Blaming Parents Who Lose Their Children To Accidents Will Not Keep Your Kid Safe

by Ashley Austrew

A child’s accidental death has parents expressing their fears in the worst way

As parents, we like to imagine there’s a way to protect our kids from every harm that could befall them. We hover, we childproof, we make note of all possible dangers. We think if we can always stay one step ahead, then nothing bad can happen. Unfortunately, no one is immune to accidents, and one Canadian family is grieving this week after they lost their toddler to a tragic drowning incident.

Two-year-old Manitoba resident Chase Martens went missing last Tuesday evening. He’d been playing outside on his family’s farm, when his mom tells CBC News suddenly he was just gone. His disappearance drew national attention, and over 500 volunteers combed fields, forests, and bodies of water surrounding the Martens’ farm looking for him. Sadly, Chase’s body was found Saturday morning in a creek. The little boy had drowned.

Chase’s parents and the community around them is devastated, but unfortunately the little boy’s death has also drawn out another reaction — a terrible one that we see all too often in tragedies like this. Hundreds of people are pointing fingers, voicing criticisms of Chase’s parents, and hurling blame at them.

Chase was apparently playing outside alone at the time of his disappearance, leading many to question why the parents allowed a two-year-old to play unsupervised, where they were, how long he was gone before they noticed, and a whole host of other vicious, invasive questions. In the discussion on the CBC News page, some wrote:

“I still feel bad for the child, his parents weren’t bright enough to watch him.”
“This wasn’t a tragedy, it was a murder and the parents should be charged.”
“This poor child’s death was preventable, I have three children and by no means think I’m perfect but I also did not at any point allow them to play outside alone at two. My youngest is 7 and is just now being allowed to play in my fenced backyard with her 11 year old sister, even than I walk outside every 10mins to see if they are OK or need anything. [sic]”
“The parents were neglectful. There is no excuse for leaving a 2 year old alone outside… I only say let us not gloss over the fact that this tragedy was preventable only to save some child in the future.”

Whenever something awful happens, you always see people blaming the victim — you should have been watching, you should have been more careful, you should have paid more attention. It’s a terrible expression of grief, and most often it’s a desperate attempt to distance ourselves from tragedy. We think that if only we can find all the places people supposedly screwed up, then we can prevent this horrible thing from ever happening to us.

The reality is accidents happen. You can go back to almost any situation and figure out ways it supposedly could have been prevented, but doing that won’t keep it from happening to you or someone you love. Bad things can happen in the blink of an eye, and that’s the scary truth every parent knows deep down in the darkest parts of our brains where we try not to venture.

What happened to this little boy was a tragedy, but it’s no one’s fault, and shaming his parents accomplishes nothing but adding to their grief. We all make different choices, but we’re all united in wanting our children to be safe, happy, and loved. There’s no doubt that’s what Chase Martens parents wanted too, and our hearts should collectively ache for their devastating loss.