People tend to judge others when it comes to negligent acts

Amber Doyle, Editor-In-Chief

When a parent leaves their child in a hot car, most people feel as if the parents contain elements of negligent, depravity and intent.  Death by heat is hyperthermia, when the body absorbs more heat than it can handle.  This is especially dangerous for children, whose bodies have not developed enough to regulate body temperatures. The heartbreaking truth is most of these deaths are accidents that could have been prevented with more awareness.

A debate is raging over the tragic case of Justin Ross Harris, who left his 22-month-old boy, Cooper, in a car all day. Cooper passed away, and now his father has been charged with murder and child cruelty. Some people call this a tragedy, while others call it a crime.

To make the case that Harris committed premeditated first-degree murder by intentionally leaving his child in a car to die, the justice system will need to look at his prior history, both criminal and psychological, and consider any other acts that show a complete disregard for the child.

In this case, the cause of “just forgetting his child in a car” needs to be analyzed.  Nobody would have considered it significant if Harris had walked 10 paces away from his car toward his work and then remembered Cooper. The fact that a simply negligent mistake had devastating consequences does not, logically or rationally, make the act grossly negligent or criminal in and of itself.

If Harris’ mistake was one of simple negligence, that he truly just forgot to drop Cooper off at daycare, then the question is: Should we make a simple negligent act that has significant consequences a crime?

That is an extraordinarily dangerous precedent to set. Thousands of car accidents occur every day, most caused by simple negligence. Some are fender benders, some cause significant property damage, some cause simple injuries, some cause significant injuries and some end up with death. We judge each other in many circumstances based upon whether or not we have acted reasonably.Harris probably acted with simple negligence and will have to deal with having been the cause of his son’s death for the rest of his life, but he should not be held criminally liable.  However, if it is determined that Harris acted in a negligent way, then he should be held criminally responsible.

People have been quick to judge Harris, instead of waiting for all the facts to come out. People have to be careful not to allow the tragic consequences of the action to influence how they judge the act itself. Instead of judging the negligence of Cooper’s father, the nation should come together for a family who just lost their child in a terrible and fatal accident.