Archive for the ‘Children's Safety’ Category

30 schools in Lahad Datu closed till further notice

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020


KOTA KINABALU: State Education Director Dr Mistirine Radin has announced the immediate closure of 30 schools in Lahad Datu until further notice.

The schools are located in the town area, Silam and Silabukan, she said adding that the closure of the schools were upon the advice of the Education Ministry.

This is part of the effort to assist the district disaster committee and Health Ministry to stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus, she said.

However students in Form 5 and Form 6 in five secondary schools are still required to attend classes.

“I hope that the teachers and students in these five schools comply with the SOP to stop the spread of Covid-19,” Mistirine said in a statement on Tuesday.

She also disclosed that in Tawau  SK. Ladang Tiger,  which was closed on Sept 14 will only reopen on Sept 27.

In Kunak,  SMK  Kunak has been ordered closed from Sept 15 to 29, SK Kunak Jaya from Sept 15 to 28 and SMK Kunak 2 from Sept 21 to Oct 5.

All the schools were closed in order for the authorities to carry out a disinfection exercise there.

In Lahad Datu, nine schools have been ordered to close for two weeks namely, SMK Agaseh  from Sept  9,  SK St Stephens  from Sept 17,  SMK Silabukan,  SK St Dominic,  SK Bikang,  SK Permai,  SK Pekan  and  SK Binuang, all from Sept 19 and  SMK Tungku  from Sept 21.

“During the schools’ closure, all teaching and lessons from pre-school to Form 4 will be conducted online and offline and project based learning is welcomed,” she said.

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NST Leader: Employ smart technology

Saturday, August 22nd, 2020
Stress can lead to forgetfulness. All you need as proof of this is to look at the times you may have forgotten where you put your car or house keys. - NSTP file picStress can lead to forgetfulness. All you need as proof of this is to look at the times you may have forgotten where you put your car or house keys. – NSTP file pic

EVERY now and then, we read reports of children dying after being left in parked vehicles by a parent.

We are, of course, horrified and angered. We find ourselves taking it out on the parent for being irresponsible and negligent. Such emotions are a natural response to a needless loss of life, especially when it involves those of such tender age.

That is exactly what happened recently when 4-year-old Aina Batrisha Aisyah Shaiful Azrul died of heatstroke, having been accidentally left in a parked car in Kedah.

The girl’s family has been vilified on social media, so much so that a member of the family has come out to plead for a stop, saying that her father had suffered enough.

According to experts, there are three types of peoplewho leave children in cars: those who truly forget that the children are there; those who are uneducated about the dangers of doing so; and, those who commit criminally negligent and intentional filicide.

As Aina’s case is still under investigation, we shall not comment on which category it falls under. What we do know is that there are steps that can be taken to ensure that such deaths do not recur.

Stress can play a deadly role in such tragedies. In an era where both parents are usually required to work long hours, stress can lead to a person being forgetful as having too many things on one’s mind can lead to important things being left by the wayside.

All you need as proof of this is to look at the times you may have forgotten where you put your car or house keys, or had misplaced something else of importance. How many of us have even absent-mindedly looked for things like sunglasses, forgetting that they are on top of our heads?

Society also can play an important role in preventing these needless deaths. Be observant; look around you when you are walking and you could possibly end up saving a child’s life.

There should also be more awareness campaigns and efforts to educate parents on various issues, such as the dangers of leaving children in parked vehicles as well as the need to be fully aware of their children’s whereabouts.

Then there is technology. We live in a technologically-advanced world that seems to be growing more intelligent with each passing day.

There are now mobile phones and apps that have improved child safety by sending reminders to parents of their children’s whereabouts. This can be used by parents to remind them that their children are in their vehicles. In fact, with all the smart technology being put into vehicles these days, manufacturers can include such features in their vehicles.

There are now car alarm systems which are triggered by motion sensors inside vehicles once armed. It is onlyahop, skip and a jump from that to systems which can send alerts to smartphones as well.

Most importantly, however, parents can do their part by just making a habit of taking a look around their vehicles to ensure nothing important — children included — is left in the car when they exit. Just this one simple step can solve this particular problem.

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Why kids are ‘forgotten’ in cars

Friday, August 21st, 2020

A research paper laid out the three categories of parents who are involved in child deaths from hot cars. They are parents who truly forget their children in the car, parents who take calculated risks because they are uneducated about the danger of leaving children in cars and parents who commit criminally negligent and intentional filicide.  - NSTP/ ASWADI ALIAS

A research paper laid out the three categories of parents who are involved in child deaths from hot cars. They are parents who truly forget their children in the car, parents who take calculated risks because they are uneducated about the danger of leaving children in cars and parents who commit criminally negligent and intentional filicide. – NSTP/ ASWADI ALIAS

KUALA LUMPUR: THE recent death of 4-year-old Aina Batrisha Aisyah Shaiful Azrul of heatstroke after she was accidentally left by her father in his parked car in Kedah has triggered a public debate, with the girl’s family bearing the burden of public criticism.

