It's terrifying how quickly children can get into trouble. Serious trouble. In the blink of an eye, they can be out the door and down the street. Or something much, much worse. A man has been arrested after he claimed he left his girlfriend's three young children alone for 10 minutes inside their apartment -- and he came back to find the 3-year-old girl stuffed inside the fold-out couch. She was dead.
The girl had reportedly asphyxiated while playing on a fold-out couch with her 10-year-old sister. At least one report says that the couch folded up while the two were on it, trapping the girls inside. The older one managed to crawl out, but the younger girl did not. Their 5-year-old sister was also reportedly inside the Harlem apartment.
There's really no excuse for leaving three children home alone, even if it seems like a safe place for them to be and you'll only be gone for a few minutes. Kids crawl out windows and onto ledges. They turn on stoves. They do all kinds of things.
But perhaps the man, 50-year-old Mohamed Barry, felt that they were okay for a moment with the 10-year-old there. I don't think they were -- and obviously they weren't -- but at that age, I was regularly watching neighborhood kids. Of course, that doesn't mean it was right, and I often wonder what the parents were thinking putting someone so young in charge of their kids. I very much doubt I would have known what to do if one of the little ones choked or a fire broke out.
The man has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child. He definitely deserves the charge, and if he's found guilty, he deserves punishment. However, I don't think this is the kind of mistake that deserves years in prison.
It was a stupid, negligent act -- and one he will regret for the rest of his life.
But what about this fold-out couch. If this is the way it happened, how does a fold-out couch suddenly fold up when kids are on it? Any parent could turn their back for a moment and have this sort of thing happen -- you could be upstairs, in the bathroom, outside in the garden. Scary.
Have your kids ever gotten stuck in something?
Image via maka/Flickr