Children Dying In Vehicles – Accidents or Neglect?
Parents getting off of work, getting in their vehicles to head home for the evening, only to find the body of their young child who died an excruciating death while they were at work, simply because they ‘forgot’ to drop their precious baby off at day care. This seems to be the story that is in the headlines more and more often, especially in the past few years. And it also seems that more often than not the parents are torn apart with grief over these ‘accidents’ that could happen to anyone.
Accidents? As a mother myself, I can say that there has never been a time where I have ‘accidently’ forgotten my children in the car. I do not FORGET my children. Well these deaths are often not intentional on the parents part, they are the direct results of the parents actions, or lack thereof. I have a hard time labelling these as accidents, I see them as neglect.
To add to societies stand of accepting these tragedies as ‘accidents’, you can now can purchase a “ChildMinder.” The device, costing about $60.00, consists of a sensor pad placed under the cushion of a car seat, and is wirelessly linked to an alarm on the parent’s key chain. If the adult walks more than a few feet away from the car with the child still in the seat, the alarm will sound. Wow! What a great way to help a parent remember that they have a small human being with them! How have millions of parents managed to survive without this device before now?
In the past 10 years, almost 550 children have died in overheated cars, because the parents or other caretakers simply forgot them. Only about 7% of these sad deaths involved drugs or alcohol on the part of the adult. Most cases involved dentists, nurses, ministers, college professors, concert musicians, social services board members, NASA engineers…you know, the pillars of the community. These are the busy, self-involved folks always in a rush, for whom even dropping kids off at a day-care center instead of tending to the little ones themselves was too difficult an assignment.
Not only are these children left to die, they are left to die horrific, painful deaths. The interior temperature of a vehicle can rise 20 degrees in 10 minutes, continuing to rise as much as 50 degrees in one hour. A child’s body temperature warms at 3 to 5 times faster than an adult’s. When hyperthermia starts to set in, the child becomes dizzy, disorientated, agitated, confused, sluggish. They may have seizures and their skin becomes dry and hot. Next their heart rate will rapidly increase and they may hallucinate. Imagine the terror an adult would feel experiencing these symptoms, now imagine the terror a small child would experience, all at the hands of those whose duty it was to protect and nurture that child.
Astonishingly, these parents and care givers, when prosecuted at all (and only 50% of them are prosecuted), receive only three to five year prison sentences. Also astonishing is how much “understanding” public support they get from those who say “It can happen to anyone.” No, it can’t happen to anyone.
It can happen only when parenting and family are not the highest priorities. It can happen only when parents spend their time focused on maximizing their own personal fulfillment at the expense – and very existence – of their children.
~ by Nadine on September 2, 2008.