Child safety this holiday season

SAFETY takes precedence as the end of year school holidays lay waiting just around the corner.

A private security company has urged parents to ensure that they teach their children about personal safety. This will also help parents who fear for their children’s safety after the constant news of missing and abducted children that has made news over the past few months.

Agreeing with this sentiment, parent Prash Gounder said: “Especially now during the festive season, and with the child abductions being at an all time high, child safety precautions must be taken. Parents need to be extra careful and very vigilant as criminals are ruthless. Rather stay home than risk the malls. It pays in the long run to take the extra measures.”

National Marketing and Communications Manager at Fidelity ADT, Charnel Hattingh, said: “Making sure your children know exactly how to look after themselves, how to avoid risky scenarios, and what to do when things go wrong, is something that simply has to be part of their education. Teach them these skills so that they know how to be safe these holidays. These are also skills that can protect them as adults.”

It starts at home, she says.

Children must know to always keep all entrances and gates closed and locked and that nobody is allowed to enter without permission from either parent.

If you have a home security system installed, teach them how to activate and deactivate it and how and when to use other security devices like panic buttons.

Hattingh adds that it is a good idea to have a list of emergency contact numbers available and that your children know who to contact if they need help, saying: “The telephone numbers for the local police station, your private security company, the emergency number for your neighbourhood watch, and possibly a trusted neighbour should definitely be on that list.”

If your child must leave the safety of your home for whatever reason, make sure they tell you where they are going and when they are expected to arrive.

“We recommend testing any routes with your children ahead of time to make sure they don’t inadvertently choose a road or area that is fraught with potential risks. Try and identity any ‘safe spaces’ (such as a trusted neighbour) along the route where your child could call for help in case they need it,” says Hattingh.

Public spaces — such as shopping malls — are also an area for which your children should be prepared.

“Teach your children to memorise their name, surname, home address, and contact details for one of their parents. Also make sure they know that if they do become separated from you, that they immediately look for mall security and give them the information they have memorised,” says Hattingh.

She also recommends agreeing on using a code word which would be used in a situation where someone else needs to fetch them from home or from a place they had been visiting: “This code word would be a sign that the person collecting them has genuinely been sent by a parent and could be trusted,” she said.

Finding fun ways to test that your children understand these safety tips and know how to look after themselves, she says, will be a productive way to prepare your children for the possible dangers they might encounter. It also means you can relax, knowing that you have equipped your children with everything they need to be able to follow good personal safety habits.

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