Are Child Deaths Involving Wild Animals Accidents or Plain Ole Neglect?

Besides all of the other egregious news headlines of terrorists attacks, racial and social divide and just plain ole day to day crime, two stories in particular involving children being attacked (and in one case killed) by wild animals have gained international attention and raised serious dialogue about child neglect and whether or not parents should be held responsible when “accidents” happen.

Back in May 2016, a 3 yr. old Cincinnati boy wandered off from his mother and accidently fell into a gorilla exhibit at the city’s Brookfield Zoo. The terrifying incident was captured on video as terrified onlookers, including the boy’s parents and zoo officials, frantically grappled on how to rescue the small child from the grips of the massive 17 year old mammal before it attacked. In the end, the zoo officials decided to shoot and kill the 450 lb. gorilla rather further risk the child’s life. Animal lovers and activists cried foul and held vigils in the name of the slain gorilla, Harambe. Shortly after, Cincinnati police began investigating the parents for child neglect. In the end, officials decided not to prosecute the family, setting off a storm of controversy with many blaming the boy’s mother for failing to “control her child.”

Fast-forward to mid June 2016, a 2 yr. old Nebraska boy was vacationing with his family at Walt Disney in Orlando, Florida. The family was attending movie night outdoors at the Grand Floridian resort when the boy waded into about a foot of water in the Seven Seas Lagoon. Witnesses, including the boy’s horrified parents, tried to save him as a gator dragged him underwater. According to reports, there were multiple danger signs warning visitors against swimming in the waters. No word on if charges will soon follow, but the tragedy has raised even more controversy on whether the parents were neglectful in this particular matter. So far the public outcry has been that of support for this family. A total of at least 5 alligators were euthanized in attempts to recover the boy’s remains.

I try to not judge anyone’s parenting, especially in such traumatic situations such as these. Though I am not a parent, I would have to agree that parenting has got to be one of the most challenging “jobs” ever. There’s no step by step manual. However, I do believe that the parents’ main focal point should be to protect and keep their child safe -to the best of their ability. Even animals of the wild practice the law of protecting their young.

In these scenarios where the family is grieving the loss of their child, it is hard to imagine pointing a finger of fault at the parents, but nonetheless it raises the question of why a parent would not keep a closer eye on a 2 year old, especially around swampy waters accompanied with danger warnings all around. To me, that could be defined as neglect but it’s certainly not that cut and dry.

There is a big difference in an accident and actually allowing or putting a child directly in harm’s way, and most of us don’t believe tragedies will happen to us therefore we might not exercise proper caution at all times. When a child is involved does that constitute neglect?

Careful not to compare apples to oranges because both incidents are clearly horrifying accidents in which the kids were put in extreme danger for being typical curious 2 & 3 yr. olds. Kids are inquisitive and fearless little beings, especially little boys. Can you blame parents?

Both are tragic, but the real question is why one family received backlash for not keeping a close eye on their child and the other received public support. In both cases animals were killed as a result of possible parent neglect, but there was no public outcry for the 5 alligators euthanized, only the gorilla.

Either way, these stories are still horribly gut wrenching and if nothing else will hopefully heighten awareness surrounding child neglect, pinpointing the truthful dangers of not keeping an close eye (and hand) on kids, especially around animals. Who is to blame when something like this goes wrong?

What’s your opinion?

Join the discussion.

 

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Sea Animals Being Tortured For Selfish Selfies

Lately more & more videos and photos are popping up online of beach goers catching and basically torturing exotic sea creatures in order to take pictures & videos with the animals.

The most recent photos show a baby La Plata dolphin in Argentina captured, then tossed aside in the sand like garbage once the spectators got their selfie photo ops.

Sadly, the dolphin which has a thick pleathery skin, must remain in water to remain hydrated. It died of dehydration as people continued to snap pictures of its corpse.

In this newest viral video below, a group of beach goers wheel a baby shark in to shore using what appears to be a standard fishing pole.

