Wise up, parents warned

2010-03-25 00:00

PARENTS need to stop downplaying the dangers that human trafficking can pose to their children and should ensure they are pro­perly informed so they can take necessary action.

This is the warning from Childline director Linda Naidoo, who said the centre has received calls from parents asking what they should do in case of a kidnap situation, following recent reports of alleged attempts in malls and schools in KwaZulu-Natal.

“There is definitely a big scare going around. Parents fear that it might be their children next.

“We are not saying that parents must be paranoid, but they really need to be informed about what is going on.

“They need to know legislation, which changes all the time, so that they better understand how to be vigilant,” said Naidoo.

Her statement seems to be at odds with the police comment in a recent Witness report. The paper explored e-mails circulated in order to alert parents of cases of near abductions around the province, and spoke to people who were affec­ted.

Despite a personal account of the attempted kidnapping of a grade two pupil from the Holy Childhood Convent School in Eshowe early this month, police dismissed the e-mails as a ploy by someone wanting to cause unnecessary panic.

The police told The Witness that the mother in the Eshowe case had been interviewed and had confirmed she sent someone to pick her daughter up. But the school still denies the mother was ever contacted by police.

Naidoo said that since some police officers refuse to take a report in the case of a missing child, parents often give up in ignorance of the law. She said parents should provide the police with a picture of a missing child.

Naidoo believes that kidnappers often present what seem like enticing and exciting opportunities to children. Parents need to look out for such subtle ploys.

News reports say the government is under pressure to pass a bill, tabled last week, that will specifically make human trafficking a crime.

Naidoo said trafficking is encapsulated within the Children’s Act, but this only takes into consideration sexual exploitation of children without specifically addressing the different forms of trafficking.

In Durban this week, in the first conviction for sex trafficking, a couple were convicted of trafficking women from Thailand to work in a brothel. However, the conviction was obtained under a number of other laws.

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