Parents 'nervous' about sending kids to daycare after Auckland tragedies

Michael Manjalloor says the incidents made him "very nervous".
SUPPLIED

Michael Manjalloor says the incidents made him "very nervous".

After two tragedies at Auckland daycare centres within 10 days, parents are questioning their children's safety.

Four-year-old Aldrich Viju died on a Takapuna daycare's playground on November 18. 

The details behind his death are still being investigated by WorkSafe NZ.

Ambulances outside Angels Childcare centre in Takapuna, Auckland, collecting the body of four-year-old Aldrich Viju.
FAIRFAX NZ

Ambulances outside Angels Childcare centre in Takapuna, Auckland, collecting the body of four-year-old Aldrich Viju.

Ten days earlier, four toddlers were struck by a falling tree at Discoveries daycare in Epsom. All were hospitalised and one boy suffered serious head injuries.

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Father-of-three Dr Michael Manjalloor said the incidents made him "very nervous" and that he wished more information about why they had happened had been released by officials.

Four-year-old Aldrich Viju died at Angels Childcare centre in a yet to be explained incident on the playground.
Supplied

Four-year-old Aldrich Viju died at Angels Childcare centre in a yet to be explained incident on the playground.

Manjalloor, a social worker who moved to Avondale from India eight years ago, belongs to the same Catholic community as Aldrich's family and has two children at Discoveries daycare.

He said his community, the Malayali Samajam, was "very concerned" for their children's safety at daycare in the incidents' aftermath because their "faith in the system has been damaged".

Most of the community arrived in New Zealand with young children and "can imagine all too vividly" what the bereaved family have been through, Manjalloor said.

Four toddlers were injured when this tree fell and struck them on a windy day at Discoveries Daycare in Epsom, Auckland.
CHRIS MCKEEN/FAIRFAX NZ

Four toddlers were injured when this tree fell and struck them on a windy day at Discoveries Daycare in Epsom, Auckland.

"We have all come to New Zealand only to get a better life to our little ones."

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He believed the health and safety policies New Zealand childcare centres had in place were sound, but that there may be gaps between a policy and its application.

Malayali Samajam Incorporated group president Joseph Devasia said that many parents had approached him with fears about leaving their children at childcare centres.

"They are very nervous about what happened and think 'could my child die that way too?'" he said.

"It would have been better to have more transparency from the police ... When they say that there's been an accident in the play area - well, it could have been anything."​

Early Childhood Council chief executive Peter Reynolds said that while "frustration is completely natural", keeping things in perspective was crucial.

"There are more than 200,000 kids involved in early childcare every day and it's generally very safe," he said.

"Nevertheless, there is a frustrating lack of information about an event totally abhorrent and shocking for all involved - so of course there'll be speculation."

He said that he hoped the authorities in charge of investigating Aldrich's death would have results soon.

"Then the ECC will be helping childcare centres take all possible measures to make sure it doesn't happen again."

 ChildForum chief executive Dr Sarah Alexander said that it was rare for a child to die in early childhood education.

However, the number of serious accidents in recent years indicated a need for more regular checking by the Ministry of Education and the Education Review Office, she said.

 - Stuff

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