An organisation dedicated to keeping women and children safe, members of the public and police are concerned with an incident outside a bar in Avarua where a sleeping infant was left alone in a locked car.
On Saturday night a person walking past the car spotted the
infant and raised the alarm. When the couple was found inside the bar, a woman
said she needed to leave the child for just a short period of time to pick up
her partner who was in the bar.
Cook Islands News understands that while no charges were
made in relation to the incident, a warning was issued. It was not clear for
what length of time the infant was alone in the car.
The person who found the child was highly concerned, as were
many members of the public who voiced their concerns over social media. They
were upset over the way alcohol culture in the country often puts our children
in dangerous and unsafe situations.
Police spokesperson Trevor Pitt said “clearly it’s not
acceptable as there are risks that could result in tragedy”.
“But without these full explanations, people should refrain
from being judgmental,” Pitt said.
Punanga Tauturu’s Rebeka Buchanan said she is very concerned
with the incident and hopes the police will refer it to Internal Affairs “to be
involved in the monitoring of this case and in further talking to the parents”.
Punanga Tauturu, a non-profit organisation dedicated to the
elimination of abuse and violence against women and children, has dealt with
similar instances in which individuals unable to protect themselves have been
left alone in dangerous situations.
“Prevention is better than cure,” said Buchanan,
highlighting the importance of awareness within the community of serious
matters such as these.
“It is about having adults supervising their children, or
ensuring that the children are with a responsible adult. These are common sense
issues, and safety of your children must be the top priority.”