This past week a young mother in Florida was charged with child neglect when her 3-year old was found wandering outside the house. The mother was asleep in the house and it was determined that the child had snapped the safety latch, unlocked the deadbolt and unlocked the doorknob "in a matter of seconds." In this instance there were other signs of child neglect. There were medications and toxic cleaners within easy reach of the child.
But it's a great example to parents that baby proofing does not replace the need for constant adult supervision of our children. Too many times a parent will install baby proofing items and assume that their child is safe. My company, Peek-a-Boo BabyProofing, conducts in-home safety consultations in which we discuss with parents how to create layers of safety so that if a child manages to get through one baby proofing item, others are in place. But, as we explain to our clients, these items are merely in place to provide the parents with a few extra moments to get to their child.
While I would hope that conscientious, responsible parents would not be arrested if their child was hurt due to baby proofing it does lead to the question of what constitutes neglect. If a child falls out of a window even though a window guard is in place, would a parent be considered neglectful? What if a child was poisoned due to swallowing a cleaner that had been within a locked cabinet? Has your little one "outsmarted" the baby proofing that you've done?