The shark, out of its natural marine habitat, can be seen desperately fighting to get back to water as one man wrestles it down into the dry sand. He then begins ‘humping’ the distressed animal as onlookers again laugh and take pictures and videos.

I’m no self proclaimed animal rights activist, but I think this kind of treatment is just cruel & inhumane. One of the first things learned in school was that fish and sea animals cannot survive out of water. It’s known fact.

Watching the video prompted me to brush up on a little research. Luckily sharks are pretty tough and when returned to H2O within a reasonable amount of time, they come out relatively unscathed.

Sharks are a unique ‘fish’ in that they can take the roughest handling and most abuse of any fish and can survive once returned to the waters, many minutes after fighting, landing, and then release.

Depending on the species of shark, time of the year, and any injuries the shark received during the fight, it is not unusual to see them swim away like nothing happened after an inordinate period out of the water.

Irregardless, keeping a “fish out of water” is like holding a human underwater and taking selfies as they die gasping for air. It’s barbaric & insensitive.

If these videos featured the discomfort of cats or dogs, the world would be outraged. Why don’t sea creatures get the same love?

Peep the video and let me know what you think.

Funny or not?

A Bad Sport Is Bad Business –Even In Sports

 

Cam Newton at post game interview. Superbowl 50. Photo: ESPN

After umpteen preseason and Sunday night- Monday night season games, Super Bowl 50 claimed its new ‘champion of champions’ and unfortunately this go round for Cam Newton, it wasn’t Cam Netwon.

The Denver Broncos and veteran QB Peyton Manning claimed the bling by defeating QB Cam Newton,26, and the Carolina Panthers in the most watched rivalry game of the 50th season. After coming up short, Mr. Cam “Superman” Newton ‘was not there’ for the the post game interview. Like, at all. Problem is, it’s part of his job.

After seeing Cam storm out, I can honestly say that as a supporter I was a little disappointed in his lack of composure and overall disrespect for the game- the opportunity. Millions of players would have probably given anything for that kind of opportunity.

Instead, the young Atlanta native let his emotions get the better of him and reacted to the team’s loss by pouting (at times) arms crossed, refusing to answer questions (or at best offering up fizzled out one word “yes” or “no” responses) then ultimately walking out of the interview all together. No final words, no apologies, world still watching–whole nine yards.

Trust, as a highly competitive competitor, I understand his hurt in not winning (not really because he makes gazillions of dollars to do what he does and I don’t)– or at best I can at at least empathize. He WANTED this win, his ego NEEDED this win and with at least 100 million people watching and millions betting, there’s a ton of money on the line. The stakes were extremely high. I get it. All of the pressure aside, losing doesn’t give an excuse for that kind of unprofessionalism. It’s uncool. Besides, I don’t believe in letting ’em’ see you sweat but we’ll blame emotions for now.

Hopefully for his sake and the sake of his pockets, Superman’s people will wheel him back in and remind him of what proper business etiquette means. True, it is football, but it’s certainly business for him.  He’s a multi million dollar guy now. Poor sportsmanship etiquette is a quick way to gain a reputation, and plus, it just looks bad. Matter of fact, it’s a horrible look for such a good looking guy. That’s not the look of  the new the face.

Based on age and talent, it’s probably a safe bet on “Superman” flying into plenty more Super Bowl stadiums during his NFL career. What happened Sunday can’t happen again, there will never be another chance to recover from that kind of fumble on the play. Too many people are watching.

Hopefully next time- if there is a next- he won’t let the world see him so defeated. The most important thing to remember here is that the kids are watching and they’re little human sponges. They soak up what they see and they follow examples. That was a poor example.

Unfortunately losing is a sour part of everyone’s life, but what really matters in the end is how we react to defeat. Our response to adversity is generally what people remember about us – be it good or bad. Poor sportsmanship is not what champions are made of, nor does it look good and in Cam’s case, it’s bad for his business. Besides, it’s just not sexy, and sexy he is!

Everyday provides a new opportunity to do better. Better luck next time…

Peep the video below and tell me what you think.

Join the discussion.

