02 June 2022

Honouring our youth and ensuring their safety

Submitted by Jacqui

It is a sad reality that South Africa has become a very dangerous place and it is too often our young people who find themselves bearing the brunt. An event such as Youth Day should therefore serve as a rallying call for parents and caregivers to re-commit themselves to doing more about the safety of our youth.

“As much as we would like, we cannot protect our children from every single danger that is out there. But what we can do, is to prepare and equip them with the skills they need to avoid any potentially dangerous situations while also teaching them what to do in case something goes wrong.

“Considering the fact that crime seems to continue to increase, it becomes clear that we as caregivers need to do more,” says Charnel Hattingh, Head of Communications and Marketing at Fidelity ADT.

Police crime statistics point to a dramatic increase in kidnappings across the country, with the last four months of 2021 showing the highest number of reported kidnappings in five years. An analysis shows that more than 40% of kidnappings involved children.

“Safety is a priority and must be top of mind for everyone, particularly teenagers and young adults who are especially vulnerable to crime. Without spreading fear, we need to make sure our children understand the potential risks and how to avoid them,” says Hattingh.

If your children are still at school, teach them to never leave the school’s premises with anyone they don’t know.

Children waiting to be fetched after school should also remember to stay within the school’s premises. If they usually walk home, parents should advise their children to walk in a group. Some communities have started “walking buses”, where adults walk with a group of children on their way to or from school as an added safety and security element.

They should also follow familiar routes if they walk home and try to walk in large groups.

If they do find themselves in a crisis where they come face-to-face with a criminal, it is important that they remain calm. Hattingh recommends:

  • You must make it clear that you are not a threat to them. Except for a life-and-death situation, fighting back must be avoided and any material possessions readily given over. Your life is more valuable than a cell phone
    • If you are in trouble or someone is trying to kidnap you, make a noise and draw attention. Scream “no!” and try to get away
    • Get as many details about the criminal as possible. Encourage children to make quick observations without staring at the perpetrator or coming across as defiant.

“Any characteristics that could help with the identification of a suspect (such as visible scars, noticeable accents and tattoos, and their outfit) will help with future investigations to apprehend them,” says Hattingh.

“These tips are fundamental for all children whether parents are at home or at work. Teaching your children how to avoid and handle themselves in dangerous situations is one of the best things you can do.”

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https://issafrica.org/iss-today/who-gets-kidnapped-in-south-africa#:~:text=The South African Police Service,compared to the previous year.

Issued on behalf of Fidelity ADT