phynedyning

(SPECIAL EDITORIAL) ‘For the Children’: Enough already!

In Editorial, Lifestyle on April 2, 2013 at 9:33 am

“As a result, I have five-gallon plastic buckets emblazoned with warnings that they may cause drowning if a tot falls headfirst into one. My newest window blinds were festooned with so many warning stickers that, once hung, the warning literature obviated the need for the shades entirely. My garden hose came with a sticker (which I promptly tore off) warning me not to drink from it because it contained ‘substances known to the State of California to cause cancer’.”

 

Shanda Boone and Jamie Geneser experienced an unimaginable tragedy two years ago when their 4-year old daughter fell out of a third floor window and suffered fatal injuries in the fall.

Now, Boone and Geneser have embarked on a crusade. They have taken up the cause to coerce and cajole Iowa lawmakers into passing ‘Hannah’s Law’. And, as with similar laws designed to ‘protect the children’, it is likely to spread like a prairie fire across the entire nation.

Hannah’s Law would mandate installation of fall resistant window screens on multifamily, multilevel homes. Also under the proposed law, if fall-resistant screens are not installed, it would mandate that the windows on such homes be restricted from opening more than four inches.

After every child death and tragedy, there emerges a new crop of laws and regulations intended to stop similar, ‘senseless’ deaths. Parents and loved ones seek to turn their grief into something positive by forcing someone else to do something ‘to keep this from happening to someone else’.

I understand it. I sympathize. And I understand the psychological mechanics behind such attempts. Grief counselors typically recommend activism as therapy for the bereaved.

[NOTE: Mothers Against Drunk Driving emerged via this mechanism and has since morphed into a contemporary Women’s Christian Temperance Union bent on abolishing the use of alcohol as a beverage.]

But such efforts are wrong. They are akin to forcing an entire community into a funeral cortege under penalty of law. Unfortunately, the press flocks to these human interest stories like moths around an August porch light and give unwitting support to yet another senseless, burdensome, and futile law.

Futile? How?

There are millions of ways to die or to be maimed. It is futile to attempt to prevent all of them. In an unfortunate choice of methods to assuage their grief, parents and loved ones of deceased children subsequently seek all sorts of new eponymic laws specific to preventing the unpreventable. There are even laws bearing the name of beloved, deceased pets.

As a result, I have five-gallon plastic buckets emblazoned with warnings that they may cause drowning if a tot falls headfirst into one. My newest window blinds were festooned with so many warning stickers that, once hung, the warning literature obviated the need for the shades entirely. My garden hose came with a sticker (which I promptly tore off) warning me not to drink from it because it contained ‘substances known to the State of California to cause cancer’.

[One wonders where kids playing ‘fort’ now get their water? Actually, children don’t’ play ‘fort’ anymore. The kids are all inside, punching buttons on a computer game or iPod and drinking bottled vitamin water. PD]

I condole with Boone and Geneser. I sympathize.

But I want to open my windows. I don’t want thick screens on them that block the light and keep out the air.

If I wanted them, I would buy them. If I had small, rowdy children I would definitely look into them for my home.

If Boone and Geneser were to embark on an educational campaign to make parents aware of window locks and fall-resistant screens, I would be in the gallery cheering them. But seeking to legislate their use and installation will only paint us further into a corner where we are free to do anything as long as it is 100% risk-free.

Ms. Boone and Mr. Geneser, you have done your community a great service. Your daughter’s untimely death motivated you to make your neighbors aware of a risk that took her from you. But it is time to move on, to mourn, to heal, and to leave the rest of us to our fates.

No matter how irresponsible and dangerous that may seem to you.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: