The apparent murder-suicide which claimed the life of a 3-year-old boy last weekend in Todd County is a story that's all too familiar.
It seems the same tragic scenario is replayed many times a year: A marriage or relationship goes bad; A dispute regarding a child follows; The child is hurt or killed by one of the adults in the relationship.
"It just makes you want to cry," said Todd County Sheriff David Kircher, the law officer who had to pull the boy's body out of the pickup truck in a rural Clarissa garage late Friday. The truck had been running in a closed garage and both the boy and his father were found in the vehicle.
There are no easy solutions to these problems. Parents can't be denied access to their children unless there's a credible reason to fear for the safety of the child. And unfortunately, people who are about to commit violence against the innocent don't always give off signals indicating their behavior may endanger others.
Somehow, men and women who are breaking up a relationship have to separate the children from the animosity that's between them. A mind-set has to be established that places the emotional and physical well-being of the child as the top priority of any agreement or accord that's made between the parents.
"Leave the kids out of it," pleaded Sheriff Kircher when he released news of the tragedy. "They are just bystanders. They are used as ploys and toys."
If only his admonition could be emphasized to every troubled couple.
Divorce and severed relationships are not going to go away and children are going to be affected, but society should do all that it can to emphasize how important it is that children are not hurt just because adults can't get along.
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