When a 5-year-old girl — with a mom who was known for over tanning — walked into her elementary school with what suntan-like burns on her skin, school administrators called the police. The 44-year-old mother from Nutley was then arrested and charged with the criminal offense of child endangerment.
In New Jersey, there are no restrictions against using the sun to naturally alter the color of your skin. There is, however, a law that makes it illegal for a child under the age of 14 to use the artificial bulbs in a tanning salon. It is this small detail that makes the stories different; the prosecution says the child was in a tanning salon while the mother says the girl burned herself under the sun.
According to the mother, the child “wants to be like mommy,” and sits in the sunlight at their home. The mother admitted that she frequented tanning salons more than others. “I love to tan, as you can see,” she said as she sat in an interview, a video that recorded her extremely dark skin. She said that while she loves to go, she would never, ever let her child into a tanning salon. In fact, staff from the place where the girl was allegedly burned said that they never saw the child enter the booth.
While the mother’s extreme tanning addiction has given her story media attention, it is not proof that she would allow her child to do the same. Let’s face it; we judge people based on their circumstances. If a child with average, un-tanned parents walked into school with sunburned skin, no one would think twice about it.
Source: nj.com, “N.J. tanning mom makes court appearance in Newark to answer child endangerment charges,” Alexi Friedman, May 2, 2012