The abuse hurled at the girl’s father, a lorry driver, has led to a member of the family appealing to the public to stop the attacks, saying the man had suffered enough.

Experts believe that such cases, while isolated, are a reflection of a real problem and there could be a psychological explanation.

Psychotherapist and researcher Dr Chua Sook Ning said Forgotten Baby Syndrome describes a situation where parents lose awareness of their child in the car.

She said there were three categories of parents in hot car child death cases, according to a research paper by Western Michigan University Cooley Law School assistant dean and associate professor Erika Breitfeld published in May.

“There are parents who truly forget their children in the car, parents who take calculated risks because they are uneducated about the danger of leaving children in cars and parents who commit criminally negligent and intentional filicide,” said Chua, who is also a lecturer at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

She said more education for parents and more regulation was needed on child safety in cars.

She cited child car seats as an example, which was made mandatory in Malaysia only in January.

In the case of Aina’s death, she said, it was unfair for the public to criticise her family as the investigation was ongoing.

“It is uncertain what the cause of this incident is. It is not fair to the family to speculate what led to this incident.

“It is important not to be quick to judge this family and cause more pain to them before the results of the investigation (are revealed).”

Breitfeld, in the 35-page article, offered prosecutors guidance on how to analyse these cases, urging them to advocate for reform in their communities.

Associate Professor Dr Mohd Awang Idris from Universiti Malaya’s Department of Anthropology and Sociology said more effort was needed to educate parents and to prevent future tragedies.

“In the recent case, I don’t blame the father as no parent in their right mind would want to cause harm to their children.

“The public shouldn’t judge the parents who must be grieving over the loss of their child.

“Instead, we should investigate the root cause and address the problem to prevent a recurrence.

“These checks should cover the socioeconomic and psychological aspects and whether the parents were overworked or stressed,” said Awang, who is also Asia Pacific Academy for Psychosocial Factors at Work president.

He said parents today face tough challenges in raising their children due to the rising cost of living and growing work responsibilities.

“In the past, some parents can afford to stay home to care for their children.

“Families were close-knit and it was common to have relatives living together.

“Nowadays, both parents work long hours. Though some family members can help (with taking care of children), they may also be facing the same problems.

“Due to a lack of resources, some people prioritise surviving and safety takes a back seat.”

Awang brought up cognitive failure, which are minor slips that cause the normally smooth flow of an action to be disrupted.

“It’s like instances where we look for keys or a mobile phone that we already have on us after we get distracted by something.

“This error is usually harmless, but in some instances, it can lead to death.”

He said there was a need to relook at child safety measures and how society could play a role in educating and reminding each other on their importance rather than reacting only after a tragedy had occurred.

“More awareness campaigns are needed to educate the public and instill a mindset that a child must never be left unattended in a vehicle, for whatever reason.

“The community should play a more active part in preventing such incidents by reporting irresponsible parents or guardians, not to punish them, but to most importantly keep children out of harm’s way.”

By Nuradzimmah Daim.

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‘Reminder features in cars can save children’s lives’

Friday, August 21st, 2020
A child’s body temperature could rise three to four times faster than an adult’s, and the temperature in a car can rise to 52°C within 20 minutes when the temperature outside is about 34°C. -NSTP/File picA child’s body temperature could rise three to four times faster than an adult’s, and the temperature in a car can rise to 52°C within 20 minutes when the temperature outside is about 34°C. -NSTP/File pic

KUALA LUMPUR: Special features or technology in vehicles that remind parents about their children may save lives, say experts.

Universiti Putra Malaysia’s Safe Kids Malaysia executive director Professor Dr Kulanthayan K.C. Mani said at present, the telecommunications industry, specifically mobile phone manufacturers, had responded to this need by providing functions in phones that allow users to set reminders about their children’s presence in the vehicle.

“A similar approach can be explored by the automotive industry by having this feature in a car, similar to the seat belt warning system.”

He said vehicle manufacturers could have the car alarm triggered or have a message sent to the driver’s phone if any motion was detected in a locked car.

Professor Dr Kulanthayan K.C. Mani.Professor Dr Kulanthayan K.C. Mani.

He said this could be adapted from home alarm systems that send alerts to the owner’s phone.

“I strongly believe this can help address the problem of parents forgetting that we have left our child in the car.”

