Parents publicly shamed for leaving baby in restaurant booth

A video of baby 'left alone' while its parents joined the buffet line went viral – but should it ever have been posted?

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Wow. One minute, you pop out to a restaurant, with your partner and small baby; the next minute, social services and the police get involved.

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That’s what happened to a US couple when a stranger’s video of their baby being ‘left alone’ in a restaurant booth went viral on Facebook.

The original video’s since been removed but you can get the gist of it from this news footage…

And here’s what went down. Mum and dad leave their seats in a Chinese restaurant in Sandusky, Ohio, to get their food from the buffet – leaving baby in their booth, strapped into a car seat. They say they were keeping an eye on their baby the whole time.

But a man, unrelated to the family, at the next table was not happy that they’d left their child, and recorded footage of the baby alone. It ended up going viral on Facebook, to the tune of 4 million views.

The parents have faced a huge amount of criticism online as a result – and, it’s been reported by Fox8 News, social services are investigating and the police are using the video to see if there’s any evidence of child endangerment.

Hmmmm.

This is a really tricky one. Of course you shouldn’t leave your little one alone completely – goes without saying – but there are clearly 2 sides to this story.

The man who did the filming apparently says the baby was ‘abandoned’ for 4 minutes; the mum says her baby was never really left unattended because she had her eye on the baby the whole time. She further claims the man purposefully filmed the footage from an angle that makes it seem like neither parent is anywhere near the baby.

It’s certainly true that we can’t actually see, from the video, how far away the buffet line was. We can just see dad coming back to the table. 

But, even if we could, it’s not like there’s a set of guidelines saying, ‘It’s OK for you to be X number of centimetres – but no further – away from your child.’

And as SheKnows pointed out, if the man filming was so disturbed at the thought of the child being left in the booth, he could’ve just as easily told the parents himself – or even offered to keep an eye on the baby.

But we kind of see the other side, too.

Surely the parents could have taken it in turns to go up to the buffet? That way, the baby would never have been left alone. And, when you see something you disagree with, it’s totally natural to want to argue your side – and social media provides an outlet to do that.

But it is a very public outlet. Taking photos and videos to parent-shame people doesn’t really solve the issues they’re designed to showcase… it usually just shoves the parents into the public eye and into a whirlwind of judgement and abuse.

Have your say

Do you think this man was right to post the video? Or do you understand where the mum’s coming from?

Is it ever OK to step away from your baby – even if you’ve still got your eye on them?

Let us know on Facebook and Twitter.

Images: Video still via Ooyala player

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