Monday, September 24, 2007

Malaysia: Parents Can Be Charged for Child Negligence

If your child goes missing or is hurt/abused, not only will the perpetrator be punished, but the child's parents will also be held accountable and could be jailed.

According to the Star's article title Parents can be charged, "parents could be hauled up for negligence following her death – an offence punishable under Child Act 2001, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz."

Is this law fair? Are parents supposed to know where their children are 24 hours a day?

Yes, parents are supposed to know where their children are most of the time. But parents cannot be with their children 24 hours a day. For example, being a good parent, I employ a maid to take care of my children. And assuming that the maid has been with me for 2 years and then she disappears with my child, will I be held responsible for my child's disappearance?

I admit that this law is needed as I have seen little kids in shopping malls walking on their own, their parents not to be seen anywhere. If this kid goes missing, then his/her parents should be held responsible. But you can't punish the parents of a child who take the school bus to school and goes missing!

So, before any action is taken on the parents in the Star report, I hope the ministers and especially the judges, will consider all the above scenarios in order not to make a fool of themselves by taking immediate action without considering the consequences. The above law should be applied with care and due diligence, not hastily, as we Malaysians typically do.

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