April 12 this year marked a year since nine-year-old Amahle Thabethe was abducted outside her home in Ekurhuleni and there have been no leads to her whereabouts. Her mother hasn’t lost hope that she will one day come back home as stats indicate that 77 per cent of lost children are found. The 23 per cent that are not found either end up trafficked or end up end dead, unfortunately. Child abductions have risen significantly in the past few years and this can take its toll on the parents. According to South African Police Service Missing Persons Bureau, a child goes missing every five hours in South Africa. When something like this happens to you, it can make you feel powerless and hopeless, but there is something you can do now to help your child should they ever go missing.
What to do when a child goes missing
There is an ongoing impression that you need to wait at least 24 hours to report a person missing. This is not true at all- there is no waiting period to report a person, including a child, as missing. You must go to the police as soon as you suspect that the child has been abducted or disappeared. According to the South African Police Service, you need to do the following when reporting a missing person:
- Produce a recent photograph of the missing child
- You need to give a description of the child, where were they last seen and with whom, what were they wearing, their age, their hair colour, eye colour
- You need to sign a form at the police station which safeguards the police from false reports and indemnifies the police to distribute the picture and information of the missing child
- Get the details of the investigating officer and inform them of any new information that may arise
- Should the child return home or be found by other people but not the police, it’s your responsibility as parent to inform the investigating offer so that they can give you another form to fill and they can inform the Bureau for Missing Persons to remove you from the circulation system.
Keep an eye on your children
Human trafficking is a sad reality of our times. It is our responsibility as parents to keep an eye on our children all the times and protect them from kidnappings that happen on a daily basis. Here are 10 tips to make sure you child doesn’t become a victim of an abduction.
- Make sure you always where your children are and with whom and if they are safe.
- Remind them that no matter what, they must never talk to a stranger, even if the stranger may convince them they know you or promises to show them a good fun time.
- Don’t lose sight of your children when they are playing outside. If you are not around to guard them, make sure someone you trust is with them watching over them.
- They must never go to the shop alone, unless they are accompanied by an adult.
- They shouldn’t allow anyone to pick them up from school. If someone else, other than you, is picking them up then it should be organised with the school and teacher before the child is released.
- If they walk to school, they must never accept a lift from strangers.
- If they suspect someone is following them, they should move where there is a visibility of people and if they can, they must run home or scream for help.
- They must never accept food from strangers as it could be laced with drugs which can make them unaware of their surroundings and eventually kidnapped.
- Be aware of your child’s online interactions and give them tips for online safety. Social media can be good breeding ground for kidnappings because people pretend to be who they are not and may lie to your child to meet up with them, only to abduct them.
- Even if you will be quick at the shop, don’t leave your child in the car without adult supervision.
- Teach them your personal details, especially your mobile number and home address, so that if they become victims and can escape, they know how to reach you.
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