Monday, July 22, 2013

Over-Reacting News Commenters

Sometimes when I watch or read the news it makes me crazy when I see what is happening in the world but it is even more frustrating when I read the comments posted by all the arm chair quarterbacks who have to weigh in with their two cents one each news article. That's the nice thing about having a blog. I could never get away with posting a comment this long on a news website.

Last week in the news someone found a two year old wandering outside alone and the police could not locate his parents for several hours. Many of the commenters were chiming in about how mad they were and how the parents should be in jail and that some people should not be able to have children, etc. I think little toddlers wandering around alone is a dangerous thing, but before we call for a public lynching of the parents it would be wise to find out exactly what happened.

It turns out that the toddler snuck outside after the mother left that morning and the others in the house who usually watch him thought the mother had taken him with her. Luckily they were safely reunited and it ended up being just an embarrassing misunderstanding. People were quick to criticize and condemn the mother before they even knew what happened.

I also can't believe how many people are so quick to react to news by demanding new rules and laws anytime something bad happens. Last week a boy scout was run over and killed at a local camp while he was collecting garbage with the camp staff. After reading the article I noticed some people commented that the scouts should implement rules that require having adults on each side of a pickup that carries the garbage and walk alongside it like the secret service would in a parade route. That may be a safer option but requiring two adults to accompany the truck driver and those collecting the trash seemed a little reactionary to me.

I think the accident was tragic and it is very sad, but it was an accident and accidents will unfortunately continue to happen no matter how careful we are or how many rules we make.

When I hear about parents leaving kids alone in cars in the summer with the windows rolled up or leaving a baby unattended in a car while they go to a movie, I think they should have the book thrown at them, but I'm tired of seeing people react with extreme criticism towards people who have occasional mishaps, accidents, or misunderstandings.

Accidents happen. I have several friends who have shared stories with me how their parents had accidentally left a sibling behind somewhere when they were on vacation or traveling and didn't realize it until half an hour later. This does not make their parents bad. It makes them human.

If we used today's criteria to judge our parents or people who lived hundreds of years ago, they would probably be deemed as unfit neglectful parents since they allowed their kids to do all kinds of dangerous things. I'm sure any pioneer who let their children cross the plains with them would have them taken away by D.C.F.S. with today's standards. I am not suggesting we go back to times of children working in mines and running around in the streets like in Oliver, but from what I can tell from that movie, kids were not only tougher back then, they were also better singers and dancers than kids today.

I am always telling my kids to be careful, settle down, or be quiet. I sometimes feel like I am putting a wet blanket on their fun. Some might consider me a protective parent, yet even I think the seat belt / bike helmet / hand sanitizer / playground removal police seem to be getting more powerful and popular every day. Past generations would probably laugh at how we have become such a wimpy society.

I'm starting to ramble but I guess my point is that mistakes, accidents, and bad things will always happen in life. I think it is wise to have safety procedures and implement safety guidelines, but let's try to deal with them intelligently and not freak out and have a knee jerk reaction of trying to insulate everyone from life anytime something bad happens.


Raine said...

I agree!

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Anonymous said...

I recently heard a story of a combined family going on a trip to a town close by. The cousins were all having a great time together and often switching which family they were with. They all started back for home until one couple started asking around and realized that their son wasn't with any of the groups so they went back and found he was still in their vacation town.

The parents were named Mary and Joseph ;-)


Anonymous said...

I forgot you had a blog until I recently happened on to some of your later entries--in particular one from this past July about people over-reacting to news items and especially about lost or endangered children when parental neglect wasn't necessarily the cause of it.

It did remind me of a case many years ago when a young boy about seven years old tried to keep up with some BYU students and their branch president while ascending the trail to Timp. I won't try to describe what happened in any great detail, but the upshots is that the young man became light headed and, before he knew it, wen right off the trail's soft shoulder--tumbling though the air to the horror of his companions and ending up crashing head first on a pile of jagged boulders several yards below them on the mountain slope. At that moment we all thought he must be a 'goner' with, most likely, a broken neck. But all of a sudden he lifted up his head, still conscious, and calmly declared, "I'm hungry!" The rest--except for the headaches he sustained for a number of years after while playing basketball--is gratifying history. Whether his hiking companions back then should have been imprisoned for child neglect is a moot question.