The rights of children to be free from harm

One Man's Opinion
By Doug Collins
December 4, 2016 - 5:00am

KAMLOOPS — I am very much in conflict over a case in Calgary where a mother has been charged with criminal negligence causing death because her son wasn’t given life-saving medication and died of a simple strep infection.

The boy was seven years old. He came down with an infection and died after being bedridden for 10 days.

The Crown says the boy’s death could have been prevented with simple medical attention. We can assume that, of course, but we will never know for sure.

The boy was given dandelion tea and oil of oregano - holistic home remedies that didn’t work.

But a bigger question is, does providing home remedies equate to failing to provide the necessities of life? No matter what the court decision is, the question remains.

When I was growing up, my parents and my grandparents often gave us home remedies for illnesses. Bread poultices for infection, home medication or something off the drug store shelf for chest colds, lots of things treated with Epsom salts, or gargling with salt water.

I chopped my finger almost completely off with an ax, my grandmother placed it back on my hand, taped it up and we let it heal. Such was life 60 years ago.

I am not going into details of this particular case before the court. But I am suggesting there is a bigger question here: does a parent have the right to take care of their child in a reasonable manner as they see fit, or is the state going to lay charges whenever someone makes a judgment call on whether a child doesn’t receive the necessities of life. And what, indeed, are the necessities of life?

As I say, I’m conflicted by this one.

In today’s age of easy access to prescription drugs, walk-in clinics and emergency rooms, you could easily argue someone shouldn’t be waiting to get care. But sometimes it’s not what it appears on the surface. Simple medication should be a no-brainer for an infection, but if there are different belief structures in place,  where is the line drawn between what a parent thinks is adequate, and what some health expert believes?

Some may see the answer as being pretty obvious. I’m not so sure that’s the case.