Wednesday, May 09, 2007


The news this week seems to have been dominated in part by the story of the 3 year old girl who was abducted from a locked room in a hotel complex in Portugal whilst her parents were elsewhere eating supper with a group of friends, returning to check on them every half an hour. Now, I'm not a parent, and I know that balances have to be struck, but, to my mind, a 3 year old is too little to be left on her own for half an hour, even if she is asleep. I have read that this child is 'extra special' in that she was conceived via IVF. Well, I think all children are special and once one is born, they have to come first, or at least their safety does. A child can achieve a lot in 30 minutes. It might wake up, terrified that it's parents are not there and be scared for another 29 minutes waiting for them to come back; it might get up and wander about, potentially harming itself in some fashion. I admit that it is an unlikely senario that in that 30 minutes it could be abducted (indeed the reason these things clog up the papers for so long when they do happen is because they are so rare) but it is still a possibility that something could happen.

The parents were at a holiday centre which apparently offers a babysitting service, which they hadn't chosen to use. It just strikes me, not being a parent, that if you have kids then you either take them with you, ask someone else to look after them, or you stay in with them. Surely the fact that you have to return to the room every thirty minutes throughout the meal negates any positives that leaving the child alone in the first place offers? I don't know, because I don't have any children, but I think it borders on irresponsible, leaving babies and toddlers alone for up to thirty minutes whilst you, the parent, do something unnecessary.

I don't think that abduction of the 'abandoned' child is the justified punishment though, no parent deserves that. I feel desperately sorry for this child's parents - I am sure that they were simply doing what they thought was the best compromise on their holiday in Portugal. I hope that she is found quickly and safely - although she has been missing for a week, kidnapped children have been found alive, so they must not lose hope. I bet they could do without premiership footballers jumping on the publicity wagon and pleading for the child's safe return though.

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