Is It the Gorilla’s Fault?


Is It the Gorilla’s Fault?

A recent article in a local newspaper titled, The Shame of Parent Shaming, reveals a total lack of understanding about a parent’s first mission; the safety and security of your child. The author’s dismissive and flippant remark; “If it hasn’t happened to you, your parental helicopter must be low enough to clip the tops of trees.” proves the point.

The author continues to shield the parents of the three year old that fell into the Gorilla’s enclosure by recounting her own horrific experience when her 14 month old child, standing next to mom, slipped through the railings of a bridge and landed in the creek below. The good news regarding both incidents is that both children were rescued unharmed and returned safely to the arms of their parents. The bad news is that these incidents happen too often with tragic endings.

Losing track of your child near a potentially perilous situation is not to be taken lightly. In fact, if you are one of those parents who lost sight of your toddler in a supermarket or big box store, the potential for danger is real if the child wanders out into the parking lot. Speaking of parking lots, I have witnessed- on numerous occasions- the “la dee da” body language of parents who are not properly connected to their toddlers while strolling through parking lots.

A critical component of watching out for your child is the parent’s ability to assess possible harmful situations. Pools, parking lots, amusement parks, beaches, playgrounds, and zoos are examples of the locations where helicoptering is appropriate. Remember that the toddler’s world of suspecting and assessing danger does not exist. Parents are the first teachers and role models who are charged with protecting their children as well as teaching them about harmful situations.

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Bad things happen when parents are not paying attention to their number one responsibility. Witness the number of children who are left to suffocate in cars because of the ignoramuses that are in charge. These stories and others tell the tale of neglect and abuse. Some outcomes are happy and some are tragic. But let’s not give these parents a pass because, as the author quotes one of her sources that, “Children are attracted to the forbidden and are the consummate escape artists.”  Even gorillas and mama bears know better than that.

James L. Casale, Ph.D

Dr. James L CasaleDr. Casale is the author of the highly praised book published by Skyhorse Publishing, Wise Up and be the Solution: How to create a culture of learning at home and make your child a success at school. It is available at book stores, on amazon and on Dr. Casale’s website, He is available as a speaker. Contact him at



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  • Colette S , June 14, 2016

    You’ve said all that I’ve been thinking.
    Thank you.

    I’ve seen it too many times and I am mouth opened appalled.

  • Cascia Talbert , June 20, 2016

    Me too. At least the child wasn’t hurt that badly. I believe that the zoo did the right thing by putting down the gorilla. Thanks for stopping by, Colette. Have a great day!

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