biggest threat to children doesn’t come from parents.

  8. #8 |  Sinchy | 

    think of it this way- if the child had been in the care of a nanny or day care provider wouldn’t you call them criminally negligent?

  9. #9 |  Highway | 

    efgoldman, the child WAS in a confined area that was thought to be secure. He was inside the house. The aunt’s mistake was not giving the toddler enough credit that they’d open the door. Or maybe she thought she locked it and it wasn’t locked. She wasn’t ‘irresponsible’. The child just did something unexpected.

    Here’s the deal: The child endangered his own life. The child didn’t die ‘because of her’. That’s the exact sort of stupid witch hunt thinking that leads to this bullshit charging. It’s a tragic death, and that’s really terrible. Children have been dying tragically for millenia. It happens and it’s sad. But what’s it gonna do to punish someone else? What’s it going to do to ruin someone else’s life more than it’s already ruined? There was no malicious intent. There was no overt neglect. And what lesson is it going to teach others? That there should never be a time a child should be out of sight *at all*? That’s pathetic. Let’s just continue the current horrid trend of raising old worthless ‘children’ that can’t do anything by themselves at the age of 30.

    Accept the fact that people die, sometimes in ways that could have been prevented if someone knew about it, but through whatever reasons weren’t. It happens.

  10. #10 |  Highway | 

    Sinchy – no, I wouldn’t, because it’s not criminal negligence. Civil suit? Let the parents go for it.

  11. #11 |  JS | 

    Highway “The aunt’s mistake…”

    Exactly! Mistake. Human. Tragic but humans make mistakes. It must seem absolutely foreign to the “American way of life” or something but putting the aunt in a cage for ten years is probably not the best way to deal with something like this. But of course the most bloodthirsty punitive people outside the taliban can’t be expected to understand that.

  12. #12 |  Jay | 

    This was an terrible accident, not a criminal act. #ProsecutorsFAIL

  13. #13 |  KBCraig | 

    efgoldman wrote:

    Sorry, but a child that age, unless in a safe, confined area (indoors or out) *requires adult supervision at all times.*

    Oh, hogwash. Name for me one parent who has ever maintained constant visual supervision of a child, up to whatever arbitrary age you care to choose. Everyone has to sleep now and then! “While the child’s sleeping doesn’t count!”, you say? Newsflash: children wake up, sometimes without sounding an alarm. I’ve seen several of these “child endangerment” cases where the supervising adult took a nap at the same time as the child; the child woke up and wandered away from the house.

    At 26 months, my second youngest son was happily playing in his room, with the door open, while his mother was cleaning the house. It was the first cool day of September, so she opened the windows to air out the house. She was back and forth in front of his open bedroom door, then noticed he wasn’t there any more.

    He pushed out the window screen, crawled out, and toddled off down the street where a local fireman found him sitting on a neighbor’d porch playing with some puppies (this was less than 15 minutes after she noticed him missing and called 911).

    Other than the difference in outcomes, this was exactly the same level of “endangerment” linked to above. Should she have faced criminal prosecution instead of just “her own guilty conscience”? I don’t believe so, and it’s my own son.

  14. #14 |  Irving Washington | 

    We have to charge her because punishing her will:

    1. rehabilitate her from being a poor care giver for children,
    2. compensate her victim, and
    3. deter similarly situated care takers from similar behavior.

    I don’t see what choice we have.

  15. #15 |  jnc | 

    It is “insane” for society to have laws requiring the supervision of 2 1/2 and 4 years olds?

  16. #16 |  JS | 

    KBCraig “At 26 months, my second youngest son was happily playing in his room, with the door open, while his mother was cleaning the house. It was the first cool day of September, so she opened the windows to air out the house. She was back and forth in front of his open bedroom door, then noticed he wasn’t there any more.”

    True story-when my brother was 3 he wandered off for about 15 minutes and came back with a cow! Nobody ever really knew where he went or how he got the cow.

  17. #17 |  Aresen | 

    efgoldman:

    Unless you have divine attributes, you are going to make mistakes.

