What is going on here?
Is it now legal for British parents to leave their tiny children alone while they go out for fun?
The last time I looked, teenage mothers got into trouble if they popped out to the shops to get a pint of milk and a loaf of bread and left their children alone.
Under British law parents can be charged with neglect or abandonment if they leave their children alone if it is unsafe to do so.
It clearly was unsafe to leave these three small children alone. One of them is now missing.
The McCanns chose to go out to have a good time leaving three small children alone in a flat in a foreign country.
These were not impoverished teenagers who didn't know any better. They are thirty-eight-year-old doctors.
What sort of example were they setting?
What sort of example are media commentators who excuse them setting?
Where are the interfering, busy body social workers when they're really needed?
Most media commentators seem to think that the McCanns did nothing wrong. The arguments seem to be that parents must be able to leave their small children alone in the world and that parents are entitled to lead lives without having their children around them all the time.
People who become parents take on enormous responsibilities.
Small children are vulnerable. They fall over. They wake up frightened. They see ghosts in shadows. They fall out of bed. They are vulnerable.
Small children are vulnerable.
But society rewards parents in many ways for their decision. And having children is a choice.
If the Drs McCann wanted to have romantic holidays in the Algarve without having their fun evenings spoilt by children they shouldn't have had any children.
(And they could, remember, have hired a baby sitter.)
Personally, I'd arrest the pair of them for child neglect.
Whatever happened to Madeleine they must take a huge amount of responsibility.
Personally, I don't think either of them are responsible enough to work as doctors.
Responsible parents don't leave their children alone in a foreign country.
Being a parent is a 24 hour responsibility.
The media and the public seem to regard this pair as victims.
Madeleine is the victim.
Whatever has happened to her is clearly awful.
Sorry, but I just don't think they deserve our sympathy.
They and their family and friends seem to have become media celebrities. Other celebrities are falling over themselves to get involved.
The parents are alleged to be hiring a professional public relations adviser and two London lawyers. A trust is allegedly being set up to handle the money being raised. Why? What the hell is going on?
Why do they need lawyers and a publicity adviser?
And why do they need a trust?
These aren't impoverished people. They are both doctors.
Their combined annual income is probably the best part of £200,000. Personally, I would not be surprised to see the Drs McCann on Celebrity Big Brother next year.
A cynic might say that at least they won't need to bother getting babysitters for whatever children they might have got left by then.
They could just leave 'em at home alone.
Copyright Vernon Coleman 2007