Almost every week, I observe situations where parents are placing their children in precarious situations. Many of these potentially serious circumstances are avoidable. Parents need to take time to assess whether their choices are putting their children in harm’s way. Children’s safety needs to be a parent’s prime concern. It is too late to realize one’s shortcoming after a horrific accident causes a trip to the Emergency Room.
Is it laziness, selfishness, a lack of knowledge, or monetary issues that cause some parents to lose sight of safety? I don’t know. I can only comment on the observations that make me cringe. Each event is caused by a parent’s choice to disregard the safety of their children. Parents need to take control of all situations that involve children. If parents neglect to look out for their children’s safety, child abuse will result.
Here are 11 choices that should be considered:
- Riding in a Stroller and/or Car Seat. If a child fits into a stroller, he must always be buckled in. An abrupt stop could send him flying onto the pavement. Why take the chance? Until children reach the mandated age, a car seat should always be used. Care needs to be taken in selecting the car seat and installing it properly.
- Sports Helmet. I grew up in an age where no one wore a helmet to bike or ski. Many years ago, the data regarding the effects of traumatic brain injuries made the medical profession recommend the use of helmets for biking, skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, horseback riding, motorcycling, etc. While helmets do not provide a 100% guarantee against serious injury, they do provide significant protection. Why not provide as many safeguards as possible?
- Walking in Parking Lots and Streets. Almost every time I go to a store, I see small children walking a distance away from their parents. Cars backing up or driving down the aisle will have a difficult time seeing these children. Small children should never walk alone in place where motorized vehicles can travel. This also applies to less traveled streets. Drivers cannot always see children who choose to draw pictures in the middle of the street, play ball, or sit on low objects such as skateboards.
- Standing in a Shopping Cart. Children do get bored and struggle to sit in one place. However, standing inside the shopping cart or on the bottom edge is a situation that is ripe for disaster. An abrupt stop can send a child flying uncontrollably.
- Sending a Sick Child to School. A sick child should not attend school. The child should be home resting and taking appropriate precautions for their ailment. A child that is in pain or not feeling well will not be able to concentrate in an educational environment and may possibly be made to feel worse. If the child has a contagious disease, attending class will spread the illness throughout the school. A child who has a fever, excessive congestion, a hacking cough or is experiencing significant pain should stay home. Missing a day or two of work is part of the job description for parenting.
- Riding on a Motorcycle. In some developing countries, motorcycles may be the family’s sole form of transportation. Piling everyone on the motorcycle without any helmets is an unsafe ride. Alternative forms of family transportation should be explored. In the US, this scenario is less common, yet children are still seen riding as passengers without helmets on motorcycles. Common sense should prevail as to whether riding a motorcycle is safe for a child.
- Wandering in Stores. Children like to stroll about without parental constraints. A store or a mall is definitely not the place for a child to show their independence. Stores and malls are places where predators loom.
- Riding With Someone on a Bicycle. By far the most terrifying thing I witnessed was a young mother riding with a small baby on her back. The child was in a cloth baby carrier. Neither the mother nor the baby was wearing a helmet. In a span of under a minute, the woman lost her balance several times. I could only hope and pray that she didn’t fall.
- Car Distractions. Drivers need to focus on the road. Being distracted by rambunctious children is a recipe for a disaster. The best option is to pull over or sit in a parking lot until all of the children are acting appropriately.
- Attending a Beer or Wine Festival. Some outings should be considered adults only. If you’re planning to consume alcohol over an extended period of time, leave your kids home. Hire a babysitter. Yesterday, I observed several young couples consuming countless glasses of beer at an outdoor beer festival. For a set fee, participants could sample as many beers as they chose during a 4-hour time frame. Countless participants were pushing baby strollers and walking with small children. Something was wrong with this picture.
- Swimming Unsupervised. A sign is posted at the pool that says, “lifeguard on duty.” Countless parents believe that the lifeguard(s) can watch everyone. Depending on the situation, this may not be true. Drownings and serious accidents can occur when lifeguards are on duty. Parents need to remain responsible for their children at all times.
I encourage all parents to think before they act. Raising 4 sons, I realize that parenting can be overwhelming, time consuming, and a limitation on ones’ lifestyle. Being a parent requires a commitment to take care of your children at all times. It is crucial to continually evaluate whether you are protecting your children’s well being. Safety has to be your number one priority.
The memoir was a finalist in the Travel category for the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, the 2013 International Book Awards, and the 2013 National Indie Book Excellence Awards.