x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Find new ways to promote safety

Awareness campaigns, as well as stricter regulations, are necessary to save children from parental neglect.

Accounts of children who die because of parental neglect are sadly frequent, in this country as around the world. In the UAE we hear of children suffocated in baking-hot cars, killed in traffic accidents because they were not strapped into car seats, drowned in swimming pools or falling from buildings while left without supervision.

The latest case in the UAE is truly tragic, as is every needless death. The National reported yesterday that a two-year-old girl died on Wednesday after falling from the balcony of her family's 14th-floor apartment in Sharjah. The little girl lost her balance while she was playing and looking out of the window.

Parenting is a challenging responsibility, one that requires constant vigilance. The younger children are, the more they are dependent and the more they need supervision. In some circumstances, accidents cannot be prevented - but in many cases they can be.

Unfortunately this is not going to be the last such death. Dozens of similar cases occur every year. "Some parents unfortunately fail to pay heed to the continuous warnings and awareness campaigns," a member of the Sharjah Police said. With a certain weariness, perhaps, police again urged all parents to watch their children closely and make sure all windows have safety latches.

This year, the Ministry of Interior has organised "Train the Trainers", a campaign to educate parents and caregivers about preventing accidents and treating injuries. Such initiatives are very much needed; evidently many parents need constant reminders of their responsibilities.

But public education, through awareness campaigns, might not alone foster the culture of safety the UAE needs. We may also need nationwide laws followed by tougher enforcement of rules regulating safety standards for high-rise buildings, children's car seats, and against child abuse and neglect. Such rules will, we hope, be part of the much-needed child protection law that awaits discussion by the FNC before its final approval by the President of the UAE.

A two-year-old died this time. Who knows who is going to die next and for what reason? We are all responsible for protecting children: authorities, parents and caregivers, and every member of the community. Our children rely on us.