When the idea of ‘child protection’ goes too far
So your kid’s a klutz. Or a daredevil, or daydreamer.
How many times have you had to rush to an emergency ward to check that sprained ankle, bruised knee or bump on the head?
When it comes to young children - especially those adventurous types who reckon they can climb higher, run faster and balance better than anyone else - hospital visits seem to be an inevitable part of parenting.
Child protection experts beg to differ. The Australian Institute of Family Studies, in a new report on what it refers to as “supervisory neglect”, says every accident can be prevented.
Parents just need to supervise their children properly.
The federal government’s family research agency has advised child protection officers to “not be too quick to classify a child as `accident prone’.”
Children with multiple accidental injuries should be classified as “high risk of neglect”, it says.
So now, on top of the gut-wrenching guilt that comes with carrying a crying child into an emergency ward, parents have to cope with acute paranoia as well.
Pity the mother of a rambunctious toddler who falls off a trike while she is trying to cook dinner, even though she has told him over, and over, and over to stay in the sandpit.
Or the father whose daydreamy daughter keeps getting bruises, walking into furniture or tripping over her own feet.
Child protection authorities need to be prosecuting genuinely neglectful and abusive parents, not persecuting the caring yet frazzled mums and dads who are doing their best, without eyes in the backs of their heads.
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