Why are we so distracted? why are we forgetting about the children? In Carl Junction Missouri last week a 4-year-old boy was left on the school bus. Found two hours later, cold and alone but otherwise unharmed. Not all stories like this have a happy conclusion. In Arkansas last year a disabled child was left to die in the sweltering heat, still buckled into his daycare bus. Are we so distracted by social media and smartphones that we are losing track of what is the most important, the children entrusted to our care?
Headlines like Ridgefield child dies after being left in hot car, or Child Dies After Being Left In Vehicle, worse yet, Yet another child has died after being left in a hot car toll reaches 19 so far this year. Brings most adults to tears thinking about the lives lost, to such preventable tragedies, and leaving us to question why is it that we are forgetting our children.
Without bringing shame to the parents who have left their children, it is important to open a dialog. What has changed over the last ten to fifteen years that has led to more children being left in vehicles to die? It could be a combination of how vehicles are built and how distracted adults have become. With smartphones and WIFI, we are spending more and more of our time with our heads in the “Cloud” distracted by social media, video games, and 24-hour news.
The worlds unlimited knowledge at our fingertips and in a device so small that it fits in our back pockets. Can smartphones be making us less smart, or at least making it easier for us to forget the small children in our care?
It's not just parents that are leaving their children in vehicles. Last summer a five-year-old boy died when his caregivers at his private school forgot him on the school bus. The little boy was disabled, and news reports stated that when he was found he had taken his shirt, shoes, and socks off to cool down, but because he was disabled and security measures in the van he wasn’t able to get out, instead he suffered an unimaginable death.
Every summer we are told to put a shoe or our purse in the back seat with our children to remind us they are there and prevent tragedy from happening. However, is it disingenuous to say that we will remember our shoes and our purse but not our children? Questioning these safety measures can lead some to believe that we are bashing parents who use them to ensure their child’s safety.
However, that isn’t what we are intending to do. If leaving an object in the back seat of the car helps you remember your child that is wonderful. What this is about though is understanding why we have become so distracted that we are forgetting our children. This isn’t the first generation that has had to use childcare or had to work odd hours or long hours.
Yet in the last ten to fifteen years, the number of children forgotten in vehicles seems to have exponentially grown. Are there more children being left behind or is the news more frequent because we have 24-hour news reports and instant news on our smartphones and tablets?