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Protect your child from predators

image 491According to figures released by the South African Police Service Missing Persons Bureau, a child goes missing every six hours in South Africa. This adds up to 1460 children per year. They are kidnapped for various reasons including sexual assault, organ donation, muti, slavery and ransom. We need to implement child safety rules in our households to decrease the likelihood of our children becoming part of these frightening statistics.

As a parent, you should know where your child is at all times and know what is happening in their lives. Develop a close relationship with them so that they can trust you enough to tell you if something untoward happens or if someone behaves with them improperly.

  • Teach them your address and phone numbers. If they are small, put identification bracelets with your contact details on them when going to public places. If they get lost in a mall or public place, they should go to the nearest security guard/policeman. If someone is following them, they should scream and run away from the follower.
  • Keep a recent photograph of your child in your wallet so that it is readily available if required. Special ID kits can be purchased within which you can keep your child’s photo, record their vital statistics such as hair and eye colour, their fingerprints and DNA samples (hair strands). This will help if something happens to them.
  • Children should be taught not to trust strangers or go anywhere with them. Teach them a code word, for example, “Open Sesame”. If you need to send someone to pick them up, that doesn’t usually do this, this person should know the code word.
  • They should not accept sweets, drinks, money or gifts from strangers.
  • They should not play in the streets alone or go to public toilets alone.
  • Get them accustomed to the buddy system where they must always take a friend/buddy with them wherever they go.
  • If your child is using social media, teach them online safety rules. Befriend them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter so that you can monitor their activities. If something happens to them, you can use the power of social media to spread the news, after informing the relevant authorities.
  • Do not wait 24 hours to report that your child is missing!
  • If your child does go missing, you will need to report this at your nearest police station. Give them as much information as possible.
  • Keep emergency numbers readily available, such as the police, Childline and missing children organisations.

Important numbers to note are:
Police: 10111
Cell phone help: 112
Missing Children SA: 072MISSING (072 647 7464)
Childline: 08000 55 555
SAPS Crimestop: 08600 10111

Specially written for www.babiesonline.co.za by Sara Essop

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