With the second half of the school year about to start, a local private security company has reminded parents of the safety measures their children should follow when walking to and from school.
Verena Hulme, District Manager for Fidelity ADT (Cape Town North), has some advice that can help increase peace of mind. “We could look at the start of the second part of the year as the perfect chance for a refresher course, to make sure our kids know what to do and what to avoid.”
She suggests the following tips are shared with the kids, and that they are encouraged to practise them every day:
- Children must always walk to or from school with a friend or friends. If your child walks alone, it’s a good idea to ask a teacher or other parents if they know of other kids from the area who do the same.
- Stick to streets you know and never take short cuts through unfamiliar or quiet areas.
- If you get picked up at school, always wait inside the grounds for your lift to arrive; do not leave the premises to go and look for them in the street.
- Remember, your parents would never send someone you don’t know to fetch you. Never get into a stranger’s car even if they claim that someone you love is hurt and that they are supposed to pick you up.
- If a stranger approaches you, do not talk to them no matter how friendly they may seem. If someone tries to grab you, fight, kick and scream that they are not your mom or dad.
Hulme recommends that parents also talk to their children about being safe when they are alone at home:
- It is important that they know to always keep entry and exit doors locked, and that nobody is to enter the property without your permission.
- If you have a home security system installed teach them how to activate and de-activate it and how and when to use other security devices like panic buttons.
- It is a good idea to have a list of emergency contacts – including the 10111 number – near the telephone and to explain to children when and how it must be used.
Any conversation about safety should also include a talk about online safety, says Hulme:
- Never post any personal information online – like an address, email address or mobile number.
- Think carefully before posting pictures or videos of yourself. Once you’ve put a picture of yourself online most people can see it and may be able to download it, it’s not just yours anymore.
- Keep your privacy settings as high as possible.
- Never give out your passwords.
- Don’t befriend people you don’t know.
- Don’t meet up with people you’ve met online. Your child should always tell you if an online contact they have never met suggests they meet up.
- Remember that not everyone online is who they say they are.
- Think carefully about what you say before you post something online.
- Respect other people’s views, even if you don’t agree with someone else’s views doesn’t mean you need to be rude.
- If a child sees something online that makes them feel uncomfortable, unsafe or worried: they should leave the website, turn off their computer and tell someone immediately.
“Safety should ideally be something we talk about all year long. Let’s not waste this chance to again have this important talk with our kids,” says Hulme.