The 10-month-old Wichita girl who died after being left in a hot car marks 18 deaths of the kind in the United States in 2014. The girl is the first in Kansas in 2014 to die from being left in a hot car.
Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist Mac McKenzie said one of the biggest issues is parents’ priorities.
“I see parents sometimes in here that see their children as another chore or see their children as a thing,” McKenzie said. “It doesn't mean they don't love their children, but they're juggling so many hectic things that they tend to forget.”
He said that’s a problem when parents see their kids as part of the list.
“Children are not commodities. Children are not things. Children are not milk that you left in the car. Children are human beings and they ought to be our top priority,” McKenzie said.
McKenzie said people forget things all the time and forgetting is common.
“We've all forgotten to feed the dog or to take out the trash or do those things and sometimes our children can become that,” McKenzie said. “It’s sad to say that, but it’s true.”
He said it’s easy for people to get caught up in their heavy work load or in their busy schedule and forget the most important things. He said often times, people change their routines and that causes mistakes.
“I think that we are creatures of habit and I think that we tend to look at our routines and if we deviate from our routines, sometimes we mess up,” he said.
Timing can affect routines and during the summer, routines are often different.
“I think people get really, really busy. The summer months you're not maybe used to having all the children around or they have all the children around now and so their minds are in different places,” McKenzie said. “We're running from one thing to the next thing and sometimes the most important things get left behind.”
But he said all the fault shouldn’t be on the parents, but also society and how it’s changed.
“I think it's a huge commentary on how fast paced our society has gotten that this could happen,” McKenzie said. “That you could have so many things filling up your brain in your day that you could forget your own kid.”
He said parents have fewer resources than they used to and the modern way of life might not be as easy to raise a child as it would be in other cultures or times.
“In a lot of tribal societies, they usually have five caregivers to one child. In our society it's almost opposite,” McKenzie said.
Overall, he said the world we live in is busy and everyone is busy. His advice is to notice it and get help.
“If parents feel overwhelmed, if they feel like their priorities are out of whack, if they feel like things aren't going the way that they'd like, that they're in this rat race, the rat race might become deadly,” he said. “So get help. Change things.”