    A mistake is not equivalent to wilful neglect, otherwise every person who has been the responsible driver in a car crash would have to go to prison for “endangerment”, so would every person who has dropped a heavy object from a height of over 10″, so would every person who has knocked someone else over while running – the list goes on.

    Virtually every person has done one or more of these things. Unless you want to put the entire population in prison, you have to accept that mistakes happen and move on.

  18. #18 |  Leah | 

    #6 Brian – Right there with you. 2.5 year olds do nothing but shock you constantly with the new ways they can find to try to off themselves.

  19. #19 |  Matt | 

    So I’d like to know who benefits from throwing someone in prison for this (besides the state)? Why do they need to be thrown in prison? Are they a danger to society? If they aren’t, why are they in a cage? What possible good could come from locking them up?

  20. #20 |  jnc | 

    The far more disturbing thing about this story is the people without any knowledge of key facts are ready to spout off.

    I didn’t see anything in the blog post or the underlying article about how long these kids were unsupervised. Was she “doing paperwork in the bedroom” for 5 minutes before she noticed the 2 1/2 year old was gone? Or was it three hours?

  21. #21 |  JS | 

    Matt #19 “So I’d like to know who benefits from throwing someone in prison for this (besides the state)? ”

    Nancy Grace. Seriously though, think of the only ones who will be punished-the family. They’ve already lost a baby to a tragic mistake and now they lose another loved one to the bloodthirsty cruel government.

  22. #22 |  Judas Peckerwood | 

    @#3 “Living in perpetual fear just can’t help but leave an unhealthy impression on kids.”

    What it does is make frightened people thankful that their police-state/nanny-state overlords are keeping them safe by whatever means necessary.

  23. #23 |  Laura Victoria | 

    Ordinary negligence has become criminalized. #10 is correct. Our civil law provides the right to compensation via a lawsuit for damages. That serves as deterrent, punishment, and compensation to the victim – just as it would had the child died in an auto accident.

  24. #24 |  Perosna non grata | 

    Prosecutor’s spokesman Bernie Weisenfeld said a factor in the case was the finding of a “significant period of time when the child was not supervised.”

    It reads as if the “prosecuter” has gone a significant period of time with out being supervised.

  25. #25 |  Warren Bonesteel | 

    So, we support personal responsibility and accountability or we decide to allow irresponsible and un-accountable people to kill little kids through negligence.

    it is an ‘either/or’ question, folks.

    Little kids need constant supervison, folks. If the adults in their lves aren’t going to take responsibility for supervising those little kids, what are the options?

  26. #26 |  Don Lloyd | 

    It is a near certainty that greater than 90% of all prosecuters, DAs, etc. have, either intentionally or not, committed acts in office that, by this standard, should call for a public hanging.

    Regards, Don

  27. #27 |  Stephen | 

    Holy crap! I guess my parents deserved the death penalty for letting me wander around in the Amazon jungle starting at about age 7. Snakes, alligators, big cats, poisonous insects, piranhas, etc. I did this while only wearing shorts and carrying a machete and a stick. The jungle started about 40 feet from my back porch.

    Of course by then I could already swim like a frog because I learned to swim about the same time I learned to walk. They threw me in the water a lot when I was younger because the whole place flooded for several months every year and all the houses were on stilts or large chunks of balsa wood.

  28. #28 |  Gordon | 

    #16 | JS,

    So he was a cattle rustler, eh? Git a rope!

  29. #29 |  Brandon | 

    This is an extension of the fear parents feel that something will happen to their own children. If every death or injury has a cause, has someone to blame, then they are all preventable. No parent likes to consider that something may happen to their children that is simply unavoidable. So they look to punish someone for every incident, so that they can tell themselves that because THEY would never behave so irresponsibly, nothing bad can possibly happen to their own children. And the prosecutor is just a bloodthirsty whore who is all too happy to take advantage of the parents’ fears.

  30. #30 |  ricketson | 

    “Joshua was the third young boy to drown in Gloucester County this year.”

    While we’re on the topic of witch hunts…this county must be cursed!

  31. #31 |  Bronwyn | 

    Not 3 weeks ago, I explicitly instructed my then 7 month-old to be the first of my children to NOT fall from a piece of furniture (first child: couch and bed; second child, not to be second in anything: changing table and STAIRS). Twenty-four hours later, wee Liam crawled out of his bassinet, onto my bed, then off the bed to the floor. Wait, since when can you crawl? Oh, since NOW.

    Raised the side of the bassinet, lectured the child (no, I don’t know why either), then a few days ago he climbed THAT hurdle and fell to the floor again.

    We are lucky and I am a fool for underestimating my children’s abilities to endanger themselves. Maybe the as-yet hypothetical child #4 will be the charmed one?

    Now I’ll await the knock on the door from CPS, as I’m sure at least one of you has already called.

  32. #32 |  Bronwyn | 

    I’m not sure I agree with your assessment, Brandon…

    No parent likes to consider that something may happen to their children that is simply unavoidable. So they look to punish someone for every incident, so that they can tell themselves that because THEY would never behave so irresponsibly, nothing bad can possibly happen to their own children.

    No parent likes to consider it, but it plagues my dreams. I know it’s not irresponsibility. It’s the fact that these things happen in a split second of inattention, and we catch ourselves in such moments all the time. When you find you’re driving on autopilot, or when you simply trip on something, drop a glass, cut your finger. It’s the exact same sort of lapse that, sometimes, results in unfathomable tragedy. It’s the same thing that has caused children to fall into cooking fires or wander into the woods in the night throughout human history.

    This isn’t something that can be fixed by prison or even by helicopter parenting.

  33. #33 |  Chris Bray | 

    No child’s death can go unpunished, unless she’s Aiyana Stanley-Jones. By the common prosecutorial rules, that one can be ignored for a good long while.

  34. #34 |  Stephen | 

    Protecting your children too much actually can harm them!

    Teaching them on the other hand is good. Sometimes you need for them to get scared in order for them to learn. Throw them in the pool at a young age at a time when you are there and can rescue them. Then they learn and you don’t need to worry about that danger anymore. This should be done really early in their life. Somewhere around 3 or 4.

    If you can’t swim well enough to rescue them, why the hell can’t YOU swim?

  35. #35 |  marco73 | 

    This is a terrible tragedy, but with just the facts related I can’t see how this rises to the level of a felony.
    Children are amazingly able to defeat many “childproof” measures.
    One of my children, at 18 months, was able to raise and lower the crib side, and get herself onto the floor, completely silently. More than once, we’d think she was asleep in the crib, and she would walk into the living room.
    She was also able to open cabinets with “childproof” latches. She was able at roughly 2 1/2 to open the front door, even with a “childproof” door knob installed. We finally had to deadbolt and chain the door to keep her inside.
    Somehow she grew up. But if I had turned my back and she got out the front door, to a tragic end, would that make me a felon? I pray not.

  36. #36 |  Adam | 

    I normally agree with everything posted on this site, but I don’t think this qualifies as “insane.” Ten years is massive overkill to me but it’s not blindingly obvious to me that we should just say that mistakes happen and let’s move on. As someone said before, if she was a child care worker it would be a different story. Or what if when faced with the child’s death she shrugged, said “That’s life” and went back to whatever she was doing?

    These are counterfactuals and I’m taking it for granted that she genuinely feels terrible about what happened. There’s a very reasonable case to be made that the state shouldn’t get involved. But it’s not an open and shut one, like 99% of what we read about here.

  37. #37 |  Ariel | 

    “Constant supervision”, eh? So, at what age did you not drag your child in to watch you use the toilet? Was it 6, or 8, or was it 10? Don’t tell me you went in by yourself and left that child unattended? Did you sleep while your child slept? Certainly, the child slept only in your bed, on the off chance he’d awake while you slept? Or did you fail to give your child “constant supervision”?

    Trust me, you only think you can live up to that standard.

    This used to be called “smothering” and created frightened, neurotic children from frightened, neurotic parents. Now it’s supposed to be proper parenting and will create well-adjusted, (even trivially) adventuresome adults who can deal with life’s uncertainties without running to mommy or daddy. Right.

    None of this addresses whether that woman was truly “negligent”. The question is when does “negligence” start?

  38. #38 |  Babs Mags | 

    God this is awful. Aunt was left with her nephew to watch and 4 year old while she went and cleaned an office or did work or school work or whatever. Wow I left my 4 and 2 year old together all the time in front of a tv or in front of toys and every so often, you would go and check on them. But then there was the time I fell asleep exhausted and my sons ended up in the yard playing while I napped. Shameful and nothing bad happened. Would I have been in jail for 10 years away from my other children if something bad did happen. I would hope not. No way can anyone be expected to watch over children 24/7. We all have moments where we lose track of time and our children are 24/7 possibly at risk of death or injury but we are human and we are full of fault. There was no malice and no intent. It’s a horrible circumstance that the aunt and family must live with for the rest of their lives. think of the 4 year old daughter and what will happen to her if mom goes to jail and she feels guilt for ignoring the 2 year old? Yes that is what would happen. She has already been prosecuted within herself and it’s a sad accident. Nothing will be served putting her in prison…. Prison is not going to help anyone… psychologist is what’s needed. God bless the whole family.

  39. #39 |  JS | 

    Ariel ” So, at what age did you not drag your child in to watch you use the toilet? Was it 6, or 8, or was it 10?”

    Which would then make you a sex offender for exposing your naughty bits to a child. So clearly the solution is more government, maybe cameras in evert room of the house and a new massive bureacracy to hold parents accountable or something.

  40. #40 |  divadab | 

    Perhaps the solution is for the government to take charge of all children for their own protection from the potential negligence of their parents. Facilities could be built in every town to provide constant supervision 24-7 and ensure that this kind of tragedy never recurs.

    We must be protected from ourselves at all costs and punished if we break any rule by the all-knowing benevolent agents of Homeland Security. Because that’s our government’s job – to keep AMericans safe – our cardboard Emperor Obama says so all the time on teevee.

  41. #41 |  JS | 

    That’s it Divadab! We need to make parenting illegal. It’s for the children.

    Oh, and it was Bush who first said that Americans are going to need to give up some of their freedoms for safety. Obama’s just following in Bush’s footsteps and continuing it.

  42. #42 |  croaker | 

    Helicopter parents are created by government thugs such as these.

  43. #43 |  Kristen | 

    Anyone who has children in this day and age is taking a pretty big risk of ruining their own life. It’s the #1 reason I will never have kids, and never wanted them. Call me a selfish beyotch, but perpetuating my and a partner’s DNA just ain’t worth it.

  44. #44 |  JS | 

    Kristen if I were going to have kids I’d go live in another freer country.

  45. #45 |  Bronwyn | 

    JS, I’m tempted every day. Where is this mythical, freer country? I looked very seriously at Costa Rica, but the bugs are HUGE. Not sure I could handle that.

  46. #46 |  JS | 

    Bronwyn I used to work in the Caribbean and South America and most of the countries I’ve been to the people had far more personal freedom than America. it’s nothing personal its just that for me I liked it better there. When I scrape up enough money I’m emigrating.

  47. #47 |  2nd of 3 | 

    “Prosecutor’s spokesman Bernie Weisenfeld said a factor in the case was the finding of a “significant period of time when the child was not supervised.”

    I believe the charges are appropriate. The jury should decide if she was criminally neglegent (was she out of the room 5 minutes or 5 hours?) or if this was just an unfortunate mistake, or maybe something inbetween, but this doesn’t sound like a witch hunt to me.

  48. #48 |  William | 

    Two weeks ago my wife saved the life of a child who had wandered away from a group at a local park. The little girl was flailing wildly in the water as we were getting out of the car. My wife heard the screams first and dove into the water after her and pulled her to the lake shore. After we knew the child was going to be ok, we did nothing to report the incident for this very reason. It was terrifying enough for those parents and that little girl without traumatizing them further with unwarranted scrutiny. As the father of three children.

  49. #49 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Because No Child’s Death Can Go Unpunished”

    You mean unless the kid’s head gets exploded by a SWAT d-bag’s round because he can’t keep his booger hook off the bang switch, right?

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