Lay Off the Tanning Mom, Already!

This entire week, I have read stories about the “Tanning Mom” being arrested for burning her 5 year old daughter in a tanning booth.

If you read the headlines and look at the photos of the tan mom, your initial reaction is that she’s guilty.  Why?  Well, first of all, the headlines imply that she is. Unless you read the article, you don’t get any indication that she could be innocent.  And then, there’s her face, which suggests that maybe the tan mom isn’t all there.

But when you read the actual articles and get the facts of the case, the certainty of the charges begin to blur.

How the Tanning Mom Got Arrested

The tanning mom’s fair skinned, red-headed daughter, a 5-year-old, had a sun burn at school.  When asked how she got it, she said, “I went tanning with mommy.”  A teacher over-heard and the nurse called the police.

Tanning Mom was arrested as taking a child that young into a tanning booth is illegal in New Jersey.  She was charged, locked up and later released from jail on $2,500 cash bail.

That is the whole story, according to media sources.  There’s no evidence; there’s no witness testimony that she was seen putting her daughter into a tanning booth.  The only thing they have is the word of a 5-year-old (which is sketchy at best) and the knowledge that the little girl accompanies her mother to tanning at the salon.

According to Tanning Mom (real name Patricia Krentcil), she takes her daughter with her and has her waiting in the room outside of the standing tanning booth.  She insists that she has never, and will never, take her daughter into the booth as she’s too young and fair skinned.

Yet, she is still scheduled to appear in court on charges that frankly wouldn’t stick to super glue.

The Real Reason She Was Arrested…

In my opinion, Krentcil was arrested and charged simply because of how she looks.

“She’s addicted to tanning and looks terrible!  Obviously, it’s true, because she’s mentally unbalanced.”

That, in my opinion, was the thought process.  She’s addicted and looks awful, resulting in a snap judgment, and an unfair one at that.

If you don’t understand my meaning, let me give you a few examples of how this could easily be you in the headlines.

Smoking Dad Arrested for Letting 5-year-old Smoke

Not a real headline, mind you.  But let me give it to you this way.  My husband is addicted to cigarettes.  He hates it and wants to quit, but he can’t.  He smokes several times a day.  He doesn’t smoke around us, especially the kids.

But say our son goes to school one day and has a nasty cough.  His teacher sends him to the nurse, who asks, “Oh no. That’s a nasty cough. Where did you get that from?”

To which he says, “I was smoking with Daddy,” when really he saw his daddy smoking outside and took a pencil to pretend that he was smoking. When he was caught doing this, he was told to not pretend because smoking is bad for you.  Even his father said this to him.

Kids make up stuff all the time.  I remember doing it.  I remember exaggerating everything for attention.  Kids do it. Not all kids, but a lot of kids.  They think it makes them appear cooler or more mature than their friends, or they think it’s funny or a joke.  They don’t know what they’re saying.

Another example for you:

Mother Arrested for Pumping 5-Year-Old Full of Coffee

Coffee isn’t dangerous, but in a little child’s body, if they consume enough, they can become very ill.  Too much caffeine has very undesirable results.

So, maybe I drink to much coffee.  I know I do sometimes.  So much so that I sometimes get the jitters.  I would never give my child coffee, though.

But consider this real world example, for just a moment, when my friend’s 4-year-old son told her that his step-mom gave him coffee.  Naturally, she was confused and a little concerned.  But, instead of freaking out and jumping to conclusions, she knew it’s possible that this was a misunderstanding.  She spoke with her ex-husband and asked him about it.  It turned out that the stepmother and the boy’s father were drinking coffee one morning. The young boy was insistent that he have coffee too.  No matter how much they said no, he kept begging and pleading.

So they gave in…sort of.  They made him a cup of hot chocolate and told him it was “Kid Coffee.”

See how something so innocent can be confused?

The same thing goes for beer and wine?  How many parents give their kids root beer or grape juice and let their kids think they’re drinking real beer or wine?  I remember a lot of parents doing this when I was a kid.  I’m sure it still happens.

I don’t know if the tanning mom is guilty or innocent, but her appearance has made a lot of people assume that she must be guilty.  It’s like assuming that your neighbor covered in tattoos is in a dangerous motorcycle gang; it’s like assuming that the black guy down the street is going to break into your house.  It’s like thinking the Hispanic looking woman at the store is uneducated and stupid just because she hasn’t quite learned how to speak English yet.

But for some reason, even as adults, we forget about prejudice.  And the media has forgotten about “innocent until proven guilty.”

Additionally, and this is something that hits me close to home.  Just because a mother has a mental illness doesn’t mean she’s going to hurt her children.

Arrested Without Cause?

It’s possible there was a severe abuse of power by the police.  If they arrested Patricia K. based on the word of her daughter alone, then I feel that her rights were violated. If they had more evidence to arrest her and charge her, that information hasn’t yet been made public and will during her trial.

But based on the available information, I feel the media and the public are jumping to drastic conclusions and throwing this woman under the bus.

And if that’s the case, then all parents should be deathly afraid.  Because the next time you have a playful wrestling match with your kid and he accidentally gets hurt, he may tell his teacher that you beat the crap out of him.  Next thing you know, you’re hauled away to jail and smeared by the media.

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