Hergott: Keep the kids safe is parents top job

…it takes a conscious choice to plan ahead and…not end up in an impaired circumstance where we might make even poorer choices.

The protection of children’s legal rights (topic of my last two columns) is important, but doing our best to protect our children from being harmed in the first place is even more so.

We do our best to keep our children safe in all sorts of life scenarios. It is important to recognize that one of the most dangerous places for our children is in an automobile, even if properly strapped into a car seat or booster seat. The starting point is our own road traffic behaviours. A substantial proportion of children’s claims are against a negligent parent.

Our driving culture is one where the task at hand, driving, takes a back seat in favour of daydreaming, thoughts of the office, fatigue, various “behind the wheel activities”, cellular phone conversations, texting, and other things that successfully compete for or interfere with our attention. It takes a conscious choice for each of us to drive different from the culture we are immersed in.

Our driving culture also continues to tolerate impaired driving. We are seldom at the extreme of the Florida alcoholic who recently was caught having her four year old blow into the interlock device that was installed on her vehicle, but impaired driving continues to occur all around us and it takes a conscious choice to plan ahead to ensure we do not end up in an impaired circumstance where we might make even poorer choices.

What about when we hand our children over into the care of others? It happens all the time when we get help from family members to get our children here and there, sometimes an older sibling, aunt, uncle or grandparent. It also happens when parents car-pool with others to get children to and from school, sporting and other events.

What steps do you take to ensure that those other people will keep your child safe? Apart from equipping them with a car/booster seat, we just assume they will be responsible drivers. Perhaps we should do more than that? Might it be sensible to ask if they ever talk on their cell phone while they drive, or if they’ve ever been handed a roadside suspension? You might not expect an honest answer, but bringing attention and awareness to road safety might have a helpful impact on their driving.

My 11 year old daughter was recently dropped off at a birthday party, with arrangements that the “party parent” would drop her off, with others, at a certain location. The party parent confirmed, when asked, that there would be enough seats for bums so that everyone would have a seatbelt. The party parent was wrong, and my daughter was dropped off without a seatbelt on.

Yes, I’m angry. My child will never again be in that parent’s care, but how could we have avoided that situation in the first place? One answer, I think, is empowering our children. We empower our children with regard to body awareness and sexual abuse (perhaps inadequately, but that’s another topic). How about empowering our children with regard to traffic safety?

I asked my daughter about what decisions she might have made, faced with an adult putting her in a vehicle without a seatbelt. It hadn’t occurred to her that she might have refused to get in the car. That’s my fault. I failed to empower her with that option.

Imagine empowering all of our children with such scripts as: “My daddy doesn’t allow me to drive with someone who talks on a cell phone while driving”; “My mommy doesn’t let me get into a vehicle with someone who has had any alcohol at all”; “My daddy doesn’t let me drive with someone who speeds”.

Not only will we be helping our children protect themselves from danger, we will be helping turn around the Titanic of a poor driving culture by raising a new generation of drivers with traffic safety consciousness.

 

Just Posted

Kelowna chamber doesn’t like new payroll health tax

New tax will help government make up loss of revenue from elimination of MSP premiums

New proposal suggested for Gable Beach

District of Lake Country staff’s new recommendations will be presented March 6

Overnight chill falls short of Feb. 21 records

Icy temperatures across the Okanagan-Shuswap don’t beat lows set in 1910, 1894

RCMP continue investigation into missing Sun Peaks man

Ryan Shtuka disappeared after leaving the village of Sun Peaks on Feb. 17

Friends of late Kelowna ‘boarder raising money for charity

Friends and family of a young man who died in snowboarding accident gives back to the sport

VIDEO: Top 10 B.C. budget highlights

The NDP is focusing on childcare, affordable housing and speeding up the elimination of MSP premiums

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

BC Wine Institute to take legal action against Alberta

The BC Wine Institute to seek injunction to protect B.C. wineries from Alberta wine ban

Kamloops couple assaulted in their home

RCMP are asking for the public’s assistance in solving this crime

BC BUDGET: Tobacco tax hike may light up black market in smokes

NDP government adds another 56 cents per pack as of April 1

4 treatment centres to open in memory of B.C. teen who died of an overdose

A treatment centre for addictions is opening in Penticton after the first one fell through

South Okanagan front line workers say comments add insult to tragedy

Workers entrenched in addictions want people to see the humans behind the addictions

DeHart: Ride-along in Dragoons’ armoured vehicle

Kelowna hotelier Maxine DeHart’s weekly business column

Driver rescued down 90-foot embankment along Coquihalla

Rope rescue conducted on mutual-aid call with Chilliwack SAR, Hope SAR and Agassiz fire department

Most Read