Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Thursday 2 June 2016

Incidents and Accidents

In the past week, a four year old boy fell into a gorilla pit at Cincinnati zoo; a seven year old boy is missing after being left at the roadside by his parents, who drove away, leaving him in a forest in Japan; and a two year old was dropped into a cheetah enclosure in Cleveland.

When did we stop looking after our children?

Of course, it could just be that things haven’t actually changed very much, and we are simply more aware of these incidents because of the press and the mighty internet.

Children have always gone missing, been abducted and been subjected to dangerous situations, and of course, a percentage of children has always been neglected or abused.

Most children grow into adulthood.

We forget.

The parents of the three boys above, were all children, too, once upon a time. They seem to have forgotten what it is to be a child, to push boundaries, to play, to be naughty, to learn… always to learn.

It crosses my mind that sometimes children are the unfortunate victims of adults’ mistakes. The mother of the two year old should not have been dangling him over the enclosure’s barrier. The parents of the seven year old should not have left their child at the side of the road, and someone should have been keeping a better eye on the four year old that fell into the gorilla pit.

Children have accidents… Adults, too, for that matter.

We all know it’s impossible to watch children all of the time; isn’t that why we child-proof our homes even before we bring our newborns out of hospital? We fill our houses with cupboard locks and stair gates, and we install child seats in our cars.

Accidents happen. Accidents will always happen.

The safety and security of a child, not to mention its happiness, works on a sliding scale, though, doesn’t it? 

Shouldn’t we take more care of our children in more difficult, demanding or potentially dangerous situations?

Shouldn’t we be more aware of where our children are and what they’re doing when they are surrounded by strangers, where there is a lot of traffic, and anywhere they are faced with the unfamiliar or dangerous?

Shouldn’t parents and carers provide a safety net?

Accidents happen, but a woman dangled her two year old child over the barrier of a wild cat enclosure, and parents of a seven year old abandoned him at the side of the road to teach him a lesson. I suspect that both will be prosecuted.

The parents will suffer, too.They will have to live, not just with the possible loss of a child, and not just with the legal consequences of their actions. They will have to live with the burden of guilt that surely goes along with this kind of approach to parenting.

Being a parent is probably the hardest job anyone will ever do, and, perhaps, the most rewarding. Children know their parents, instinctively; there is no way to pretend at parenting, no way to be anyone other than who you are, and no respite from the responsibilities. It’s tough and maddening and unrelenting, and utterly wonderful.

I sympathise with any parent whose child is the victim of an accident or of any of the terrible things that can happen to a child that it is difficult and sometimes impossible to prevent.

Parents are not gods, they are people, too, and even the best of them might lose a child. It’s a tragedy that happens only too often.

That a child can fall or be dropped into an animal enclosure, or can be left at the roadside is beyond my understanding.

Perhaps I was lucky. My children suffered their share of minor accidents and incidents, but were never in any real danger while they were growing up, and I am eternally grateful for that. 

I never dangled an infant over the barrier of an animal enclosure, and I never left a child at the roadside and drove away.

I generally like to attach a picture to my posts, but couldn't bear to post pictures or footage of this week's incidents. Instead, I'm going to invite you to donate to the NSPCC

Make a donation to the NSPCC


  1. Parents shouldn't have to teach their own kids. That's what our lottery money to the public school system is 'posed to do..!