Criminals targeting schools: what parents should know

2019-07-10 06:01

WITH the recent spate of school-related crimes, it seems schools may not be the haven we have always trusted them to be.

While school violence is prevalent and widespread, schools are also being targeted by criminals for electronic devices such as computers and IT equipment.

According to Jason Mordechai, MD at 7Arrows Security: “Over the past few months, there has been an increase in school break-ins. It’s frightening to note that they seem to have worked out how to overcome the physical barriers to entry and are gaining access to school properties relatively easily — the roof is often used as an entry point.

“Many schools house their security systems in the roof — which gives criminals the added advantage of cutting the system before they have been detected.”

Whether there are kids at the school at the time that the crime is committed or not, the impact of crime at school is not confined to the incident alone.

There are far reaching consequences which affect children’s feelings of trust at school, their attendance and their ability to learn.

“As parents, it is our responsibility to protect our children. While crime is not something we can control, unfortunately, we can ensure that we know as much as possible about the school environment,” says Maanda Tshifularo, Head of Dialdirect Insurance.

Tshifularo shares the following tips to maximise­ the protection of your child at school:

• Know what security methods, procedures and systems are in place at the school.

• Ensure that both you and your child know what to do in the case of an emergency.

• Ensure that the school you choose has a transparent flow of communication between staff and parents.

• Become familiar with the system used at the school in the event of violence or crime: is trauma counselling provided, for example?

• What is the procedure for collecting children after school? Who do you inform if someone else is collecting your child?

• Where is the emergency meeting point at the school?

Mordechai warns that security systems should never be housed in the roof or ceiling.

For added support, strong electric protection is advised on the inside of external gates and doors and security sensors should be placed in sensitive areas, including the ceiling, to alert security if there has been a perimeter breach.

“Ultimately, understanding what protective measures have been put in place by the school to prevent crime and teaching your children how to access help in the case of an emergency is one step closer to protecting them during the school day,” says Tshifularo.

Ensure your child has memorised the following emergency numbers:

• Nationwide Emergency Response: 10111

• Mobile phone emergency hotline: 112

• Ambulance/ Fire Brigade: 10177

• Download Dialdirect Namola — a free app that helps users receive emergency assistance

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