Make keeping your family safe your top priority — educate and protect

2018-09-18 06:00
PHOTO: suppliedHillcrest SAPS communications officer Captain Linzi Smith says prevention is always better than cure.

PHOTO: suppliedHillcrest SAPS communications officer Captain Linzi Smith says prevention is always better than cure.

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CHILDREN see strangers every day in malls, at schools, and in their neighbourhoods when walking to and from school or playing outside. Most of these strangers are nice, normal people, but a few may not be.

In light of the increasing child abduction statistics, Hillcrest SAPS have urged parents to be careful about who they trust with their children.

Hillcrest SAPS communications officer Captain Linzi Smith said that prevention is always better than cure.

“When it comes to children, safety, and how they interact with strangers, it is paramount that, as parents, we make these issues top of our priority list,” she said.

The captain said that parents should be cautious at all times and they should always know the whereabouts of their children.

“It’s not that they are invading their space but every parent should know where their children are, just to be at ease, especially with children going missing.”

Smith said that if parents could follow the guidelines that have been given to them then it will help them prevent their children getting lost.

She also asked that parents educate their children from a young age about safety awareness, saying: “This should not only be from the school — parents must teach their children to be vigilant. It is scary how quickly and easily it can happen.”

“This is happening all over the world, it is an international situation, but by educating parents and children we can try and curb incidents from happening.

“It is also important to know that it is not only minors that are being taken so adults and parents should also take precautions, note the tips, and also be vigilant,” said the captain.

For more information contact the SAPS at 08600 10111 or Missing­ Children SA at 072 647 7464.

HOW TO KEEP YOUR CHILD SAFE

1. Keep a recent photo of your child on you for emergency situations

2. Teach your children their own names, addresses and your name and telephone number.

3. Show your children where the nearest police station is how to contact them. Remember to point out key landmarks so that they won’t get lost.

4. Teach your children not to trust strangers and that they should not accept gifts or go anywhere with a stranger.

5. Create a family exclusive password. Use this password as a security question when you get someone to pick them up. Tell your children that if a stranger doesn’t know the password then they should not go with them.

6. Know where your children are at all times, who they are with, and what they are wearing.

7. Make an effort to know your children’s friends, i.e. names, addresses and phone numbers.

8. Keep children close to home and teach them the importance of a buddy system — to never go anywhere alone.

9. Teach your children to take the same route to and from places. If your child goes missing you can start looking on the discussed route.

10. Keep a close eye on their interaction on social media.

11. Shopping mall safety — teach your children what to do if they get lost in a mall, i.e. show them how to identify security personnel or to speak to a store clerk. Tell them not to leave a store without you.

12. Teach your children that, should they be approached by a stranger or a stranger tries to take them, they should scream as loud as possible and shout: “This is not my mommy” or “This is not my daddy.” (“Stranger – Danger”).

13. Don’t let your children go into toilets unaccompanied. Either you go inside with them or you wait directly outside the toilet entrance for them.

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CHILD GOES MISSING

1. Don’t wait to report the incident — there is no waiting period to report a person/child missing anymore.

A child must immediately be reported missing. Should the family be told otherwise by the SAPS, they should demand to speak to the Station Commander.

2. Make sure that you give a detailed description of your child to the police, which includes the full name of missing person, age of missing person, description of missing person, eye colour, hair colour/style, height, weight and any distinctive marks such as scars/birthmarks. You should also inform the police about where the child was last seen and what the child was wearing.

3. If your child goes missing in a shopping centre, immediately alert security of the shop you are in. Ask them to alert the main security office so that all entrances and exits are monitored. Shout (as loud as you can) your child’s name, age and description to all people so that they can help you search. Ask security to check all bathrooms (male and female).

If your child is still not found, ask the shopping centre to contact SAPS while you continue to search with security.

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