Not Every Tragedy Contains a Moral

A reminder from a reader that the way we package our “news” ends up affecting the way we see the world, and our job as parents.

And the easiest way to package any story is by making it seem as if X could have been prevented SO EASILY, if only a parent had been more vigilant:

Dear Free-Range Kids: My biggest peeve is how when a criminal is involved, that person — not the parent — seems to get a free pass from public scrutiny.  Consider the common case of somebody trying to steal a car, discovering a baby in the back seat, panicking, and fleeing the scene.

Hell will host the world’s hockey championships the day you see a commenter respond with, “How horrible!  What kind of bad person would steal a car like that?”  No siree bob.  It’s always, “WHO WOULD LEAVE THEIR KID IN A CAR??”  Our culture and jurisprudence won’t allow us to accuse a mom of “provoking” a rapist, but you can most certainly blame her for “provoking” a car thief!

I’m also sick to death of news media demanding a moral or message from every tragic incident.  “A vending machine tragically fell on a 3-year-old.  Now the parents are pleading others to be careful of vending machines.  Here are some vending machine safety tips.”

It’s as if we need this spin for some kind of psychological closure. The idea that shit happens is simply to terrifying to ponder.

The Fickle Finger of Fate is, indeed, tough to ponder. And yet the idea that we can and must control everything our kids do/see/experience/encounter is far more terrifying, because of the superpowers it supposes we possess, and the lack of sympathy afforded us if and when those superpowers somehow fail. – L.

Nothing bad would ever happen if parents just watched every kid every single second of every single day!

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33 Responses to Not Every Tragedy Contains a Moral

  1. Workshop March 16, 2017 at 11:50 am #

    I believe I mentioned in a comment a long time ago that “accidents” really don’t happen. Barring natural phenomena (asteroid hurtling towards the planet, for example), there is almost always a human involved, and likely two parties that had to interact for the accident to occur. For example, getting hit by a car that ran a red light – the driver ran the red light, and the victim didn’t look before crossing the street. Both played a role in the situation, but we assign blame to the driver.

    In our safety-conscious society, this has caused a mistaken view that everything bad has a “at fault” party. Certainly, in the industrial safety training many receive, the message is “always look out.” We get stories like a factory explosion caused by large amounts of dust collecting in a ventilation system, because “someone” didn’t think to add ventilation system checks to the safety walk-through list.

    This morphs every-day accidents into “at fault” situations. Two children collide on a playground? Someone must be at fault. Probably not the children, because they’re below the age of majority, so the parents who let them play are to blame. A child breaks her arm falling off the monkey bars? Someone is at fault – probably the park because it’s obvious that someone will fall and injury will result.

    Similarly, this degradation of logic affects what the commenter mentions – we don’t blame the car thief for stealing the car, we blame the parent for leaving the child in a completely safe situation that an outside actor purposefully disrupted. Or the vending machine safety tips when the obvious response is ‘teach your child not to climb stuff that’s not a tree.’

    Such degradation affects other things as well, but given the nature of the blog, I can end that discussion here. There’s another whole rant on letting “experts” made decisions on how our lives should be run so that we don’t have to do the heavy work of thinking, but I’ll save that one for later.

  2. Dienne March 16, 2017 at 12:02 pm #

    “…, but we assign blame to the driver.”

    Well, yes, because only the driver has the responsibility to stop at a red light. When the light is red, pedestrians have the right of way and are supposed to assume it’s safe to cross – that’s what our society has agreed to. Red means stop, failure to do so puts the driver at fault. Society couldn’t function if people constantly have to watch every direction just to make sure that everyone else is following the rules.

  3. En Passant March 16, 2017 at 12:33 pm #

    Dienne March 16, 2017 at 12:02 pm wrote

    When the light is red, pedestrians have the right of way and are supposed to assume it’s safe to cross – that’s what our society has agreed to. … Society couldn’t function if people constantly have to watch every direction just to make sure that everyone else is following the rules.

    True, but I’ve always looked both ways even when walking with the green light. “He had the right of way” makes a lousy epitaph.

