McCann's Parents Guilty Of Neglect? (And Is This Really The Biggest News Story
Thousands of people
go missing every year but the media doesn't usually bother.
disappearance of a three-year-old British girl from her parents' holiday
accommodation in Portugal has become a massive news story.
that the media has persuaded us that the Drs McCanns deserve our sympathy
because they are nice middle class parents and Madeleine is a pretty photogenic
child. The fact that there are lots of pictures available helps.
and friends have used a compliant media to build the story into a variety of
mass hysteria matching that which followed Diana's death.
disappearance of Madeleine McCann has been considered such a good story that
British television has consistently led with it as the main news item for weeks.
Most newspapers have kept the story on their front page.
But has this
really been the most important news story? For example, on May 17th, one of days
that the two week old story of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann was
considered the most important news item in Britain, here are some of the news
stories that were considered less important:
* Gordon Brown was
officially announced as Britain's next Prime Minister
* The World Bank
met to consider whether or not to get rid of its President Paul Wolfowitz
* The Government announced that it would close a fifth of all Post
Offices in the country. (A total of 2,500 villages and communities deprived of
their link with the outside world.)
* The Israelis launched air strikes
on Palestinians in Gaza
* The British Army and the Government decided
that Prince Harry would not serve in Iraq because it was too dangerous for a
member of the Royal Family to fight there. (Despite this, Harry decided that he
would stay in the army though it was not made clear precisely what he would do.)
* War criminals Tony Blair and George Bush met in the USA to defend
their war record. Blair described Bush as a great leader.
soldiers continued to fight wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (though without members
of the Royal family).
When three-year-old Madeleine McCann disappeared she
was alone with her younger siblings in a ground floor holiday apartment rented
by her parents. They had gone out to dinner.
Let's get this straight.
The Drs McCann didn't have to rush out in an emergency. They could,
presumably, have hired a baby sitter. They chose not to. They chose to leave
their three very small children in a flat in a foreign country while they went
out to have a good time in a restaurant.
What is going on here?
Why haven't the parents been interviewed by social workers?
it now legal for British parents to leave their tiny children alone while they
go out for fun?
The McCanns left three children alone. The oldest was
The last time I looked, teenage mothers got into
trouble if they popped out to the shops to get a pint of milk and a loaf of
bread and left their children alone.
Under British law parents can be
charged with neglect or abandonment if they leave their children alone if it is
unsafe to do so.
It clearly was unsafe to leave these three small
children alone. One of them is now missing.
The McCanns chose to go out
to have a good time leaving three small children alone in a flat in a foreign
These were not impoverished teenagers who didn't know any
better. They are thirty-eight-year-old doctors.
What sort of example
were they setting?
What sort of example are media commentators who
excuse them setting?
Where are the interfering, busy body social workers
when they're really needed?
Most media commentators seem to think that
the McCanns did nothing wrong. The arguments seem to be that parents must be
able to leave their small children alone in the world and that parents are
entitled to lead lives without having their children around them all the time.
People who become parents take on enormous
Small children are vulnerable. They fall over. They
wake up frightened. They see ghosts in shadows. They fall out of bed. They are
Small children are vulnerable.
But society rewards
parents in many ways for their decision. And having children is a choice.
If the Drs McCann wanted to have romantic holidays in the Algarve
without having their fun evenings spoilt by children they shouldn't have had any
(And they could, remember, have hired a baby sitter.)
They chose to have children. And they chose to take them away to
Portugal. And they chose to leave them alone while they went out to dinner.
Personally, I'd arrest the pair of them for child neglect.
Whatever happened to Madeleine they must take a huge amount of
Personally, I don't think either of them are responsible
enough to work as doctors.
Responsible parents don't leave their
children alone in a foreign country.
Being a parent is a 24 hour
The media and the public seem to regard this pair
But in my view there is only one victim.
is the victim.
Whatever has happened to her is clearly awful.
feel so, so sorry for her.
But the parents?
Sorry, but I just
don't think they deserve our sympathy.
The parents have now taken
indefinite leave from their jobs.
(I wonder if they're still getting
paid for any NHS work they aren't doing? Just a thought.)
They and their
family and friends seem to have become media celebrities. Other celebrities are
falling over themselves to get involved.
The parents are alleged to be
hiring a professional public relations adviser and two London lawyers. A trust
is allegedly being set up to handle the money being raised. Why? What the hell
is going on?
Why do they need lawyers and a publicity adviser?
And why do they need a trust?
These aren't impoverished people.
They are both doctors.
Their combined annual income is probably the best
part of £200,000. Personally, I would not be surprised to see the Drs McCann on
Celebrity Big Brother next year.
A cynic might say that at least they
won't need to bother getting babysitters for whatever children they might have
got left by then.
They could just leave 'em at home alone.
Copyright Vernon Coleman 2007