The gorilla petition brigade need to stop blaming parents for tragic accidents

Published by The Telegraph on 15/06/16

We’re only half-way through the year and the backseat parenting brigade appears to have a new contender for “worst parents of the year”.

At Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, a two-year-old boy was dragged into a lake by an alligator.

The innocent lad was playing in the water at the edge of a lagoon while his parents were watching nearby. Orange County’s Sheriff Demings has admitted: “We’re not likely now to find a live body.”

Instinctively, this tragedy evokes horror. But our treatment of previous similar occurrences suggests we should label the terrible incident as the parents’ fault.

Indeed, we should probably lock them up behind bars to ensure they are “held accountable”.

It’s likely the whole affair was caused by their “negligence”, which, in turn, is probably “reflective of the child’s home situation”. It only makes sense that an investigation is launched to protect “his siblings from further incidents of parental negligence”.

Seem slightly absurd? Of course it does. But such was the reaction to an incident at Cincinnati zoo two weeks ago when a child fell into a gorilla enclosure.

In response, 506,000 people signed an online petition chastising the “lack of supervision” that led to the event.

Out of fear that the child may come to harm, the gorilla, Harambe, was shot and killed by zookeepers. The reaction was bizarre. In addition to outrage at the death of an “innocent” animal, vitriol was soon levied at the “irresponsible” parents who dared to take their eyes off their child for a brief moment.

It would be insensitive to claim that the accidents in Cincinnati and Disney’s Grand Floridian are identical. The latter resulted in the apparent death of a much-loved child as opposed to a gorilla.

But the majority of outrage levied at the Harambe incident had surprisingly little to do with the actual death of the animal. Rather, the initial reaction was to point to the supposed parental negligence which caused the accident.

It is surprising, therefore, that the backseat parenting brigade is yet to blame the two-year-old’s parents for allowing him to paddle near the potentially dangerous lagoon.

Rather than viewing the boy’s death as a heart-breaking accident, surely the #JusticeforHarambe crowd should be assigning blame?

In their eyes, a young child’s misfortune could not have been a mere accident, but instead the fault of his inattentive parents.

No doubt they feel the unnamed child’s parents should be locked up with the Gregg parents who visited Cincinnati Zoo. Perhaps they should share a cell with our very own Prime Minister, who managed to leave his daughter in a pub after a Sunday pint?

Yes, I’m being absurd. But while this will never happen, its postulation has merit. Assigning blame onto parents after an unintended disastrous episode is crude and intrusive.

The child’s apparent death at Disney World and the boy’s fall into the enclosure at Cincinnati Zoo should be seen for what they are: accidents, and nothing more.

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