EDITORIAL: Children's safety has to be first

GRANT HARDING
The discovery of a ``Home Alone' incident in Flaxmere on Sunday morning should not come as a surprise.
In this case, both parents were working a nine-hour night shift at a local food processor, while four children aged 10, 8, 3 and 1 were at home.
There is justification for saying that this couple are ``bad' parents, and certainly they are negligent.
But there will be other parents in our community questioning themselves today.
With increasing economic pressure, it is often the children who suffer the consequences of the need to make ends meet.
And it has to be acknowledged that it is a difficult environment for low-income families.
Their employment often involves unsocial hours - early or late starts. And seasonal work has to be taken when it's offered.
Basic duties like getting children off to school can be compromised, and the weekend becomes a nightmare.
School holidays are even more complex.
Even those on reasonable incomes feel the expense of childcare, and the extreme stress of juggling all the various requirements of work and family life.
But the safety of our children has to be the priority of all parents.
These parents must be made to realise the danger they placed their children in through such foolish actions. The law states that only children over 14 can look after other children, and with good reason.
A 10-year-old simply does not have the decision-making maturity or the life skills to look after infants - possibly even themselves, safely, for 12 hours.

That is common sense.
What if illness struck? What about the possibility of an accident, even a fire?
Leaving one's children with a babysitter for a few hours can be difficult enough, but a whole night alone should be unthinkable.
While we are not privy to all the details of this family's life, in most cases it is a tragedy for children to be taken from their parents.
Hopefully this couple will have learned a lesson, and find the assistance they need to survive without compromising their children's safety.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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