The challenges of protecting children

Like many people, I spent part of the past weekend monitoring the search for a missing four-year-old boy. Sadly, the […]

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Like many people, I spent part of the past weekend monitoring the search for a missing four-year-old boy. Sadly, the body of Waeys Ali Mohamed was found in Minnehaha Creek on Monday.

Mohamed is believed to have drowned after falling into the creek. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner will determine his cause of death but at this point it is believed to be a tragic accident.

Mohamed wandered away from his Hopkins home Sunday morning. According to the alerts, the boy had autism and was nonverbal. Dozens of volunteers helped search in an area with dense foliage and the creek.

While these instances can bring out volunteers and compassion, they can also bring out the keyboard warriors who second-guess families and law enforcement. It’s hard enough to lose a loved one. Believe me, it is much harder to have people making rude comments and heaping on the criticisms. I’ve been there.

I especially appreciate Hopkins Police Captain Craig Kreiling’s compassion at a news conference after the boy’s body was found.

Kreiling extended sympathies to the boy’s family and the Hopkins Somali community. He also said, “There is no room to try and blame anybody else right now; this is a horrible, tragic accident from everything we are able to determine.”

This is the second accidental drowning of a child with autism in the Twin Cities recently. In 2021, two-year-old Iklas Abdullahi Ahmed was found dead in an Edina pond.

The Star Tribune had a quote from Dr. Linda Quan, a Seattle area physician who has studied drowning and prevention for many years. Quan said drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for children ages 1 to 4, and is a greater risk for children with autism.

Children are often drawn to water. We loved playing in a creek and in the east fork of the Iowa River as children. Pat and I visited the river valley during a recent trip and I was struck at how potentially dangerous it seems now. We’d fish, wade in to catch minnows amd frogs, bring home snapping turtles . . . you get the idea. Sometimes that river current was flowing especially fast. But we were oblivious to potential dangers.

Raising children with disabilities of any type can bring huge challenges for families and those close to their families. It is all too easy to point fingers and say, why aren’t adults supervising? How does a child get away? Why isn’t a child wearing a monitoring device? But until you have been there, you likely don’t understand. This is a time for compassion and nothing else.

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  • "Stay safe, Minnesota. Take steps to protect yourself, & others from the COVID-19 virus."

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