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The Matrouh tragedy: A warning to all parents
Published in Daily News Egypt on 14 - 09 - 2007

MARSA MATROUH: The tragic accident that took place in Matrouh last week, in which one family lost three children, drew parents' attention to the importance of watching what they tell their children.
The father in the Matrouh case underestimated the impact of his words when answering his three-year-old son's question about what the clinic doctor would do to his baby brother during circumcision.
While the mother was busy washing their daughter, the father took a pair of sharp scissors and started explaining to the boy how the doctor would cut his brother in the operation. Once the father left the room, the three-year-old boy took the scissors and proceeded to cut the baby in an attempt to mimic the surgery that was to follow.
Shocked by the sight of his newborn in a pool of blood, the father rushed to the car and started the engine. He was so frenzied that he did not see his three-year-old son standing behind the car, and hit him as he was backing out of the parking spot.
Both boys died on the way to the hospital. Meanwhile, their sister was left alone in the bathroom as the frantic mother rushed to her husband's screams. The girl slipped, fell into the tub and drowned.
"This isn't the first time an incident such as this takes place, noted Dr Adel Ashour, a pediatrician and specialist at the National Research Center. "I remember three decades ago, a boy fell to his death from the tenth floor after copying Farafiro, a heroic movie character that was able to fly, Ashur said.
He regrets that many parents remain heedless of the danger their words may spark and tend to underestimate the impact of television on their children.
Recent stories seem to support Ashour's words. Just last week, a six-year-old boy made his way onto the metro track at Tahrir station to challenge his young aunt who jokingly bet that he couldn't let the train pass above him while lying flat between the rails.
"It's natural that all children tend to copy adults' behavior and act on their words, said Ashour. Underestimating this curiosity, he explained, can sometimes have grave consequences.
"At the pediatric clinics we receive cases in which kids are poisoned after taking drugs prescribed for adults. In addition, some parents are not cautious when storing substances like kerosene or bleachers in empty Pepsi bottles, he added.
"The case of the Matrouh family should point to the importance of refusing to discuss anything relating to sexual or other sensitive matters, especially with kids at this very young age, he said.
Dr Heba Isawy, professor of psychiatry at Ain Shams University, said that the parents are the best people at judging whether their child would act on what he or she hears.
"Each father and mother should be aware of their children's imagination and estimate the degree of rashness in them, she explained, "Some children are so impulsive that they are ready to experience anything immediately and on the spot.
"Parents should be careful not to feed that penchant with mental images of stories or details like those told by the Marsa Matrouh father.
The psychiatrist advised that all parents have a role to play when it comes to their children's psychiatric health. "If they don't know, they should learn. This could be done through interaction and giving more quality time to the family, where parents should listen to the children and direct them.


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