Clearly, there needs to be yet another reminder to parents in the UAE on the importance of keeping their children safe. The 19-month-old girl, who is in a critical condition in a Ras Al Khaimah hospital after surviving a fall from her 10th-floor apartment, underlines the fact that despite continual awareness campaigns and educational initiatives in the country on child safety, instances of children falling from windows and balconies of high-rises continue to shock and pain the nation.
This must stop. There must not be one more instance, ever, of such an accident taking place. Which leads to the question that continues to loom over this unfortunate issue: How can this be achieved?
Quite simply, and frankly, it is all about parental involvement, or the lack of it. The bald truth is, child safety begins and ends with parents. Period. No degree of rationalisation can help shift the onus of keeping a child safe at home on to anyone else. The fact that there was a sofa placed under the window, out of which the 19-year-old in Ras Al Khaimah fell on Monday, reiterates the root cause of this problem — parental neglect.
Yes, it is true that no parent would wilfully turn a blind eye to their child’s welfare, but it is also true that parents can get inadvertently negligent, suffer from a lapse of attention or display a poor understanding of how to deploy tactical child-safety practices at home. These may be unintentional acts, but they can have terrible consequences. Parents must work at being more attentive, more alert, more aware of their role in keeping their children out of harm’s way. This is a non-negotiable responsibility they signed up for when they decided to take on the role of a nurturer and caregiver.
Yes, there has been a decrease in child falls, from 18 cases between 2012-2015 to just one instance in 2018, and it proves that awareness is yielding results, but the single instance last year, and the incident on Monday in Ras Al Khaimah, prove that we need to work towards a zero-case scenario.
The authorities are doing everything they can. There has been no dearth of child safety awareness campaigns in schools and in the public domain. The UAE also has a law that comes down hard on negligent parents and involves a fine and a prison term.
Therefore, it always has, is, and will be, up to the parents to prevent these tragedies.