What happened to this 7-year-old boy after he consumed Mike's Hard Lemonade probably harmed him more than the alcohol itself.
Here's the scoop. Leo Ratte and his father Christopher, a professor of classical archaeology at the University of Michigan, were at a Tiger's baseball game three weeks ago when his dad stopped to buy him lemonade as they headed to their seats. Unbeknownst to the father, the lemonade he bought contained alcohol (the sign at the concession stand even called it Mike's Lemonade, no mention of the word "Hard"). Long story short, at the top of the ninth inning a security guard noticed the bottle in Leo's hand and asked the father if he knew it contained alcohol. The father replied, "You've got to be kidding me," but Detroit Police and Child Protective Services didn't find anything to laugh about. The child ended up being placed in a foster home for two days.
I'm the first one to err on the side of caution, especially when vulnerable children are involved, but this was a case of over-zealousness from square one. First, a physician at Comerica Park decided to send Leo to the hospital by ambulance after examining him because the boy complained of feeling a little nauseated. This was in spite of the fact the boy showed no signs of inebriation and had only consumed 12 ounces of the hard lemonade, which contains 5% alcohol. Leo's blood was drawn by the ER doctor 90 minutes after the security guard found the child with the drink and the test came back negative.
Most children aren't too fond of doctors and needles, let alone hospitals. Those factors, along with the ambulance ride and police presence, probably scared the poor child half to death. If that didn't scare him, the decision to have Child Protective Services step in did. Leo ended up crying himself to sleep in front of a television inside the CPS building that night.
It took two days before Leo was allowed to return home to his mother, but his father was forced to move to a hotel while an investigation continued. It was another three days before the juvenile referee dismissed the complaint and permitted Ratte to move home.
I realize we live in a society where everyone feels the need to cover their backside against criticism and lawsuits, but the adults in this situation should have paused to listen to what was being said by other people in authority. The police officer who interviewed the father and son at the hospital was convinced the drink was an accident. The ER doctor wrote in his report that the child was "Completely normal appearing...he is cleared to go home." And one of the child protective workers told Rattke, "This is so unnecessary," before driving away with his son. Key people showed common sense, yet CPS ignored them.
As you might imagine, the Rattke's have filed a formal complaint with the CPS ombudsman's office, and Mr. Rattke even apologized to his son for the "silly mistake that got him into this mess." He also told his son that "what happened afterward was an even bigger error, and I would like to be able to say to him that institutions, like people, can learn from their mistakes."
For the sake of children everywhere, I sure hope so.