Child safety is an everyday priority

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Help your children be safe to and from school.Photo: Thomas Park/Unsplash
Help your children be safe to and from school.Photo: Thomas Park/Unsplash

The back to school madness has started with stationery shops bursting with parents looking for everything needed before the schools open on Wednesday, 11 January.

Learners are excited to start school, enter high school, or just move to a new grade after successfully completing the school year of 2022.

Amidst all the excitement of a new year with new opportunities, there are a few safety protocols that parents should keep in mind. This is especially important for parents with full-time jobs who rely on school transfers, lift clubs, and au pairs.

It is not always easy for the school to keep track of how children are arriving or leaving, so parents need to reinforce some basic safety rules with their children.

This is particularly relevant following the spate of kidnappings reported last year.

Charnel Hattingh, Fidelity ADT’s head of group marketing and communications, has advice that can provide peace of mind.

She suggests the following:

  • If your child is getting picked up at school, either by yourself, an au pair, or lift scheme always tell them to wait inside the grounds for their lift to arrive. They must never leave the premises to go and look for their ride in the street.
  • Remind your children that you would not send someone they do not know to fetch them. Children should never get into a stranger’s car even if that person claims that someone they love is hurt and that they were sent to pick them up. It is a good idea to consider using a password system. Your child will then know that the correct person is collecting them and who they can trust.
  • Parents should always notify the school if there is a change in transport arrangements so they can manage the situation and alert the child.
  • Tell your children if a stranger approaches them in the parking lot, they should not talk to them no matter how friendly they may seem. If someone tries to grab them, they need to fight, kick, and scream to alert others of the danger.
  • For children who live close enough to school to walk home, they should ideally always walk to or from school with a friend or friends. If your child walks alone, it is a good idea to ask a teacher or other parents if they know of other kids from the area who do the same. Some areas have started “walking buses”, where local parents volunteer to walk to and from school with a group of school children, to assure their safety.
  • Stick to streets you know and never take shortcuts through unfamiliar or quiet areas.

In some cases, when parents are working all day, and domestic helpers may not be around the whole day, children have to keep themselves occupied until mum and dad return home in the evening.

“It is extremely important that the children know not to let anyone into the house without your permission. If you are going to be late, let your children know as soon as possible and give them an idea of when they can expect you to be home,” says Hattingh.

She suggests drawing up a list of important telephone numbers.

“This list must include emergency services and mum and dad’s work and cell phone numbers. Save it on your child’s cell phone, and stick it on or near the landline. It is also important to explain to them when these should be used.”

It is also very helpful to have a tracking system between family members to always be able to track children through technology like cell phone apps.

Hattingh adds that everyone in the household should also know how to use your home security system – children included – and when and how to use the panic buttons.

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