A five-year-old girl left alone in her home risked death yesterday by climbing half way out of a window to escape a large cockroach.
The girl, surnamed Lee, was left unattended in a flat on the 4th floor of a building in Aberdeen Main Road while her father was working at a dim sum restaurant and her mother took her two-year-old brother to see the doctor.
Shortly before 10am, the girl's crying caught the attention of a neighbour who spotted her leg dangling out of the bedroom window. When police arrived, an officer climbed out of a flat below in case the girl fell while firefighters forced their way into the locked flat to rescue her.
She was taken to Queen Mary Hospital for a check-up, where she was reunited with her parents, who had rushed there after being contacted by police.
'An investigation by police found that the girl's mother, aged 26, took her son to see a doctor and left the daughter at home as her daughter insisted she did not want to go,' a police spokesman said, adding that the 36-year-old father had left for work at 5am.
'The girl also told us that she climbed out of the window because a very big cockroach was flying in the unit. Our officers verbally warned the parents that they should take appropriate care of their young children.'
But the spokesman added that charges had not been pressed.
The director of Against Child Abuse, Priscilla Lui Tsang Sun-kai, said the girl and her parents should consider themselves very lucky.
'Coroners' reports showed that between 1989 and 2003, about 160 deaths involving children could be classified as children left unattended at home,' she said.
'In negligence, you cannot say if it is done intentionally or unintentionally. However, the consequences can be devastating.'
Ms Lui added that it was extremely dangerous for parents to leave a child alone at home even if they believed it was safe.
'Today's case is a very good example. Parents should take their children out as well or find someone to look after them when they go out,' Ms Lui warned.