• Wed, Jan 18 2012

Parents Leaving Kids Unsupervised At Sketchy Indoor Play Centers

Whenever I’m with my children at one of those germ-infested, indoor play centers – the ones where hordes of snotty-nosed  kids run around like wild animals and every 90 seconds there’s a meltdown – I close my eyes and fantasize about leaving my kids there, if only for an hour or two. I’d grab a latte and read the paper in total silence (or, better yet, sit in my car and play Words With Friends). But then reality hits and I go back to being Mother Of The Year – shrieking, tantrums and all.

Not so for some parents, who really do leave their children unsupervised while they go shopping or run errands or, in some cases, head to work. According to a Herald Sun investigation, these parents – based in Victoria, Australia – are sneaking off and leaving their kids unattended for hours. It’s a disturbing trend that has police, social services and play-center staff concerned.

“I would say one in five parents try to sneak off,” Docklands Monkey Mania center supervisor Lesley Salazar told the Herald Sun. Police can confirm this. They told the paper they’ve been called in by at least four centers because children were left alone for several hours. One of them, a 2-year-old boy, managed to wander off after being left unsupervised by his mother for more than two hours (thankfully, a neighboring car wash attendant returned him to the center).

To be clear, we’re not talking about daycare centers here. We’re referring to indoor play centers, where parents are expected to stay with their children and keep an eye on them (to put it into perspective, it would kind of be like leaving your child alone at Chuck E. Cheese). It’s getting so bad that many centers told the Sun they’ve had to monitor entries and exits to stop parents from leaving without children. (Can you imagine?)

Of course, they’re putting their children’s safety at risk, and it’s also a big liability issue for the play centers. One center worker said she’s seen parents leave their children there with the expectation that they’ll walk home on their own (she personally drove one them home herself).

What’s sad, beyond the obvious, is that some parents are using play centers as an alternative to daycare. According to Community Childcare spokesperson Barbara Romeril, the phenomenon is proof that parents are struggling to find suitable and affordable care for their young children.

(Photo: Ryan McVay)

What We're Reading:
Share This Post:
  • 1st-Time Mommy

    Negligent parents will leave their kids absolutely ANYWHERE. I used to manage a “big box” pet store (one of the two major ones you first think of), and parents would drop their kids off in there all the time while they did their shopping elsewhere. Often they’d just drop their kid off on the sidewalk inside, and I’d have kids as young as two or three just wandering around the store, causing havoc. The first few times it happened, I confronted the parents and explained that, for their children’s safety, they needed to be attended. When they balked, I would add that, were it to happen again, I would call CPS to report an abandoned child.

    They called corporate on me, and I got in trouble. Retail sucks.

    • Shawna Cohen

      Wow, that is terrible! Cannot believe parents would be so negligent but I guess that is just a sad reality. Sounds like you handed it really well.

    • LoveyDovey

      The fact that CORPORATE wouldn’t back you on that is kinda frightening. I would think they’d be more worried about being sued if something happened to the kid in their store.

  • Pingback: Crib notes: Should church-going parents make attendance mandatory for teens? | | CALENDAR SCHEDULECALENDAR SCHEDULE

  • Pingback: Attempted Abduction Of 10-Year-Old Philadelphia Girl Caught On Video