Toddler Killed by 11-Year-Old Wasn't 'Just an Accident'

April Peveteaux

11 year old drives over toddler
The Only Kind of Car Kids Should Drive
Remember when your dad let you sit on his lap and steer the car as you drove down the highway? This was something that was pretty popular in my neck of the woods when we were little kids. Was it fun? You betcha. Was it totally stupid? Absolutely.

What appears to be a parenting throw-back to the 1970s has left a 2-year-old little girl dead in Southern California. This time it was the old "I'll let you back the car out of the driveway" move. As the 11-year-old backed the car out, and pulled back in, she ran over little Dahlia Rodriguez, who was described by neighbors as "beautiful and smart."

While I'm a big believer that we've become too overprotective in this modern parenting age, parenting the old-fashioned way just got a 2-year-old killed and left an 11-year-old permanently screwed up.

Letting kids run free down to the neighborhood creek is an acceptable risk. Not much could happen that a tetanus shot couldn't fix. Dropping your 11-year-old off at the mall, as long as there is a clear understanding of stranger danger, is another acceptable risk. But giving your child a weapon is never okay. And in the hands of a child, a 3,000-pound vehicle is totally a weapon.

While a 2-year-old shouldn't be hanging out in a driveway, I know my 2-year-old is so fast that unless I'm holding him from the time I leave the front door until he's buckled into his car seat -- he could run away and into the street. Toddlers are unpredictable and have zero awareness of the world around them. If mom or dad looked away for five seconds, that little girl could have run towards the car. Maybe towards an older child she felt attached to, even.

A neighbor described this horrible loss as "just one of those tragic accidents." But it's not. It's irresponsible parenting to the extreme. I hope the 11-year-old is able to forgive herself for the bad judgment that the adults around her showed on that day. Of course the lesson learned is not worth the life of that little beautiful, smart girl.

Do you let your kids "drive" your car like this?


Image via ella novak/Flickr

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