Last night around half past ten at night, I met a five-year-old boy at the parking lot of a friend’s apartment. He was in his pyjamas and holding a stack of keys in his hand.
“Adik nak pergi mana malam-malam ni?” (Where are you heading to at this hour?)
“Nak pergi kereta. Abah suruh ambik barang.” (I’m going to the car. Dad asked me to get some things for him)
“Mana abah?” (Where’s your dad?)
“Kat rumah. Tengok tv.” (Home. Watching TV)
I followed the boy to the car while chatting and followed him back to the lift. He was reluctant to have me tag along as he claimed I was a stranger and he wasn’t supposed to talk to strangers.
“Keluar lewat macam ni tak takut ke?” (Aren’t you afraid being out here this late?)
“Dah biasa.” (I’m used to it)
We both got into the lift and I watched him walk to his unit, use his keys to unlock the gate. He waved at me before letting himself in.
Now let’s take a moment to digest the story I just told you:
A five-year-old boy, sent out to grab something on his own without his parent’s supervision at ten thirty at night.
Imagine if something had happened to the boy.
Imagine if he had been kidnapped.
Imagine if he was knocked unconscious by a drunk driver.
Imagine if he never returned home throughout the night. Imagine his parents searching all over the nation trying to locate this boy only for someone to mention having spotted a boy resembling him, begging in a neighbouring country some few years later.
Imagine if he was snatched by a pedophile and left somewhere on the pathway of a shop lot in a sports bag.
If any misfortune as depicted above did take place, the one person who would have to face the wrath of society would be the perpetrator – the kidnapper, the drunk driver, the human trafficker and the pedophile.
Any voice demanding the parents be punished accordingly is usually quickly hushed by those who sympathise with them instead.
But do these parents deserve our sympathy?
Think of the children who have died due to the negligence of parents. Think of those who suffocated inside locked cars. Think of those who fell off high-rise buildings to have their tiny bodies shattered as they hit the road. Think of those who were sodomised and raped until their private parts were torn apart. Think of the trauma they went through. Think.
The decision to have children comes with unspoken terms and conditions. Parents who decide to have children should take responsibility for them. Parents should never think they own their children and are therefore free to do as they wish with them.
Having read too many tragedies involving young kids, I feel it is time we send out a clear message to parents who are ignorant of their children’s safety. Let it be known that in case any misfortune takes place as a result of their negligence in providing safety and protection to the children, they should be held responsible.
This should not only involve parents who send their children out wandering alone, but also to parents who leave their young children home alone; parents who accidentally lock their kids in their cars; parents who fail to provide safety helmets for kids on motorcycles or bassinets in cars; and parents who are too occupied with their phones instead of minding their children.
If anyone thinks what I am proposing is too harsh and unfair, I suppose they can always get a condom instead of have more children.