Essay (author: Sara Hettinger)
“Do not eat” warns the pack of silica gel that comes in the box with your latest electronics. It seems like commonsense, and we may laugh because that means someone probably did eat it, got sick or worse, and sued the company. We joke that warnings are everywhere because of people who do not make smart decisions.
When my parents were young cars didn’t have seat belts, much less shoulder harnesses. Kids waved at other cars and even slept in that big expanse above and behind the rear seats. In Volkswagen Beetles the storage area behind the rear seat and adjacent to the rear engine was a great place to stick a couple of small kids when space was tight. While the Beetle was featured in a Disney movie as the beloved Herbie, the design was also known for fires in the rear engine compartment. The first “car seats” hooked over the back of the seat and were strictly meant to raise toddlers to a level where they could see out the window, promoting toddler happiness and parental peace. Other than keeping them somewhat contained, these seats offered no safety advantage, and would have become missiles in a crash, with their little astronauts still in the seat.
Fast forward to 2018, with government organizations monitoring safety, consumer organizations monitoring the government organizations, and access to the internet putting all this monitoring information at your fingertips. We have more information than at any time in history, enabling us to take control of our lives, our safety, and the safety of our children. How we use that information is up to us. But who is ultimately responsible for the safety of a child?
Following up on stories from my parents’ childhood and in keeping with our subject matter let’s start with a simple test.
Today we are considering the Smith family, two adult parents who love their son George more than anything in the world. Even before George was born his parents researched daycare options, pediatricians, cribs, and child car seats and local laws regarding their use. They confidently settled on a well-priced all-in-one car seat due to its excellent safety ratings, ability to grow with their child, and positive parent reviews. The Smiths took advantage of the information available to them to ensure their baby would be safe and happy.