 

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Keep Calm: The Cops Edition

 

The recent backlash that law enforcement has been receiving in the news media prompted me to write this story. I wanted to share my experience after a recent run in with “the law”.

As a journalist, I try not to form opinions based on empty rhetoric, hearsay or even the media for that much. I try to form opinions based on my own observations and truths, not just by sheer emotion brought on by what we see in the news. 

That being said, I felt it was important to show another angle of dealing with the police and how it saved me a world of trouble. As a crime writer I tend to stay neutral when reading or researching a story, seeing both sides of the picture.  Hopefully my experience will help someone else who may encounter law enforcement in the future. 


Recently, I was coming from dinner with friends and pulled up to a red light on my way home. I must first confess that during dinner I had one margarita to knock the edge off from a long day’s work. Sidenote: if you know me, you know that one single cocktail for me (the self-proclaimed party girl tequila shooter) is like warm-up session so I was not in the least bit drunk or intoxicated. Nonetheless, while sitting at the red light I glanced in my rearview and spotted a cop pulling up to the light about 2 lanes over.

Being a hardworking, tax paying and law abiding citizen still doesn’t ease anxiety when I see a police car, especially with all of the recent bad news  in the media and strained history between cops and people of color. I have had run-ins before that were not so pleasant. Immediately I began to tense up and the cop wasn’t even behind me.

Apparently I must have suffered some kind of brain malfunction and before I realized it I had hit the gas accelerating right through the red light. Don’t ask me why, I swear I thought I saw the light change. Or maybe I was hoping it had changed. Maybe I was just nervous, after all I kind of had a reason to be. I was in a part of town where the cops are  notoriously accused of racial profiling Blacks and Hispanics. Needless to say I IMMEDIATELY realized that I had just made a huge mistake—RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE POLICE! Instead of continuing, I inched to a stop and started pulling over to the side median because I knew exactly what was about to happen next. Sure enough, I look in my review mirror and the cop car lights are now blaring blue and inching right up to my bumper. I’m cursing myself out. I have an event I had to attend the next day and missing it wasn’t an option. I had no time for traffic stop shenanigans.

The cop gets out and starts walking to my car and I let out an enthusiastic “Hi!” As the officer approached I notice “he” is a “SHE” — a cute white petite female. That definitely knocked a little more of the edge off. I’m girl power first. She approaches my window lets out an enthusiastic “Hello!” Her smile was visible through the blinding blue lights. At least we were off to a good start. In a lighthearted way she says, “You just ran that red light girl!” I began apologizing profusely and told her that I had just left my office after a 10 hour day and that I was completely overcome with exhaustion, which was true. I did skip the mention of the dinner & drinks. That would’ve seemingly been asking for trouble. She empathized with me and then asked for my license which I couldn’t immediately find. As she stood there patiently while I dug around my bag, she offered small talk assuring me that misplaced licenses was a common occurrence in her world. We shared a laugh. I finally dig my license out of the bottom of my purse (aka The Abyss) and hand them over. In the back of my mind hoping there is nothing that could go wrong. No unpaid tickets, etc. I didn’t think so, but you could never be too sure. Dealing with the law is always unpredictable, especially for people of color.

She heads back to her squad car to run my name (terrifying) and I l notice another police car pull up. “OH SHIT, this can’t be good.” I remain calm while clutching my pearls hoping that she didn’t smell a drop of the margarita I had enjoyed about 45 minutes prior and called for some backup. I figured I had to be under the legal alcohol consumption limit and besides, I wasn’t in the least bit “physically or visibly intoxicated” but nonetheless I had in fact enjoyed a drink and then ran a red light—right in front of the cops. Seconds later ANOTHER cop car pulls up. “THREE cop cars? This definitely can’t end well.” Not to mention, all this was my own fault. If I had been paying attention at the light, none of this would have happened. I’m still cursing myself out while remaining calm. Moments later a male officer walks up and begins asking random questions about where I had been and where I was headed, etc.

