How old’s old enough?

August 1, 2019

Coroner Tim Scott said that a six year-old should not have been walking to and from school by herself:

Carla Neems was five weeks’ shy of her seventh birthday when she was fatally struck by a rubbish truck outside her Gisborne home on May 2, 2017.

In findings released on Wednesday, Coroner Tim Scott said it was “unacceptable” for Carla’s parents to allow her to walk to and from school with her older siblings, and children her age should be accompanied by an adult. . . 

Coroners have a job to do which includes making recommendations that might prevent future fatalities but there is no such thing as completely safe and blaming her parents for Carla’s death is heartless and wrong.

If six, nearly seven is too young, how old id old enough for children to walk a few hundred metres without an adult in tow?

This was a tragic accident which Carla’s family, their friends and the truck driver will carry for the rest of their lives but it should not be used to further curtail children’s incidental exercise and freedom.

If children can’t walk safely to school, address what makes it dangerous, don’t blame parents and provide yet more reasons for children to be mollycoddled.


Fencing us in

May 28, 2009

Palmerston North coroner Tim Scott has called for farmers and the Labour Department to lobby government to make fencing compulsory for all farm houses.

Mr Scott said sharemilking agreements should make it mandatory for houses occupied by sharemilkers and their families to be adequately fenced.

He wanted his decision referred to the Labour Department’s Occupational Health and Safety Unit, Federated Farmers, and an appropriate farm worker union, the Dominion Post reported.

Legislation would be needed to make fencing mandatory.

Mr Scott said the legislation could be similar to the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act, which promotes child safety by requiring the fencing of some pools.

This follows the death of a three year old who died after she and her brother fell into an effluent pond about 75 metres from their house. The house wasn’t fenced, there was a stock fence between the house and the pond.

The children’s parents, who were sharemilkers, had asked the farm owner to fence the house. He had bought fencing materials but asked the child’s father to wait until the section was levelled before building the fence.

This is a tragedy made worse because of the if onlys:  if only the fence had been built, if only the pond had been fenced, if only the children hadn’t been playing outside . . .

The coroner is quite clear in his findings that the parents were not to blame.

The sharemilking agreement had a clause which said the property would be fenced but it was in the fine print of a standard contract – 119 of 161 clauses on 37 pages.

He recommends that share milking agreements make it mandatory for all houses occupied by sharemilkers and their families be adequately fenced and that this clause be highlighted.

He goes on to recommend that all farm houses should be securely fenced.

But how practical is that and if farm hosues are to be childproof why not every home?

Farms are full of dangers but is an effluent pond nearly 100 metres from a house in the country any more dangerous than a busy road right outside one in town?

And how do you make a whole property completely childproof?

Friends had a deer fence round their house and the children learned to climb it. Other friends had their gate fastened so securely that visiting adults couldn’t get in but their three year old son managed to get out.


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