How Are Kids Still Dying In Cars?

lead image

Regardless the hows or whys, the result is still devastating...

Whenever I read about children who have died from being left in cars on nationwide headlines, I always question how could it happen and why. Just recently early this year, a 17-month-old baby boy was rescued by the Malaysian Civil Defence Department (JPAM) after he was locked up in his mother’s car accidentally at Bertam Indah.

There was also another case in 2015, where a mother allegedly left her baby in a heated, unventilated car. A report was never filed against her, but she was duly investigated for negligence. Thankfully both kids survived and were rescued in time.

But there were other children who were not as lucky. Malaysia mourned when these children fell victims to vehicular heatstroke : a four-year-old boy in Kuala Nerang, a three-year-old girl in Kampung Morak and a five-year-old boy in Bandar Baru Uda, Johor Baru.

I'm sure everyone's initial response would be to judge the parents for being negligent. After all how can parents forget their own children? Regardless the hows or whys, the result is still devastating. David Diamond, a Professor of Psychology and a Cognitive Neurologist at University of South Florida has been studying forgotten children in cars since 2004.

Parents simply forget

He told The Washington Post that parents who have forgotten their children in cars often report stressful or distracting experiences before or during the drive. Many also report sleep deprivation.

He went on to say, “Memory is a machine and it is not flawless. Our conscious mind prioritizes things by importance, but on a cellular level, our memory does not. If you’re capable of forgetting your cellphone, you are potentially capable of forgetting your child.”

Whether you choose to empathize with the parents, or to judge them, at the end of the day it is still life lost.

The Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development have expressed wanting stern action to be taken on parents who are negligent(Malaysian Gazette).

Under the Child Act (Amendment) Bill 2015, leaving a child alone and unattended without adequate supervision is an offence and can be penalized not more than RM50,000 or jail not more than 20 years or both, as well as mandatory Community Service Order (CSO).

With stricter laws in place, we hope no other child would have to suffer this ordeal ever again. Parents need to remember:

  • Never leave your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. A child’s body heats up 3 to 5 times faster than an adult’s body.
  • Make sure to keep car doors locked when the car is not in use so that kids can't get in on their own.
  • Create reminders by putting something in the back of your car next to your child. This is especially important if you’re not following your normal routine.
  • Spread constructive awareness without being overly judgmental. Nobody deliberately wants to harm their own children.
  • AND If you see a child alone in a car, call for help immediately. One call could save a life.