Whether your children are at home, at school or out at the beach with friends, it’s important to make sure you have empowered them to stay safe from the potential dangers posed by criminals, especially predators who prey on them.
A Durban beachgoer recently posted a warning on social media in which she raised concern about predators allegedly gathering information about children on the beachfront. She said a group of teenage girls had allegedly been seen walking around asking children personal questions, such as where they live, before taking photographs of them. She warned in the post that the girls, who appeared to be about 16 years old, had apparently also been seen sending the photographs to someone via WhatsApp.
As a parent, one can’t ignore such warnings or downplay the importance of regularly sitting down and talking to our children about the dangers lurking in the world around us. Here are a few tips from Blue Security marketing director Darren Lategan, that parents can share with their children as a starting point for a discussion on personal safety at home and on the streets.
1. Don’t talk to strangers. Teach your children the old golden rule – don’t talk to strangers or accept anything from them. Tell them to never accept any sweets or gifts from a stranger and to run quickly away from the person without feeling any sense of guilt for declining. Even if a stranger seems to know their name or your name, tell them to run.
2. Don’t accept lifts. Tell your children never to accept a lift home from school with anyone unless you have prearranged this with them or their teacher directly.
3. Use a password. Make up a secret password that only you and your children know, which you can give to a trusted friend or family member if you need them to fetch the children from school in an emergency. Tell your children not to get into anyone’s vehicle unless they can tell them the secret password unprompted.
4. Scream and run. Tell your children that if anyone tries to grab them or pull them into a vehicle, they must run away and scream “help, I’m being kidnapped” or “help, this is not my mom, this is not my dad”. If they have school books in a bag, let the books fall all over the place and create as much of a commotion as possible.
5. Know your number. As soon as they are old enough, make sure your children know their full home address and both parents’ contact numbers so that they can always know how to contact you in an emergency.
6. Stick together. If your older children or teenagers are out with family or friends, tell them not to wander off alone but to walk together in groups.
7. No photographs allowed. Children’s parents have a legal right to stop anyone from taking photographs of them in a public space without their express permission. Tell your children not to allow any stranger to take photographs of them and to always let you know if anyone attempts to do so.
8. Have a plan of action. Speak to your children about what they need to do if they get lost in the mall or a busy public space, so they will know where to meet you. Tell smaller children to ask the nearest cashier for help in finding you.
9. Be safe at home. Warn your children to keep the doors and gates locked and to never let on to anyone who phones or rings the gate bell that they are home alone. Make sure they know how your home security system works, where the panic buttons are located and give them each a remote panic button to use in an emergency.
10. Stay safe online. Let your children know why it is important that you need to regularly check their tablets and cellphones for any suspicious predators who may be lurking online. Make it clear that you trust them but not the strangers who can sometimes use clever tricks against children. Teach your children not to speak to strangers online or to share any personal information such as their names, school, phone number or address.
For more information on how to keep your family safe at home, find out about the benefits of a smart home alarm system by speaking to a professional security consultant at Blue Security on (031) 717 5000.