Wednesday March 21, 2012
Keeping our kids safe
By RUTH LIEW
Children’s safety is of utmost importance, especially in today’s world.
ANOTHER tragic story of a child whose charred remains were found a week after she went missing. Five-year-old Nurul Nadirah Abdullah, of Johor, was last seen on March 1 when her family sent her out to buy eggs and instant noodles from a sundry shop near their flats.
Again, it’s a chilling reminder to all, especially parents, that children need to be safe at all times. The issue of their safety should be a top priority for all families.
Children under the age of six should have constant adult supervision while the older primary school-going ones should be taught home-alone skills before they become latchkey kids.
Sadly, I have seen young children running on the streets or crossing busy roads by themselves, oblivious to the potential dangers around them. Then there are parents who nip out to buy a thing or two after they double-park their car, leaving its engine running and their young children inside the vehicle.
There are also those who leave their sleeping child alone in the house while they go out to attend a neighbourhood meeting.
A parent once asked me how to stop his two-year-old from playing with the hairdryer plugged into the wall. I told him to unplug it and store it in a shelf where his child would not be able to reach. One important aspect of children’s safety is to childproof your home according to the kid’s development.
Our children are exposed to all kinds of danger even at home. There are more electrical appliances, household cleaning detergents and medication in our homes than ever before. Parents need to be vigilant when it comes to keeping children safe.
Domestic helpers are not reliable in discerning what is safe or not for young children. They usually take orders from their employers – you. Many do not know how to handle emergencies or have the faintest idea on the kind of precautionary steps to take to prevent home accidents.
It is really up to parents themselves to ensure that the home is safe for their young children and their careprovider adheres to the safety rules at all times.
Preschoolers like to play in the car porch. There has been an increasing number of fatal accidents involving cars backing into or moving out of the porch. Designate a place outside the house where children can play, away from moving vehicles. If need be, place a barrier to prevent children from reaching the main porch area. Be alert to the happenings around your house.
Before taking your children to the neighbourhood park, do carry out a safety check. There may be safety rules in the playgrounds but many people choose to ignore them. The rule of allowing only children under 12 years old to use playground equipment is definitely one that is rarely followed. I have seen young adults sitting on swings and climbing the monkey bars. Look out for loose screws, nails and glass pieces lying about, left by those who have no consideration for others.
When you are in the park with your children, beware of individuals who are hanging around without any children. There may also be those who do their exercise routines near the children when they should be in their own section.
Always remind your children not to talk to strangers. Tell them if anyone approaches them in the park, they can only speak to them when a parent is nearby.
Keep a list of names of people whom you can leave your child with when there is an emergency and you have to leave the house urgently. People whom you and your child, especially of a young age, can rely on for care on short notice are very important.
When my girls were very young, I used to exchange babysitting hours with my friend Jing Ai. One evening, she got a call from her father who asked about his granddaughters. She told him that they were with me. The doting grandfather was worried because he did not know who I was. My friend reassured him: “Oh, you can trust her. She is in the papers.”
To my beloved readers, I bid farewell to you as this is my last article for Childwise. Since 1993, I have been “in the papers” sharing ideas and thoughts on children and parenting. Now, I’d like to wish you every happiness and joy in being parents, caregivers and teachers of young children.
Ruth Liew is a child developmentalist, Montessori trainer and examiner. A mother of two teenage daughters, she is committed to supporting children’s rights. This final instalment wraps up her column Childwise in Star2.