PARENTAL negligence in Fiji is an issue that needs to be addressed.
These were the sentiments of Save the Children Fiji (SC Fiji) chief executive officer, Chandra Shekhar yesterday.
Speaking to this newspaper on the issue, Mr Shekhar said having legislation and actually enforcing it were two different things. "Negligence in parents must be investigated. Parents must understand that children are children and they are bound to make mistakes," said Mr Shekhar.
This comes after the Fiji Police Force stated that there had been a high number of drowning deaths this year.
"The drowning death toll stands at 57 compared to 30 for the same period last year. Majority of these cases unfortunately involve children who are under 10 years of age," a recent police report stated.
The most recent case of a child drowning happened yesterday in Lautoka, where a one-year and seven-month-old infant was found floating in a bucket of water by her sister, who is a Class One student.
Mr Shekhar urged members of the public to take responsibility for children, particularly with the upcoming school holidays.
"If children are left unattended at watersides and they drown, there has to be responsibility taken by the parent.
"With the school holidays approaching, children will be free to play, go swimming and that means that the risk factors increase and parents' responsibilities must increase too," he said.
He added that if parents were proven negligent, they should be charged.
The police report added that "children are inquisitive and once given the opportunity to explore it could expose them to a dangerous situation that could prove fatal."
Police are still investigating the recent drowning case, with investigators being told to look into the issue of parental negligence.