Keeping children safe from ‘stranger danger’

2017-06-06 06:01
Photo: Kalisha NaickerChildren need to be taught to say ‘no’ to strangers.

Photo: Kalisha NaickerChildren need to be taught to say ‘no’ to strangers.

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CHILDREN see strangers every day, everywhere - in malls, in their neighborhood, when walking to and from school or playing outside and many appear to be “nice”, but many are not.

In light of Child Protection Week this month (27 May – 2 June), parents can protect their children from strangers with alternative agendas by teaching them about strangers who behave suspiciously, and by taking a few precautions.

According to community coun- sellor­ Sister J Lukhan, a stranger is someone not known to the family.

She said that children sometimes depict strangers as villains they see in cartoons, but says this is wrong.

“When you talk to your children about strangers explain that no one can tell if strangers are nice or not just by looking at them and they should be careful around strangers.

“However, there is a thin line we need to cross and show our children that not everyone is bad and out to get them.

“They need to know when to trust their instinct and if they are lost, being threatened by a bully, or being followed by a stranger - the safest thing for them to do in many cases is to ask someone in authority for help,” she said.

Lukhan said we need to show a child what “safe strangers” are.

“These can range from police officers, fire men, teachers, principals, and librarians are adults children can trust, and they are easy to recognise when they’re at work.

“And one needs to reiterate to their children they should never go to a public place to ask for help. When driving around show children places they can go to should they need help.”

Lukhan said that children must also be taught right from wrong so they can “recognise danger”.

“Things like when asked to keep secrets from parents, disobey rules, or anything that makes them feel uncomfortable is a potentially harmful situation.

“Most importantly is for us to teach our children to be assertive and say ‘no’,” she added.

ADT’s Ivan Govender also offered tips for parents and children ahead of Child Protection Week.

Fidelity ADT Security offers the following safety tips for you to to share with your children:

· Make sure your children memorise their full name, address and phone number.

· Using a play phone, teach children when and how to dial 10111.

· Put other emergency numbers on speed dial on your home phone and mobile. Teach your children how to operate the speed dial, explaining when it should be used.

· Always leave a phone number where you can be reached along with numbers for neighbours and emergency services right next to the phone.

· Make sure they realise the importance of speaking clearly and telling the emergency services exactly what is happening.

· Let your children practice operating door and window locks.

· Set a good example by locking doors and windows and checking to see who it is before opening a gate or door.

· Explain how important it is not to let anyone into the house without your permission.

· Teach them to not reveal on the phone or at the door that no adults are home but to rather say their parents are too busy to come to the phone or door.

· Rehearse the home fire escape plan with your children.

· Teach your children basic first aid such as putting pressure on a bleeding wound and what to do with minor burns.

· Show them how to press the panic button and explain when they should do so.

“The golden rule with children is to develop good security habits and to communicate regularly about safety,” says Govender.

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