Take extra safety precautions for kids over holidays – Missing Children SA

It is evident to the organisation that child disappearances are still on the rise and routinely spike during December.

The festive season is a dangerous time for children, according to Missing Children South Africa, and authorities have urged parents to practice extra vigilance in protecting children from becoming victims of crime, negligence or safety hazards.

Bianca van Aswegen, national coordinator at Missing Children SA, said while statistics were difficult to come by, because of a lack of police data, it was evident to the organisation that child disappearances were still on the rise and routinely spiked during December.

“We are aware that cases are on the increase, especially around the festive season,” said Van Aswegen.

“We have seen more children go missing, we have seen a spike in kidnapping cases this time compared to other times during the year. That also includes children who go missing on the beaches and the malls – children tend to be an easier target this time of the year because of all the crowded areas, parents tend to be more relaxed and children are easily grabbed when it’s busy.”

She added that when reporting a missing person, people need not wait for any period of time and it was concerning that some parents were still waiting longer than necessary before reporting their children missing.

“If you suspect that a person could be missing, report it immediately,” she said.

Tips from Missing Children SA to keep your children safe this festive season

  • Take an interest in your child’s online world.
  • Keep the lines of communication open. Talking to your child regularly and openly will allow you to pick up hints of any problems that need your attention.
  • Always have a recent photograph with you, as well as take note of the clothes they are wearing.
  • Teach kids that even people they know could harm them and to report if another family member or family friend is doing something that makes them feel bad or uncomfortable.
  • Parents with special needs children – get them bracelets with emergency contact numbers on them.
  • Always know where your child is at all times.
  • Do not wait to report a child as missing. The first 24- 48 hours are crucial and there is no waiting period to report a person as missing.
  • Stranger danger still exists.
  • Create a family exclusive password.
  • Know your child’s friends, their names, numbers and their parents names and numbers.
  • Teach your child to never go anywhere alone.

– simnikiweh@citizen.co.za

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