Anthony DeJuan “Juan” Boatwright was 14 months old when he was found with his head in a mop bucket at an area daycare in 2001.
Even before his death in 2012, after suffering years of brain damage and other health problems, his mother Jackie had managed to inspire Georgia and several other states to change their laws to require daycares to notify parents if they have no liability insurance – as Juan’s did not.
That’s how serious, and perilous, the business of taking care of children is. Anyone who’s ever watched a toddler knows it intrinsically.
So it’s horrifying to hear of another local daycare in which a woman – allegedly the only adult in the place – recently left nine children alone in the locked facility.
We don’t know how often it has happened before, either. But on Friday, a fire inspector who’d just conducted a routine review of Karen’s Kiddie Korner, 2533 Deans Bridge Road, was doing paperwork in the parking lot when he reportedly witnessed the woman, identified as Karen Jones, 51, leave the premises in a black Mercedes with the children inside and the doors locked.
Forty minutes later, authorities say the woman’s daughter was dropped off by a school bus and let the inspector back in. Jones was arrested on her return, and charged with five counts of reckless conduct.
Assuming the allegations are correct – she is presumed innocent until proven guilty – it makes one wonder why anyone would think it in any way appropriate, safe or moral to leave nine children, ages 1 to 9, alone in a locked building for any amount of time. For any reason.
Whatever fate befalls her, she should count her lucky stars that none of the children were hurt or worse, and that the charges aren’t more serious.
The things that the inspector witnessed also make one wonder if this was somehow a recurrence.
This community has seen what tragedy can occur to wide-eyed toddlers who’ve made the leap from ambling to rambling, unafraid and unaware of dangers that lurk like predators in tall grass.
The adults have to be their eyes.
That means the adults have to at least be in the building.