He said considering the number of such cases and the country’s hot weather, action was warranted.

Safe Kids, he said, planned to hold empowerment programmes with the community on child safety, focusing on unintentional injuries, including heatstroke, on television, radio and in the print media, as well as social media.

“In the next few phases, we plan to develop, implement and evaluate specifically-designed intervention programmes to prevent heatstroke among children.”

He said a child’s body temperature could rise three to four times faster than an adult’s, and the temperature in a car can rise to 52°C within 20 minutes when the temperature outside is about 34°C.

“That’s how risky the situation is. The public needs to know that when a child’s organs reach 40°C, they will slowly start to shut down. As the (car) temperature reaches 52°C, the child’s life will be in danger and this can be fatal.”

He said as a preventive measure against heatstroke, children must not be left alone in a car at any time, adding that it was best to leave them at home.

“If you still need to take them, do explore drive thru options when shopping.

“Secondly, cars parked at home should be locked at all times as children may open the car door and play inside. They may close the car door while playing.

“This is dangerous as a locked car with no ventilation is a serious health risk. Parents must teach their kids that a car is not a play area.”

Thirdly, he said, parents could create reminders with applications or by placing important documents or items, like bags and phones, in the back next to the child.

“We can leave those at the leg rest area. Upon reaching our destination, we will look for these things at the back and this will remind us our child is there.

“Alternatively, we can also put the child’s items, such as bags, on the front passenger seat as a reminder. Remind babysitters, nurseries and kindergartens to give us a call if our child is not there at their usual time. This arrangement can be a safeguard against forgetfulness.”

He said the public should practise vigilance by checking whether a parked car had a child inside.

“In case of an emergency, call 999 and together we can save a child from heatstroke.”

Safe Kids Worldwide, based in Washington DC, the United States, runs advocacy and awareness programmes with the community on heatstroke among children. For more information, visit

Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff recently said the ministry was working with agencies like the Road Safety Department on improving public awareness of the issue, besides imposing heavier penalties on parents found to be negligent towards their children.

She said seven such cases have been recorded since 2018, and though the number was relatively low in Malaysia, more could be done to prevent more cases.

By Nuradzimmah Daim.

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‘Adopt child-centric approach in neglect cases’

Friday, August 21st, 2020
This October 13, 2018 file pic shows firemen help free a child which had been trapped in the car for almost an hour, at a petrol station in Rawang. -NSTP/File picThis October 13, 2018 file pic shows firemen help free a child which had been trapped in the car for almost an hour, at a petrol station in Rawang. -NSTP/File pic

KUALA LUMPUR: The authorities need to adopt a more child-centric approach in cases involving neglect, say legal experts.

Lawyer Nizam Bashir said under Section 31 of the Child Act 2001, it is an offence for any person to neglect a child until it causes physical or emotional injury.

“This is not to say that there is no possible defence to a charge instituted under Section 31 of the Child Act 2001.

“The key element appears to be ‘likely to cause him physical or emotional injury’ and in that regard, any person charged under Section 31 of the act needs to set out the circumstances where the person believed — which needs to be ascertained objectively — that it was not likely for the physical or emotional injury to arise.”

Nevertheless, he said, the psychological state of a parent or person suffering from that state would be something that goes towards assessing whether it was “likely to cause (a child) physical or emotional injury” for a charge under Section 31 of the act, which carries a maximum fine of RM20,000 and 10 years’ jail.

“To the best of my knowledge, I don’t believe any parent or person has been charged for a hot car (child) death in Malaysia.

“It may be because the authorities usually adopt a more sympathetic approach to cases like this because there is a death of a loved one in the family.”

He said the best interests of children should be the paramount consideration.

“Once we keep that in mind, the entire issue becomes quite simple to navigate.”

By Nuradzimmah Daim.

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Adopt proven approach to stop baby dumping

Thursday, August 13th, 2020
(File pic) There is also the question of effectiveness of baby hatches and proposals to increase legal literacy among teenagers making sure that they know the serious consequences of baby dumping. (File pic) There is also the question of effectiveness of baby hatches and proposals to increase legal literacy among teenagers making sure that they know the serious consequences of baby dumping.

LETTERS: I read with sadness the multiple media reports about babies being dumped nationwide. Almost every other day, there are similar reports. Recently, it was reported that 53 baby dumping occurred between January and June this year.

So, on average, for every 3 days, one baby is dumped in Malaysia. These tragic statistics has not decreased for more than 15 years despite the policies and laws that are in place.

