Mother studying with her two children

UNITED STATES—Anyone who is a parent or has taken care of a child understands how important it is to protect that child at all costs.  Unless you’re a parent, it could be a concept that is quite difficult to grasp, but a child bonds with an adult in a way nothing else will.  It is your job to provide for that child, in addition to protecting them.  The reason I’m addressing this issue is the recent tragedy that struck NFL superstar Adrian Peterson whose 2-year-old son was tragically killed last week after being severely beaten by the boyfriend of the mother.

The child’s death made national headlines and has opened another discussion about parents being cautious about leaving their children in the care of other people.  It’s not something that can be taken without a grain of salt.  This is not to place any blame on the mother at all, this is to open discussion on the importance of properly screening people before leaving them in the care of someone else; rather it be a relative or someone that a parent is now dating.  Divorce or separation is no easy task for any parent, as the opposite party will question the motives of the person who is dating the father or mother of that child to ensure the child’s safety.

Children are not able to defend themselves from adults, so it’s our responsibility to ensure they are not placed in situations where physical and mental harm can come to them.  Just thinking of the abuse inflicted on that 2-year-old shatters my heart; he’s defenseless against this grown man. What’s even worse is the hatred in my soul for this man who has had prior run-ins with the law for child abuse and some sort of legal sanction not being placed on him.  Hate is indeed a strong word to use, but that suspect should burn in hell for his actions.

It’s important before ever leaving your child with someone that they are patient and understand the importance of caring for a child.  Children cannot be allowed to be left unattended; if someone has a short attention span or thinks it’s ok to leave a child unattended, especially someone under the age of 10 alone for awhile, you need to question the idea of leaving your little one with them.  Trust your instinct. This is difficult to describe, but your gut/instinct will let you know if you’re doing the right thing. If you sense for some reason, there is an uneasiness about you leaving your child with a particular person, DON’T DO IT!  You know your child’s well-being better than anyone else and if there is an uncertainty or fear that you ‘feel’ with leaving your child with someone other than yourself, your instinct is always right.

Observe people’s behavior around children.  Are they at ease, are they able to care for the child’s needs, do they easily get rattled or frustrated?  These can all be signs that it’s not a good idea to leave your child around this person. An important thing to note is the temperament of the adult. Are they easily annoyed or do they get angry? Those are keys to definitely not leave your child with that individual.

Some may argue I’ve been around this person with my child and he or she is great.  Yes, people can put on a ‘façade’ to make the parent see one thing, but behave in another manner in the parents’ absence.  Parents have to be able to see beyond that façade.  Talk to the counterpart to get their thoughts about children.  If some divulges a dislike for children that’s usually sign to be weary of the individual. This is not to say anyone who dislikes children will harm them; it just sends a signal that they may not be the most patient person when it comes to dealing with kids.  I’ve known many people who do not have kids who are phenomenal with dealing with kids once they reach a certain age.

Dealing with infants, toddlers, kids, and pre-teens are all different stages.  Some don’t have the patience for infants who may cry incessantly or be difficult to console.  Toddlers can be rambunctious and difficult to manage at times; kids can be playful and curious minds.  There are various stages of child development and anyone caring for the wellbeing of a child when the parent is not around has to be not only aware, but educated of such knowledge.

The message I’m sending is as parent, no one knows their child better than the parent.  If you ever sense for a moment your child is afraid to be left with a certain individual that is a sign.  If you feel uncomfortable leaving your child with someone, that is a sign.  Your instinct is there for a reason, it’s a warning tool of potential danger.  Trust what you feel, never disregard that feeling because it can be the difference between life and death.

By Trevor Roberts