Kids abandoned for the pokies

By Aaron van Delden


Cases of children abandoned by their gambling parents are being reported to the police in Wanganui.

Although the problem is not widespread, Senior Sergeant Lance Kennedy says he is sure it occurs more often than it is notified.

It was revealed this month that the number of cases of children found abandoned at Auckland's SkyCity has almost tripled in two years.

There were 54 incidents of children being left unattended in 2011, well up on the 19 cases logged in 2009.

Those figures emerged as the parents who left five children locked in a van while they gambled at the casino complex reappeared in the Auckland District Court.

SkyCity has an internal carpark.

Mr Kennedy said he thought the fact car parking in Wanganui was predominantly street-based meant it was less likely parents would leave their children alone in cars.

He said a bigger problem for most cities would be with children left home alone while their parents were away gambling.

Problem Gambling Foundation spokeswoman Andree Froude said the situation exemplified the fallout from problem gambling.

The urge to gamble could be so great that people made decisions they would not consider making under normal circumstances.

She said it was an unfortunate reality that children could become the victims of their parents' gambling issues.

Child, Youth and Family central regional director Tania Harris said the police were normally the first to be alerted to children being left unsupervised and they ensured the immediate safety of the children.

Child, Youth and Family (CYF) then worked with the family to develop a plan to ensure the children's future safety.

Ms Harris said it was not uncommon for CYF to be alerted to situations where children were left unsupervised in cars for lengthy periods.

"In addition to the obvious safety risks, children left in a car can easily get frightened or distressed," she said.



The Problem Gambling Foundation provides free, professional and confidential support. Email or phone 0800 664 262.


- Wanganui Chronicle

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