Everday people don't usually bolt across the street to save a child's life or have the courage to rescue strangers from oncoming subway trains. So when things like that happen, it restores my faith in humanity. I think that it's time for Pedro Julio Nevarez and Julio Gonzalez, the Bronx residents who rescued a three-year-old who somehow ended up hanging from a fire escape to form some sort of Justice League style alliance with Wesley Autrey, the Subway Superhero.
But as a parent, I have to admit that I'm a little annoyed that the toddler was hanging off of a fire escape to begin with. Of course it's a blessing that the boy lived, with the help of a couple of good samaritans. But what if they hadn't been there? That child from the Bronx wasn't the first to get saved from a near death experience involving a window. Sadly, these kids are the exception to the rule. Far too frequently, small children in tenements lose their lives in tragic accidents that do not involve gunfire, just lapses of judgement on the part of whoever is supposed to be watching them.
One word: window guards.
The type of parent who hires a sitter that opens the window to have a smoke and then absentmindedly leaves it open – naw, bunk that – the type of parent that hires a sitter who smokes Kools while babysitting – isn't one that's going to be proactive about child-proofing. They're just not. So in light of that, you'd think there'd be a requirement on the part of local governments to make sure that all apartment buildings have them installed. Screens wouldn't be too much to ask, either (yes, I'm talking to you, Mayor Bloomberg). This should be a mandatory requirement for tenaments. Everybody doesn't shop at Right Start or have the One Step Ahead catalog delivered to their front door.
When we lived in an urban area, our pediatrician – part of a practice that had many Medicaid patients – routinely asked us if we had fire detectors installed. Now that we live in a rural enclave swarming with affluent Manhattan transplants, it's a given: our new pediatrician assumes we have smoke detectors because he assumes we should know better. Didn't even question if we were checking the batteries. It almost feels like there's a common assumption that the more education a person has, the more careful they are as a parent. While there may be studies to support that theory, I've met more than one educated, middle-class mommy (good mommies, too) who've been reported to Child Protective Services for common household accidents to completely believe it.
Maybe it's as simple as changing building codes in urban high rises and mandating that prenatal care includes a certain amount of parent education. Or maybe there just needs to be more public service announcements reminding parents to be more vigilant. Either way, it will be worth it if more public awareness about something so basic can help save the life of a child. Parents know what it means to have your heart existing outside of your body, running around out there tempting fate. That's what it's like having a toddler, a person with unlimited energy and willpower but not a damn bit of sense. Regardless of class or educational background, we don't want anything or anyone to hurt our kids, especially themselves.
When disasters like these are avoided, it's only fitting that we celebrate the heroes. But we really shouldn't have to when a near tragedy could so easily be prevented in the first place.
Much respect to the Subway Superhero and the Window Guardian Angels for not needing their own comic book series to become heroes. And they deserve extra props just for representing and allowing America to finally see headshots of brown men on the news for something other than playing ball or being accused of a crime.