Wichita Police are investigating the case of a one-year-old found left alone in an apartment closet Tuesday with no air conditioning.
Police say they've seen several cases like this in recent weeks. The experts say sometime the parents don't know any better. Many parents might have a hard time understanding this parenting expert's opinion. But she says some parents don't realize the harm they're causing when they make certain decisions.
"Who knows what could've happened," said Mike Zimmerman, one of two maintenance workers who found the child. "I mean, he was in there with no bottle, no juice, no water."
Zimmerman entered the apartment to check on air conditioning repairs. It was 90-plus degrees inside. That's when he found the baby boy on the floor of a closet.
Police say when the child's mother returned she didn't understand what she'd done wrong. They say she'd taken the father to work and says she was only gone for 30 minutes. Police say she said she's done this on a daily basis. Police say that's unacceptable.
"Some things seem so obvious that aren't really that obvious until you've been trained," said Melanie Miller Garrett, a clinical social worker and parenting expert.
Miller Garrett says many parents don't having proper training. They either didn't have good home lives when they were young or they don't have anyone they can ask for help now.
"I think parents have so many competing responsibilities they think, 'Well, when they sleep, I can just run that errand. I can just get that done," Miller Garrett describes.
Joyce Warin deals with the result of serious parenting mistakes. She's a foster parent. She says sometimes the signs of neglect or abuse can be subtle. But, if a child's reactions seem off, pay attention.
"I've never seen a kid that didn't go through the toy department that didn't want something," Warin said. "When I see one that goes through the toy department and they're just... they go through and they don't ask for this, they don't want to see that, they don't want to touch this. They don't. Why?"
Zimmerman felt the same way when he opened that closet door.
"He wasn't crying or anything. He was just laying there," Zimmerman said about the baby boy.
The child is now with his grandparents. There's no word yet on charges but police say if the parents get custody again there will be education offered first.
Miller Garrett says the key is parental training, learning to always think about what's best for the child and the child's safety. There are a number of free parenting classes offered here in Wichita. A quick call to the United Way's 211 hotline can put you in contact with one of them.
If you think you know of a child who's being abused or neglected you can call the state hotline at 1-800-922-5330. It's staffed 24/7.