#childsafety | Keep children safe from kidnapping

South African parents are urged to be vigilant and educate themselves and their children on the real dangers of kidnapping and have proactive measures in place to avoid becoming victims.

It’s been reported that a child goes missing every five hours in our country and according to Missing Children South Africa, 23 per cent of the children are either never found, trafficked or found dead.

“The last thing you want to do is instil a sense of fear in your children, but a healthy awareness of the dangers of the world could end up saving their lives.

“When it comes to kidnapping, the more knowledge both the parent and child have, the better their chances of identifying kidnappers and preventing the unthinkable from happening,” said Seugnette van Wyngaard, head of 1st for Women Insurance.

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Advice to parents and children:
• Eyes open
Always keep an eye out for strangers loitering nearby.

Avoid being distracted by your phone or other devices and duties or activities that you aren’t fully aware of your surroundings.

Kidnappings happen in a matter of seconds.

If you see anything untoward, report it to the authorities.

• Avoid dangerous areas
Avoid spots where you can become easily separated from your children and where they can disappear in the masses.

Teach your children to always be in a well-protected and monitored area, where a responsible adult or authority is nearby.

Also, start right at your own doorstep and make sure that your home is thoroughly secured against would-be kidnappers.

• Who are you going to call?
A two-way line of communication should be available between parents and children at all times.

Instruct your children to call you immediately when something is amiss or when there’s a change in plans that they haven’t cleared with you, even if it comes from someone they know well.

They should also know their own address, home phone number, cellphone number and emergency contact numbers.

• ID check
Instil a healthy sense of scepticism in your children.

When someone claims to be an official or to know you, insist that they check with you to verify this.

• Keep your friends close
Children should always be close to their parents, particularly in busy, public spaces.

If your children go out, they should always take a friend with them, especially to a place they haven’t been before.

Ideally, a responsible adult should also be in the vicinity in case something goes awry.

• Make sure the school has done its homework
Your child’s school must have proactive measures in place against kidnapping and enforce these to ensure your child’s safety.

• Have a backup plan
Your children should always know what they should do and where they should meet you if they are lost in a public area.

This will help even if you don’t have cellphone reception.

• Move as fast as you can, make as much noise as possible.
If someone follows your children, tries to restrain them or force them into a car, they should run and scream as loudly as they can.

• Tracking apps and panic buttons
Use technology at your disposal to know where your children are at all times and to allow them to alert you immediately if need be.

“It’s important to speak to your children about safety, to reassure them that they can trust you and that they can speak to you about absolutely anything that makes them feel uncomfortable, confused or frightened,” said van Wyngaard.

“We owe it to ourselves and our children to be prepared.”

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