Toddler Calls 911 Sixteen Times; Mom Could Go to Prison

toddler calls 911

Jessica May, an Astoria, Oregon mom, may end up paying a hefty price for letting her toddler play with her phone. Jessica’s one-year-old daughter apparently has a penchant for playing with mommy’s phone and calling 911. This has happened one too many times and the local police department has issued Jessica May a citation.

In fact, the toddler has done it 16 times in 2013 alone; nine times in January and 7 times last Thursday. In case you are wondering, no not one of those calls was for an actual emergency. The toddler simply likes to play with mommy’s phone, like many kids do and somehow always accidentally calls 911.

Most of us have accidentally called someone before; a rogue butt dial or our kid has called someone back accidentally. It’s embarrassing for sure but when you accidentally call 911 you are tying up the line and someone’s life could depend on getting through to dispatch.

The Astoria police have repeatedly warned Jessica May to keep the phone out of her daughter’s reach but still the false 911 calls are continuing. Frustrated and probably a little annoyed with Ms. May, after this last onslaught of calls in one day, the officers issued a citation for abusing 911. If she is convicted she could face up to a year in prison and $6000 fine.

Ms. May says she was in the bathroom when the toddler last accessed her phone and made the 7 calls in one day. It sounds like a bunch of excuses to me and why was a one-year-old left alone unattended? I still don’t get to pee in peace and my kids are 5 and 7. I would never leave a toddler alone in another room.

Maybe Ms. May should simply consider keeping her phone out of her toddler’s reach and maybe trying to explain to her that playing with mommy’s phone is a no-no. I think the citation was completely warranted. If it only happened once, that would be an understandable accident but the fact that it keeps happening shows a lack of respect for the 911 system, the time of the officers who have to respond and lack of care for the people who actually need 911’s help.

Do you think this mom should be held accountable for her toddler’s misuse of 911?

Image via Flickr



What do you think?

Toddler Calls 911 Sixteen Times; Mom Could Go to Prison

Deborah Cruz, @TruthfulMommy, is the creator of The TRUTH about Motherhood, an often humorous and brutally honest look at motherhood. She's a writer, a wife, and a work-at-home Mommy who's trying to do it all well. She live in the Midwest with her 2 little girls and her husband. She has a lot of degrees from a bunch of schools but mostly spends her days shuttling people under the age of 7, while trying to maintain her sanity and she wouldn't have it any other way. She talks a lot. She ... More

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  1. Erica says:

    yes this is a huge problem but even with me and how i have called the police multiple times when i was younger my mother was never in danger of serving time for my actions. the police ended up taking it into their hands and sitting me down with my parents and having a talk with me like mature people.

  2. nichole says:

    i think jail time is dumb for something like this, but i definitely agree with the fine. even if it is outrageous. its not like it was just a one time, maybe even two time thing. it was a constant thing, i mean, 7 times in one day! i never let my kids have my phone at one, they are told they are not allowed to touch it. and yes, i know a one year old isnt going to fully understand that, theres also high shelves and such, a pants pocket….. i mean, you cant tell me this woman doesnt have one surface in her home that is high enough her child cant reach whats ontop of it. its time to be responsible for your childs actions. regardless of the kids age.

  3. Mine says:

    Hmm, she said she was in the bathroom the day her child called and connected to 911 seven times….. Either she should see a doctor or seek a rehab would be my opinion. Honestly I could understand maybe accidently once or twice but not in the same day, month, etc. Keep your phone put up or on your person. 911 has a purpose and its not for anyone/your child to check your phones calling abilities or to interfere with real emergencies. Sadly though she seems to be putting the blame onher child and will probably punish the child leaving a negative impact towards calling 911 in a real emergency…. I hope this won’t be the case. I

  4. sherrick says:

    I’m surprised that not one person involved in warning this woman thought to say "keep your phone in your pocket and give your kid a toy phone or old phone with no battery to play with."

  5. Yee says:

    The toddler called "nine times in January and 7 times last Thursday". The mom should of stopped it the first time and took the phone away from the boy. I think she should be fined but going to jail is wrong.

  6. DarleneERuby says:

    That’s just stupid. My kids have called 911 while I was sitting in the same room as them because the lock screen has that emergency call button that automatically dials 911. The 911 dispatcher called me back and I explained what happened and they were very understanding. I understand that that many times in one day is ridiculous, but these cops should have a bit more compassion for a mother of a 1 year old. Most one year olds barely understand the word no, let alone "you can’t play with that" Sure, give her a small fine, but sending her to jail or fining her 6000 dollars is just ridiculous! It’s not like she did it on purpose.

