Wednesday, August 25, 2010

"F" is for Forgetting Children in Vehicles?

I heard a story on the news recently about a family from Toronto, Ontario visiting relatives in Houston, Texas.  I was really angry at first and could barely hold myself back from blogging about the subject.  Now I am conflicted about how I feel.  I'm sure you have heard the facts, but bare with me as I repeat them and let me know where you stand.

There were seven people in an SUV, all relatives going home from the grocery store after picking up supplies.  When they arrived back in the driveway, the Canadian couples eldest son, who is autistic, had a seizure prompting the parents to give him aid.  All of the bags of groceries were removed from the vehicle, yet the couples other child, a sweet two year-old boy, in the commotion of the moment, was left in the SUV for two hours to perish in the heat. He managed to get out of his car-seat, but due to the child-proof locks he couldn't save himself.  The temperature in the car was twice as hot as outside of it.  His body temp. was over 120 degrees, sixteen degrees hotter than when the bodies organs begin to fail.  No one is being charged.  Apparently in Houston, Texas alone, there have been thirty-six cases of children dying in super heated vehicles this summer, which is up from last year.

Now this is the tricky part..... Should the parents or other care-givers of these children be held accountable and be punished? or is losing their child (which seems to be the way it goes) be punishment enough?   I don't have kids, I don't understand all the fuss and commotion in a busy parents life and don't know how hard it can be.  But I also don't understand how anyone can forget a child in a car by accident.

There is not much debate about this, in the news all that is being said is how sad the event was.  I'm sure I'm not the only one that doesn't seem to get it.  I have heard people in the Health profession advising parents to leave something important in the backseat that they will need when they exit the vehicle, like their briefcase or purse.  Then as they grab that important object, they will see their child, remember he or she is there and take them out of the car as well.  Important object? Isn't their child an important object? Isn't the fact that your kid is in the car enough of an incentive to be responsible for them?  Don't most parents watch their children in the rear-view mirror while they are driving or interact with them?

I just don't understand.  People become outraged when a dog is left in a car in the summer in the sweltering heat, they call the police, smash through the windows, and make sure the owners are charged with cruelty to animals.  In England the other day a woman picked up a cat and put her in a garbage can, and the world is going crazy with her having to have police protection in case someone decides to throw her out.  The Police and Animal Protective Services are involved in this case about a cat, and people are up in arms.  But when children are dying in the alarming numbers that they are, nothing is done.  Why aren't these parents charged with child endangerment, accidental homicide or manslaughter?

As I have stated I'm conflicted about this topic, losing a child is obviously so much worse than anything I could possibly imagine, but doesn't that mean that you would be more careful with your kid's welfare.  Maybe if someone was punished and brought to justice, the number of these incidences would lessen instead of rise.  I feel for the family, but this was a preventable death.

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