'It was horrifying' - A mom found her 'missing' preschooler in the most unlikely of places

"After about 2 hours, being sure that every corner of the centre was searched, we were on our way to the police station."
"After about 2 hours, being sure that every corner of the centre was searched, we were on our way to the police station."

Loraine counts herself lucky that her family had not become just another statistic after a scary incident involving her preschooler over the Christmas holidays. 

Here she retells their story which thankfully has a happy ending: 

"This incident occurred when my son was about 4-years-old. We went to a shopping centre just before Christmas... Father Christmas was there, and lots and lots of people. 
My son was with us all the time, and just suddenly, he was gone. We ran...cried... shouted. Everyone around us helped to search for him. After about 2 hours, being sure that every corner of the centre was searched, we were on our way to the police station. It was horrifying to say the least.
As we got to our vehicle, my son was sitting next to it waiting for us. He was very upset because he had to wait so long. I was overjoyed and told him I thought he was gone. He just said.. 'I knew you would use the car to go home and you would come back'.

Happy ending for us." 

- Loraine B

Also see: These simple rules could save your children’s lives

1 child goes missing every 5 hours in SA 

It is undoubtedly a scary reality and one that no parent wants to consider let alone delve into, but the fact is that 1 child goes missing every 5 hours in SA

Fidelity ADT's national representative Charnel Hattingh believes that it is a parent's "responsibility to not only educate our children about safety but to also give them the necessary tools to deal with a crisis." 

Here are a few safety tips Charnel highly recommends for parents of young children: 

  • Make sure your children memorise their full names, address and phone number. Using a play phone, teach them when and how to dial 10111. 
  • Teach your child that if a stranger approaches them, 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 shout.
  • Younger children particularly must be warned against ever approaching or getting into a stranger's car. Even if the stranger claims that someone they love is hurt and that they have been sent to pick them up. Remind them that you would never send someone they don't know to fetch them.

Safety tips for school-going kids: 

  • They must always walk to or from school with a friend or friends. Stick to streets they know and never take short cuts through quiet areas or empty parking lots and never walk with cell phones and iPads in full view.
  • If they get picked up at school, they should never leave the premises but always wait inside the school grounds for their lift to arrive.
  • Consider using a password system. If the person coming to collect you from school cannot repeat the password you and your child agreed on they should not get into the car. 

Safety tips for students: 

  • Older children should be reminded to keep their valuables out of sight at all times and not to use headphones because this will dampen their ability to sense their surroundings.  
  • Alter their route:  If they often walk to and from home to public transport, they need to alter their route. "Even if it takes longer, always use a route that is well lit and populated with houses and other walkers instead of taking shortcuts through less-friendly areas. If you feel threatened, you can at least knock on someone's door for help if you're walking through a familiar neighbourhood."
  • If your child uses a taxi service, ensure it is a bona fide service provider.
  • Urge your teen to avoid in-person meetings with anyone from social media.
  • Talk to your teen about the potential of being lured by people offering them a job or modelling contract. 

Compiled for Parent24 by Lesley-Anne Johannes. 

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