In fact, just last month, a teenage mother was charged with murder when she allegedly flung her baby out of the apartment in a state of shock over her unplanned birth. The carnage will continue with more babies dying in the most unimaginable circumstances and teenage lives and their future destroyed completely due to moments of misjudgment.

Various plans and policies to tackle baby dumping involves further studies on existing programmes and its effectiveness. There is also the question of effectiveness of baby hatches and proposals to increase legal literacy among teenagers making sure that they know the serious consequences of baby dumping.

Many of these solutions do not tackle the root causes, neither had been shown to have significant effect on reduction of baby dumping cases. Often in addition, placing the burden of the problem on teenagers such as having unplanned pregnancies, not knowing where to seek help or what to do plus being scared to ask for help are counter productive in ending baby dumping.

We can’t legislate our way out of this complex problem, neither can we continually place the blame on teenagers and adolescents, hoping to change their behaviour. Clearly, our existing programmes, policies and laws are not working.

The tumultuous transition from adolescence to adulthood involves complex hormonal changes that affect physical, mental and sexual development. Legislation is the least of what these bodily hormonal upheavals in any adolescents is going to understand.

Neither is stigmatisation of natural biological transitions that teenagers experience, assist in any way to alleviate the complexity of their challenges in avoiding unplanned pregnancies. There is concrete evidence globally that imparting comprehensive sexuality education and access to sexual and reproductive health services decrease unplanned teenage pregnancies.

In addition, destigmatisation of unwed mothers, creating a supportive, non punitive & non judgmental system for teenagers in need are associated with decreased baby dumping. The answers are known for decades, yet we continually institute measures that are ineffectual, stop-gap or worse, subscribe to misguided beliefs that perpetuate more harm rather than good or deviate from what’s originally intended.

The implementation of evidence based policies and programmes is critical if we are going to have a fighting chance in tackling this extremely serious issue. Policy makers, authorities, parents and communities need to embrace the problem with openness, accepting what’s been shown to really work rather than only institute what is acceptable norms that fail all the time.

It’s time that we adopt a new mind set and complete overhaul of our programmes and policies so that we are able to ensure no baby is ever dumped in this country again.


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Let’s build resilience in kids

Monday, August 10th, 2020
Parents must ensure children stay joyful and happy. FILE PICParents must ensure children stay joyful and happy. FILE PIC

LETTERS: Recently, I received news from my son, who is abroad, that his varsity mate had hanged himself in the dormitory.In the same evening, I heard from a retired colleague that one of her grandchildren’s friends, who was only 12, took his life by jumping off a high rise in the United States.

In our own country, a young adult, who was an all-rounder, ended his life recently. It is disturbing that young people who had the world ahead of them resorted to such an act. My concern is what we teach in school and at home to ensure that children, adolescents and young adults do not think of ending their lives.

Do we teach our students to appreciate life and nature? Do we instil resilience in children from young? Do we talk about life and death to the younger generation?

I did a course on “Health and Disease” at the Faculty of Medicine at Universiti Malaya during my undergraduate days. A senior professor lectured that we could not plan our birth, but we could plan to die in dignity. Dignity, according to him, is to live a full-fledged life based on where we started right up to a happier position later in old age.

I think it is important to educate children from young about life and death and not instil hopelessness in them, as each of them has his life journey to lead.

The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us to appreciate the simple things in life, such as valuing time, learning to be silent and saying positive things. If we have to reprimand someone, do it constructively.

Many a time, we think that only adults go through stress in life, having to juggle between work, home and social responsibilities. Even a young child at home may undergo stress, but quite often it is not addressed.

Worse still is when individuals do not show any sign of stress and suddenly end up leaving the world. It is all very personal.

For a start, schools should stop focusing on exams and grades, at least during this Covid-19 pandemic, and instead concentrate on the wellbeing of students.

Media and social media platforms should focus on humour and joyful living rather than just on economy and finance. Yes, money is important, but it cannot buy happiness, or take away stress or bring back a lost life. Teachers and parents play a key role in ensuring that children and students are always happy and cheerful.

Many simple yet effective activities can be carried out together as a family or as a class while still adhering to physical distancing. The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us a great deal about resilience, having hope and accepting the challenges of a new normal.

In the meantime, let us educate ourselves and our children and students to stay joyful and happy.

by Dr Vishalache Balakrishnan.

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Covid-19: Another school in Kuala Sanglang closed for two weeks

Sunday, August 9th, 2020

KANGAR (Bernama): Another school in Kuala Sanglang has been ordered to close for two weeks by the Perlis state education department following the enforcement of the targeted enhanced movement control order (MCO) since Saturday (Aug 8) night.

Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Azlan Man said the third school ordered to be closed was SJKC Chin Hun.

