Sunday, August 5, 2007

Children's Deaths Puzzling

Picture this:

You are a single mother, raising a 4yr old and a 1yr old child. (Though you also have a 12yr old, he lives with his dad, and you recently gave an infant up for adoption). You are called in to work a double shift, but your babysitter has called in sick. What do you do?

Well, there would be some considerations: do you HAVE to come in to work? Do you need the money for food or rent? Will you get fired if you don't show? Let's say that it is absolutely necessary that you make your shift. What do you do with the kids?

Now there are some new considerations: find a back-up sitter, leave them home alone for 16hrs, take them with you, or leave them in the car while you work.

One mother in South Carolina was faced with these exact choices, and left her children in the car on a hot day (with battery-powered fans, food, and drinks) while she worked half of her double shift. After eight hours, she asked to leave due to childcare issues. The children were limp and had a low pulse. When found a day later by police, they were dead.

The police, those who know the mother, and even the media!, are being remarkably supportive and empathetic of this woman's situation. The article circling the internet seems to inherently blame the woman's situation and possibly her mental stability. Negligence is barely touched upon.

So many details relevant to this case are missing. Why, exactly, did the woman go to work? Why, exactly, did she leave them in the car? What factors led to her making these choices instead of others? This case is interesting to me because there are so many ways it can be put to use by others with an agenda:

1. See what happens when the government does not provide sufficient support for single mothers? What is this world coming to when a single mother has to choose between her job and her children?
2. See what happens when families are torn asunder by divorce? What is this world coming to when children are subject to the awful consequences of being raised in a broken home?
3. See what happens when societies become so focused on individualism, autonomy, and privacy that we lose the community ties that would have averted such a disaster?
4. See what happens when the workplace is not held responsible for making sufficient accommodations for single mothers?
5. See what happens when societies come to value work over the family?
6. See what happens when we let just anyone with the biological ability reproduce? A working womb does not a mother make...

I don't know what I think about this yet. There just isn't enough information. What I do assert, however, is that there needs to be more than a psychological analysis done. Authorities are holding off from making any judgments about the woman until she gets a psychological evaluation. I think a sociological evaluation is also in order.

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