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Family

Parenting incidents endangering children spark anger and empathy

Posted June 8
Updated June 10

Parenting landed under the critical spotlight of online media this past week with two recent incidents of children finding themselves in dangerous circumstances after being separated from their parents.

In Japan, 7-year-old Yamato Tanooka was left on the side of the road by his parents as a form of punishment. His parents returned minutes later, but their son had wandered into the woods. After six days he was found Friday on a military exercise area in Shikabe, Japan, according to the Atlantic.

According to the Japanese Times, Yamoto was flown to a hospital in Hokidate where he was treated for exhaustion, dehydration, hypothermia and minor scratches on his arms and legs. He was reunited with his family at the hospital.

In the U.S., a 3-year-old boy fell into a gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo, where workers ended up fatally shooting a 450-pound endangered gorilla, Harambe, to protect the child, according to CNN.

Many took to social media to express their anger and TV personalities have been critical of the parents of the children involved in both incidents.

According to the International Business Times, close to a half a million people have signed a petition, #justiceforharambe, calling for an investigation of the parents of the child who fell into the gorilla enclosure.

Michelle Gregg has deleted her Facebook account due to many attacks of being called a bad mother, according to BBC.

Naoki Ogi, a TV host in Japan, was one of many to accuse Yamato's parents of abusing their child — stating too many parents regard their children as a personal possession, according to the Guardian.

While many parents are understandably confused and upset by these two incidents, a few commentators have urged readers to be slower to judge the parents.

"What if instead of lawyering up and assigning blame like we always do, we take a step back in this instance and try a little empathy? The parents didn't throw the kid into the enclosure, the crowd didn't mean to agitate Harambe and the zoo didn't want to have to kill him," wrote Mel Robbins for CNN. "The situation was horrible for everyone involved. It was an accident. And I for one am thanking our lucky stars it wasn't worse."

In Japan, the boy's father acknowledged he and his wife had done wrong.

“We have raised him with love all along,” Yamato's father, Takayuki Tanooka told the Washington Times while fighting tears. “I really didn’t think it would come to that. We went too far.”

The BBC quoted several Japanese natives who recalled a time when they were kicked out of the house for throwing a tantrum. But, while some say kicking your child out of the house is a common form of parental discipline in Japan, reactions online clearly show others disagree with that form of discipline.

Others expressed some empathy for the parents.

BBC mentioned a well-known literary critic, Yumi Toyozaki, who tweeted on Tuesday: "I was a restless, rambunctious, cantankerous child, so I feel very much for the father who left his child in the woods for a bit in order to discipline him. I hope people stop condemning him."

Email: mmcnulty@deseretnews.com

Twitter: megchristine5

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