“Let’s all protect children to move South Africa forward” is the theme of Child Protection Week 2016, which runs from 29 May to 5 June. ADT, which sponsors the fun and interactive Mr ADT personal safety show for primary school learners, says children of all ages are vulnerable to criminals, some of which can have very sinister motives.
Theunis Kotze, General Manager of ADT Inland Region, says ADT has recorded incidents related to children walking home from school during which their cellphone or bicycle was stolen at knifepoint or where they’d reported being followed or offered a lift by strangers.
“Children are easy targets for many reasons and while parents often share safety tips with their children, they don’t necessarily advise them on what to do if they find themselves in an actual crisis.”
He offers the following tips to children of all ages:
- Stay calm. Unless you feel it’s a life-and-death situation, don’t fight back; just hand over your phone or whatever else the criminals want so that they can leave.
- Check them out. Try to get a good look at the criminal and memorise their physical details and clothing, as well as the vehicle they’re in, and listen for other clues which may identify them later.
- Gather your groupies: Always walk in a group and stick to streets you know – no shortcuts!
- No bling! Keep cellphones, earphones, etc. out of sight at all times.
- Stay put! Wait inside the gate if you’re being picked up from school.
- Keep walking. NEVER get into a stranger’s car, even if they are super friendly or say that someone in your family is hurt and that they’ve been sent to pick you up. Remember your mom and dad won’t do something like that without telling you! Just keep walking – in the opposite direction!
- Fight! If someone tries to grab you, fight, kick and shout out that the person is not your mom or dad.
- Communicate! Never change plans without telling your parents or someone else in the family.
- Break the rules! You don’t have to act normally if you’re in danger; you can act out and start screaming or throwing things around to get attention. For example, if someone tries to grab you in a shop, you need to know it’s OK to knock things off the shelf if that what it’s going to take to get the attention of another adult.
“Parents and educators need to talk to children about personal safety and security at home all the time, not just once a year during Child Protection Week. Keeping children and our communities safe of criminals is everyone’s problem,” says Kotze.