Deaths of children left in cars: “Immediate action warranted,” says Children’s Commissioner

THE Children’s Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM) has expressed concern over the recent vehicular-related hyperthermia deaths of children who were left unattended in the car.

Dr Farah Nini Dusuki said it is prudent to recognise that the over-reliance on advanced child safety features has gradually taken away the innate vigilance and hinders a person’s memories resulting in enhancing the parents’ forgetfulness.

“While the popularisation of rear-facing car seats has improved the car safety of children, it has collaterally given rise to preventable incidences,” she remarked.

According to statistics and studies, these deaths happen largely to babies below the age of three, taking into account their underdeveloped responses to threats and risks.

“Parents are warned against complacency and the common belief that incidents alike would never happen to them,” Farah Nini noted.

“Prevention efforts should be ramped up by all relevant stakeholders especially the Transport Ministry to create a nationwide campaign warning parents and public on this issue.

“The automotive and child-care industries including baby stores are encouraged to step up in addressing and advertising the risks of foregoing deaths owing to their potential commercial relationship that allows raising awareness among their clients.”

Section 31 of the Child Act 2001 (Act 611) is in place to be enforced on any incidence that negligently places children’s safety and lives at risk.

“Prosecutors are urged to join forces to educate and mainstream this issue within their informative and prosecutorial role as an agent of deterrent to the communities.

“Parents are strongly advised to routinely check on the safety and presence of their children and avoid taking granted on safety of the children,” Farah Nini added.

On Nov 9, a two-year-old girl died after being left in a vehicle for eight hours in Ara Damansara, Selangor.

It is learnt that the child’s mother had forgotten to drop the child off at her kindergarten, with Petaling Jaya district police chief Assistant Commissioner Mohamad Fakhruddin Abdul Hamid saying they received information about the incident at 3.40pm, stating that the victim was unconscious at a house in Ara Damansara.

He said initial investigations found that the victim’s mother, who is in her 30s, had dropped off her two children at a nearby school.

She later made her way to the child’s kindergarten and upon reaching the kindergarten, the victim’s mother had briefly stopped to handle her online business and forgot to drop her daughter off.

The mother went back home and only realised that the child was unconscious in the car at 3.35pm.

This is the third such incident in the last two months.

Last month, a 16-month-old baby girl died after she was found unconscious in a car at a public university in Kuala Nerus, Kuala Terengganu.

Initial investigations revealed that the victim’s father had forgotten to send the baby to the daycare centre at the university campus before going to work at the same university.

In early October, an eight-month-old baby girl died after she was left in a car parked at the Canselor Tuanku Muhriz Hospital in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur.

The girl was mistakenly left in the vehicle when her mother, a doctor at the hospital, went to work thinking that she had already sent the child to a daycare centre. – Nov 14, 2023

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