It is a crime for parents to leave children unattended at home
SHAH ALAM - The act of parents or caretakers leaving children alone at home without any adult supervision is an offence under Section 31 of Child Act 2001.
Pertubuhan Aspirasi Wanita Malaysia (ASWA) president Wan Azliana Wan Adnan said it is still considered as an offence even if parents were forced or reluctantly left their child alone without supervision.
Wan Azliana, who is also a lawyer, said based on the Act any mistreatment or neglect by the parents that can expose the child to physical or emotional pain is an offence.
"From a legal viewpoint, negligent parents can be prosecuted through the Child Act 2001 (Act 611) for irresponsible behavior," she told Sinar on Friday.
She said there were several factors that caused parents to behave that way.
In addition to the rising cost of living and expensive goods, parents were forcefully willing to leave their child due to average income pay.
"Both (parents) had to go and earn a living due to hardships in life.
"There are parents who leave their child unattended because they can't afford the high expense of hiring caretaker.
"Despite the hardship they are experiencing, the action is still wrong as it can endanger the child's safety," she said.
Wan Azliana said she personally witnessed the situation while campaigning in the 15th General Election (GE15) at Batu, Kuala Lumpur People's Housing Project (PPR).
'"I saw children locked in their house because the mother went to work," she said.
Therefore, she said the Social Welfare Department (JKM) needs to be more agressive in carrying out task to identify those who really needs help.
"I once suggested to place social officers in each housing area to monitor the current situation as one of the department's role.
"Not only JKM officers, they can also hire the public or local as these social officers or workers," she said.
Meanwhile, Selangor and Federal Territories Rasuah Busters chairman Associate Professor Dr Hamdan Daniel said all parties need to play their own role in the children's safety issue.
"Parents or caretakers should never take the issue of the children's safety at home or outside the house lightly.
"Neighbors also need to play a role if there is an element of neglect or danger that could threaten the child's safety," he said.
He hoped the incident that killed four siblings in a house fire in Muar last Wednesday would not repeat.