  4. Workshop March 16, 2017 at 12:36 pm #

    Donna, of course. But the pedestrian also played a role in the accident. If he had looked first, he would have seen the car not stopping.

    “Society couldn’t function if people constantly have to watch every direction just to make sure that everyone else is following the rules.” This is exactly where we are with regards to child safety.

    I cannot leave my son in the car because some may steal the car and I will be blamed for not following “the rules.”

    For the record, I always make sure cars have stopped before I cross a street or go through a green light. Assuming that other people know what they’re doing is generally why emergency rooms are full.

  5. Workshop March 16, 2017 at 12:38 pm #

    Sorry, I typed Donna and meant Dienne.

    I can’t even blame it on autocorrect.

    See what I mean about assuming people know what they’re doing!?!?

  6. bmj2k March 16, 2017 at 1:34 pm #

    In the example of the attempted car theft with the kid in the car, the media decided that the bigger issue was the kid left in the car. Guy tries to steal a car? Happens every day. It’s bad, but what’s the worst that can happen? Someone loses a car. Baby left in the car, what’s the worst that can happen? The baby can die.

    I simply don’t understand the comment about how leaving the baby in the car “provoked” a car thief. Especially when the opposite happened- the baby repelled the car thief.

  7. elizabeth March 16, 2017 at 1:35 pm #

    I once got waved through a crosswalk with no light and i still nearly got hit (i looked in time to avoid it) because apparently where the other lady was going was more important than me, who was IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. It isnt always partly the pedestrian’s fault. I guess the point of the article is that sometimes we can do our best to stay safe and still get hurt.

  8. elizabeth March 16, 2017 at 1:36 pm #

    To clarify, there was no crossing light. It was just cross when safe.

  9. John B. March 16, 2017 at 1:43 pm #

    In today’s America, anytime a child is injured, we’ve always got to assign blame to some adult, be it the parents or the adult closest to the accident instead of just calling it “an accident”. Also, anytime a child is victimized, be it sexual or otherwise, instead of blaming the perpetrator, it’s always the parents or school administrators whom we first assign blame to.

    Recently I read an article (can’t locate the link) where hotels are now going to be held accountable for sex trafficking (involving minors) on their premise. The assumption is going to be made that hotel personnel knew about it or should have known about it and then done something about it. Of course, it’s a “feel good” concept because we all want to protect the most vulnerable among us but in looking at this concept with some common sense, it’s really not practical and not always achievable.

    Now if the hotel staff, be it the owner or otherwise, was specifically told by the sex traffickers themselves that they were bringing in a bunch of teenage girls “for a bit of fun” so “can you cover for us?” then yes, they would be guilty. BUT if my room were in the back part of the hotel far from the lobby, I’d easily be able to sneak in a few teenage girls (or boys for that matter) into my room and unless the hotel put surveillance cameras within the rooms (huge civil liberty lawsuit there) or posted guards outside each section of the hotel specifically hired to watch who goes in and out of the rooms (not practical at all), there is no way the hotel staff could have a clue as to who else was in or what I was doing in my room. I cannot imagine any person looking to have sex with an underage kid is going to tell the hotel staff or manager that’s what he plans on doing in his room. So can we use a little common sense here?

    Again, I am all for the protection of kids and believe that anybody who harms kids should be held accountable including those who UNDOUBTEDLY knew about the harm and did not doing anything about it. BUT what I am not onboard with is holding every single adult within a 5 mile radius of the incident responsible for the crime or the accident because “they should have known and prevented it because it was a child whom was harmed”.

  10. James Pollock March 16, 2017 at 1:44 pm #

    “Having the right-of-way” and “being safe” are not at all the same thing, and, alas, we DO have to be “looking over our shoulders” because our first defender is ourselves.

    The fact that I have the right-of-way is no guarantee of safety, for a number of reasons. I might be dealing with someone who isn’t prepared to surrender the right-of-way, even though it’s rightfully mine. They may not know that I have the right-of-way, they might not even be aware that I’m present and exercising it. This means that even with the right-of-way, I still have responsibility to verify that it is safe to proceed before doing so, whether I’m walking down the street or encased in a steel-and-aluminum death machine of my own.
    And it ISN’T just traffic right-of-way that works like this.
    I have a right not to be robbed or murdered… but faced with someone unprepared to honor those rights, I must keep myself safe even though I do have those rights.

