“Please stop leaving your children unattended at the playground. A child today had an accident, knocked out teeth and had a mouth full of blood and there were no parents or guardians to be found. Please be responsible,” said a member of a Facebook group.
With more than 100 likes and two dozen comments, members of the page were in agreeance that the situation was both avoidable and irresponsible.
“Accidents are bad enough, but some pervert could have grabbed them. Look after your children,” a member said.
The issue of unsupervised children is now becoming an issue for some in the community.
Due to the small size of Rarotonga, cultural differences, and the close community bond on the island, parenting differences on Rarotonga have been highlighted by tourists visiting from places such as Australia and New Zealand.
Violence against Women and Children coordinator, Rebeka Buchanan offered her take on the issue.
“Being in paradise, as they say, also makes us feel more relaxed, and we do tend to let our guards down from time to time in a public place. There is nothing wrong with thinking you’re in paradise, except when we get distracted and forget our parental responsibilities to our children,” she said.
The Facebook status proved there was some confusion surrounding who was supposed to be monitoring the child, however this only infuriated commenters further,
“Be there, or day care!” one local added.
On an average day in Rarotonga, children can be seen jumping off the wharf in Avatiu or swimming in the lagoon around Nikao, mostly unsupervised.
This was not an issue or of public concern until last week upon the injuring of the young girl.
It may seem this was an isolated incident, however, many hope it will act as a reminder to parents and guardians, to keep a watchful eye on young children, be it their own or others.
“Perhaps it would be helpful if the Punanga Nui Market Management erect a sign specifying that children of a certain age group need to be accompanied by an older person or caregiver when using the playground, as another form of preventative measure,” Buchanan said.
The local counsellor also highlighted the importance of other parents and their willingness to step in when need be.
“After all, it takes a village to raise a child.”