During the Easter holiday there were little children seen playing in the park, apparently unattended by any adult. In particular, two little boys, maybe six or seven years old, were seen playing all by themselves on the bank of the stream by the wooden bridge. The weather had been very wet and the water level was high, certainly high enough to drown a small boy.
We love to see children in the park, playing outside in the fresh air and learning about their environment but Southwick Country Park is not the same thing as a play park and nor was it ever intended to be. While we encourage people to bring their little ones here, we assume that they understand that the dangers of doing so are the same as the dangers of the wider countryside. As well as the deep water there are adders, wasps, bees, hornets’ nests, trees to fall out of or nettle beds to fall into, and at least a dozen things that are poisonous if you put them in your mouth.
We have consulted with our new Police Community Support Officer Matthew Till. He has said that this is an issue of safeguarding and that if we, or any adult, considers that a child is in danger we should always treat it as an emergency and dial 999.
There is no legal limit to the age at which a parent can send its child out to play by itself; that is a matter of individual choice. However putting a child in danger or failing to respond to any child in danger, no matter its age, is an always an offence.
In summary, the Friends of Southwick Country Park will regard a small child by itself in the park as an emergency and will respond as such; we would also recommend that any park-user who finds a small child by itself in the park does the same. Let’s keep our children safe.
Both pictures from creative commons (CC0)