    I think there’s a fundamental mistake in the original comment Ms. Skenazy quotes from. If a car thief steals a car with a baby in it, it is NOT the case that nobody blames the car thief. The car thief, if caught, will get prison time, and nobody will be at the sentencing hearing protesting. Because that guilt is so firmly established, it doesn’t get much if any discussion. That’s why all the talk is about what blame, if any, belongs to the parent(s). It may be that no, the parents did not contribute. It may be that yes, the parents contributed, but only a tiny bit. Or maybe the parents contributed rather heavily (relative to other car-theft victims). That can vary, and that’s why people talk about it. Water is wet. The fact that people don’t talk about how wet water is, doesn’t mean that people, collectively, don’t think water is wet, it means that the issue is settled and doesn’t need any more discussion. On the other hand, how much water has fallen from the sky recently DOES change (offer void in southern California) and thus is a topic of conversation.

    Finally, looking for a moral in every tragedy might be due to our oversaturation of dramatic media… where dramatic imperative puts a resolution on every conflict, and a moral to every hardship, usually with 42 or 120 minutes. On the other hand, I think it’s deeper than that. Intelligence is the ability to learn from your mistakes, Wisdom is the ability to learn from other peoples’. So there’s wisdom in looking at any tragedy, and saying “wow, that’s really tragic. Is there anything I can learn from what happened to THOSE PEOPLE that I can apply to keep it from happening to ME? There isn’t always a good answer, but that doesn’t mean we should be looking for one. Sometimes the tornado just has your name on it.

  11. James March 16, 2017 at 1:59 pm #

    “For example, getting hit by a car that ran a red light – the driver ran the red light, and the victim didn’t look before crossing the street. Both played a role in the situation, but we assign blame to the driver.”

    Gee, one party flagrantly violated the laws and norms of society–can’t imagine why he’d get blamed.

    As for the argument “the pedestrian should have looked both ways”, that’s exactly equivalent to saying “Well, that woman shouldn’t have been wearing that outfit in that neighborhood–she was asking for it!” It’s blaming the victim.

    Accidents happen. It’s as simple as that. You can mitigate them to a certain extent, but there’s a background level of bad things happening. This is because every safety measure has tradeoffs. You can make a car able to withstand a missile strike–as long as you don’t want to actually drive it. You can pad your children to the point where they can’t possibly get hurt–but they can’t move. You can keep your kids inside to avoid kidnappers–but they get fat. The construction industry deals with this constantly. To give a personal example: We have a lock on the snack cabinet, and all that did was teach our two older children manual dexterity. At a certain point, you have to ask yourself what trade-offs you’re going to make. That means, inherently and inevitably, you’re taking a risk–and that means that a certain percentage of the time something bad will happen to you.

    Attempts to assign blame for these background level bad things merely adds to (and would invariably create) a culture of fear, risk-avoidance, and Worst-First Thinking. To stay sane you need to accept that bad things happen sometimes.

  12. Workshop March 16, 2017 at 2:04 pm #

    James, there’s a long, long way from what I described to get to “blaming the victim.”

    There’s also “accident” and “purposeful and intentional violations of the law.” They are different, and it should be apparent that one is not the other.

  13. James March 16, 2017 at 2:20 pm #

    “Finally, looking for a moral in every tragedy might be due to our oversaturation of dramatic media…”

    I disagree. Humans attribute agency to things; it’s built into the structure of our brains. In fact, there are TWO structures that contribute.

    First is animism. Humans assign agency to events, because (if you accept the evolutionary psychology explanation, which I’m tentatively prepared to do in this case) our ancestors survived better when they assumed agency than when they didn’t. If the bush moves it could be the wind–or a predator or enemy looking to harm you. The safe bet is to assume it’s the latter, because if you’re wrong you’re merely inconvenienced. Assume it’s the wind and err, and you could be killed. This is present in our modern society, in the form of blaming things like coffee makers or tables for malfunctioning or harming us when we kick them.

