By Laura Fogerty
Have you ever taken your eyes off your child while in a public place? Even for an instant? Perhaps to get a younger sibling out of a stroller, or to grab a tissue to wipe your child’s nose or even (gasp!) your own? Have you ever actually lost a child, even for a second, that felt like eternity? I have. I bent down in an elevator to attend to the coughing of my then six-month-old baby and my then three-year-old stepped off the elevator just before the doors closed. My tiny girl was thankfully just outside that elevator door when it reopened but who knows what could have happened to her in that time. Once I turned around in Target (we really were in Target, I’m not making a political statement here) when my oldest dropped her popcorn and before I knew it my youngest had hidden himself in a clothing rack. My heart stopped. He was okay too, and found within a matter of seconds but I have, as a parent, momentarily lost sight of my littles. It doesn’t make me a criminal, or a bad person, or negligent. It makes me human. We are human; we sometimes get distracted at the worst possible moment, and most of the time we get lucky, but sometimes the consequences are horrible, tragic even.
Like the incident recently at the Cincinnati Zoo. This mother isn’t negligent, or criminal, or bad. She is human. Yet, the rest of us, the perfect, the non-distracted, we judge and we shame and we condemn this mother for a tragic accident. We post rants on social media about how we would “never” be so irresponsible. We judge and condemn when really we don’t even know the details, and how could we?
What if, instead of judging the misfortunes of others, we put that energy to better use? This was an accident with a terrible outcome. All of this anger and hatred over something that was a rare and awful fluke is energy wasted. How about putting that energy into changing the world by loving our children and parenting them peacefully? How about directing that passion to stopping abuse? What if we used the time we are devoting to shaming this mother and learned to prevent child sexual abuse? (Which happens to be the most common health issue, with the most vast array of consequences, facing our children today.) Just a thought. Are you with me?
Editor, Ask Lala
Laura Fogarty writes “Ask Lala” for the Stop Abuse Campaign. She is a mother, an advocate and the author of two children’s abuse prevention books: I’M THE BOSS OF ME! and WE ARE JUST ALIKE!
Laura has an ACE score of 6.