AN expectant mother, who has four children aged between two and 10 years, recently made the local newspaper headlines for the wrong reasons.
She had locked her three children in the car, with its engine running, while she ran an errand.
A thief then drove away the car, with her two-year-old son in it.
Her Perodua Myvi was parked right in front of the grocery shop in Kangkar Pulai, near Johor Baru, and merely a kilometre from her home.
Within the 10 minutes while she was away, the thief who was targeting motorists who carelessly left their vehicles unlocked and with engines running, went into action.
He had walked to the car and acted suspiciously, prompting one of the three children in the car to unlock the door and go look for their mother, obviously to alert her of the stranger's behaviour.
As the six-year-old unlocked the door, the suspect gained entry.
The four-year-old daughter, who was also in the car, managed to get out but her two-year-old brother seated in the passenger seat in front was not so fortunate.
The suspect then drove off the Myvi with the toddler in the car.
Though the suspect abandoned the two-year-old boy later near a restaurant about 3km away, it was the most agonising hour for the boy's mother, who had called the police immediately and then her husband.
Mother and child were finally reunited an hour later at the Kangkar Pulai police station.
The restaurant operator who found the boy walking aimlessly and barefooted recognised him as the family had often dined there.
Earlier, the whole event had caused a frenzy.
Text messages were disseminated asking the public to look out for the silver Perodua Myvi.
The messages turned out to be rather confusing as many people were unsure if it was a hoax.
The text read that a two-year-old was kidnapped by a suspect driving a Myvi.
The car was found 12 hours later.
The lone suspect who stole it was driving it, and he was later joined by two passengers. They all tested positive for drugs and the main suspect had eight previous vehicle-theft cases that he was involved in.
He didn't even change the plate numbers and was arrested without any hassle, as he was stuck in a traffic jam.
This whole incident could have been avoided.
Once too many times, parents took their young children for granted or underestimated safety precautions that should have been taken.
There have been one too many cases where parents left their children unattended that resulted in their deaths, either murdered or accidental, or sexually abused after being kidnapped.
Children below eight years of age have been left alone in cars, at home, or found swimming alone and even on a kelong.
Worst are those who left their children in the hands of strangers or lovers, even though the child had cried their hearts out, showing signs of fear which normally resulted from being abused.
The government enacted the Child Act 2001, where under the Act, every child is entitled to protection and assistance in all circumstances without regard to distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, social origin or physical, mental or emotional disabilities or any status.
There have been so many cases of young lives that were lost because of their parents' or guardian's negligence. Under the same Act, negligent parents could be charged.
There have been several cases since the beginning of this year, where parents' negligence caused the deaths of these young beautiful lives, yet none of them have been charged in court.
It is important to instil awareness among parents that being negligent is wrong and cannot be tolerated.
I think what is needed is merely common sense... young children in any circumstances should never be left unattended, even if it is for a minute.
Let's ensure that our negligence, does not open the door for another young life to be snatched away.
Do not leave them unattended in your vehicles...please.