A Northern Irish couple who left their four young children, aged 14, 10, 7 and 5, uncared for while they went on vacation, have still not contacted home.
The four young children were taken into care by social care workers in Dungannon, County Tyrone last Friday, after police were tipped off they were living alone. Sources say the parents are on vacation in either Ireland or the UK, but have not contacted their children
The Belfast Telegraph reports that an investigation has been launched into the incident, which police are treating as “a serious matter."
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Local residents are said to be shocked that the children were left home alone.
"It is unbelievable that parents would go off on holiday without their children," one young mother told the Belfast Telegraph. "The parents should be prosecuted, it is a disgrace."
One elderly member of the community said there had been previous instances of parents leaving their kids home alone before this.
"About a year ago, a family with two kids were reported to social services for leaving them at home alone while they were at work," she told the Telegraph. "But I've never heard of parents leaving their children while they go away on holiday."
However, Neil Anderson, spokesman with the National Society for the Prevention for Cruelty to Children told the Telegraph that instances such as this do not occur often.
"It is very, very rare to hear about a story like this.
"Even if those children were in relatively safe physical surroundings, like in a family home, the length of time that they're left alone creates a great risk over time that something just can go wrong, and that is an offence."