Making child safety a priority

2019-06-05 06:01
Child protection week is commemorated annually in South Africa to raise awareness of children’s rights.PHOTO: Purnal Poonusamy

Child protection week is commemorated annually in South Africa to raise awareness of children’s rights.PHOTO: Purnal Poonusamy

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IN LIGHT of National Child Protection week, which will be commemorated from June 2 to June 9, the importance of child safety is emphasised to ensure little ones are free from harm.

According to Fidelity ADT National Marketing and Communications Manager Charnel Hattingh, empowering children with skills and information will equip them to appropriately handle certain dangerous situations they may find themselves in.

“The purpose of creating this awareness is not to create a sense of fear, but rather to teach and reinforce practical safety tips that will guide your child’s actions,” said Hattingh. “While parents and guardians hope their youngsters never find themselves in a dangerous situation, it is always best to make sure they are prepared.”

Echoing similar sentiments, SAPS Communications Officer Captain Linzi Smith said: “Prevention is always better than cure, or so the saying goes, and when it comes to children’s safety and how they interact with strangers, it is paramount that we as parents make these issues top of our priority list.

“We need to educate our children from a young age about safety awareness. By educating parents and children, we can try and curb incidents,” said the captain.

TIPS FOR PARENTS:

- Teach children not to engage with, or leave the school’s premises with, strangers

- Children waiting to be fetched after school should remember to stay within the school’s premises

- If children usually walk home, parents should advise their children to walk in a group

- If walking home alone, advise children to stick to familiar roads and avoid quiet side roads, alleys or fields

- Children who are alone at home in the afternoons should understand why not to open the door for strangers

- Children should have the necessary emergency numbers in close proximity to the home phone or pre-programmed on their mobile phones.

TIPS TO REMEMBER IN TIMES OF CRISIS­:

- The child must make it clear that they are not a threat to the “attacker”. With the exception of a life-and-death situation, fighting back must be avoided and material possessions readily given over

- If a child is in trouble they are urged to make noise and draw attention so that they can escape

- Get as many details about the criminal as possible. Encourage children to make quick observations without staring at the perpetrator or coming across as defiant. Noticing visible scars, accents, tattoos and things about their outfit will help future investigations.

The Department of Social Development has a pilot 24-hour call centre dedicated to providing support and counselling to victims of gender-based violence.

Dial 0800 428 428 (0800 GBV GBV) toll free to speak to a social worker.

Callers can also request that a social worker from the Command Centre contact them by dialling *120*7867# (free) from any cell phone.

You can also get help from Childline South Africa at 0800 055 555 or Child Welfare South Africa at 086 14 CHILD (24453) or 011 452 4110 or via e-mail at info@childwelfaresa.org.za

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