    • Wiley says:

      It’s not like she did it on purpose? I really don’t understand your line of reasoning. No, you don’t blame the child for calling 911. No, they don’t understand the severity of what they did or even understand they did anything wrong. But it’s the parent’s job to keep the phone away from the child. If my kids ever did that once I would be horrified and certainly would not leave my cell phone in the child’s reach again because it would be on my mind from then on whenever I went to set my phone down. Using your reasoning, the parent could have left an open bottle of ammonia and an open bottle of Clorox out within the child’s reach and when the child dies, “Oh, but she didn’t do it on purpose.” It is the parents job to take care of their children, to think for their children, and make sure they don’t get into things that they shouldn’t get in to. Everyone makes mistakes and one or two 911 calls should be excused but continually over and over, day after day? I strongly suspect that if children’s services were to inspect her home, they would find a very unsafe environment.

  7. Naomi says:

    I think she should absolutely be held accountable. Sometimes it takes drastic measures to get through to some people.

  8. Heather says:

    Honestly, I think a $6,000 fine is a bit steep, but I do agree she should be fined something to get it in her head. Jail time for this, no. It would mess this family up and think of the toddler; being taken away from mommy, living with others without her, then going back to her once mommy is released. Emotional trauma. My daughter has called 911 on accident with my phone, and I had a talk to her saying that those specific numbers were only to be used if she couldn’t get an adult to call. She only 2 but I think she got the concept and this is a conversation I will be going over every year. That being said, she should have her phone out of reach and use an old cell phone w/o a battery or a fake toy phone

  9. Aiden says:

    Kids loves cellphones, put it somewhere they cannot reach it

  10. JoeBloggs says:

    Jail is inappropriate. Fines are usually unfair as normally they are a flat-fee which is peanuts to a billionaire yet a crippling amount for the person whose finances are like balancing on a tightrope.

    The UK had earnings-related fines for a short while but the rich kicked-up so much that the scheme was phased-out after about a year. One amusing case involved a very wealthy man from Sweden who brought his car with a defective number plate across on the ferry. I seem to remember that he was fined about £2500!

    Perhaps the Court should advise the woman to get a different phone. The Samsung 1150 flip phones are so small that they are easy to carry even in a small pocket. As the buttons are covered-up these phones do not redial from the pocket. In actual fact they never ever redial by themselves which is more than can be said for the greatly despised candy-bar type.

    A few dollars spent now might save thousands in the long run.

  11. Barbara says:

    Children are terrible about cellphones keeping them from taking it is a job in itself.

  12. KWRAY says:

    I would like to note, since it’s mentioned in so many people’s comments, that the cblogger didn’t say that her children are in the room with her when she goes to the bathroom. She said, "I still don’t get to pee in peace and my kids are 5 and 7." She went on to say she would never leave a toddler alone in another room. I think it goes without saying that parents have left children alone in a room when they are in a safe place (high chair, play pen, crib, etc) but we’re talking about a toddler having access to a phone which would suggest the child was out and about, able to walk around and grab at things that have potential danger. This child was able to get to his mom’s phone. Was it in a purse on the ground? Did the child climb up onto furniture to gain access? The point the writer is making is that the child was obviously left in a possibly unsafe environment unattended which any parent will agree is a terrible idea and potentially hazerdous for the child. Just saying…

  13. TheresaM says:

    Should she be fined? Yes. 911 is serious and she needs to take the situation seriously. Once, sure, kids do it. Twice, make sure your child doesn’t have access to dial out. Should she face jail time? No. That’s only going to hurt her child in the long run. A one-year-old won’t understand why Mommy’s gone all of a sudden. For those who don’t know: even a locked a cell phone will dial 911, as will any chorded landline in any home, whether there is a registered phoneline in place or not. It’s an emergency system we have in place for just that reason, an emergency. As for the bathroom issue: really? Do your kids shower with you too? C’mon. If they’re in a safe place then you can urinate by yourself. Also, for the people saying they shouldn’t play with the phone: my son is 1 and plays with his Fisher Price apps with no problems. It’s merely like an animated flash card. iPhones now have a feature called "Guided Access" that lets you lock it onto the app you want your child using. Look into it before judging.

  14. Sherri says:

    Wow! Like so many others who have posted, I think the author needs to get off her high horse. While a fine might be in order to press the seriousness of the situation onto this lady, there is nothing wrong with using the bathroom by yourself. Begrudging another mother the 2 min. it takes to pee is just ridiculous. If your child is in a safe place, i.e. crib, playpen, etc., then there’s absolutely nothing wrong with using the bathroom alone. I have 2 boys and frankly I would feel it just wouldn’t be appropriate to have them in the bathroom with me at 7 years old.

