Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Despite Abduction Cases, Parents Still Lax On Children's Safety

By Normawati Muhamad Nor

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 14 (Bernama) -- Despite the wide media publicity on the spate of child abduction-molestation cases of late, many parents still seem to take their children's safety for granted as observed at the city's shopping complexes.

Checks by Bernama at some hypermarkets and a departmental store showed that some parents allowed their children to run about in the premises while they were busy choosing the merchandise or talking on their mobile phones.

"It's not easy to watch over them...being children, they naturally like to run about," said a mother whose six-year-old child was playing away from her in a hypermarket.

When reminded of the well-publicised case of Muhammad Nazrin Shamsul Ghazali, 5, better known as Yin, who went missing from the Sogo departmental store here on March 31, last year, the woman who declined to be identified admitted that such cases could be due to parents' negligence.

Another shopper, Norbaiyah Mohamad, 33, said parents should be conscious about their children's safety at all times, especially outside the home, as an untoward incident could happen within a split second.

"It's better to leave them at home under the care of family members than to bring them to the hypermarket and allow them to run about. When something bad happens to them, we will be blamed," said Norbaiyah who held tight her child's hand while doing her shopping.

Jamilah Ahmad, 54, said many people did not realise the danger of bringing their children, especially the hyperactive ones, to the hypermarkets or supermarkets.

"Such children are difficult to control, so parents take the easy way out by letting them loose."

She said parents should learn some lessons from the child abduction cases including the latest involving five-year-old Sharlinie Mohd Nashar, and the brutal sexual assault-murder case of Nurin Jazlin Jazimin, 8, last September.

"I hope Sharlinie's case will be the last as a result of parents not being aware of their children's movements at the time.

"It's better that we change by being more responsible and cautious from now on, because we never know when an evil person will strike," added the retiree.

Meanwhile, Jusco Wangsa Maju branch Customer Services supervisor, Maziani Mat Sidi, said cases of missing children at the departmental store always happened on weekends, public holidays and festive seasons as it would be packed with shoppers.

"The children would cry after being separated from their parents who would come and get them, usually within 30 minutes, after hearing our public announcements," she said.