A 5-year-old boy died after falling from his family's 19th floor apartment in Zhabei district Sunday night after his parents left him home alone, the second time this month that an unattended child has fallen to his or her death in Shanghai, local media reported Monday.
The boy fell after his parents locked him in their apartment on Baotong Road Sunday evening so they could go to work, according to a report on the news website Xinmin.cn.
Neighbors reported that they heard the boy crying and banging on the door for hours before the accident.
One neighbor told Xinmin.cn that the boy eventually quieted down. The neighbor then saw the boy climb up the balcony railing and stretch out over the edge to look down. He slipped, then fell.
Police and emergency rescue personnel found the boy dead at the scene, according to the report.
His parents were running their small business at a nearby market when their son fell, according to police.
Police typically don't open investigations into the parents in such cases, which they consider accidental deaths, said Shi Fangni, a press officer with Zhabei police.
Parents are not usually punished for leaving their young children alone at home, said Rong Jinliang, a lawyer from the Juvenile Rights Protection Commission of the Shanghai Bar Association. "Unlike in Western countries where parents are not allowed to leave their children unattended for a long time, China doesn't have any regulations about this issue yet," Rong told the Global Times.
Earlier this month, a 2-year-old girl died under similar circumstances. The girl's mother had left her alone in the family's 10th floor apartment in Pudong New Area while she went to look for her husband, who was late coming home from a shopping trip.
The girl left the apartment, climbed through a hallway window and fell out.
Yang Yongming, director of the Shanghai Youth Protection Office of the Shanghai Municipal Education Commission, advised parents to keep their young children with them.
"It is particularly dangerous to leave children who aren't old enough to go to school unattended at home because they cannot recognize danger. Working or going shopping is not an excuse to leave a small child alone," Yang told the Global Times.
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