Child’s death a wake-up call for parents

By The Editorial Board 24 October 2021, 12:14AM

Close to two weeks after celebrating White Sunday and the country gets to hear of the tragic death of a 3-year-old girl.

The Saturday 23 October 2021 edition of the Weekend Observer (Toddler suffocated to death: Police) reported that the girl of Faleasiu died on Tuesday, after she was allegedly left in a locked car and suffocated to death.

The Police Deputy Commissioner, Papalii Monalisa Tiai-Keti, said their criminal investigations unit is leading the investigation into the toddler’s death and one of their tasks is to ascertain whether criminal charges could be filed for child negligence.

“According to Police preliminary investigations, she was left in the car [by a family member after coming back from shopping],” she said.

“This is not the first time a child has been locked in a car and died, there was a case in previous years where a child was playing hide and seek, when he decided to hide in a car but it was treated as an inquest and it is similar to this case.

“The coroner was advised and the coroner has advised to investigate a criminal element." 

Papalii then used the opportunity to appeal to members of the public, especially parents to look after their children and to always keep them in tow.

“Please take your children with you when going to the shops and to always remember their safety and their well being.”

It defies logic why a 3-years-old child would be left in a locked car, knowing how toddlers of her age require 24/7 parenting. 

Did the family member rationalise his or her decision before deciding to leave the child alone in the vehicle or did the child get into the car unknowingly and meet her fate? 

We ask because we are shocked that a child lost her life, not through an act of violence, but through an erroneous judgement call by a family member which has led to fatal consequences for the family.

The outcome of the police investigations, depending on the evidence and the mitigating circumstances, could lead to charges being laid or the discontinuing of the case due to lack of evidence. 

Nonetheless the tragic death of the 3-year-old girl should be a wakeup call for parents in Samoa.

The question that should be asked is if we are giving each and everyone of our children our love, care and attention and not shuffling them off to other family members and close relatives?

It can be so easy for parents to get caught up with the frenzy of their Monday-Friday jobs, in the process forgoing their responsibilities as parents, and probably once too often getting a family member to take charge looking after the children.

So do we have time for them after we come back after a long hard day in the office or would we rather spend time with our work colleagues in a club after hours having a good time?

This year’s White Sunday celebrations a fortnight ago throughout Samoa was meant to be an energy booster for parents to refocus on their children, appreciate their presence as gifts from God and renew their vows to be the best parents they can be for their sons and daughters.

We do not know the details of the tragedy which led to the death of the 3-year-old girl, but somewhere along the way an adult family member dropped their guard, which led to the demise of this beautiful soul. 

Therefore, we concur with the appeal by the Deputy Police Commissioner for parents to take more responsibility for their children.

Amidst the challenges that the country currently faces including the COVID-19 global pandemic which has strangled our economy, our children remain the most vulnerable members of our population, due to their susceptibility to the wider impact of the pandemic including job losses suffered by a parent or a guardian.

Let us not make life any tougher for them, embrace them, give them hope and all that life has to offer and grow with them in love and peace.

By The Editorial Board 24 October 2021, 12:14AM
Samoa Observer

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