There have been a number of incidents where children have unexpectedly been involved in dangerous situations with wildlife in the past few weeks.
First, a little boy fell into a gorilla's cage at the Cincinnati Zoo, ultimately forcing zoo employees to shoot and kill the gorilla, because of the concern about the boy's well-being. The little boy survived.
Last week, an alligator snatched a toddler wading in a lagoon in Orlando, killing him.
And, over the weekend, a boy in Aspen was playing outside when a mountain lion attacked him. His family released a statement Monday that said he is doing better.
Each of these incidents created a firestorm on social media. Many people were sympathetic, sending well-wishes for the families of those involved. Others, however, were quite the opposite. They were questioning the actions of the parents of each child.
"We are at scary low levels of empathy. Here we are, basically, essentially bullying, gossiping or verbally abusing people we don't know, situations that we know tidbits of information about. It's really because we're not practicing empathy," Dr. Sheryl Ziegler, a child and family therapist, said. "And what's adding to not practicing empathy is the fact that I don't have to look a parent, that has just lost a child, in the eye and say horrendous things to them, that's never going to happen. But I get to broadcast my thoughts and feelings to thousands, if not millions of people around the world."
Dr. Ziegler told 9NEWS that "parent-shaming" has become more of a phenomenon because of social media.
"Sure, it's always been around, people judging, people gossiping, that's always been around. However, now there's this huge megaphone for it. And that's social media. People really hide behind. And they just write things they would never say to someone's face," Dr. Ziegler said.
When asked what the solution was, Dr. Ziegler recommended standing up for the parents who find themselves in difficult situations.
"If you feel comfortable, you can stand up and be an advocate for one of those parents, you can make a positive comment about it on social media. If you have small children, it's likely that you've been in a position where a child runs out of your view, or something like that. Remind those who are bashing those parents that most people aren't perfect."