    Second, humans are built for pattern-matching. Paradolia, audiodolia, and other psychological tricks demonstrate this quite definitively–we are built to look for patterns, and we’re so good at it we find them even when they’re not there. If we see two events we assume a trend, even if they’re separated by distance and time to the point where no possibility for a trend exists. And patterns have causes.

    Additionally, I think you’re wrong about our modern culture being saturated with dramatic media. We tend to ignore the ways other cultures experienced the world, or downplay their importance. For us, a tapestry or painting is a minor thing–something nice to look at, but rarely powerful or significant in the way movies, TV shows, etc are. For people in the Middle Ages, a tapestry would have been profoundly significant–remember, it took ages to make these, all by hand, and they depicted events of tremendous importance. The Bordeaux Tapestry was the “Saving Private Ryan” of its day. And tapestries and the like were about as common as movies and TV are today–if you were well-off you had a few hanging on your walls. Plus, there was story-telling. We as a culture SUCK at telling stories, in part because we don’t do it very often. In the past? Things like Beowulf and The Iliad were recited, and tales of the gods and heroes were told around the fireplace. Bards traveled singing about battles and nobles and great deeds. Statues were erected to heroes in public places (Nelson, for example). These would be as meaningful and dramatic to the culture that told these tales and erected these statues as movies and TV are to us. Go far enough back, and people literally saw no difference between the statue and the god it represented. The Romans didn’t send legions to recapture their eagles out of pride–THEIR GODS were held captive as far as the legions were concerned.

    If anything, our culture is LACKING in dramatic media compared to the past.

  14. Stacey March 16, 2017 at 2:36 pm #

    Shouldacouldawoulda time….

  15. James Pollock March 16, 2017 at 2:36 pm #

    “Gee, one party flagrantly violated the laws and norms of society–can’t imagine why he’d get blamed.”

    You’ve made an assumption here. Maybe the “flagrant violation of the laws and norms of society” is caused by accident. Maybe the driver is NOT a sociopath who doesn’t feel society’s rules like red lights apply to him… maybe he just hit a patch of ice unexpectedly, or had a mechanical breakdown that affected control of the vehicle. Heck, maybe the reason the driver blew through the red light was because he was shot in the head while passing down the block, and was dead before reaching the light.
    No, these are far from the most likely possibilities. But they ARE possibilities, which is why the pedestrian still has the responsibility to check for safety before proceeding, even WITH the right-of-way.

    “Accidents happen. It’s as simple as that. You can mitigate them to a certain extent, but there’s a background level of bad things happening”
    You’re “blaming the victim”!!!

    “That means, inherently and inevitably, you’re taking a risk–and that means that a certain percentage of the time something bad will happen to you.”
    But you CAN take action to either reduce the likelihood or severity of the consequences. And if you haven’t, then a certain part of the damage done is your own damn fault. If you like to ski without a helmet, and you hit a tree and give yourself a brain injury, we can blame the ski resort for leaving a tree where people could run into it, but “why didn’t you have a helmet on?” is a reasonable question, too. If you’re in a car accident and your 3-year-old is severely injured, asking about the car seat they were in (or weren’t in) is reasonable, even if you didn’t cause the crash.
    The mistake is deciding that if there’s one person to blame, then all others are blameless. There’s almost always some blame to share.

  16. Kirsten March 16, 2017 at 2:39 pm #

    “Now the parents are pleading others to be careful of vending machines” So true! I read this kind of thing all the time. I’m not laughing at someone’s tragedy. But this sort of thing does cause me cognitive dissonance. The next you’ll be reading that the parents are “setting up a victims of vending machines fund.”

  17. James Pollock March 16, 2017 at 2:44 pm #

    ““Finally, looking for a moral in every tragedy might be due to our oversaturation of dramatic media…”

    I disagree.”

    So did I, in the very next sentence.

    “Additionally, I think you’re wrong about our modern culture being saturated with dramatic media.”
    “Modern” drama is about 2500 years old. Jesus used it to instruct his followers.

  18. SKL March 16, 2017 at 3:34 pm #

    My kid told me the other day that she doesn’t want to ever get her driver’s license because she’s afraid of hitting a child.

    I hope this means she will be a careful driver – not a reluctant driver.

    We’ve recently finished the audibook “Every Single Second.” In it there are two brief moments where a young man makes a split-second decision that results in a lifetime of hurt for all involved. It’s not so much about how important our quick decisions can become, but also that the people behind those incidents are often ordinary/good people who made a mistake – sometimes an understandable mistake. And how the usual reaction of the world is to demonize these people without bothering to learn anything about them – which only makes things worse for everyone.

    My family has a few skeletons in its closet, which I will tell my kids at some point. Mistakes, accidents, even a dead kid (accidentally killed by a relative who was considered a good person). A few cases of “there but for the grace of God.” Life is messy.

  19. K March 16, 2017 at 3:37 pm #

    John B., if you’re talking about the same case that I read about, the article I read made it sound very much like the trafficking going on was obvious to hotel staff, other guests, police, etc. “Almost every trafficking investigation we have, we see the victim is at Roosevelt Inn,” according to the Assistant DA. It was referred to several times in the article as “the local epicenter of human trafficking.” Obviously the motel is disputing the fact, but this does not seem like a situation where someone discreetly rented a room and now the hotel is liable through no fault of their own.

    What it sounds like is not that the “assumption is going to be made” that the they knew what was going on, but that the case hinges on *whether* the girl’s attorneys can demonstrate that they “knew or had ‘constructive knowledge'” of it. (I won’t try to pretend that I know what “constructive knowledge” means.)

    Notably, also, the case, and the law involved, only assigns liability to anyone who profits from the human trafficking going on – which is to say that, far from blaming any adult in the area, there’s no [legal] responsibility assigned to the various Yelp reviewers quoted in the article who complained about the obvious prostitution without, apparently, calling the cops about it. I really find it to be entirely irrelevant to this post.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/03/14/forced-to-have-sex-with-1000-men-a-girl-is-now-suing-the-motel-that-she-says-let-it-happen/?utm_term=.19117f152405

  20. Heather March 16, 2017 at 3:37 pm #

    Like so many social problems at the moment, I find that the internet is the biggest factor in this. I have known people personally who lost children in tragic, freak accidents. The one that springs to mind is a toddler who drowned. In my small town, this was a well-known and often-discussed story, and not once did I EVER hear anyone say (or even imply in any subtle way) “Why weren’t they watching that child better??” Everyone grieved and wept and acknowledged the hell that the parents were experiencing, without looking around for someone to blame. There is just something about the internet (Facebook particularly) that brings out the very worst witch-hunters.

  21. jimc5499 March 16, 2017 at 3:43 pm #

    Several years ago a two year old boy found a loaded 9 mm pistol in a coffee table drawer. While he was playing with it, it discharged killing him. It was treated as a tragic accident. Nobody was held accountable. It didn’t matter that the pistol was left where the child could get to it. It didn’t matter that the pistol was left cocked with a round in the chamber, with the safety off. It didn’t matter that the sear was filed down giving the pistol a “hair trigger”. Nope. None of that mattered, it was an accident. Hell, there was a fundraiser to help pay for the child’s funeral.

    Move forward a few years, a teenager writes a paper about learning how to shoot a rifle during his Summer vacation. His teacher turns the paper into CYS, who show up on his front porch with a State Police officer and a Court order demanding that they be shown how the guns in the house are stored.

    Funny how a few years make things different.

  22. Mike March 16, 2017 at 10:59 pm #

    Okay, some folks are mistakenly putting an equal responsibility on the parties of the pedestrian vs. the red light runner. How about this example for an account where both people should not equally be viewed responsibly: one person is reading a magazine at a bus stop and a car loses control and drives up on the curb and runs over the person reading the magazine. No amount of vigilance on behalf of the person waiting for the bus could have prevented that. Both parties are not equally at fault. Also, neither party may be at fault if it was a random, unforeseeable mechanical failure.

  23. James Pollock March 16, 2017 at 11:46 pm #

    “Okay, some folks are mistakenly putting an equal responsibility on the parties of the pedestrian vs. the red light runner”

    You’re mistaking “both parties have some fault” for “all parties have equal responsibility”.

