Friday, September 12, 2014
Accident or Negligence?
When does an accident become negligence? Aren't all accidents caused by some form of negligence?
I backed into a car accidentally - because I wasn't paying attention or didn't look or was driving too fast. My child accidentally ate some medication in my purse - because I left my purse where he could reach it. I accidentally dropped my phone - because I didn't have a good grip on it or I was trying to do too much at once. Yes, there are true accidents but most are the result of negligence on some level.
Yesterday a daycare employee served 30 children glasses of a water and bleach cleaning solution. Accident or negligence? Accident - she didn't mean to harm the children. Negligence - she assumed that a bottle containing a clear liquid was simply water. Negligence - the person mixing the solution left it sitting around unlabeled. Is this an accident or negligence? It's not that easy to answer. Thankfully, the amount of bleach was so small that the children did not get sick but what if they did. Would this person face criminal charges for something she never intended to happen?
A child falls in a swimming pool and nearly drowns before anyone realizes he is outside. Is the parent automatically a bad parent because their child was out of their sight for 2 minutes? If the parents had a gate around the pool would this have happened?
We are all negligent. We don't mean to be and the majority of the time we don't realize we are even being negligent. We childproof our homes in an attempt to make them completely safe, to protect our children until they learn, but that is impossible.
We are quick to read a report and judge. How did this happen? Didn't those parents know better? My son got into my purse one day and ate a few Benadryl. I know that medication should not be left where children can reach it. That never crossed my mind when I threw my purse down by the door. I thought I had all of our medication put away, out of the reach of children.. but I didn't. Does that make me a bad parent? I don't think so. I don't think the girl that gave the students bleach to drink is a bad person either. She messed up and she, hopefully, learned from that mistake. When I read the article my first thought was how can someone just grab a bottle and give it to children without even knowing what it is. Probably the same way that I just chunked my purse down..a moment of letting my guard down.
One split second can change your life. Leaving a knife on the counter, dropping a penny on the floor that a child could eat, a battery under the couch cushion that a toddler swallows. All of those are accidents but could also be called negligence.
Before we judge another parent/caregiver we should all take a moment to remember what it's like. What it's like to forget something, rush and make a mistake or just not thinking straight because of exhaustion. Sometimes negligence is simply an accident.