August 22, 2022
PETALING JAYA – Police want the kid gloves to come off when dealing with negligent parents after data shows that failing to monitor their young children properly could have led to over 200 accidental deaths yearly.
Cases of such parental neglect include allowing their underage children to drive, leaving them alone at home or inside vehicles, and neglecting to oversee their activities until these result in drowning during bathing, falling inside fish ponds or getting entangled in cradles.
Some even accidentally hit their children while reversing their cars.
Data shared by the Bukit Aman Sexual, Women and Child Investigations Division (D11) showed that there were 163 deaths involving children between 2018 and May this year that could partly have been due to the parents’ negligence. The numbers do not include those involving fatal accidents by unlicensed underage drivers.
D11 principal assistant director Asst Comm Siti Kamsiah Hassan said she believed that negligent parents should at least face some form of punishment.
“For me, punishment should be given at the bare minimum, at least, to serve as a lesson and to ensure that this does not recur,” she said.
ACP Siti Kamsiah told The Star that 38% of such cases were classified as “No Further Action” or NFA for various reasons, while 43% saw the legal guardian of the children involved being charged. The rest are still under investigation.
“The deputy public prosecutor (DPP) would have their reasons (not to pursue action). They would have to think of the implications, for example, if the father is the family’s breadwinner and having him sentenced to jail would only worsen the family situation,” she said.
To a question whether such “leeway” could be why cases of parental negligence continued to persist, ACP Siti Kamsiah disagreed, adding that she believed more awareness needed to be given to childcare.
“Parents sometimes take for granted that it is safe to leave their children at home but fail to look into other aspects, such as whether there is a grille (on the windows or balconies) or if the gap between the grille is too wide,” she said.
After seeing the promising effect in a case where a parent was held responsible for his child’s involvement in mat lajak activities, Bukit Aman Traffic Investigation and Enforcement Department principal assistant director (enforcement) Supt Dr Bakri Zainal Abidin hoped similar action would also be taken against those who allowed their children to drive without licences.
Police statistics showed that Malaysia recorded 8,484 accidents involving unlicensed teenage drivers and motorcyclists between 2018 and March this year. Of this total, 2,617 cases have resulted in either fatal accidents or serious injuries.
“There was a mosquito bike case (mat lajak) in Selangor where we decided to take action against the parent under the Child Act 2001. When the news broke, we could see that the number of cases in the state dropped by 50% because parents feared the jail sentence and the hefty fines.
“So, we want the DPP to impose stern punishment (on parents who allow their children to drive without licences) so that this can serve as a lesson to the community. Otherwise, we will face such menace (underage driving) forever,” he said.
So far, underage drivers and those who allow minors to drive their vehicles would only be issued with compounds.
Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research chairman Assoc Prof Dr Wong Shaw Voon said imposing punishment on parents would show the government’s seriousness in handling the issue of unlicensed driving.
“We should start charging the parents.
“Of course, the judge may impose RM300 or RM2,000, but it will still send a powerful message.
“This will encourage parents to be careful and to take full charge of the vehicles that they possess,” he said, adding that some even allowed their children to use their vehicles to school.
He said parents should be given equal punishment in cases where their children caused harm to others due to underage driving.
“We have to ensure that if an underage child drives without a licence and someone gets killed (as a result), the parents should be given maximum sentences too.
“For example, Section 41 of the Road Transport Act states that one can be imprisoned. So, we need to look at our laws to ensure that parents too can be jailed; otherwise, they won’t be scared.