The kidnapping of six-year-old Amy-Leigh de Jager earlier this month has rocked the nation to its core. She was taken outside her school Kollegepark Primary school in Vanderbijlpark. This has once again reminded every parent in South Africa just how vulnerable our children are and that we need to be extra vigilant about their safety.
According to Missing Children South Africa, a child goes missing every five hours in South Africa. Fortunately, according to their statistics, 77% of children are found. Sadly, this means that at least 23% of the children are not found.
“Human trafficking is rising at an alarming rate, but it is just one of the reasons that children are kidnapped. Children are also often taken by members of their own family. Either way, the risk of kidnapping should not be taken lightly by any parent, anywhere,” says 1st for Women Insurance’s spokesperson, Casey Rousseau.
You can keep your little one safe with these tips:
- Don’t put her name on her clothing or a backpack. If you have to mark her clothes for school, rather label it on the inside where it is not easily visible to strangers. Children often trust adults who know their name.
- Teach your little one not to just scream when a stranger takes her, but to scream help or something similar. Toddlers often scream in shopping centres even when their parents are picking them up.
- Teach your child not to accept gifts or sweets from strangers. They should always check with you first.
- If your child is old enough, teach her your name, surname and telephone number. Even your name and surname will help if she gets lost in a shopping centre. That way, she’ll be able to tell security who her parents are.
- Never leave your child unsupervised – not even in the play area of a restaurant. Always make sure you have eyes on her at all times.
- Never ask a stranger to hold your baby, not even for a second.
- Never leave your child alone in a car or in a stroller – not even for a minute while you turn your back to look at an item behind you.
- Make sure your little one knows whose car she can get into and that she should scream and run away if a stranger tries to force her into a car.
- If you’ve arranged for someone else to pick your child up from daycare or preschool, discuss this arrangements with your child and the teacher.
- Invest in a GPS tracking device. Toddlers are very busy and it’s not difficult to lose sight of them – especially in busy shopping centres. Click here for our top watch trackers for kids.
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.