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    Default TRIGGER WARNING: Where is the line between tragic accident, tragic error of judgement

    TRIGGER WARNING: Violent crimes and neglect mentioned.

    This is a topic I've been thinking of for a while. I may come back and re-write this OP if my thoughts become clearer. I want to be clear that I'm not out to crucify anyone involved in the cases I've mentioned. I know that I only have the info provided by the media, but I think it's worthy of discussion.

    What I'm wondering, is where is the line between tragic accident, an error of judgement that leads to the death of a child, and error of judgement that's so bad that caregivers or parents should be held accountable? Not just in the legal sense. One case I'm thinking of, someone has been acquitted, but the police aren't going to charge anyone else.

    For example, children left in cars. In a previous thread, I said I understand how fatal distraction could happen. I still do I think. But it got me thinking, is that different to other decisions?
    We know we're not supposed to walk away from kids in the bath or pool, but sometimes it happens and sometimes there are no consequences. But sometimes there are.

    Are those errors of judgement different to leaving our kids on the care of people we barely know with horrific consequences? Or having partners move in quickly with horrific consequences?

    I've been incredibly upset by the case of the sexual assault and murder of Zoe Buttigieb this year. A party in her home. Alcohol and drug use. Guests that the parent barely knew. One of whom raped and murdered Zoe. I know the perpetrator is responsible. But does her primary caregiver have a level of responsibility?

    Nikki Coslovich, the toddler from Mildura who was murdered and hidden in the roof cavity. Nikki's mother's defacto was found not guilty, claiming it was Nikki's mother who murdered her. The police have stated that they will not be laying further charges.

    I think about these kids. I try not to think about what they must have gone through in their short lives and then in their deaths. But I feel like someone should think about it. And I don't think it's as simple as "blame DHS for not doing more". I know that system. I know what child protection workers face and I can't help but think it's too easy sometimes to lay blame with faceless government departments.

    Is it as simple as some people shouldn't have kids? Or not that at all? That the blame for violent and horrific crimes against children lie solely with the person(s) who perpetrated the crime?
    Does poverty play a part? Lack of education? Drug use?

    I believe drug addiction is an illness. But I also believe that shouldn't absolve someone of responsibility.

    I'll leave it there since I'm being very long winded. Just want to know your thoughts.

    Both those cases can be found on Google. I couldn't link them without huge links. There are many more like them.

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    Default TRIGGER WARNING: Where is the line between tragic accident, tragic error of j...

    Hi, what an interesting discussion thread, I'll be reading to enhance my perspective on this one.

    For me, the cases you mention are definitely not what I would consider a tragic accident, or error of judgement. To me, both of those cases had a perpetrator who intentionally acted in a way that brought great harm to these kids.

    I would consider a tragic accident to be along the lines of something happening to a child that injures them although they are partaking in a "normal" childhood day. Eg, the mother at flinders st station who didn't put the brake on the pram and the wind caught the pram pushing it onto the tracks (that to me would be a tragic accident, had something happened to that baby on that day). In the same light, the group of 5 teenagers walking along the road when they were hit by a drunken car in Mildura a couple of years ago was horrible, but I would consider that more an "error of judgement" (because whilst the drunk didn't intend on killing 5 kids that day, he did as a result of a choice he made).

    Absent mindedness results in tragic accidents to me. But, where someone does something they know puts others at risk is more of the error of judgement thing to me.

    In the case you mention of Nikki Coslovich, I think there are a lot of issues there and it isn't either. It was an act that was intentional, but didn't involve an error of judgement. There seemed to be more intense issues that we only heard snippets of in the media.

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    Subbing, very interesting topic, but no time to distill my thoughts at the moment.

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    I think it's a very complex topic. In each and every case the perpetrator must claim responsibility for their actions. But in many of these cases, the parent/s should take on a smaller portion of culpability. For me that depends on previous abuse. So the the baby thrown in a scalding shower by their step father (I feel sick typing that) - the step father as the perp should maintain a large portion of culpability. But he was abusing that poor sweet child for months before this incident. Yet the mother stayed. Given that, I believe she has to bear some responsibility too for not protecting her child. Same for the little girl in the roof. Whoever killed her, the other helped cover it up.

    My first thought was the incident with the party, I would consider the parent/s to be less culpable given there wasn't a history of abuse. But then who has a party with drugs and blind strangers with your children in the house?? So for me, obviously the perp should hold a large majority of blame, but the parents had some serious lapses in judgment.

    Where is the line between normal parenting and a lapse that holds culpability? I would base that on logic. You have a 16 year old walk to school 1km every single day in a small town. One day they get abducted. I don't believe the parents bare any responsibility. They have not placed their child in an inappropriate situation. And that is the key criteria for me. We have to gradually give them more rope to develop resilience and independent living skills. But a parent who has a 2yr old asleep, then leaves them alone in the house at 11pm... which then burns down... I would say they should shoulder some of that blame.

    As to child protection. They are the whipping boys for a society that hurts children but doesn't want to actually put their money where their mouth is and fund it properly. And a really really important point that so many people don't understand, is that the Dept can't legally remove a child for more than a few days without court approval. They must go before a judge with evidence. If there isn't enough for the judge's liking, he sends the child home. We see all the time when children die that the Dept had been involved. But often what happens is that workers KNOW the child is being abused. But they can't get enough substantiated evidence. It's really just like the police force. They have to let criminals go bc they just don't have enough on them, child protection is no different.

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    Subbing to reply in the morning!

    GREAT thread BTW! Very thought provoking.

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    I haven't read responses yet, but I will...just not when I should be sleeping.

    I work with these kids; the ones in horrific situations who become known to authorities and removed from their families. The ones who have nowhere suitable to go but into the care of complete strangers on rotating rosters.

    It's so, so hard. In so many ways. All too often I just want to throw my arms up and say it's all too hard . I think looking for someone to blame can be the easy way out. It feels better to point a finger ans say "this is your fault". Beyond that though, what does punishment achieve? Sure, you could make the argument that you need to "make an example" of people in order to prevent further atrocities, but I don't buy that. A fear of punishments isn't enough to make a change.

    In my view, what we need is more support and understanding, not more blame-throwing and judgement. Not for the sake of the parents; I couldn't give a **** about them in these cases. For the kids. Real, genuine understanding that people are struggling to cope with looking after themselves, let alone raise their children, is what we need. Practical and easily accessible help that enables families to improve their parenting without fear of judgement and shame.

    It's an ideal that I don't think will ever be reached, but it's what I think would actually save lives and improve the lives of our most vulnerable kids.

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    ^^ Absolutely agree there needs to be so much more support services, particularly early intervention. Don't even get me started on how hard it is for NGO's to get funding for those types of programs! If I told people how much it costs to house a child, particularly in residential care where many teens end up, their toes would curl. If we put but a portion of that into support services, not only could be save millions, but we could more importantly save lives.

    Having said that. There are some really messed up parents out there. People have to firstly have insight, then take positive steps to change and sadly so many in the system don't do either. It's like sitting in a boat with 100 holes and using a thimble to empty the water out

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    Default TRIGGER WARNING: Where is the line between tragic accident, tragic error of j...

    I might have to think about my responses to some of the more in depth stuff later.
    But I did have a similar conversation with my husband today.
    Without going into too much detail, a short time ago we had our children out a place that was for families etc, some people got too drunk, an incident happened and our children were mildly affected but could have been severely affected.
    My husband is of the opinion that the specific incident is highly unlikely to happen again and really, it showed how responsible we are because we removed our children so quickly from the danger.
    He thinks there is no issue bringing them back next time there is an event, because we are responsible enough to watch out for them.

    I on the other hand, feel that it's inappropriate to bring our children back, in case it happens again. My exact words to my husband were "how many times do we have to take them back and risk them getting hurt before the blame stops belonging to the drunk people and starts belonging to us".

    And that's two parents of the same children, that have very similar parenting values, who were at the same event, and witnessed the event almost identically, viewing it very differently and having two completely different perspectives of it. So I can see why there can be such a divided view between members of the public when these stories hit the media.

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    Definitely the case. I just don't think that apportioning criminal culpability beyond the current scope would do anything to change that. I think that our justice system should be about outcomes, and that the general public feeling better Han someone has been 'punished' shouldn't be a part of that. I know that's part of how we work as humans...punishment helps us to feel that a wrong has at least been suitably acknowledged, but I don't think that it's helpful.
    Sure, if someone's a genuine risk to others, then put them in jail. If someone shows no remorse for something that they may continue to do (but which isn't dangerous), fine them etc, or remove other children if they are at risk. I just can't see the benefit of pursuing charges against someone because you feel they've done wrong, without a clear benefit.

    Hope what I'm
    Saying makes sense. Half asleep here.

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    It's such an interesting question. I get haunted by so many really distressing cases and think a lot about how/whether the outcomes could have been changed. And the Zoe case is so, so sad.


    I generally think what it mostly comes down to is risk management. We all assess risk totally differently, and I'm not sure how possible it is to assign culpability with any degree of consistency because of this. We've all read stories and thought 'what the hell was he/she thinking?'

    I went to a work dinner about 6 months ago and had to take DS. We were at a pub next to the road in a little private room. DS got up and started prowling. I put my fork down and got up to follow him. All of the other women there (all mothers and grandmothers) teased me for hovering, told me to relax and just sit down and eat, DS would be fine. Well I did it, because in that moment I doubted myself. Finally I decided to ignore them, because I know my son best, and got up to follow him. I caught him just as he was leaving the pub. I lost a lot of sleep thinking about what might have happened. Probably nothing but possibly something. And the something horrified me - particularly the idea that people would look at me and conclude - neglect, probably drinking (I wasn't because driving), wtf was she thinking leaving a 3 year old to walk around, etc etc. I guess my point here is it would have taken one split second of not being a 100% perfect, attentive parent for something to go wrong, and even that was influenced by the people around me, and then this moment in time would be the focus of the rest of my life. We are all fallible. We are all distractible. And the consequence of losing your child and knowing that you could have done something differently, and something really simple, like not answering that phone call, is more than enough punishment.

    But...and I'm treading carefully here...I do think there are errors of judgement that go beyond mere fallibility and border on neglect or stupidity. I really struggle with the Z.oe B case because I spent hours reading her mum's Facebook page and I know how much abuse and hatred she copped from strangers (and continues to) in the middle of trying to grieve. But at the same time there are so many aspects of that where I kind of shook my head in disbelief. Is this stuff clearer in hindsight? I'm not sure. But then I think, hey, she was at home. She was doing something social at home. Her biggest mistake was being too trusting of someone she didn't know very well, and I think we've all been there. If this guy had raped the mother instead in the same circumstances, wouldn't we be victim blaming if we held her culpable?

    And how do we weigh this culpability against those who leave their child unattended in the bath just for a second, or those whose children drown in a backyard pool, or who are crushed under dressers that weren't secured to the wall while their parents sleep in, or those who couldn't be bothered cutting the grapes up small (or simply didn't know), or those who went out on the town for one night in 5 years and the babysitter ended up being bad news?

    So what I come to is...I just don't know. I read some things that devastate me, others that make my blood boil. If something were consistently a bad idea, and ended up badly 100% of the time, well, we just wouldn't do it, would we?

    I could go on forever, and I have. Sorry. I just think this is a really fascinating discussion.

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