A young boy today caused a major rescue mission when he became stuck on a very high piece of play equipment in a Stocklands shopping centre in Sydney, his parents nowhere to be seen. The boy approximately eight years old scaled the playground and found himself trapped – the point so high that a ladder couldn’t reach him to bring him down to safety.
While this seems like it’s an isolated incident, it’s not the first time parents have left their children unsupervised in a public play area. A past employee at a McDonald’s restaurant located next to a pub in Werrington, NSW said they would often find children coming out of the play area searching for their parents, and when they called the pub next door, sure enough, that’s where the parent would be.
Other shopping centre playgrounds have signs on them cautioning parents not to leave their children unsupervised in the area due to children getting lost, injured or distressed in their parents absence. But despite the signs and all of the warnings, it seems some parents are happy to leave young children in public places with instructions to play in the park until they return.
Whilst it can be hard to know when the right time is to allow your children to be left without adult supervision, there are some safety tips that you can go through with your kids before you consider leaving them anywhere unattended.
- Make sure your child knows your full name, address and phone number off by heart
- Teach your child the emergency phone numbers including a relative, neighbour or close friend
- Do you have a way of contacting the child while you’re away? If they are old enough to be left unattended, ensure they’ve got a phone handy so you can call and check in.
- Set clear ground rules for the period of time they will be unsupervised. If they are at home, rules might include they are not to leave the house unless there is an emergency.
This cautionary story serves as a good warning for parents who leave their children unsupervised in public places, as there are quite a lot of things that could go wrong in a public space. Just this week a 15 year old boy was attacked by a man and bitten on his face in an attempt to take his shoes at the Macquarie Centre in Sydney.
Leaving your kids unsupervised when out in public is never the safest option, even if your child is the most trustworthy kid on the planet. Circumstances can change in an instant. Children can quite suddenly need the bathroom, a stranger could engage with them, they could make a bad choice putting themselves into dangerous positions, they could sustain an unexpected injury – the possibilities are endless.
If your child is too young to navigate any of the above scenarios, then always err on the side of caution and protect your kids by keeping them under your watchful eye. Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye – it just wouldn’t be worth taking the risk.