A Florida mother is begging fellow parents to stop publicly "blaming and shaming" the parents of a toddler who was killed by an alligator near a Disney resort on Tuesday.
Melissa Fenton called the horrifying attack, in which 2-year-old Lane Graves, of Nebraska, was pulled into the water when he waded into a lagoon, an accident and begged social media users to stop flogging his grieving parents.
Fenton challenged accusers to say face-to-face what they say online.
"At the funeral for this two year boy who died in front of his parents, can you do me a favor? Can you walk up to the mother and say the words that you just typed out last week?," Fenton wrote in a Facebook post that is going viral.. "Can you? Can you greet her, hug her, shake the father’s hand and then say, 'Who was watching that little boy? You should have known better. I would never let that happen to MY child.'"
According to the Palm Beach Post, Fenton says she's had "enough" of people blaming parents for horrible accidents.
"In the coming week these parents will fly back to their home in Nebraska without one of their children," Fenton wrote. "They will leave a vacation resort, packing up his Buzz Lightyear pajamas and his favorite blanket, and they will make an excruciatingly difficult journey home. A journey that they never in a million years thought they would be making. They will meet with a funeral director, pick out a tiny casket, a tiny burial suit, and surrounded by family, they will bury their baby boy. And they will suffer every single day for the rest of their life."
Fenton said while Americans used to rally behind parents who were distressed by tragedies affecting their children, now they're carrying pitchforks, at the ready to blame every time a high-profile incident involving a child happens.
"And how are accidents allowed to happen if we can’t blame someone? Surly (sic), they can’t, right? I mean, random acts of nature, unpreventable tragedies, and fateful life changing events that take place in a matter of nanoseconds cannot possibly take place if everyone is being a responsible parent, right? NOPE," she writes. "They can’t, because this country and its population of perfect pitchfork carrying mothers and fathers sitting behind keyboards needs to accuse. They NEED TO BLAME, to disparage, to criticize in every damn way and at every damn corner, the parenting of another."
Last month, when a little boy's fall into a gorilla enclosure at a Cincinnati zoo led zoo officials shoot a gorilla to rescue him, calls were made to criminally charge the parents.
In both cases, authorities have declined to file criminal charges.
The responses to Fenton's post were largely positive.
"This needed to be said, and you said it perfectly," one woman wrote. "My own children had waded in those very same waters at this beautiful resort. There but for the grace of God go I. My heart grieves for all of the victims of the recent tragedies in Orlando. It's too much to bear."
Disney has been criticized for posting "no swimming" signs but failing to adequately warn guests about gators in the waters adjacent to its resorts.
See the post, and its replies, here: