|Gerry and Kate|
Are there any lessons to be learned?
Legally and morally, Gerry and Kate were in the clear, they did nothing wrong and anyone who said they did was just being spiteful. Rather than condemn their own actions, which would have been admittance of wrong doing, they sold the benefits of the childminding system they devised and used on that holiday as if they had found the answer to every flustered parent's problems. It had worked perfectly on all the previous nights and up until Madeleine disappeared, it had been an idyllic holiday for all. Gerry and Kate especially, their kids went happily to the crèche each day, and stayed asleep in their beds while their parents went out in the evenings. Gerry and Kate even had the luxury of leisurely showers and pre drinks alone before joining their equally unflustered friends at the restaurant. The system worked. Except, and I hate to be the one to point this out - it didn't.
In order to spare the parents' feelings, not only were they not reproached for what they had done (they had suffered enough) this terrifyingly dangerous approach to holiday childcare was given the green light by panting journalists eager to get exclusives from the moneyspinning McCanns.
No matter that the young and the unenlightened might look to doctors and media personalities for guidance on raising their own kids, not one of those authoritative figures condemned the dangerous practice of leaving children alone and none had the guts to say to the McCanns, wtf were you thinking?
Parents of young children unconsciously risk assess every situation and environment they take their kids into. A vigilant mother of a toddler will spot a head height sharp corner at 50 paces. And it stays with you, to this day I still turn saucepan handles inwards on the cooker even in other peoples' homes. Young parents are on constant alert, it is instinctive, watch a young mum gazing at her child, you can see it clearly, it is quite charming, its how normal, loving parents behave.
|Tapas Friends awarded damages|
So lets take a look at this checking system that has been defended so vigorously by the parents, their friends, the press and people who really should know better. The decision was at worst, naïve, 'we are sorry we weren't there AT THAT MOMENT', but we have done everything to make up for it since, so lets not dwell on it blah,blah. Lets focus on the risk to our children from wondering predators if left alone, and totally disregard the risk of them choking, eating something they shouldn't, climbing and falling, poking fingers/objects into plug holes, etc, etc, and of course fire, the reason the patio doors were left open, apparently.
To steer the blame away from the parents, the threat to the children had to come from OUTSIDE the home, not the safety within, in the form of a stranger, a bogeyman, a sinister finger of fate. This enabled the full force of the law to be brought down on all the misfits, loners, lurkers, porn fans and usual suspects in the vicinity and online and steered the investigation and everything arising from it outwards and away from the main players.
Lets do a risk assessment of our own. Gerry is of course right, the chances of a predator coming into your apartment and stealing your child is indeed miniscule to almost non existent. The chances of that child getting out of bed, exploring and wandering off are at the top end of high. So too the chances of a serious accident resulting in death.
These small children were not in their own beds at home, they were in unfamiliar surroundings. Ditto their parents. Although they were small, some were walking and if they were typical toddlers, extremely active. Most kids can climb out of their cots and go exploring well before the age of 2. In familiar surroundings a few falls and knocks on the noggin might make them think twice about climbing furniture they know, but in a holiday apartment, everything is new.
The definition of toddler should read 'accident waiting to happen'. They have no sense of danger. They have no sense. Period. Most new parents, even before their babies are born, begin to childproof everything in their homes that might present a danger. Locks are put onto cupboards, protectors are put into electric sockets, wires are placed out of reach, ditto medicines, detergents, toilet cleaners, soap, cosmetics, the list goes on. When you find your toddler has poured an entire bottle of Chanel No. 5 onto his rocking horse, you don't take any chances.
Was Apartment 5A safe? A 4 year child might not be able to open complex shutters and a window, but a door left ajar would not be difficult for a little girl determined to find her parents. The distance between the apartment and the Tapas may have been 50 metres as the crow flies, though I doubt it, but it wasn't a straightforward route. The patio led out onto a concrete patio with concrete steps. The small gate may have made the steps inaccessible to two year olds, but it wouldn't be much of challenge for a little girl who was almost 4. Ditto the gate at the bottom of the steps leading onto the main road. And between the apartment and the tapas bar was a swimming pool.
For those checking on the children, they had to walk out of the complex via the reception doors, and then via a series of reception doors, gates and steps to get to their apartments. That's if they used the short route. If they entered their apartments via their front doors using keys, then they had to follow the main road around and enter via the car park at the back. The plan wasn't simple, convenient or user friendly and if I am honest (great expression) it must have been a complete pain in the arse.
|Don't interrupt me!|
|We're not the ones who did|
anything wrong - 'he's' still out there!
In the eyes of the UK Government, the media and for a long time, most of the public, the McCanns were blameless. Not only were they blameless, they were heroic. Not for the hundreds of lives they could have potentially saved by pointing out the real dangers of leaving children home alone, but for spearheading a campaign on behalf of the 1% of missing children kidnapped by strangers. In real terms, your child is twice as likely to be struck by lightning than be abducted by a stranger and a hundred times more likely to die from an accident. As for dining out while your kids sleep, the message from the powers that be, seems to be carry on regardless.
|CHILDMINDING - UK STYLE|