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English>>China Society

China Focus: Reflection over child deaths in hot cars

(Xinhua)    19:53, July 16, 2015

BEIJING, July 16 -- As China enters the height of summer, cases involving children dying after being left in hot cars are triggering fury as well as reflection across the country.

The tragedy of a three-year-old girl who died after being locked in a car for nine hours on July 11 in Yishui County of Shandong Province was the latest of a string of such incidents.

The child was left in the vehicle by the head of her kindergarten who usually drove her to school. The kindergarten head has been detained by police.

On the same day in Yiwu City of Zhejiang Province, a boy around two was left in a BMW by his parents who then went shopping. He locked himself in by accident and was fortunately discovered by passers-by and rescued by firefighters.

In June, a four-year-old boy in Xiangtan City of Hunan Province died from heatstroke after being locked by his parents in their car.

Child deaths in hot cars have spiked in China in recent years, as the country has witnessed rapid growth in private car ownership.

Lai Xincheng, founder of an SUV club in Beijing, said China's driver training mainly focuses on technique, and seldom touches on the topic of safety.

Many young drivers lack awareness to ensure the safety of passengers, especially toddlers, in their cars, he said.

Zhang Yong, secretary-general of a health service center for adolescents in Nanning City in Guangxi, said there has been a lack of safety education toward children.

Though many of the victims of hot car deaths were too young to protect themselves, parents and teachers still need to teach children about how to rescue themselves if trapped in a vehicle, he suggested.

Most of the deaths have happened in private kindergartens in poor areas.

According to an official in a county education bureau of Hubei Province, many private preschool institutions don't have enough money to hire qualified teachers and train their staff.

School buses and drivers in rural areas should undergo evaluation by professional institutions every year to ensure safety, said Chu Zhaohui, a researcher with the National Institute of Education Sciences.

Additionally, legal experts have called for legislation to limit such incidents.

Li Wanfeng, a Beijing-based lawyer, said the parents of these children who have died in hot cars will mostly not be charged.

"We need to criminalize the act of leaving children unattended in cars, should it be carried out by school staff or parents, in order to heighten caretakers' sense of responsibility and better protect kids," he said. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Huang Jin,Bianji)

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