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Opinions

The Importance Of Seat Belt Laws For Children

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Any parent who would not strap up their children in a car seat or use a seat belt is an irresponsible parent. (And yes, I got the e-mail full of complaints saying how hurtful it is to say such a thing, but if you do something that puts your child in harm's way unnecessarily, you are an irresponsible parent.) Any parent who does not strap in their child is guilty of child endangerment. Does there really need to be a law to state this?

I think there needs to be a law in order to protect the children. They cannot help it if their parents are thoughtless about their child's safety. The difference with this and the government regulating the matter is this is not a personal choice for the child. The parent is left to make a decision for the child that could either kill or maim them if the parent does not put them in a car restraint.

Should a child too young to speak be at risk because of the parent? If there is an accident a child does not only face death, but a risk of permanent damages which eventually becomes the financial responsibility of all taxpayers.

When the risk becomes the responsibility to all taxpayers, it becomes everyone's business. The irresponsible parent will have a lifetime of guilt if something happens, but the child did not choose to have it happen. The equipment is available and proven to save lives. Car seats are also affordable and for those who cannot afford them, there are programs that give away car seats, so there is no excuse for not having one.

I think it is even irresponsible for a parent to place children or pets in the back bed of a pick up truck where there are no forms of seat restraint and an open bed which could easily let them drop off from the back into traffic.

Granted, anything can happen and put you in a position where you cannot save your child. Wouldn't it make more sense to do what you can to prevent the things under you own control? You cannot control things when there is a driver who is drunk headed straight your way when you are driving in the other lane, but you can control the severity of the outcome of a head on collision...a seat belt is more than likely to save the lives of your children in the back, even if the impact kills you as the driver.

Setting up guidelines is a good idea if it will protect young children. Before the days of seat belts, people died more often from auto accidents since they were thrown from their cars. Requiring seat belts and car seats has cut down on the number of deaths. If an adult chooses to put their own life at risk, that should be their choice. A child is the responsibility of the parent. If a parent knowingly puts the child in a risky position when there is a remedy to safeguard them, they are indeed guilty of child endangerment. If there is no specific law in the books, then these children will be legally in jeopardy by irresponsible parents.

If it boils down to choice, this is along the same lines of child protection laws. Should there also be no laws to protect children from other forms of child abuse? A parent is the one who is responsible for the care and discipline of the child. Before laws came to protect children, life for a child was difficult. A child could be beaten and abused in numerous ways without the law batting an eye. A child could be forced into labor and no one would think there was anything wrong. Did that make those things right just because it was not against the law? No. There were many who objected to these things happening to children and still the parents continued to abuse the children. It wasn't until laws were passed where a child without a voice could be protected from parents. How is it any different with regulating seat belts?

If an adult chooses the consequences of what may happen by not wearing a seat belt, that should be his or her right. In the case of a minor who cannot make life or death decisions nor sign permanent contracts, there needs to be laws on the books on their behalf.