“The reality is that our children may witness a crime despite out best efforts to keep them protected,” Hanning says.
“We are aware of incidents of petty crime where school children have been mugged for their cell phones, for example. There have also been many incidents where children have been home during a house robbery. While we don’t want our children to live in fear, we do need to have frank conversations about what to do in a crises situation.”
Quite simply, the same rules that apply to adults need to be instilled in children.
- The first and golden rule is to not antagonise the criminal who is probably more scared than you are. You need to show them you are not a threat. Unless your child feels they are facing an imminent life-and-death situation, they should not fight back and readily give over any material possessions.
- They should never try and engage in conversation. They should speak only if spoken to and then try to keep their answers short and to the point.
- Encourage your children to try and get a good look at the criminal and memorise their physical details and clothing, as well as the vehicle they’re in. Listen for any names or other details that might help identify them later.
- Remind your children to try and remain calm and quiet if not threatened so the criminal can get what he or she wants and move off.
Hanning says these simple actions can often keep a child safe. He also reminds parents to constantly reinforce general safety tips for children.
- They must always walk to or from school with a friend or friends. Stick to streets they know and never take short cuts through quiet areas or empty parking lots and never walk with cell phones and iPads in full view.
- If they get picked up at school, they should never leave the premises but always wait inside the school grounds for their lift to arrive.
- They must never get into a stranger’s car; even if the stranger claims that someone they love is hurt and that they have been sent to pick them up. Remind them that you would never send someone they don’t know to fetch them.
- If a stranger approaches them, they should not talk to them no matter how friendly they may seem. If someone tries to grab them, they need to fight, kick and shout out that the person is not their mom or dad.