    ” one person is reading a magazine at a bus stop and a car loses control and drives up on the curb and runs over the person reading the magazine.”
    The person who is sitting there reading has some fault for being oblivious to their surroundings. The person who lost control of their vehicle has fault for losing control of their vehicle. If it was because of mechanical fault, there’s some fault for whoever did the maintenance or manufactured the vehicle with a mechanical fault in it. The engineer of the roadway may have some fault for not designing a road that keeps cars in the roadway. If someone nearby is making too much noise, they may be at fault for making it impossible to hear the oncoming vehicle.
    See how this works?
    What they all have in common is that other people in similar situations can look at what happened and say “is there something I could do that could keep this from happening, or make the consequences less severe if it did happen?” Maybe the answer is “yes, so I’ll do that instead”. Maybe the answer is “yes, but the improvement doesn’t justify the costs”. Maybe the answer is “no”. But in asking, we find those improvements that can be made. That’s how you get chainsaws with chainbrakes, cars with safety belts, and passenger liners with enough lifeboats for everybody to get on one if the ship hits an iceberg. Oh, and you also get fewer ships running into icebergs.

    Maybe, in the case of a random person sitting waiting for a bus getting run over by a car, you get bus shelters that aren’t just sort-of waterproof, but built sturdy enough to stop a car. (Probably not, unless it keeps happening.)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wm0ywsD9V88

  24. Mike March 17, 2017 at 1:40 am #

    James, you’ve taken your analysis of the these hypothetical scenarios to insanity. If you continue the logic you’re following, then the person at the bus stop may also he at fall for not buying a car or for not choosing to carpool that day. Your definition for blame it fault is very generous and you could even start blaming the magazine publisher for distributing such interesting material that someone would read it so intently that they would not be able to jump out of the way of a car traveling 40 mph that abruptly veers directly in to you (who could?). A reasonable person would not lay any amount of blame at someone reading s magazine, nor the publisher of the magazine.

  25. James Pollock March 17, 2017 at 2:12 am #

    “A reasonable person would not lay any amount of blame at someone reading s magazine”

    Really? Substitute “phone” for “magazine” and see if anyone agrees that paying so much attention to your phone that you don’t notice you’re about to be run over by a car. Or, substitute any device with headphones.
    The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars, but in ourselves (oops… a day late).

    Again, your error is assuming that if there is fault in one person, there can be no fault in another. (You also seem to attach value judgments to it, but that’s a separate issue I’m going to leave off.)

    “If you continue the logic you’re following, then the person at the bus stop may also he at fall for not buying a car”
    Not even close.. “Fault” comes about when you don’t do something you should have done. You should be aware of your surroundings, and if you aren’t, that’s your fault. You should maintain your vehicle properly before operating it, and if you don’t, that’s your fault. Manufacturers should make sure their product is free of defects before offering it for sale to the public, and if they don’t do this, they’re at fault. Now, let’s try your extension. You should buy a car instead of waiting for a bus. Uh, what now? That’s nonsense.

    ” you could even start blaming the magazine publisher for distributing such interesting material that someone would read it so intently that they would not be able to jump out of the way of a car”
    Nope. If you’re the type of person who becomes so engrossed in what you are reading that you won’t notice a car coming at you, then you should not read in places where cars might come at you.

    “A reasonable person would not lay any amount of blame at someone reading s magazine, nor the publisher of the magazine.”
    You got that half right.

    .

  26. Bob Davis March 17, 2017 at 5:01 am #

    That line, “You should buy a car instead of waiting for a bus” line caught my attention because I follow the Streetsblog websites that are devoted to making our cities safer tor those who walk, ride a bike, or use public transit. They advocate for “traffic calming”, making driving faster than a safe speed in urban area difficult or impossible. Their aim is to protect the “vulnerable users” of our streets, those who are not protected by two tons of steel and glass.

    The epitaph mentioned in one of the comments is part of “Here lies the body of Julian Gray, who died while demanding the right of way. He was right, dead right, all along, but he’s just as dead as if he’d been wrong.”

