Double Standards?

March 24, 2008 at 3:39 pm (News) (, , , , , , )


Scarlett – Raped and murdered

I have to admit, I tend to avoid the news as much as possible as it invariably either depresses me or makes me angry and, to be honest, I don’t have time enough in my life for either of those emotions if I can help it at all. However, there has been no escaping certain news stories and once again, my blood has been heating up till it reaches near boiling point and it’s all because of the seeming double standards of the press.

Case 1: A family on a foreign holiday leave their three year old daughter in an unlocked hotel room with her two younger siblings whilst Mum and Dad go off for dinner down the road. The three-year-old disappears. After much speculation, people start to wonder if the parents may have been at fault in some way and accusations fly. The parents end up winning libel damages for thousands of pounds.

Case 2: A single mother on holiday abroad leaves her fifteen-year-old daughter in one area whilst she and her boyfriend move on to another area. The daughter is raped and murdered. The mother is accused of negligence and is currently in hiding over fears over her safety.

Now, in both cases, I believe the parents have done some wrong in leaving their children alone in a foreign country, no matter how nearby they are. But there are differences here:

Question 1: Would you leave your three-year-old daughter and her two younger siblings alone at home, with the door unlocked whilst you went to the shops?

Question 2: Would you leave your fifteen-year-old daughter alone at home, with the door unlocked, whilst you went to the shops?

I can guess that your answer to question 1 would be a resounding “No way! That would be irresponsible!” and that your answer to question 2 would be “Yes, I think that at 15 my daughter can be trusted for a short while to look after herself.”

In case 1, the young daughter would not have been able to go missing if she had not been left alone in that room. In case two, you can be any age and get raped and murdered, irrespective of whether you are with people or alone.

Once again, I will reiterate that I don’t agree with the actions of either set of parents, but the double standards shown in the press coverage of these stories really gets my goat. Could one of the main reasons be that Maddy’s parents are professionals and Scarlett’s mum is a Single Mum who lives a bit of a hippy lifestyle? Neither of those circumstances should have any bearing on the perception of the cases. If one family gets it in the neck for being negligent enough to leave their child unattended, then so should the other – and none of them should be awarded money for anything said about them.

And of course, it goes without saying, that none of them should ever be up for “Parent of the Year” awards.

Madeleine – Missing


  1. Sandy said,

    I agree. I read the article about the little girl. It broke my heart (and you will find when you have your own Babyhead that things like that will hit a bit harder than before as well!). The parents defense was that people do that all the time. But I have to say, in the USA if you left your small kids alone, sleeping or no, and left then you would indeed be arrested for neglect. There was a case just this past week I believe where a mom left her sleeping 2 yr old in the locked car as she just stepped out onto the sidewalk…and she was arrested…even though she was no more than 10 maybe 15 ft away at the very most. Either way I feel it was very irresponsible to leave the little girl unattended like that. If something had happened and she didn’t get taken, then she would never really be able to tell you what went wrong…

    Now, the 15yr old is kinda murky. At 15 I feel kids are able to look after themselves somewhat…depending on the child. However, being in a foreign country I wouldn’t be so quick to allow my kids to be alone. There are so many stories of kids being kidnapped for sex slaves and so on, not to mention just plain killed like the girl in Aruba I think it was? I just don’t know if I would feel comfortable with it.

    However, I am a paranoid mom. I try not to hover…but I have to know where Babyhead is at all times and he has to be with someone and I have to check on him every few minutes…and even then I don’t feel comfortable if he isn’t in my sight!

  2. Michelle said,

    I have never agreed with Madeline being left alone.
    With regards Scarlett, the BBC say the following about her being in hiding:
    “Her lawyer Vikram Varma has said it seemed Ms MacKeown was in danger because she exposed a “nexus” between the drug mafia and Goan police, and that had affected the drugs trade”

  3. Jen said,

    As one with children, my judgment has not always been stellar. I have a different reaction to stories like this.
    Example. When a story broke about a woman who left her sleeping baby in the car and then the car was carjacked. She begged the carjacker to let her get her baby out of the car and was dragged at fifty miles an hour.
    Many people blamed her, accused her, vilified her for leaving her baby in the car. Yet, I’ve had those moments. I finally get my little baby to stop screaming, but I have to run into the bank or the store or the whatever. How tempting to just leave the baby in the car and “run in and run out”.
    But what stops me? Those horrific stories that fill the news of the new father who left his baby in the car when it was 90 degrees outside and the baby died. He forgot she was in the car. Or the mother who ran into the store and the car was stolen.
    I don’t blame parents anymore. Sure, it pisses me off that a fifteen year old was raped and murdered. Sure, leaving a three year old with other children in a hotel room isn’t wise. But there but for the Grace of God go I.
    I try and be smart, but I make mistakes. These people made mistakes that cost them.
    And in the young girl’s case, it cost a mother her daughter. How horrible is that? I couldn’t live with myself.

  4. kell1976 said,

    Thank you all for your comments.

    Michelle – Wow! The report I read on Yahoo didn’t mention the Mafia; just locals, top officials and a minister (which is bad enough, really!).

    Jen – I’m not yet a Mum (almost, but not quite yet!), but I do understand how mistakes can be made. A friend of mine left her young son in the car parked outside her house once whilse she went inside. After 10 minutes, she realised he was “missing” and a major panic ensued till he was “found” (thankfully, safe and sound!) in the car, fast asleep and unaware of any of the mayhem that had been going on. But I also completely agree with you on how hearing all those horrific stories can stop you from doing things and thinking twice about even the smallest of things.

    Sandy – I think the arresting of that woman when she was only a few feet away was a bit extreme, but I can understand the way of thinking that if she can leave her kid in the car for a few minutes, then she could leave him for 10 or 15 minutes next time, or for half an hour the time after that and who’s to say when disaster could strike? It’s a horrid thought that such things can and do happen, but I really do think that each case needs to be looked at separately when it comes to that sort of thing. However, in the case of the McGanns, I do feel that they were particularly irresponsible with their very young children – they were planning on being gone for some time and left children, who had no way of looking after themselves, alone in that unlocked room. Whether or not they were asleep, it was a really stupid thing to do. And like I said, I don’t reckon I’d leave my own theoretical 15-y-o daughter alone in another country, but age and the responsibility of the individual child does come into things like that.

    It’s really tough.

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