This video of a Brooklyn, NY girl falling from the third story of a building as she danced on top of an air conditioner made the Internet rounds last week. That's bus driver Steve St. Bernard, on his way home from work, who caught Keyla. She was fine; he suffered a torn tendon in his left arm.
Perhaps your first thought was, who the heck was at home with this girl? That's what crossed my mind.
Fact: Her mother was at home.
Another fact: The girl has autism.
How could this mother have been so negligent? I wondered, and kept searching for articles online. As Keyla's mother, Saleema McCree, told a CBS News reporter, the girl was supposed to be taking a nap, but slipped out her window onto the top of the newly-bought air conditioner, through the plastic side vents. After a police investigation, no charges were filed against either parent. Said her mother, "All I got to say to people is don't judge what you saw because it wasn't that way at all."
I was ashamed of myself, placing instant blame on this mother. I should know better, as the parent of a child with special needs. While our children may be more vulnerable than other kids, we do not possess supernatural powers to protect them from themselves.
Judgment against parents has weighed heavily on mind this week, particularly after the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting. I felt sickened by accusatory comments flying around social media about what kids were doing at a midnight showing of a movie. Sample from Twitter: "Children's Hospital is treating six victims from the theaters, from age six to 31. WHO TAKES A 6 YEAR OLD TO A MIDNIGHT SHOWING?" Heather Spohr wrote about this victim shaming at Babble, asking people to stop blaming the parents on the "worst day of their lives" and do what they could to "make it better, not worse."
The parents of the little girl who died in that theater aren't to blame for her death; a mentally-deranged man named James Holmes is.
I haven't stop thinking about those victims, their parents and families. And I'm also thinking that this is all a sobering reminder to think twice before we place blame on parents.
Over on my Babble blog:
My mixed feelings about not being able to explain the Colorado shootings to Max