Expert advice on how to ensure your child is safe in public

Children running barefoot in a park/ iStock

An estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked every year around the world, reports missingchildren.org.

The publication states that there is a tremendous demand for children to be traded into forced (cheap) labour or for sexual exploitation.

Now more than ever, it’s important for parents to ensure their children are safe at all times to prevent them from becoming a statistic.

We spoke to John-Paul Nobrega, the CEO and Founder of RADA, about how parents can ensure their child is safe in public.

He says the first step is to explain the danger of straying away from you when in public to your children.

“Children need to be explained what the risks of them running or straying away from you in public places are – not just told that they shouldn’t do it,” says Nobrega.

He adds that even if the conversation is uncomfortable, it still needs to happen.

“This is a difficult conversation, but the realities are harsh. Thousands of children are stolen every day worldwide. We were taught not to talk to strangers, but the conversation has well surpassed that point and we do need to explain in more detail why these matters are important. ”

He adds that your child should always be in a place where she/he is visible to you regardless of whether there is a childminder or not.

ALSO READ: Expert advice on how to help a child who is a victim of rape

“You should teach children that if they cannot see you from where they are playing then they are too far from you. If there are play areas with childminders, you should still check on your child’s whereabouts every few minutes,” says Nobrega.

He adds that children shouldn’t be allowed to go to the toilet on their own as you never know where the perpetrator might prey on them.

“Children want to feel independent but they do need to respect safety boundaries. We should not let our children go to public toilets on their own. We should always go with and then wait outside for them. We should also teach our children that these guidelines apply whether they are with us or whether they are on a play date, with their aunt etc. They should accept these are general safety guidelines regardless of where they are,” concludes Nobrega.

More tips from missingchildren.org
– Parents should create an exclusive family password and give it to their children. The children should ask the person picking them up to provide the password and if they fail to, they shouldn’t go with them.

– Teach your children not to accept gifts from strangers.

– Teach your children their home address, your cell phone number, your name and emergency contact numbers.

– Teach your children to make a noise to attract attention if they are attacked.

– Know your children’s friends, their addresses and telephone numbers.

– Know where your child is at all times, what they are wearing, and always have a recent photo of them.

– Monitor your child’s social media to know who they are chatting to.

– Teach your children that if they get lost in the shopping mall, they shouldn’t go looking for you by themselves.

– Don’t allow your children to play alone in the street.

– If your child goes missing, don’t wait 24 hours to report the matter.

ALSO READ: 8 tips to help keep your child safe this school holiday

RADA (an acronym for rape, alcohol, drug and abuse) is a non-profit company committed to the eradication of society’s gravest and most pressing social ills. RADA adopts a holistic approach to address these issues, with a pro-active side through training and a reactive side through healing. To get involved or become a RADA angel, visit www.rada.co.za

Main image courtesy of iStock/ monkeybusinessimages