Saturday 24 March 2018


Babies are not dolls

Facebook was awash yesterday with condemnation for the 17-year-old mother whose baby drowned after she left her unattended in the bathtub.  The cruel irony, of course, is that according to the TVM news bulletin, the mother went into another room to go on  Facebook.

I am not going to say anything against this mother, because my heart truly goes out to her. She will have to live with this – the ultimate tragedy for any mother  – for the rest of her life, with her neighbours all pointing towards her every time she walks by, “look, that’s the one.”

At 17, going over to a friend’s house and chatting on Facebook is a normal carefree, teenage thing to do.  Unfortunately, the biological act of conceiving and giving birth to a baby doesn’t automatically wire a teenager’s brain to suddenly become mature and responsible over night.  Teenagers are renowned for assuming that hazards don’t exist and that nothing can ever go wrong.

Clearly, this young girl thought that by leaving the baby alone in a bath for a few minutes while the water was running, nothing could possibly happen.

Clearly, those of us who are  more mature and older and who have had children in our care were shocked at this reasoning. “Mhux ovvja!” people were tapping out on their keyboards  in scandalised tones, “that you don’t leave a child alone in a bath! What was she thinking?”

The fact is she wasn’t thinking, because unfortunately these young girls having babies at such a ridiculously young age, are simply not aware of the enormous responsibility they have taken on.  You don’t simply have a baby because you can.  A baby is dependent on you for everything, and your job is to take care of it at all times. Maybe this horrible tragedy will serve as an eye-opener to all these silly, wide-eyed girls who think that having unprotected sex is no biggie, because they’ve always wanted a baby to love anyway.

Babies are not just cute little things which gurgle and coo, and which you dress up in tiny, cute clothes as you play Mummy while pushing them around in a pram. Babies are not dolls.

My deep condolences go to this young mother and the father of the child, and their families.  



  • Alexia

    It’s true that is is irresponsible to leave a baby alone in the bathtub. It is easy for them to slip even if you are watching them until you get hold of their nappy, let alone leaving the baby with running water. However this girl had also courage that she said the truth, she could have invented that she went looking for her changing clothes etc but she said that she was on facebook. Some mothers are too relaxed thinking that nothing could every happen and some are the other extreme always behind their child, some don’t even let them try to ride a bike etc… I think both extremes are wrong and even if you are a responsible mother and always watching over your child, accidents happen anyway. It’s true that she was very irresponsible and probably even ignorant to leave a baby alone with running water, however accidents happen even if you are responsible, let alone when you are an immature mother. I am sure she learned her lesson and we cannot point fingers at her, there are also married couples who are irresponsible and giving their house key two their 8-year old children to stay alone after school because both parents are at work. Isn’t that also irresponsible too? How would you know if they are not inviting someone over? Or they could try cooking and burn themselves perhaps forget to switch off the oven?

  • J Fenech

    Agreed Josanne – it’s a true eye-opener for potential mothers who want to have babies just because they’re cute.
    The most shocking part is how the Times Of Malta seems to imply a lot about the mother due to her social background, which apparently they found VERY relevant to the story. These accidents happen to teenagers as well as ‘mature’ mothers. Yes it is very easy to get distracted, some suffer consequences such as a bumper-to-bumper accident, and for some it’s not simple.
    May the little girl RIP.

  • Ramon Casha

    Perhaps rather than “girls having babies at such a ridiculously young age”, what’s happening is that as our lifespans increase, more people put off having babies until later and can therefore stay young and carefree for longer. In the past you’d better mature quick because you’re going to be out on your own whether you like it or not, caring for the shop, helping dad on the farm, helping mum cook for you and your 10 siblings. Teenagers hadn’t been invented yet. People went from child to young adult. Today people in their 20s and 30s expect to keep partying and living as if they hadn’t a care in the world. However, our biological clocks don’t care. You hit your teens you get a double shot of hormones straight up. So you end up with pregnant teenagers – which is nothing new – but all their mates are still going out and being carefree and they want to be too. Not to mention that fewer of them have had experience raising younger siblings since families are much smaller today. And yes, like you said teenagers believe that bad things happen to others. They probably thought they wouldn’t get pregnant to begin with. They think they’ll make good parents. They think everything will turn out just fine. Until they don’t. Then again, didn’t babies die in the past too? Far more than today in fact – lots of families had one baby which died in infancy.

    I join you in expressing my condolences to everyone involved.

  • martin saliba

    @ J Fenech , unfortunately , wether you like it or not , social backround dose have a lot to do with practically anything.

  • Sue Mercieca

    I prefer to be more proactive – and suggest that a basic FIRST AID course becomes mandatory and part of school curricula from teenagers onwards. Ideally even adults do such a course. It is incredible how much one realises the little we know about first aid- once one does the course. I am glad I did. Condolences are in order but I doubt the unfortunate mother will read these comments.


      I totally agree with you and I the same thought crossed my mind when I did the course myself.
      I think First Aid should be the most important subject on the agenda of every school curricula in Form 4 or 5 and could easily be linked to Life Skills which was something we had at school.

    • Carmen Sammut

      I fully agree with Sue … a basic First Aid course may have saved this baby’s life.
      This article reminded me of a statement by Profs Angela Abela that teenage births are unfair on the babies, when she called for an educational campaign and planned pregnancies. “Last year, 32 babies were born to girls 16 or under … In 2009, 277 babies were born to teenage mothers out of a total of 4,180 births in the country.” Who article and comments

  • Melanie

    In Australia they have a subject at school that teaches them basic life skills such as taking care of a baby. They are given a doll for a whole week or more. The doll is programmed for feeding, sleeping, crying etc… They are not allowed to leave it unattended. This girl I knew had to take the doll with her to work (school here is mandatory up to 18 years old and this particular subject is done in the last year) I think it’s a great idea,coupled with an education campaign making parents especially new young parents to never leave their baby alone Ina bath since even tiny amounts of water could make a baby drown.

    • Yes same subject is taught in the States

  • Joseph

    I think that what we Maltese call “traskuragni”, coming from someone who is unprepared or immature, is still called “traskuragni” and irresponsibility! I do believe that we are eagerly trying to be politically correct by avoiding to call a spade a spade – but nobody is succeding!


    I know of a case where the mother was in her forties and already had four children. One of them who was about 3 years old was in the bath when the phone rang. Unthinking she went to answer it. The little boy opened the HOT tap and scalded himself very badly. In this case a very busy mother was trying to do two things at once and the little boy did something she simply did not predict as she had left him in a few inches of water playihng with his ducks. We constantly have to be AWARE of the present – of what we are doing at the moment and concentrate on that. We have to be PRESENT. It is easier said than done as most of us do two things at once as otherwise we would not cope. often we are doing one thing and thinking of something else.
    As to the young girl who lost her baby she should either not have had sex at such a young age or at least used a contraceptive since they seem to have no self control of any kind these days but want instant gratification.

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