December 29, 2015 9:49 am

Controversial decisions, hot cars put focus on parents in 2015

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A number of North Americans made questionable parenting decisions over the course of 2015. Many turned out to be illegal and, in some cases, incredibly alarming. From department store scraps to a cardboard box car seat, here’s a brief list of jaw-dropping parental incidents covered by Global News in 2015.

“Johnny, punch her in the face!”


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Amber Stephenson, 34, was charged with neglect of a dependent and contributing to the delinquency of a minor in June after footage surfaced online of her involvement in a Walmart brawl.

“Johnny, punch her in the [expletive] face,” she was heard saying to her son after taking issue with another woman in the store.

The two women tussled their way into an aisle while Johnny punched his mother’s combatant and used shampoo bottles as a weapon.

When an onlooker asked him to stop, they were greeted with “I’m not playing – you can’t tell me to stop,” the boy declared.

Kids in hot cars possibly the most alarming trend of the summer

Children and pets become victims of vehicular heatstroke every summer. While the Canada Safety Council indicates that no stats are currently available for Canada, an average of 37 people, since 1998, die each year in the United States in related incidents. Experts say it can happen to anyone.

The most popular Global News “hot car” stories ended without death.

A mother’s anguish and regret was on full display after an Oklahoma police officer told her she had left her one-year-old daughter inside a hot car for over an hour. A couple had discovered the lethargic child, covered in sweat, fighting a car’s temperature nearing 50 degrees Celsius, according to police.

The mother, Hannah Secondi emerged from a store after police arrived.

“You need to call [your husband] and have him come here right now because you’re going to jail,” a police officer told the mother.

“Yes sir,” Secondi replied. “I’m so sorry.”

A two-year-old New Jersey girl was rescued from her family’s hot van after citizens recognized the parking lot emergency and acted quickly. Police officers arrived, smashed a window and saved the child. Moments later, her mother appeared and was chided by an officer after trying to apologize.

“No ‘Sorry!’ She could have died!”

The mother was arrested. Her other children were placed in the custody of their father.

A shoe store manager was praised after a toddler was rescued from a parked car in Kansas that had an internal temperature of 43 degrees Celsius.

Sarah Oropeza, and a group of pedestrians, used multiple objects to smash a window and save the crying, sweat-drenched child.

A couple soon arrived and claimed the girl was their niece and they had been gone only four minutes. They were charged with child endangerment.

More tragic incidents include a mother who hit the bar while her kids were stuck in the car, an eight-month-old who was left nearly 10 hours trapped and a mother who frantically called 911 after discovering her baby had been left in a car and died.

The biggest head-scratcher was probably the mother who allegedly left her kids in a car while she turned herself in to authorities for leaving her kids in a hot car.

Drinking while parenting

Alcohol affects the body and should be taken seriously no matter your age. But at least two families made separate headlines for one relative’s lack of caution.

A nine-year-old Toronto area boy became an “unsung hero” in November for reporting his mother’s drunk driving to police – while he was still in the van with her.

“It’s an unbelievable situation where he has the wherewithal to make that call to 911 and stop basically an emergency or a crime in progress even though it’s his mother,” said York police Const. Andy Pattenden.

The vehicle was tracked down and the mother’s blood-alcohol level was determined to be twice the legal limit.

Meanwhile, 20-year-old Florida native Angelina Lopresti clung to a wall in June after driving her car into the Halifax River. What she told police caused a serious commotion.

“They’re in the car. They’re not breathing,” Lopresti could be heard saying. “Please, those are my kids, those are my kids.”

But nobody was inside the sinking car. Both her kids were found asleep in their beds at home. Lopresti eventually admitted to being “[expletive] drunk” and was slapped with child neglect charges.

“My wife is gonna beat her!” father says while son watches

Police on New York’s Long Island began a search for a woman in April after video surfaced that showed her viciously beat another woman during a parking spat.

Footage of the incident appeared to show the woman’s husband egg her on repeatedly and announce his wife was “gonna beat her [expletive]!”

The effect on the couple’s son was apparent when, moments later, the boy could be heard screaming “Mom! Stop it!”

You fight, I’ll run!

Police near San Francisco were forced to spend the end of November on the lookout for 34-year-old Rosalina Medina. The California mother had been stopped by Target security under suspicion of shoplifting. The guards had allegedly witnessed Medina and her 11-year-old daughter stuffing items in a bag.

Moments later, the Oakland native instructed her daughter to lash out and then fled. Police reported the child bit a guard on the shoulder while her mother abandoned her.

Bringing a gun to your daughter’s fight

33-year-old Viridiana Alvarez was charged with aggravated assault in February after showing up at a fight her daughter was involved in with a gun.

Alvarez’ daughter and 14-year-old Victoria Myers were apparently quarelling over a boy. Cellphone footage appeared to, at one point, show Alvarez point the firearm at the head of her daughter’s challenger.

“My stomach dropped,” Victoria’s father, Ted Myers, said about the moment he saw the footage.

Are cardboard boxes a substitute for child car seats in Alberta?

RCMP Sergeant Darrin Turnbull pulled over a speeding vehicle in June. As he approached the car, he found a pre-school boy using a cardboard box in place of a car seat.

“As I talked to the driver, I noticed the cardboard box was moving,” explained Sgt. Turnbull. “I asked what was in the box — and I was shocked when I saw a child’s hand pop out and wave.”

The driver was charged with speeding and with failing to properly secure a child in a motor vehicle.

WANTED on Craigslist: A newborn baby for my 14-year-old

Forsyth County Sheriff Duane Piper told media that Georgia native Elaine Williams, 47, posted a Craigslist ad requesting a newborn baby be dropped off inside a “baby box.”

It was alleged her teen daughter really wanted a child and Williams’ ad was the mother’s response “rather than guiding and helping raise her 14-year-old daughter.”

The mother-daughter combo took the ad very serious. They had a crib, formula, diapers and gifts all ready to go. The girl was slapped with undisclosed charges while Elaine was charged with Domestic-Unlawful Advertisement/Inducement for Adoption of Children.

Lip-syncing your child’s tantrum in a selfie video

Jennifer Aprea made headlines around the world in May after posting a video of herself lip-syncing her four-year-old daughter’s tantrum before bed.

The California mom was waiting for Danielle to brush her teeth when she lost it. Aprea said, at the time, that tantrums were now a thing of the past after showing her daughter the video.

Like taking candy from a neighbour

Nathan Brown’s social experiment went viral hours after the Jack-o-Lantern lights went out following Halloween. The hidden camera idea was to see what type of candy portions children would take. After placing a treat-filled bowl on an empty porch, his neighbour and her son visited his home.

A sign read, “Help yourself, but please be considerate.”

Footage showed the woman ask her son to “take more” after other kids had left. They did take more – all of it, in fact.

— With files from Melissa Ramsay and Elton Hobson

© 2015 Shaw Media

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