Does Leaving Your 8-Year-Old Daughter in a Pub Make You a Bad Parent?

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On the same day his government launched a new plan to save "troubled families," the British learned that Prime Minister/Human Monster David Cameron recently left his child alone in a pub on a family outing.

The Sun reported that the incident took a place few month ago when the Cameron family — David, wife Samantha, and their three kids — were having lunch at The Plough Inn, near the Prime Minister's country home. In a screw-up that probably sounds familiar to many parents, Cameron left for home in one car, while his wife left in another, and both assumed that the other had corralled their oldest daughter, Nancy, who was still in the bathroom at the restaurant. They didn't realize until they got home that she the girl wasn't with them, but they quickly called the pub to make sure she was safe and then sped back to pick her up. 

The whole incident lasted about 15 minutes, but should give Cameron's opponents several weeks worth of gentle jabs; particularly as the government pours £448 million pounds in a program meant to identify and help about 120,000 families that the government claims are the biggest drag on the nation's social services. Between health care, welfare, missed school days, police calls, and other social services, those "problem families" drain an estimated £9 billion a year in taxpayer money from the state. Local councils that reach out to those families and get them to cut back on their truancy and other 'anti-social behavior' will receive extra money through the program.

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So does that included families that abandon their children in bars and restaurants? Forgetting about one of your children, even for 15 minutes, might seem like the sign of a thoughtless parent, but it's a fairly common mistake that isn't hard for a busy person to make. (For a busy person with own security detail, it might be another matter, of course, though the BBC says no one from the PM's security team is being punished.) It does make one wonder what kind of reaction they would get if a family being targeted for this program made the same mistake. Forgetting Nancy was definitely not on the level of a leaving a child in the car while you hit up a casino for a few hours, but there's no doubt that the status of the family making the mistake affects how people react to it. Cameron will take some mild political heat from his opponents and sympathy from fellow parents, but is ultimately off the hook for an innocent screw up. Meanwhile, some other parents might getting a gentle reminder from the state to check on their kids. It's is the Nanny State after all.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.