Was with my children at one of the leading hypermarts in Subang 2 days ago. While I was busy paying bills, a Chinese boy around the age of 5 to 6 years old was seen running around yelling frantically for his mother. We saw him running past a security guard standing at the exit who seemed to be unperturbed by his loud and trembled voice.
I couldn't help but to ask the cashier why wasn't the guard do something about it? Do you know what answer was given? "Nanti pulak kita kena marah", this was what she replied. I paused and couldn't believe my ears. Who on earth would blame a Uniformed Personnel who is giving assistance to a helpless child? And isn't this the security guard's duty to swing into action immediately upon sensing something not right in a shopping mall or a hypermart? The least he could do was to calm him down and take him to the office for further assistance.
My children were quick enough to realise that they spotted this child with his mum earlier at one of the sections and only remembered seeing the mother donning a pair of pink colour slippers. Without delay, they quickly ran after the boy. At about 200 meters out to the shops area, the woman with "that" pair of pink colour slippers was calling out the boy's name. Upon seeing the boy, she broke down. Sigh...what a relief! We can't imagine what will happen had the boy ran to the opposite direction?
These days there are just too many incidences like this that are happening in our country. The most prominent case was the Malay boy by the name of Yin who was reported missing in the Sogo Shopping Mall while with his father. He was found two weeks later. I dreaded to picture the agony the parents had gone through. As such, it prompted me to find out more useful tips and information to help create awareness on handling missing child in a shopping mall.
In the event if a child is missing in a mall, act immediately-
1. Search the entire place, including checking the piles of clothings, behind all furnitures, under the boxes, inside large appliances, fitting rooms, food areas - anywhere a child may hide.
2. See the Security Chief Officer and request for a complete shut down of the mall and mobilise all personnel for a thorough scrutiny of the place.
3. Alarm the police if all attempts proved futile.
4. When filling the report, ensure a full descriptions of the child by providing the child's name, date of birth, height, weight and unique identifiers such as the colour of the clothings the child was wearing before missing, moles on faces or limbs, with or without glasses or braces, chain or pendant on the child.
5. Send out smses and emails to as many contacts as possible to spread the news.
6. Print out posters with the photo of the child and send out to the public.
7. Go to the press if all avenues exhausted.
In my personal opinion, parents with toddlers or young children should be more alert when going out shopping with these little adventurers, especially to those hyperactive ones. Minding children is never an easy job. But if we had decided to have children, we are duty bound to care for them to avoid unfortunate incidents befall on them. Having a tag with contact details kept inside the children's pocket whenever you go can be more than handy in time of emergency.
Resources - National center for missing and exploited children