A video has surfaced of a horrible woman at a day care centre, beating a toddler. It’s one of many videos one sees routinely—different permutations, but the essence is the same: a caregiver smacking a child. Videos like these make any sane person deeply uncomfortable. For a parent it is a nightmare, the idea of anyone actively harming one’s child in such a brutal way. Most of the responses to videos like these are of disgust and outrage—partially directed at the perpetrator and partially at the parents for leaving children at daycare. If you can’t look after them, why have them? If you can’t take care of your child you don’t deserve to have one. But here’s the thing: there are very few parents who actually don’t care about their child’s welfare. Most parents love their kids and want them to be safe. And many parents don’t have options for childcare they would like, and that’s why day-care exists. It’s not a receptacle for parents who’d like a little break from their toddler so off they go; a lot of kids in day-care have parents who work and don’t have a support system for child-minding. Does economic necessity mean you shouldn’t have children? Perhaps. If you can’t afford it don’t have a child. But sometimes children happen, whether you plan them or not. Some parents allow those pregnancies to continue and some don’t. But there are precious few parents—and this is not scientific, but intuitive—who actively think “meh, let the kid rot with a stranger, I have to jet”; which is the implication behind some people’s disgust. It’s the same strain of disdain used to shame working mothers and formula feeding mothers (fathers are not shamed for anything related to childcare so they are not part of this equation). If you can’t do X or Y “properly” then you don’t deserve to be a mother.

Obviously caregivers beating children is unacceptable and horrifying. But this video should make us consider what causes parents to have to use daycare to begin with, and what we need to do, structurally, to ensure the safety of children. Most parents who use day care do it because they are at work. And daycares exist because workplaces are not geared to be family-friendly environments. Families are not professionally advantageous, and employees are expected to work like they have no life outside of the office. If you are crying in the photocopy room because your grandmother died, then you need to stuff it and get back to your desk. If you need to pick up your kid from school midday because they vomited, you’re looked at askance by the rest who either don’t have children, or whose kids are sucking it up and not making their parent look bad in front of the others. Capitalism has taken the humanity out of the workplace—just look at maternity leave practices and you’ll get a pretty clear picture of just how important the furthering of the human race is to the average employer. In Sindh it’s sixteen weeks, and in Punjab an amendment to the Maternity Benefits Act has been submitted quite literally ten days ago that proposes a longer leave and daycare facilities at work.

Some families can get by with one parent working. Some families can’t. Some parents have jobs that can’t be done anywhere but an office. Some families don’t have an extended family network they can rely on for childcare. The problem is not that parents need to work to make ends meet, or that daycare exists. The problem is that workplaces don’t make any allowances for family. There are scores of studies that show that productivity is not directly linked to hours spent in an office. Many working parents know how to get jobs done with maximum efficiency because they are multi-tasking at an Olympic level. Socially, families aren’t going anywhere. There will always be parents who work and don’t have family to help with the kids. But in order to minimize harm done to children because their parents can’t always be around to care for them, we need to think about what needs to change so that caregivers can’t take advantage of their position. For one, criminal assault charges that are seen through by the law. Second, state regulations that monitor daycares and other places that provide child support, with stringent qualification levels and quality control. Third, workplaces have to drastically change their set-ups to make allowances for parents, including on-site daycare and nursing facilities (the Punjab Maternity Bill amendment proposes the same). It’s not a coincidence that workplaces are so unfriendly for kids—men don’t bother because women do the lion’s share of childcare, and since men are in the majority of leadership and policy positions, family-oriented reforms are very low on any priority list. It does take a village to raise a child, and if we want to protect out children then it’s high time we raised the village, and prioritised child welfare in a practical, effective way.