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Vigilance The key to child protection

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Vigilance The key to child protection (Picture courtesy- AFP)

Police to make child endangerment punishable

Last week the Police announced that it will be taking a much harsher stance against child endangerment due to the sudden and somewhat strange increase of child deaths since the beginning of 2015. According to the Police, four such deaths have occurred just within last two weeks that can be mainly linked to parental neglect and inattentiveness.

The first of these tragic deaths occurred on January 24. On that day a four-year-old girl was killed when she fell off the 22nd floor of the Havelock City Apartment Complex within approximately 10 minutes of going missing. In this instance, she had been allowed to travel up the lift with only her nine-year-old sister for protection resulting in her untimely death. “Sadly, this death occurred due to not receiving the proper care and protection needed for a child of this age,” SSP Ajith Rohana said.

Thereafter, another three deaths of children aged four and below have occurred, according to the Police. Curiously, all three deaths have occurred in close proximity to their houses and cause of deaths has been due to drowning in either wells or rivers. In all these cases, the children had slipped the attention of their guardians for only a matter of minutes showing that such tragedies can occur in a very short time period. Parents and guardians must at all times be attentive to the whereabouts of their
children.

According to the Police Spokesperson, the recent deaths have called for the Police to take strict action in order to prevent such tragic deaths from occurring. While admitting that these are natural deaths, addressing the media Police Spokesperson SSP Ajith Rohana went as far to say that even individuals failing to ensure child safety by not minimizing dangers in their properties therefore will be penalized, if found out, due to the seriousness of the current situation.

“Firstly, we hope to take strict action against those neglecting their children in this manner including the child’s parents,” he said adding that the Police will also take severe action against those failing to maintain a safe environment. “For example, if an individual has a well in his property he must ensure it is covered and secure,” SSP Rohana explained. Further elaborating, he said that if there are walls in near collapsing state, owners should repair them in order to safeguard those living in the
vicinity. “Those failing to take such steps will be charged under the Police Ordinance,” SSP Rohana said adding that the Police will also make checks and issue warnings to households that have such safety issues. “If these warnings are not heeded, those individuals will be taken into custody and charged,” he said.

Parents may let their guard down, especially when the child is in their care at home due to the familiarity of the surroundings. Many parents, therefore, might not view the uncovered well at home as a danger due to the child growing up in these surroundings.
Like SSP Ajith Rohana admitted good parents do not intentionally let harm come to their children, however settling into a false sense of security could be the pitfall for many as can be seen from the recent past. It is questionable if the Police alone can rectify the situation and how practical it is for them to look into every nook and corner ensuring every household is safe for the children living in close proximity. As can be seen it only takes a few minutes for a tragedy to occur. Therefore rather than leaving this Herculean task to the Police, parents at all times should provide the protection and care the child needs to prevent such meaningless deaths.

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