by Tauhierah Salie
Its all systems go- parents and adolescents are back at work and children have commenced the 2020 academic year. But, after a year of horrific headlines detailing violence perpetrated against children, how confident are we that our kids will be safe behind school gates?
The days leading up to this past Wednesday may have been a blur; with having to get the correct stationery, right sized uniform, covering books and enduring long queues in the process! While some may be accustomed to the routine, others were most likely left flustered.
All said and done, they got to school on time and are likely to enjoy their first day. It is also crucial that care-givers do justice to their responsibility of ensuring children are mentally and emotionally prepared to embark on their schooling journey.
As a South African parent- particularly in Cape Town- the high levels of gangsterism, child rape, murder and violence is enough to leave you with knots in your stomach. After a year’s worth of gruesome crime scenes and shared losses, the families in many Cape Flats communities have been left heartbroken and hesitant.
Security company Fidelity ADT spokesperson, Lance Verster, spoke to VOC’s Breakfast Beat to offer parents some tips to maintain their peace of mind.
Vester explained that it boils down to providing your children with sound safety and knowledge, so they know how to identify and react in a dangerous situation. Children need to know how to avoid danger and what their options are when something untoward happens.’
He explained that staying in a group assist in that it often deters criminals from attempting to accost you.
Vester explained that children should be taught the following:
1.Where possible, don’t walk to school alone. Walk with a friend or in a group.
Vester noted that it helps to know the parents in your area who have children that goes to the same school as your child. He pointed to the success of the Walking Bus initiative here locals volunteer to walk children to school to ensure their safety.
“Regardless of whether there is adult supervision or not, children must stick to streets they know. never take short cuts or go to unfamiliar or quiet areas,” advised Vester.
2. Do not wait outside the school grounds for your lift home.
“Stay inside until the person (lift) has arrived and then go to their vehicle and get in,” said Vester.
3. Don’t get into a vehicle with someone you don’t know.
“Even if the person claims that your parent or someone you love is hurt and I’m here to pick you up, don’t get into strangers’ vehicles,” Vester emphasised.
He also advised parents to develop a password system, in the event that a family member or close friend really does need to collect you child. In that way, it reassures the child that they can trust the person.
4. Do not speak to strangers and shout to draw attention to yourself if you feel unsafe.
“It’s been in the news where children are abducted and so forth. Don’t speak to strangers- doesn’t matter how friendly they are.”
5. How to work the security alarm system and the panic system
6. Where to find emergency numbers
“Have a list of important numbers that is easily accessible. Local security, Saps, Fire and Rescue, Disaster Relief, Medical emergency, etc”
7. If you’re home alone, do not let anyone in.
“If a stranger pops up at the house and knocks on the door, do not let that person in in any was shape or form. If a situation like that occurs and the child gets worried, phone security.”
Vester emphasized that parents need to teach the above to children in a patient, consistent manner.
“The important thing here is; we go through these tips and talk about these things but as a parent it is vitally important to go through these processes with your children all the time. Talking about something once isn’t necessarily going to be (effective), but the more you talk about and through it and let children understand it, the easier it is to put in practice.”
Below are some numbers that your child may need. Find more here.
Police Flying Squad 10111
City of Cape Town General Emergency 107
Disaster Risk Management Centre 080 911 HELP (4357)
Lifeline 021 461 1113
WC Poisons Information Helpline 0861 555 777
Child Emergency 0800 123 123