Free-Range Kids

Gorilla Boy's Mom Won't Be Arrested, Thank Goodness

Parents make mistakes. It's not criminal. It's human.


Screenshot via Youtube

The parents of the boy who wormed his way into the gorilla exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo will not be prosecuted. That is fantastic news for anyone who has ever lost track of a beloved child for a few seconds, minutes, or hours—in other words, every parent on earth (including the Prime Minister of England, who accidentally left his kid at a pub). As the prosecutor put it:

"If anyone does not believe a 3-year-old can scamper off very quickly, they've never had kids," Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said at a news conference Monday. "Because they can and they do."

With any luck, this will now be the last word on the boy/mom/gorilla/zoo/internet-gone-crazy-with-mom-bashing story. This is a hope no doubt shared by Kimberly Harrington who noticed something rabid in our culture: The intense need to blame, especially when a child gets hurt. She writes:

I'm not sure if you've noticed, but in the aftermath of all kinds of tragedies in this country, one of the most common questions that's asked—after "Oh my God is everyone alright?" or "How many people were killed?"—is "Where was the mother?" (always the mother) or "What kind of horrible monster raised this kid-teenager-grown ass adult?"

It was asked after Columbine. It's asked after other mass shootings because as we all know, mothers alone create mass murderers. And it's asked any time a child is injured or killed…

Often, the only way to staunch the outrage and umbrage is to name an over-reaching law in the dead child's name, or go after the parents in court.

And yet, Harrington reminds us, sometimes bad things just happen, even to wonderful parents:

Six years ago a five-year-old girl in the same town where we now live was killed while riding her bicycle. It happened on one of the first beautiful May days that felt like summer might just come back to Vermont. She was out riding her bike with her parents walking behind, a car approached and was about to turn when he noticed she was having a problem with her bike. He waited. The parents thanked him and waved him on, no one realizing that she had suddenly sped up on her bike, and the driver—not seeing her—turned, pinning her underneath. Neighbors came running out with car jacks, anything, everything they could do to help free her, but it was too late. Nothing helped. They couldn't save her.

The conclusion of the local news article about her death has stayed with me six years later, "It does not look like any criminal charges will be filed. Police say there is no evidence of excessive speed or negligence; this appears to be just a tragic accident."

Which is exactly what the zoo prosecutor just determined as well.

The notion that somehow parents can and must be in control of their children every day in every situation is a new one, and it doesn't even guarantee safety, as that sad story shows. Making helicopter parenting the law of the land leads to makes life difficult for perfectly fine parents, and stunts perfectly scrappy kids, who, for instance, are not even allowed to wait at home alone for a few hours after school.

This lust for blame will continue until some brave prosecutors start standing up to the perfect parent paradigm, as one did in Cincinnati today.

NEXT: U.S. Race Relations Getting Better

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  1. I hope some federal prosecutor with a light resume steps in to take the mantle of justice here. #Justice4CoCo

    1. BURN the WITCH!! BUUURRRNNN HER!!11!!!!!!!

  2. This did spawn a good facebook meme. It was a picture of Forrest Gump with the caption “and then suddenly a gorilla got killed and everyone shut the fuck up about bathrooms.”

    1. If you’ve read the book, that actually makes this meme funnier. (Hint: There is a gorilla in the book.)

  3. The “intense need to blame” is based on the urge to make life fair. Look at our attitudes on cancer. Someone comes down with it and we wonder what the victim did to deserve it, “did he smoke?” “did he drink a lot?” A baby is born with a defect and we ask what the mother did when she was 20 years old. Someone beats cancer while someone else succumbs, and we credit a “positive attitude” for the difference.

    1. When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer 12 years ago a female coworker said, “Your the second man I know on a low carb diet that got prostate cancer. I knew it wasn’t good for you”. I was tempted to ask her what she eats that made her such a stupid bitch.

  4. And all my leftie friends are outraged. Justice must be served!!!!!!! Not a peep about the 100 people shot in Chicago the same weekend. This new “animals are more important than people and humans are a virus on the Earth” is as dangerous an ideology as any religious extremism. I do worry this point of view will become a physical danger to humans in the next few decades.

  5. If she was white, she’d be prosecuted. Effin racist double standard is disgusting.

    White parents are called in front of judges to explain why their 11 year old walked to the park alone.
    Black parents let their 11 year olds play in public parks with toy guns painted black and face no repercussions.

    1. Black parents let their 11 year olds play in public parks with toy guns painted black and face no repercussions.

      Yeah. Other than their kids being shot by the cops.

      1. yeh…and the mother gets a $6million dollar settlement. for an utter parental failure.
        Not saying the police aren’t at fault also, but where did the problem initiate???

        It’s unbelievably racist to hold folks to a lower standard because of the color of their skin, but yet it has become the norm in our society.

    2. Wait…

      Playing with toys in the park is somehow wrong? WTF?

      1. way to miss the point.

        1. Your “point” was retarded.

          1. yeh, sure. But this article would never have been written if it was a fat white mother.

            The abhorrent racism of lowered expectations is just as bad when you cut a black mother slack as it is when cops assume a black male is a thug.

  6. It is good news that the mother won’t be charged.

    If anything needs to be done, perhaps the zoo should better child-proof their exhibits, if only to keep from having to kill off their animals when someone gets into an animal area.

  7. That is fantastic news for anyone who has ever lost track of a beloved child for a few seconds, minutes, or hours?in other words, every parent on earth

    except Harambe’s mother!

  8. One thing all mass murderers have in common is a mother. Just sayin’.

    1. Are you saying birth is a gateway to serial killing?

      1. …and a father, absent or not. doesnt matter in the end, today birth is still a terminal disease.

  9. Yeah, if they had brought charges the parents lawsuit against the zoo woukd be been announced 5 minutes later.

  10. Doesn’t the blame lie with the zoo? Their barrier couldn’t keep out a 4 year old child.

    1. There is no barrier between most sidewalks and traffic, but yet we don’t blame the city when a kid runs into traffic.

      1. Because there is no barrier.

        1. no….because we expect parents to maintain responsible control of their children.

          1. 3 year old, FWIW

  11. If the boy’s mother was not negligent then the zoo was. It should not be physically possible for any human allowed into a zoo to get into an animal enclosure.

  12. OMG such a big noise on that sh#t, I’m tired of it,, better do something else

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