  15. Melody says:

    I’m not necessarily suggesting that this happen, but what if the Astoria police department BLOCKED her phone? (The "boy who cried wolf," anyone?) 911 needs to be respected–people are experiencing real emergencies all the time. Once or twice might be seen as an understandable accident, but sixteen times? Especially given that there are so many alternative toys and games to occupy children today, there’s really no need to give a toddler a cell phone. Especially a live one. And I think it’s clear that she didn’t think highly enough of her local law enforcement to take their repeated warnings seriously. I guess it’s up to the judge to determine how criminal her flippant attitude is. I agree with many of you here–jail time seems excessive, but a fine is in order.

  16. Victoria says:

    P.S. Probably a fine would make it just serious enough to make her be more mindful of her toddler’s calls that affect others, and jail seems way excessive to me…not necessary.

  17. Victoria says:

    Wow. Some of you get over angry about things…pee or not to pee alone. Wow. My view: 1. My one-year-old son inadvertently called 911 from my parents’ home phone whilst pretending to talk (e.g. "Hawo!"). Police officer responded to the call by coming to the door and making sure that there was no real emergency and everyone was okay. Was terribly shocked and felt awful. Assured him we were fine in between a few apologies. Thought the 1-year-old was going to get me in trouble with a fine just for that one time. So, it happens. 2. I’ve been a bit more cautious of his phone play ever since. So, I don’t plan on that happening gain. Sixteen times is a bit too much to make excuses for, but that’s really her problem and that of the 911 responders/police. Not under our ultimate judgements. 3. I kind of understand what the writer is saying. I FEEL like I hardly get a moment to pee, because I’m busy with my little ones ages 5, 3, and 1 and they follow me quite often into the bathroom. "Come on in! Let’s have a potty party." The older two are fortunately girls. The party will end once the one-year-old gets too old. Not such a big deal that the writer mentioned what she did. This was not an unbiased report. It was intended to be an opinionated report. So, I guess judgements and views are expected. There are a lot bigger things to get fired up over than someone else’s opinions or views that are not hurting anyone. Relax, and have a great time with your kids everyone!!! It goes by so fast.

  18. Kristina says:

    100% think she should get the fine if it happens after paying that hefty of a fine then yeah jail time should be served… Yes a toddler will play with a phone, my 2 year old does all the time.. and she very well could accidentally call 911, but I can promise it would never happen 16 times.. after being warned more than once she should have stopped allowing her child to play with the phone, either locked or put up.

  19. Jaime says:

    she couldn t find a toy cell crazy dumb moms everywhere these days I wonder what the kids like and hows he treated or neglected well good luck to them dealing with that mom they need to do somthing and how long was she in the bathroom

  20. Grace says:

    i think she should have the fine, she is disrepecting and allowing her child to tie up 911, she should not allow her child to play with her phone without supervision; i agree with the person who said buy her child a v-tech, kids i pad or something

  21. Meredith says:

    Why does the toddler have a cell phone anyway? Babies and/or kids should not be allowed to have them. They dont know how to work them do they? It is just the same with a tv remote. Hell why dont you give them a toaster along with it. Wow!! They dont understand how to work them so dont give it to them. Its that simple. I have a toddler and a 5 yr old and neither is allowed to touch our cell phones. I dont agree with jail time, but a fine yes!!

  22. jessica says:

    wow youre a complete liar, you claim to never even for five minutes leave your children unattended while at home? hahah now thats good one. soooo your kids dont EVER play in there rooms without you. i just cant stand people who try to act so much better than others when its clearly a lie. grow up oh and btw im sure you pee alone your kids are 5 and 7 and im quite sure there not standing in the bathroom while you pee wow i wont be reading anything youve written again.

  23. Jessica says:

    Yes I agree that making that many unintended calls to 911 is inappropriate and she should have some sort of punishment so she understands how bad that is. HOWEVER, tone it down on the judgement about her being in the bathroom. You cannot honestly tell us that you have never left your kids in another room and not watched their every move. The only reason for that sort of judgmental comment is to demean, degrade and make yourself feel better at the expense of another mom.

  24. Ashleigh says:

    my son is one and I pee without him, i make sure he can’t get into anything beforehand though. How long was she in the bathroom though for a toddler to call 7 times? Why would she be willing to give her phone to one that young anyway. My son does not get our phones under any circumstances, he is still teething and just by getting a hold of a ps3 controller for 2 seconds he fried it.

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