This story came out in The Age. An 18 month old boy got into the driver’s seat of his mother’s car. He started the car and it moved forward, pinning his mother against the garage wall. The accident caused minor injuries to the woman, who was taken to hospital.

What interested me most about this article was the stance it took. Rather than merely reporting events, it linked the incident to recent advertisements featuring young children driving cars.

The article at first took an angle I would have expected. The writer began to question what the toddler was doing in the car while his mother was outside of the car. A warning is then given that parents shouldn’t leave their cars with the keys, or indeed, children inside.

But remarkably, rather than focus on the fact that a toddler shouldn’t be alone in the car, let alone be able to get access to the ignition, the writer hints that the blame lies with children copying behaviours seen on television. It refers to a recent banned car advertisement where toddlers are seen driving.

This astounds me! The accident didn’t occur because of the ad, it occurred because the boy’s mother left him alone in a car with the keys still in the ignition. Even if the child had seen that ad and copied the behaviour he saw, it wasn’t the ad that caused the accident. A toddler shouldn’t be able to start a car for the simple reason that he shouldn’t have access to it.

This seems pretty logical to me. Assuming the mother did leave her child alone in the car for a moment, shouldn’t the child still be restrained in a car seat until she does comes to get her child? An 18 month old would still be in a baby car seat, which has fully lockable seatbelts than can’t be unfastened by a young child. This wasn’t even mentioned in the article.

This type of reportage is not only misdirected but it is also biased. It’s a very fine link drawn between a banned ad and this incident, yet it forms the main argument of the piece.

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