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June 28, 2012 permalink
Brief periods of separation between parent and child are inevitable, particularly for single parents. Examples include leaving a child in a car while running into a store, leaving a sleeping child at home, losing contact with a child in a busy mall or a child who wanders away from home. It is just about impossible for a parent to secure the necessities of life without an occasional temporary separation from a child. But according the the Durham Regional Police, all of these short separations are offenses and grounds for turning children over to the CAS. In past decades, police allowed children to sleep in their own homes and reunited lost children with their parents.
Police Dealing With Children Left Unattended
Durham Police have responded to five incidents of children unattended in as many weeks and are warning parents of the dangers and potential charges involved.
During the month of May 2012 in Oshawa, police received information from a neighbor that a female party had been going out and leaving her two children home alone. Officers attended and found the residence secure but entered through an unlocked window and located two small children unattended, both under the age of three. Police contacted the mother through a cell number found in the residence and requested her to return home immediately. Upon arrival, the mother indicated that she had put the children to sleep and had gone out to a nearby bar. Both children were apprehended by child protection workers.
In early June 2012 in Whitby, police received information from a female complainant advising her estranged husband had left their one-year- old child sleeping in the residence unattended. Officers attended the address and spoke with the father and determined the one year old child had been left alone. The child was returned to the care of the mother.
In mid-June 2012, officers responded to a residential alarm call for service in Oshawa. Upon clearing the residence, they found a 4-year-old child, who had been left alone and became scared, opening the door and causing the alarm to activate. The small child advised this happens every night after his bedtime. The child’s parents returned home while officers were there and advised that they had left their child alone to go shopping. Child protection workers were contacted and will be investigating further.
Last week, Pickering officers received a call of a found 2-year-old child wandering the streets of a residential neighborhood. Police arrived and picked-up the child. Officers then canvassed the nearby vicinity and eventually found several family members of the toddler who had not realized the toddler was missing from their residence. The child was found nearby to several busy roadways but was unharmed.
The most recent example of a child found in distress occurred last night in Whitby where citizens located a wandering three year old child in their neighborhood, whom they did not recognize. Officers canvassed the vicinity and eventually located the mother of the child. The three year old had wandered a considerable distance from home and his absence had not been noted by his caregivers.
In each case, the children involved were unharmed and child protection workers were immediately notified to investigate further.
Where warranted, child protection workers and police may impose charges upon caregivers who are responsible for the safe well-being of children in their care where negligence is determined. Police are warning all caregivers, especially during these summer months, to be mindful of the whereabouts of all young children to ensure their safety and well-being at all times.
Under the Criminal Code of Canada, section 218, anyone who unlawfully abandons or endangers a child under the age of 10 is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for up to five years.
Source: Durham Regional Police Service