Eric HicksTime and again the headlines are filled with stories of young children left home alone. Typically they're found fine, and we all fret about what could have happened. In Joplin, Missouri, however, it's what did happen that's heartbreaking.
According to The Joplin Globe, Eric Hicks, 28, was watching his girlfriend's 18-month-old son, Emjay Corn, Saturday morning. He had an appointment at a methadone clinic, but instead of taking the boy with him or finding alternative care for him, he just left him there, alone in his crib. Sometime later the boy was found dead.
The boy's cause of death is still under investigation, and Hicks has been charged with felony child endangerment. Other details are murky as to why police arrived at the house when there was no record of a call being made to them that day and where the mother was. But regardless of the specifics, on the surface, it's such a blatant and sad example of why young children should never be left home alone -- not for an hour, not even for a couple of minutes.
It's hard to find child care, I know. And for some who have to work to pay the rent or keep medical appointments, leaving the children alone may feel like the only option, perhaps especially so for someone coping with drug addiction. But it never can be. Even children who are sleeping or otherwise engaged can get into a dangerous situation in no time at all. People who don't understand that shouldn't be left in charge of them.
I feel for this entire family. I can only imagine their pain and suffering right now as they piece together what happened, contemplate what they could have done to prevent it, and beat themselves up for the rest of their lives over what they didn't do. But that's the thing when it comes to our children's safety -- we don't get do-overs, and that's why we have to put it first, above anything else.
Do you know people who leave young children home alone? Have you ever?
Image via KTTS