In view of the many children going missing daily and recent abductions, police are urging parents to use these safety tips to keep their children safe.
“Every parent should be aware of some important safety tips that could protect their children from potential harm. There are several things you, as a parent, can do to make sure your children stay safe.”
Children must know their full name(s), age(s), telephone number(s) and address(es).
Children must know how to contact you, the SAPS or another close relative in an emergency.
When children are alone at home, they should tell people who phone that you are there, but that you are busy and cannot come to the phone. The person who is phoning, can phone back later. Teach your child to end any telephone calls with strangers immediately and hang up the telephone if he/she continues to talk.
When children are at home alone, they should find out the identity of the person who comes to the door, without opening the door. If a stranger is at the door, teach your children to tell the stranger that you are busy and that he/she should go away and come back later. Teach your child not to engage in conversation with the visitor. If the child feels threatened, teach him/her to phone an emergency number. Emergency numbers could be your telephone number at work, that of the police or a trusted neighbour who will be at home.
If it is at all possible, children should play and walk with other children.
Children should always ask your permission before accepting gifts from strangers.
In order to avoid situations where strangers may approach him/her alone, such as an unsupervised play area, empty lots, abandoned buildings, bushy areas of parks or riverbeds, children should run home or to the nearest public place or a friend’s home if someone is following or frightening him/her/them.
Children must know that adults, especially strangers, rarely ask children for help in finding things or for directions. Explain to your child that men and women are strangers.
Children must know that if he/she/they become separated from you in a store or shopping mall, he/she/they must go to a store employee or cashier for help immediately.
You must know where your children are at all times. Know their friends and be clear with them about the places and homes they may visit.
Never leave children unattended in a vehicle, whether it is running or not.
Listen to your children. Pay attention if they tell you they do not want to be with someone or go somewhere.
Notice when anyone shows your child a great deal of attention or begins giving gifts. Ask your child about the person and find out why that person is behaving that way.
Teach your children that they have the right to refuse any unwelcome, uncomfortable or confusing touch or actions by others and get out of those situations as quickly as possible. If they cannot leave, children should be taught to kick, scream and resist by yelling loudly, “This person is not my father/mother/guardian” and then immediately tell you what happened.
Be sensitive to any changes in your children’s behaviour or attitude. Encourage open communication and learn how to be an active listener. If your children tell you about problems, try to stay calm, be reassuring, and non-judgemental. Work with them to get help to resolve the problem.
Practise basic safety skills with your children. Make an outing to a mall or park an educational experience in which your children practise checking with you, going to the bathroom with a friend and finding adults who may be able to help if they need assistance. Do not let your children wear clothing or carry items that bear their names in public. It makes it too easy for a stranger to approach them.
Develop code words for anyone you trust to fetch your children and teach your children the words. Tell them not to go with anyone who does not know the code words.