The holidays are a time for getting out and spending well-earned downtime with friends and family. It is also the time when we relax, and often forget important safety guidelines for our children, who spend a lot of time playing games and being social on the internet and their phones. When you leave work this holiday for that hard-earned rest, remember the following important safety information.
Keep watch over your children, especially in crowded spaces, on the beach and at shopping malls. There has been an increase in child abductions in South Africa, and this is cause for alarm (4; 5).
Never leave your child or children in the care of a stranger for any reason. If you must run into a shop for a last-minute, forgotten item, take your child with you, or return to the shop when you are less hurried, or overloaded with parcels.
Teach your children the basic Stranger Danger (3; 4) rules:
Never go anywhere with anyone you don’t know or trust. That includes never getting into a strange person’s car.
Never take anything from a stranger, even if it is something that belongs to you.
Don’t talk to strangers even if they use your name and seem to know you. Don’t look at them, and if you feel afraid, walk away quickly, or run.
Stay with groups of friends if you are out.
Parents make rules about where their children are not allowed to go to keep them safe. Never go there. Always make sure that you have permission from your parents, or and somebody know where you will be, and what time you will be back.
Tech-protect your older children by teaching them to be SMART on the internet
S- Keep your personal information secret. This also means being careful about sharing photos of yourself and your friends.
M-never meet up. Don’t make arrangements to meet online friends. Some people may seem very friendly, but they may be faking.
A- Don’t accept emails from strangers. They can contain messages or pictures that may make you feel very uncomfortable and embarrassed. Delete the email and tell an adult that you trust.
R- The internet is not always reliable. A lot of what you might read on the internet is untrue. Always check, or think carefully about what you see, so that you can make an informed decision about what you choose to believe. Gossip, especially about friends, or people you know, can be very harmful.
T- Tell someone. The internet is a wonderful way to communicate with friends, play games and generally have fun. But, if you see anything that makes you feel scared, or which makes you embarrassed, always remember to tell an adult, or someone your trust. The internet can be used for criminal purposes, and you need to protect yourself (5).
The world has become a dangerous place for children. As parents, it is important that we keep ourselves and our families informed about the dangers that other people may pose while ensuring that our children become confident, resilient youngsters who are savvy and can negotiate our complicated, and sometimes dangerous world. Let’s go into 2022 happy, healthy and most of all, safe.
Maromo, Jonisayi. Amnesty International raises alarm on abductions of children in South Africa. IOL. [Online] 18 11 2021. https://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/gauteng/amnesty-international-raises-alarm-on-abductions-of-children-in-sa-7483381f-2c0e-41f0-9e59-cc03490253dc.
Mthethwa, Cebelihle and McCain, Nicole. Child abductions: 'Kidnappers don't believe they will be caught' - experts. News24. [Online] 18 11 2021.
Hume, Cecelia. Teach 'stranger danger'. News24 People's Post. [Online] 2018. https://www.news24.com/news24/SouthAfrica/Local/Peoples-Post/teach-stranger-danger-20180827.
MyChildSafety. Stranger Danger: Teaching CHildren about Stranger Danger. MyChildSafety. [Online] 2021. https://mychildsafety.net/stranger-danger-tips/.
Edwards, Rebecca. Internet Safety Guide for Kids. safewise. [Online] 2021. https://www.safewise.com/resources/internet-safety-kids/.