Not for the first time in her life, Sharon Osbourne is facing angry backlash for outspoken comments she made on her US chat show, The Talk. She branded the parents of Madeleine McCann “insane” for leaving their three-year-old alone in a hotel room on the night she went missing.
“They left their baby in the room sleeping, sleeping while they had dinner in the restaurant,” Sharon said. “While they were in the resort their baby was taken. And it’s like ‘Oh but we can see everything that is going on and it’s like, insane’”.
A family friend says Sharon’s comments hurt the McCanns; “It’s very disappointing when someone with such a high profile makes this sort of ignorant, ill-informed comment.”
No one wants the McCanns to hurt or suffer any more than they already have – but isn’t the tormenting truth that Sharon’s comment wasn’t ignorant or ill-informed?
Madeleine’s father Gerry has openly said, “We made a mistake, but we are paying more for it than anyone could ever possibly imagine.”
There are two elements to his heartbreaking words. First, his acceptance that they made a mistake; an act or judgement that is misguided, often referred to as a moment of insanity. And the ongoing suffering, which no one is belittling or questioning for a second.
It’s impossible to even begin to imagine the harrowing sleepless nights they have endured, boiling anger that has sparked tears of frustration and streamed regret down their cheeks and into their pillows. Such all-consuming guilt is unfathomable.
We don’t have a time machine to go back and change the decisions that were made on that fateful night in May 2007 when the McCanns closed the door to their apartment in Portugal not knowing that their beautiful daughter would not be there when they returned.
We can’t unwind the exhausting hours her heartbroken parent’s minds have looped with painful ‘What ifs…’ and ‘If onlys…’. They more than anyone would change their decision if they could, but they can’t.
What is shocking is that nine years after Madeleine McCanns disappearance we haven’t learnt from this utterly gut-wrenching, distressing, heartbreaking loss and are still debating whether it’s ok to leave children alone at home while they’re sleeping.
The chat show panel discussion and Sharon’s impassioned comments were sparked by social media debate after a British woman said she had left a 10-month-old sleeping peacefully for seven minutes while she quickly ran to the shops. The mother was looking for reassurance that what she did was ok; she didn’t get the reassurance she was looking for. Truth is, this woman got one thing - lucky.
If it takes high-profile celebrities on chat show panels to keep reminding every adult walking the planet, whether they have children or are looking after someone else’s, that you can’t leave them alone, it should be said.
The learning has to be that, yes, there is a huge percentage chance that if you leave children sleeping, everything will be fine. You would run to the shops, clear another thing off your huge to-do list, run home and those children would be sleeping as soundly as when you left.
But we can’t ignore the ‘What ifs’ and we shouldn’t brush off worse-case scenarios no matter how tempting it may be. We must all be haunted by Gerry McCanns words, ‘We made a mistake’.
Every adult needs to absorb the message that you can’t take that chance of leaving children unattended. You can’t leave them in a room while you make dinner without checking on them regularly. You can’t leave them sleeping while you walk the dog – or go out for dinner.
No one wants the McCann’s to suffer any more than they already have, but if talking about them highlights the absolutely horrific tragedy of what could go wrong, and sparks one more person to think twice before they quickly run to the shops and return to find their child harmed or gone, we have to keep saying it.
There is no judgement, only empathy. There is no blame, only compassion. There is no time machine, only a lesson for us all that was as relevant in 2007 when Madeleine went missing as it is today, and will continue to be in ten or a hundred years’ time.
It’s horrifically painful to hear but the truth is: it is insane to leave children sleeping home alone. It’s just not worth taking the risk.
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It's not the first time in the last few months Sharon Osbourne has made headlines for comments made on The Talk. Watch her candidly talk about her marriage: