More children dying in hot cars

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News 12 at 11, July 29, 2007

AUGUSTA, GA---16 children have died so far this year across the country, left to die in a hot car. The number of victims is on the rise and a new study finds there may be a reason for it. It's a report every parent needs to hear.

Charity Henderson straps in 2-year-old Regina like a pro. She should know, the mother of six has had a little practice. But, all too often babies like Regina are being forgotten after being safely strapped in.

It's a mistake Charity says she could never imagine making. "Not me. That's the first thing on my mind when i get out is my baby."

That's the answer you would hope to hear from any parent, even the ones who have made the same grave mistake.

A new study shows an alarming trend on the rise more and more children dying from heat related injuries left inside cars across the country. 340 in the last ten years, most left to die by accident.

The reason for the rise in deaths may be right here in the front seat. That's because ten years ago new laws protecting children from air bag related injuries moved car seats to the back, that's when we saw the rise in heat related deaths.

Before the law change, the national average for children dying inside a car was 11 a year. But, from 1998 to 2006 that number jumps to 36 children killed every year.

They're numbers hard to ignore for parents like Charity. "To me I don't think they should have kids back there by them self unless someone is back there with them but that's the law they passed."

But the laws for punishing the people responsible for the children's deaths vary, which also varies how much time they serve, if any.

The study finds the justice system is tougher on moms, than dads.
While both parents are convicted at equal rates, Moms are 26 percent more likely to do time and serve longer sentences.

The study also finds paid help, like day care workers and babysitters are more likely to be convicted than parents. But, they are jailed less and serve half the time of convicted parents.

But serving time behind bars, does not bring back the innocent lives taken to soon. "I hope something changes. I really do." adds Charity.

The study says July is the most deadly month.

And while most of the deaths stemmed from accidents, sadly some of the young victims were killed on purpose. Just last month, an Aiken mother was sentenced after being found guilty of homicide by child abuse. Carla Edwards left her fifteen month old son Zachary in a car in April 2006. Zachary was in a car for nine hours while his mom went to work. She is now serving her 20 year prison sentence.

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