OUR VIEWPOINT: Your child could be in danger

2015-06-18 11:08
Northern Park Primary where a young school girl was called to the car of a naked man.

Northern Park Primary where a young school girl was called to the car of a naked man. (Jonathan Burton)

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OUR main story today is one of those nightmarish incidents that every parent dreads. A man loitering outside a school and then exposing himself as a child makes her way to the gates.

Brave classmates of the child, who had been targeted by the same man while he sat in his car, had remembered details of his car.

Police used this information and video footage from the school’s security camera to trace the 28-year-old man.

The issue of school security has come to the fore in recent months after the murder of five-year-old Athandiwe Dumakude. She was last seen alive at lunchtime outside the school, waiting for her lift home.

Last week, city schools said some parents and lift clubs do not fetch their children on time and the children are left unattended. When the schools tried to reinforce certain rules, like lift clubs having to drive onto the school’s property to pick up children, this was ignored.

It may not be the easiest thing to acknowledge but there are predators lurking outside schools. For parents it is a huge concern.

Many schools have aftercare facilities for parents who might be late picking up their children. But often, children can be seen loitering around school gates, as they wait for lift clubs or their parents to pick them up.

Unfortunately, criminal elements view children as easy targets. Earlier this year security footage at an Amanzimtoti high school showed how a teenager, playing on his cellphone while waiting for his parents to pick him up, was targeted for his phone. It would be impossible for every parent to walk their child to and from the school gates every day, and keeping children safe while they are at school is not only the responsibility of the teachers and principal.

Toybox Creche principal Trevor Sharp, responding to questions on how they had increased security in the wake of Athandiwe’s murder, said he had sent letters to parents and he had spoken to the taxi drivers who transport his children. “I have even offered to use the services of a security company to be stationed outside the school, but parents were not willing to pay a small amount extra per month for the guard,” said Sharp.

It is vital that all those who play a role in their children’s lives recognise there is potential for hidden danger outside the school walls.

Only by working together will this danger be eliminated

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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