This month we celebrate National Child Protection month. Unfortunately, once again, children were in the news for all the wrong reasons — Courtney Pieters, Poppie van der Merwe and Katlego Marite being just three stories in the news about crimes against children. As parents, we do everything in our power to ensure that our children stay safe. The time has now come to educate and empower our children to be aware of predators: how to spot them, how to report them and how to stop bad news, once and for all.
Although not every case is clear cut, there are certain safety tips and warning signs that parents can teach their children. Namola shares the following information on how to speak to your children about staying safe:
- Talk to your children. It is important to be able to talk to your kids about anything and everything. This includes talking to your children about the possibility of being approached or taken by a predator. Parents should consider their child’s age when discussing the topic. You want to protect them rather than scare them, but you also want to get the seriousness of the subject across to them. This sensitive topic must be explained in an appropriate manner catered to the right age and the right parent-child relationship. From an early age it is important to keep calm and open when it comes to communicating with your child, as the way that you approach them will ultimately determine whether or not they share important information with you.
- Stranger Danger. Be cautious on teaching your child about “stranger danger”. Although children should be cautious of strangers, play out different scenarios with your child on strangers. Cautioning young children especially about strangers, can cause them to think of predators as scary monsters. A predator will look like anyone else and they can approach a child in a friendly manner. Once they introduce themselves or claim to be a friend of a parent, they may no longer be a stranger in your child’s eyes. It is also important to remember that there may be times when it is important for your child to speak to a stranger. It is important for your child to know the right stranger to talk to. A helpful tip is to tell your child that if they need assistance, they should look for a mother with kids.
- Make a noise. We teach children to listen to adults and not to be disruptive, but there are times they should disobey and be loud. It’s a good idea to practice this with your kids. Give them a scenario and have them practice saying no firmly and loudly, screaming, and running away.
- Play safe. In some cases children have to see themselves to and from school and keep occupied until their parents return home. It is extremely important that children know not to let anyone into the house without your permission.
- Trust their instincts. Children have great instincts. Remind them that if somebody, a situation or place makes them feel uncomfortable, they should remove themselves from it immediately.
- Know who to call. Teach your children how to use Namola. The Emergency Contacts function will automatically alert five emergency contacts about the incident. This way they will Get Help Fast and be able to notify five responsible adults. Also ensure that you save important phone numbers on your child’s phone, or write them down next to the landline at home.
No child should ever be made to feel unsafe. Namola encourages all parents to speak to their children about their safety and to know how to use Namola in an emergency. Children are the future of South Africa. Teaching them how to be safe from a young age is not only necessary, but also proactive in creating a safer South Africa. Together we can make South Africa a safer place for our children and our children’s’ children.
You may also be interested in [how to] Report your missing child, fast!