Dubai: Parents in Dubai are risking the lives of their children by accidentally locking them inside cars while they shop or run errands, or even neglect them while they are home.
Dubai Police figures reveal 36 incidents in which children were left alone in vehicles this year in shopping centers and supermarkets so far this year. This was in addition to 55 children who had to be rescued from their homes and four others pulled out from elevators in which they were trapped.
In a recent incident, two children, aged two and four, were left inside a locked car by the father who went shopping in Al Qusais area.
People passing by noticed the children who were waiving their hands for help. A police patrol rescued the children by the time the father arrived.
Instead of thanking the officers, the father was disturbed by the police intervention. He insisted he was not in the wrong and was used to leaving his children by themselves for short periods of time.
Lt Colonel Abdullah Bishwah, director of the Land Rescue Department at Dubai Police’s General Directorate of Transport and Rescue, said the figures reflect negligence on the part of parents despite educational campaigns conducted by Dubai Police.
“Dubai Police always raise awareness about the danger of leaving children unattended, especially in cars. Sometimes we receive three daily reports,” said Lt Col Bishwah.
“The strange thing is that sometimes parents ask us not to break open the car but wait until they can bring the spare key. It is an unacceptable option for the police as our main priority is the safety of the child.”
According to Dubai Police, most of the incidents of children being left behind in cars have been reported from shopping centres.
Some parents tell officers that the child was sleeping and they didn’t want to carry them while they went inside for a quick purchase.
Incidents of parents being negligent at home are also frequently reported.
“We rescued a child who was trapped in a bathroom in his parents’ house. The child used to lock himself inside. We warned the parents to change the lock but they didn’t,” added Lt Col Bishwah.
According to official figures, Dubai Police reported 186 incidents of children being left behind last year, including 53 in trapped in cars, 124 at homes and nine in elevators.
“Parents should leave their children at home with adult supervision at all times,” the police official said.
Dubai Police urged community members to report any such incidents by calling 999.
Parents usually sign an official document with the police with a promise not to leave their children unattended. If the negligence is repeated then an official complaint is registered at the police station for legal action.
Meanwhile, Wageh Amin Abdelaziz, senior legal adviser at World Center Advocates and Legal Consultants, told Gulf News that article 350 of UAE Federal Law of 1987 can be used against parents if their children die due to a fatal lack of care.
“The article says that whoever endangers a child who has not completed seven years in a place inhabited by people, whether directly by himself or herself indirectly through others, shall be punished by detention or by a fine of up to Dh10,000,” said Abdelaziz.
He said that UAE laws protect the rights of children like the above article and Federal Law No 3 of 2016 concerning child rights, also known as Wadeema’s Law, but parents should always monitor their children and protect them from danger.
“Parents must look after their children all the time, not only because any act of negligence is punishable by law but also because it’s their main responsibility,” Abdelaziz added.