Keep an eye on children this festive season

2015-12-24 06:00

ER24 urges parents and guardians to keep a close eye on children over the festive season.

During this time thousands of people descend on beaches, parks, malls and other busy areas.

Remember that children can disappear in a matter of seconds. Do not let anything distract you. Always be aware of your surroundings, the people around you and where your children are.

Nicky Rheeder, operations director at Missing Children South Africa, said during the festive season, several children get lost or separated from their parents and/or guardians at places such as beaches.

“It is vital that parents and/or guardians familiarise themselves with the possible dangers in areas they plan on visiting and educate their children about safety. One cannot avoid a potentially dangerous situation if you do not know what to look out for. It is important that parents teach their children safety tips to ensure they know what to do should they get lost. They should be taught what situations to avoid to ensure they do not place themselves in danger,” she said.


Show children police officers, lifeguards, store cashiers and security personnel for example, so they know who to approach for help. Also show them landmarks in the area you are in. If in a mall, show them the information desk for example, that they can go to and wait should they not be able to find you.

Children should be taught never to go anywhere alone as well as never to talk to, accept anything from or go anywhere with a stranger. Even if it is someone they know, they should obtain your permission first. It is also a great idea to have a family password. Teach your children to ask the person who says they were sent by you for the password.

They should also be informed on what to do should they be approached by a stranger or if they feel unsafe around someone known to them. They can run away, scream and get the attention of other people in the area.

Be weary of new “friends”, either people that are “friendly” to you or to your children.

Ensure your children know your name, their name and surname as well as their address when they are of age. They should be informed that these details are only to be given to authorities and lifeguards for example and not to strangers who approach them.

While on holiday, ensure that you know where the closest police station and hospital is.

Pay attention to what your children are wearing and keep a recent photograph of them as this will help in case of an emergency.

If you find out that your child is missing, report it to the police. Provide as much information as possible about your child. Rheeder said people should never wait 24 hours to report a missing person.

“If you realise that someone is missing, you should report that person missing immediately. The sooner the police can start working on the case, the better,” she said.

You can then contact Missing Children South Africa, whose role is to create awareness around missing individuals, in partnership with the SAPS. It cannot distribute any information that has not been reported to SAPS.

You can send the name, age, situation surrounding the child, case number, SAPS details, name of the officer who assisted you as well as a most recent photograph of the child to

- Supplied.

If you realise that someone is missing, you should report that person missing immediately. The sooner the police can start working on the case, the better

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