South Africa: Parents Urged to Caution Children On Safety Matters

As learners are sitting for their final examinations throughout the country, the South African Police Service would like to take this opportunity to wish them the very best during this very difficult time.

It is during this time and in the upcoming school holidays that we find children are most exposed to dangers. The South African Police Service is committed to preventing, managing and responding to incidents of crime and violence in and out of schools. However, to ensure maximum safety of the children, we will require the support of both parents and children and we urge them to be vigilant at all times.

Now that learners are no longer required to remain in school after writing their exam papers, this leaves them unsupervised and possibly exposed to all types of dangers including gangsterism, drug and alcohol abuse, kidnapping, contact crimes (assault, murder and rape), drowning, motor vehicle accidents, child pornography and suicides.

To further help us help children not become victims to these crimes, we urge parents to constantly talk to their children and make them aware of these possible dangers. Communication with your child is critical in the prevention of such incidents. Do not take matters for granted and do not make the common mistake in assuming that "it would not happen to my child".

One of our other areas of concern is the easy access to the internet. Children must be closely monitored when they are online and should be educated on what sites they should and should not visit, on the use of the email and who they should chat with. Let them know they can talk to you or educators if they see anything online makes them uncomfortable, whether it's an explicit website or classmate bullying them or someone else through email, chat or website.

Some of these tips can also assist in preventing your child from becoming a victim :-

Map out with your children a safe way for them to walk to school or to bus stop. Advise them to avoid bushy areas, construction areas, empty areas, passages and parks where there aren't many people or adequate lighting.

Teach children to follow traffic signals and rules when walking. Stress that they should cross the street at crosswalks or intersections with scholar patrols when they can.

Encourage children to walk to and from school or bus stop with a sibling or friend and to wait at bus stops with other children. Not walking around talking on your cell phone as it will distract you from what is going around and it can also attract criminals.

Teach children not to talk to strangers, go anywhere with them, or accept gifts from them without your permission. Never should never accept lifts from strangers. Tell them that if they see a suspicious stranger hanging around or in their school they should tell an adult.

Communicate - when you as a parent observes significant danger signs in the child's life, it is important to ask him/her whether she/he is having thoughts of hurting him/herself. It is relieving to the child when someone or a parent cares enough to ask that question. Tell the child that suicide in not an answer after failing.

Supervision - children should always be under adult's supervision when swimming or when handling crickets. (during festive season)

Help children memorise their phone numbers and full address. Write down other important phone numbers such as your work and cell phone on a card for your children to carry with them

Source: South African Police Service.

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