Happy ending in
Hokkaido for lucky child
sparks needed debate
Good to know that the 7 year old boy abandoned by his parents as punishment in the Hokkaido woods has been found safe and well. How he survived on only water while staying in that hut was amazing. Kids are tough but it’s amazing to find he survived without eating, with only water to drink, and no wonder his first words,after confirming who he was, were ‘I’m hungry’. Sounds like any child to me : ) Who knows why he went so far. The innocent curiosity of a child who underestimated the wilds of Hokkaido, not taking his parents seriously (if you throw stones at moving cars and people then you can’t be that worried about what your parents will say), or something deeper.
You don’t have to be a parent to comment on this. We were all kids once right? The parents went way too far. A few minutes alone is a long time in the mind of a child. The 5 km he walked until he found the hut is a lot for a child too. According to a website I found measuring walking distances, 5 km would take a healthy fit adult walking at a leisurely pace an average of 60 minutes (about 45 minutes if they were more purposeful) so it probably took him, with his little legs, much longer (leisurely or purposeful = not taking the mick here but being scared of animals or other things and looking for somewhere to sleep before nightfall would fall in to the purposeful category I would imagine). The people from the local village looking for him obviously did not reckon on him going so far.
As a person without kids, I hesitate to suggest what I would have done but I will as I’ve looked after enough of them (thus acting as guardian for however long or short a time). They could have spoken with him about why he felt the need to throw stones at cars and people. Or maybe bribed him with something until they got home and then given him a good talking to. This will no doubt reflect badly on them but I’m not saying they were to blame for such disconcerting behaviour. He could have picked up this behaviour from kids at school or seen it on tv. It will still reflect badly on them. They were lucky he wasn’t killed by a bear or attacked by something else or someone else in those 7 days.
Who knows how awful the kid feels. He is said to have accepted his father’s apology with a ‘nod’ and an ‘ok’. That doesn’t mean much as he was maybe too ashamed to make a fuss in front of people as he probably knew of all the effort put in to looking for him. He might not have known what to say otherwise as maybe he’s not used to an apology from his parents. Either way, when you’re that age, your parents are supposed to be the sensible ones and the parents will come out looking the worst in this.
This has opened up a debate on treatment of children in Japan. Spoilt or not (and they’re not all spoilt by any means, Japan has neglected kids like any country and even spoiling kids rotten to make up for absence is a sort of neglect), this would be terrifying for any child, even if they initially saw it as an adventure, and it will leave a mark on him though I have to say he still eventually needs to learn not to throw stones at cars or people or other living creatures ( just ward it off with a stick if possible). A lesser punishment would obviously have been enough to teach him this. Not leaving him at the side of the road for god knows who or what to find him.
Anyway I guess they feel bad enough as it is and are extremely ashamed. The shame of making international headlines won’t help. I hope the family sort this out between themselves and get to continue their lives in peace.