Be Child Safe

Child Safety

Parental Lapses?


Recently, I’ve read several blog posts by parents about the results of other parents not watching their young children in public places, especially in restaurants and stores and where children are likely to play and get into trouble.  I read that it has become a pet peeve of other young parents (that is good!), because it certainly is an important theme of mine when a parent does not watch their young child.  It makes me want to take them, like the ghost in a Christmas Carol, and show them what can happen if they are not carefully watching, whether in a public place or a private home!

I continue to write this blog, because I have seen things happen when a parent was not present, physically or mentally–and often what happens to children, especially young children, happens very fast. And damage–that could have been prevented by simply watching–and watching out for–a child is frequently irreparable and long-lasting. I often think about a childhood friend, who while playing on the swings in her backyard fell and hit her head on a rock. She lived her entire life with severe brain damage. A little boy of five, whose mother was tired, found his way out of their lake home, onto their boat dock, fell in the water and was drowned as his mother slept quietly in the house. Things happen but do not have to happen if parents are awake and watching.

Less than ten days ago, a local child, age 8, riding his bicycle was hit by a car on his street in front of his home on a Friday evening. He “pulled out in front of a car” and the driver didn’t have time to stop.  The child was helicoptered to Charlottesville’s UVA Hospital with fairly significant injuries.  The boy was not wearing a helmet.  Where were his parents?

What about the parent who unknowingly placed their child in a recalled baby swing, the Century L’il Napper? The swing had been recalled but the news of the recall hadn’t reached the provider. The child probably fell asleep, slouched and was strangled accidentally. But this may not have happened had the parents been watching. This happened to four children in 1997 and happened to a little child in Indiana in 2002. Yet, I still see those recalled baby swings in trees in front yards and at homes… and I still don’t get it. Portable crib rails collapse, window blind pulls still exist and strangle. Children pick up button batteries or grandpa’s medicine and swallow them like candy. One’s home can be a dangerous place to a child, and parents need to make the time to watch.

But there is no rhyme nor reason for making our homes more dangerous than they already are. The Washington Post’s Peter Holley reported June 26 that on June 25, 2016, a New Jersey boy, age 6, shot his 4-year old brother while playing with his mother’s gun.  What does this say to you?  On beyond whether the mother was watching (which I seriously doubt), why was there a weapon accessible to two young children? Now a child is dead and the family is badly broken.  This type of heart-rending, totally preventable incident is more common than most people realize…  The International Business Times’ Adam Lidgett reported in January 2016 in the U.S. that 265 people were shot in 2015 by children wielding firearms. Eighty-three of those deaths were fatal.  Was anyone watching, the child who found the shotgun in his father’s out-building and shot his childhood friend in the face.  Thankfully, that child survived! But why wasn’t the gun locked up, high where a child could not reach it? “I forgot,” is not acceptable. Please!!!

Often, I feel as though what I re-report falls on deaf ears.  But, Parents, IF you watch your children, you are way ahead of the game most of the time and these life-long heart-aches will not be a part of your life. If you cannot watch your kids because you work or are ill or tired, make sure you entrust your children’s care to a trusted family member, caregiver or baby-sitter who WILL watch them for you.  No one can ever fault you for watching over your children!

Author: Marianne Halterman

Marianne is a member of the SafeKids Coalition of the Central Shenandoah Valley.

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