Glass door falling on boy: Where are the parents?

Glass door falling on boy: Where are the parents?
CCTV footage from mall shows boy playing with glass door before it falls on him.

SINGAPORE - This columnist found out that the heartland was abuzz with the news - people had either heard or knew of the incident that happened on Thursday evening at the mall in Jurong - when I went on my rounds a day later.

Reactions, both on the ground and on cyberspace, were mixed. There was much finger-pointing at either the mall or the boy and his mother.

Those who blamed the mother refer to the CCTV footage (which the Westgate management subsequently released to the media) which showed how the boy was repeatedly swinging the door.

Unaccompanied by an adult, he seemed to be making a game of it.

A group of five friends - three women and two men - were engaged in a discussion over their lunch.

Madam Neo Si Min, 46, a factory operations assistant, says in Mandarin: "When I saw the boy 'disappear' under the glass door, my heart jumped.

"My next reaction was, where are his parents? "

At another coffee shop, retiree Mohd Shaiful Ibrahim, 70, says: "Sad to say, such scenes - where a kid is doing something dangerous, with the adult family member maybe a few steps away - are very familiar.

"But see, when something happens, it will be too late to react."

Others were fast to criticise the Westgate management, noting that the construction and workmanship must have been shoddy if a young child could "overextend" the door and cause it to dislodge so easily.

It is most fortunate that the tempered-glass door did not shatter on impact and as such, the boy did not suffer more severe injuries other than a cut on his head and bruises on his face.

We, as adults, can get distracted. It's unfair to expect us to keep a watchful eye on kids every minute and second.

And there should be no reason why the eight-month-old mall would have expected a problem if there were no earlier issues. I feel that there is a bigger social issue which should concern everyone.

Hands up, those of you who have come across any of these scenarios of young children running up and down a moving escalator or climbing over railings with glass panels in a shopping mall.

Or dashing around a department store even when there are fragile displays. Swimming pools, road crossings, the list goes on. Now answer this question: What did you do when you came across such incidents?

If you had been near the boy at Westgate, what would you have done?

Chances are, many of us would likely throw disapproving stares or cluck "tsk-tsk" before walking away.

Very few of you would have done something about it, right?

Sales promoter Clement Foo, 46, admits that he is likely to ignore the child, despite the potential physical risk. He says: "What if the parents don't appreciate it and think you are being a 'kaypoh' (busybody)?

"So why should I bother since he is not my child?"

To be fair, Mr Foo may not be entirely wrong in his assumption.

A colleague said that she saw a child playing with the start and stop buttons on an escalator.

Concerned over the possible consequences, she alerted the boy's mother.

The mother told my colleague off. "I don't know (what you are talking about)," the mother said.

I hope that my now-teenage children are behaving themselves in public places when they are not with me. (No, they'd better be.) But my husband and I were always pleased when relatives and friends complimented them on being well-behaved.

Yes, it is about teaching our children proper decorum, the do's and don'ts.

And if they had not behaved, I would have been relieved if a stranger had alerted me.

If we all do our part, we could well save another young child from getting hurt.

This article was first published on August 10, 2014.
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