Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Parental Personal Responsiblity

During the first year or two of parenting I registered every product we bought. I mailed in those pre-paid postage cards within weeks of purchase.

Now, not so much.

Two products we have purchased have been "recalled," and in both cases I kind of just have to roll my eyes. I know I shouldn't be so heartless. Child safety is a big deal for me. But this latest Graco car seat recall reminds me why those other two recalls made me roll my eyes.

Both our Bumbo and our Summer Infant video monitor had clear warning labels telling parents NOT to put the Bumbo on an elevated surface and NOT to put the monitor cord within the baby's reach. Yet both these products were recalled because parents failed to follow those warnings. Those companies were forced to spend thousands of dollars mailing out new products and additional pieces because individuals who purchased their products refused to follow their guidelines.

If you read any of the stories about the Graco recall you will learn two important things. 1) The harness will only become locked if the owners allow spilled food and beverage to build up on the belt strap. Graco's site gives great detail on how to regularly clean the straps (even simpler: don't give your kids messy food and sticky drinks while in their car seats). 2) No child was injured due to a food/beverage jammed strap. Regardless of those two points, anyone who owns one of the 3.7 million affected models can ask for the newer strap/buckle system and receive it.

This event has reminded me that I need to start being more diligent about registering our products, but it has also reminded me that our culture lacks personal responsibility. All three of these baby products come with clear instructions and warning labels, and yet when people fail to follow them they demand a "recall."  In case you are curious, yes we own one of the Graco Car seat models that was part of the recall, but our particular seat was built six weeks after the recall date.

(It all reminds me of a news event from earlier this month, when parents in Utah failed to pay their student's lunch money they demanded media attention and national sympathy. The school did handle the situation poorly, but the first fault was the parents'. They did not pay their bills. The whole ordeal would have been avoided if they had just paid their bills.)

Again, I take child safety seriously and I appreciate the government's efforts to monitor products and I also appreciate a company's willingness to comply with (and hopefully go above) current safety standards. But at some point both the government and the manufactures need to hold individuals responsible. Especially since individuals don't seem to be holding themselves responsible.

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