  27. SKL March 17, 2017 at 11:31 am #

    Speaking of suing the magazine publisher.

    When I was young, radio stations used to have contests where the first person to the phone with the right answer would win, or the person whose name was drawn had to call back in a very short time period. Someone had a car accident rushing to win some radio contest. The radio people were sued. Now the radio stations never do contests where you have to hurry suddenly to make a phone call.

    Because yes, we do blame remote “causes” when bad things happen.

  28. John B. March 17, 2017 at 8:15 pm #

    @K

    No, it was a different article that I read but from reading about this case, I still don’t know if I’m quite buying it. The info in this article seems strongly to be from the girl’s Lawyer’s point of view whereas the hotel manager claims “It’s hard to control anybody,” If we think a lot of people are having a party in the room, we kick them out.” Of course, this certainly doesn’t mean the manager is innocent as to what he presumed was going on in his rooms but I’m just emphasizing that there is another point of view.

    Now just because a hotel has a reputation for sleazy guests doesn’t mean they knew there was child prostitution going on in their rooms. A hotel’s clientele is usually proportional to the quality and price of the hotel and the area of town it is in. Even if the hotel staff DID know and that victims can now successfully sue hotels that knew, I can see where these kind of lawsuits might get out of hand. Victims and their Lawyers will be seeing dollar signs and in America’s quest “to protect the kids” there won’t be a Judge or jury around who doesn’t award multi-millions of dollars to the victim who was smuggled in a room on the back part of the hotel well outside of the observant eyes of the hotel staff. In other words, we will do what Americans are good at doing and that is OVER REACTING in the interest of 0 tolerance.

    But again, if they can prove without a shadow of doubt that the hotel staff knew what was going on (and that can be very subjective), then yes, they should be held accountable. The problem is, that is not what is going to happen, as with each passing case we will reach further and further toward those who sincerely didn’t know what was going on and who are innocent. In other words, EVERY adult within a 5 mile radius of the crime!

  29. Stacey March 18, 2017 at 12:07 pm #

    You always want to review an accident/tragedy to see what can be learned from it. An attempt to prevent the same thing from happening it in the future, if reasonably possible, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Many improvements in aviation safety have come from the analysis of tragic crashes. However, that does not necessarily mean drafting draconian legislation or creating weird rules that would only apply in the narrowest of circumstances….

    http://southgeek.blogspot.com/2015/03/shouldawouldacoulda.html

  30. Marybeth N. March 19, 2017 at 3:09 pm #

    I wholeheartedly share in the ideas stated by this reader. So glad she/he wrote to Lenore.

  31. LGB March 20, 2017 at 1:46 pm #

    I think the helicopter parenting movement was really taking off when Gen X was being raised. Here’s an article from 1988 about an asphyxiation tragedy. http://articles.latimes.com/1988-06-28/local/me-4854_1_plastic-bag

    Check out the concluding sentence, or “moral of the story”:

    “All you need to do is turn away for a moment and a youngster will do something,” Wagner said. “You should assume that everything around the child is a potential danger.”

    Oh spiffy. Just spiffy. We parents should all just be jailed for crimes we haven’t yet committed, like in The Minority Report.

  32. Danielle March 21, 2017 at 3:37 pm #

    Yes! I’m so tired of reading comments on children tragedies and TONS of people blaming the parents. The 2 girls ages 13 and 14 on a hike in Indiana found murdered. “Where were the parents?” or “whoever dropped those young girls off in the woods is to blame” Or the 10 year old boy that died on the water slide? Yep, tons of people blaming the parents for letting him go on that. And the 2 year old killed by an alligator a while back? More parent blaming. Makes me so mad. I would have let my kids do any of those things. But especially the 13 and 14 year old girls going for a hike? Wouldn’t think twice about letting my ages of kids do that. NOT the parents fault!

  33. James Pollock March 21, 2017 at 4:12 pm #

    “I think the helicopter parenting movement was really taking off when Gen X was being raised. Here’s an article from 1988”

    I’m Gen X, and in 1988 I was about to graduate from college. Gen X was raised in the late 60’s to early 70’s.