“The closure of all three schools for two weeks from tomorrow, namely Aug 10 to Aug 23, involves a total of 876 students and 112 teachers, ” he said in his Facebook page Sunday (Aug 9).

Yesterday, Bernama reported that the state education department had ordered two other schools to be closed, namely SK Kuala Sanglang and SMK Kuala Sanglang.

Azlan added that the teachers involved were required to undergo a Home Isolation Order (HIO) during the period.

Meanwhile, a total of 15 Form Six students from SMK Syed Alwi residing in two villages involved in the targeted enhanced MCO – Kampung Tanah Timbul and Kampung Kuala Sanglang – who will be sitting for examinations from Aug 12, have been provided with temporary accommodation at the school’s hostel and other alternative accommodation nearby, he said.

The Perlis state government has implemented the targeted enhanced MCO at the two villages for 28 days beginning 10pm last night, to curb the spread of Covid-19.

As of yesterday, Perlis had recorded 30 cases of Covid-19, including 11 recent cases from the Sivagangga cluster which started in Napoh, Kubang Pasu, Kedah. -

by Bernama

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795,437 children vaccinated in Sabah polio immunisation campaign

Saturday, August 8th, 2020

KOTA KINABALU: A total of 795,437 or 93.22 per cent of children aged 13 and below in Sabah have received the first dose of bivalent Oral Polio Vaccine (bOPV) through the Sabah Polio Immunisation Campaign (KIPS) as of last Wednesday since the campaign began in December last year.

Sabah Health Department (JKNS) director Datuk Dr Christina Rundi said the figure is an increase of 0.94 per cent or 7,406 children who received the vaccine within one week.

“As for the second dose of bOPV, 730,807 children had received the vaccine as of last Wednesday, which covered 85.65 per cent of children aged 13 and below in Sabah,” she said in a statement here yesterday.

She said JKNS aimed for immunisation coverage of 95 per cent for children aged 13 and below to ensure the buildup of herd immunity to curb the spread of polio.

Dr Christina said so far only seven districts, namely Ranau, Tambunan, Kuala Penyu, Beaufort, Kinabatangan, Kunak and Nabawan had reached the 95 per cent coverage of children receiving polio vaccine.

“Polio outbreak can be ended when the herd immunity is achieved, which is immunisation coverage of over 95 per cent,” she said.

Sabah recorded four cases of polio since December last year, namely two cases in Sandakan and one each in Tuaran and Kinabatangan districts.

Previously, the disease has been eradicated for almost three decades.

by Bernama.

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‘Schoolchildren should wear face masks’

Saturday, August 8th, 2020

Vital item: The wearing of face masks in schools is encouraged but not compulsory, but experts are urging authorities to make it mandatory.

PETALING JAYA: All students should wear face masks in schools as it will curb the spread of Covid-19, say health experts.

Malaysian Public Health Physicians’ Association president Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar said the government should standardise the requirement of wearing face masks.

“All children above two should wear a face mask like adults. This includes schoolchildren.

“It is better for schoolchildren to wear face masks except during physical activity, eating or while in a controlled classroom setting,” he said when contacted.

On Aug 3, Education Minister Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin said that no decision had been made on whether to make it mandatory for students to don face masks in schools.

Currently, under the guidelines on the reopening of schools, the wearing of face masks was encouraged but not compulsory.

But since Aug 1, the public must wear face masks on public transport and in crowded places in a mandatory ruling.

Crowded places include markets, houses of worship, school buses and vans, zoos, sports and recreation centres, clinics and hospitals, retail outlets and cinemas.

Dr Zainal said children should wear face masks as studies had shown that they too could be infected with the virus albeit with lesser symptoms and complications as compared to adults.

He said children were not immune to the disease and might become silent spreaders.

National Early Childhood Intervention Council adviser and senior consultant paediatrician Datuk Dr Amar Singh HSS concurred that there was a real risk of transmission from children to adults, especially with schools reopening.

He said a recent study also showed that children under five had 10 to 100 times more SARS-CoV-2 in the upper respiratory tract when compared to adults.

“This suggests that they may be a key in spreading the virus,” he said.

He noted that schools and offices had been omitted from the government’s policy on the mandatory wearing of face masks in crowded places although the World Health Organisation (WHO) had listed schools as a public setting.

“The policy has not been consistent with the latest WHO advice on the use of face masks in the context of Covid-19,” he said.

In an advisory, the WHO said in areas with known or suspected widespread transmission, as well as areas with limited or no capacity to implement containment measures, the people in public settings such as grocery stores, offices, social gatherings and closed settings – including schools and places of worships – are encouraged to use non-medical masks.