4. Possible offences related to parental duties
Parents have to ensure the safety of the child by provision of basic needs and cannot leave a child alone unattended. Corporal punishment is not recognised and should not be exercised by parents as they would be subject to criminal liabilities just like any other persons causing harm to a child.
Under section 26 of the Offences Against the Person Ordinance (Cap. 212), any person who unlawfully abandons or exposes any child, being under the age of 2 years, whereby the life of such child is endangered, or the health of such child is or is likely to be permanently injured, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for 10 years (indictment refers to a case tried in District Court or the Court of First Instance) or on summary conviction (tried in Magistrates’ Court) to imprisonment for 3 years. The venue of the prosecution would be dependent on the harm or injuries of the children, complexity of case and likely sentence in court. On a serious offence where the life of the chid is endangered by the abandonment or circumstances of exposing the child to danger, prosecution would most likely be bring the case to District Court or the Court of First Instance on indictment.
There is a similar provision under section 27 of the Offences Against the Person Ordinance (Cap. 212) where those in charge of child or young person under 16 assault, ill-treat, neglect, abandon or expose in a manner likely to cause such chid or young person unnecessary suffering or injury to his health (including injury to or loss of sight, or hearing, or limb, or organ of the body, or any mental derangement) such person shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for 10 years; on summary conviction to imprisonment for 3 years.
For the purposes of this section a parent or other person over the age of 16 having the custody, charge or care of a child or young person under that age shall be deemed to have neglected him in a manner likely to cause injury to his health if he fails to provide adequate food, clothing or lodging for the child or young person, or if, being unable otherwise to provide such food, clothing or lodging, he knowingly and wilfully fails to take steps to procure the same to be provided by some authority, society or institution which undertakes to make such provision for necessitous children or young persons.