He was very friendly and cordial. I told him the same as the other officer, I was leaving my office and headed home. That was my story. Despite the huge bag of to-go seafood in my passenger seat, I was coming ‘straight from work.’ The male officer, a very pleasant older white gentleman then hit me with the “Ms. Cavalli, when is the last time you smoked marijuana” question. My eyes bucked out of my head as if I were in complete shock and I replied, “It’s been FOREVER” certainly “not today”. He chuckled and then casually asked if I minded if they ‘took a look’ stating he thought he smelled a faint smell of weed. “OH SHIT! Here we go.” He assured me it would only take a minute and then I’d be on my way. (That’s what they always say before you’re locked up, but I digress.)

I obliged and agreed to a search because again, I didn’t want this traffic stop to go any further left than possible. I’m crossing my t’s and dotting my i’s. I have an event tomorrow and I couldn’t miss it for the world.

I gather my thoughts and step out of the car. He thanks me for being  cooperative. The female officer then begins pilfering through my belongings in search of the “ganja.” Sidenote: earlier in the day my mobile car wash guy had been in my car cleaning, he smokes ‘Black N Mild’ cigars (which I had repeatedly asked him not to do in my car but for a free detail who complains). To me Black and Mild cigars smell nothing like top grade marijuana but I mentioned that the cigars “might be the smell” to the officer. It was worth a shot. He agreed, “That’s probably what it is, those cigars do have a sweet smell like sord of like Swisher Sweets”. I blank stare. Meanwhile, the female officer is still searching and I am just praying that there really is no herbs or paraphernalia stuffed anywhere because I would be headed to jail and probably missing my event, which wasn’t an option. I knew how this story ended, it happened before. At this point nothing is impossible. Hopefully nobody accidentally left anything in my car. The moment of truth was upon us.

Flashlight glaring, she searches all four corners of my vehicle and then returns to me with my license in hand and cracks the same vivacious smile. “Have a nice night Ms. Cavalli, I am just going to give you a warning for running the red light, just be careful and go get you some rest.”

WHEW! What a relief! Talk about dodging a bullet! I jumped back in my car and drove off as normal as possible. I really wanted to gun the gas and get the hell out of dodge before she had changed her mind, but I remained cool, calm and collected. The whole time I am pulling away thinking, “Are you kidding me? Did THAT just happen?” I was in complete shock. Not even one mention of alcohol and more importantly, no weed to be found. Not even a ticket for plowing through the red light at a busy intersection. There was certainly a guardian angel watching over me. I couldn’t get my seatbelt on fast enough. I was free to go and GO I did!


In conclusion,  I really believe that the way I treated the officers during this encounter is how they treated me—with respect. As with life you give what you want to get. Treating people how you want to be treated is essential, especially when dealing with authority. Being loud,  unruly and belligerent probably won’t get you anywhere but a trip to jail or far worse, a bullet or two –or ten! From the moment the female officer walked up I was respectful, friendly and co-operative and gave her no reason to get nervous, hostile or aggressive with me—and she most certainly didn’t. Even though I was in the wrong, she and her fellow officers handled me with the upmost respect and care and I was pleasantly surprised by how nice they genuinely were.

In that moment I realized that all cops aren’t like bad guys that we see in the media. Some do have a heart and compassion. Being a police officer has got to be one of the toughest jobs out there, but the stigma of blacks being treated unfairly, profiled, abused or even killed by cops is very real. As with Mike Brown, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray and many others who have died in the care of law enforcement, we see that things can go left in a moment’s notice and potentially turn fatal. The key is to KEEP CALM, relax and do what they ask. It won’t curve anxiety but it will help diffuse an already tense situation. Dealing with police is hardly ever enjoyable, but keeping calm can at least save you from a world of other troubles.

Sure, as with any profession there are ‘good and bad’ but thankfully this time, I had encountered some of the good, and after a long demanding day, I appreciated it. Not just because I had escaped an expensive ass ticket or possibly even jail, but because it restored some of my faith in some police officers and the job that they do. In the end I was able to make it home in a timely manner and get packed. After all, I had an early morning flight to catch and I couldn’t miss it for the world. I had an event to attend and I made it—with my pearls and bells on.

–Love, Bee