Late last year, the BBC published a story on child trafficking in Kenya. The story resulted from a year-long investigation in the streets of Nairobi. According to the story, street children were highly targeted.
Since then, cases of children disappearing have risen at an alarming rate and children are being grabbed even outside their doorsteps as they play. Where kidnapped children end up is anyone’s guess.
The trend has left many parents in a state of panic with most feeling that there is only so much they can do to protect their children. As a parent, there are several things you can do to protect your child as follows:
Ensure you know where your child is at all times.
Teach your child to say where they are going every time they leave the house. Create a safe environment at home and make it easy for your child to trust you. That way they will not be tempted to lie to you or leave without informing you. For the younger children, make sure you can see where they are playing and monitor them.
Teach older children basic self-defence
Self-defence doesn’t need a black belt in karate or competence in Tai Chi. Teach your child how to yell and run. Teach them how to get themselves out of a wrist hold and how to bite to set themselves free.
You can also enrol your child in a self-defence class. Also, have your child memorize some emergency numbers and if they have a phone make sure that these are on speed dial.
A self-defence class in session in South Africa
For older children, teach them that it is safer to walk in numbers and discourage them from going anywhere alone. Teach them to avoid using routes that no one uses or accepting rides from strangers.
Discourage your child from talking to strangers
Warn your child against talking to people they do not know. In the same line, discourage them from accepting gifts from just anyone. Let your child know it is not right for an adult to ask them for any kind of help.
If your child’s school offers transport, ensure you see them off in the morning when the school bus picks them and be there to receive them in the evening or have someone you trust receive them.
If your child goes to school by themselves, accompany them to school or have someone you trust drop and pick them in the evening. Let their teachers know that only you or the trusted person can pick your child from school and no one else.
As much as you can, avoid sending your child anywhere with a rider no matter how you trust them.
Do a thorough background check of house helps
Working parents may not be able to go to work and take care of their children at the same time. Therefore, they rely on house helps. Unfortunately, some children have suffered abuse while others have disappeared in the hands of trusted house helps.
Always do a thorough background check before hiring nannies and house helps. If they were employed elsewhere make sure you know why they left and where possible talk to their former employers. Where possible, hire your house help from a reputable agency.
Ensure your house help has the right identification. You can ask for a police clearance certificate. It may look like you are overdoing things, but you can never overdo anything where the safety of your child is concerned.
Remember to trust your sixth sense, if you sense something’s wrong with someone, do not give them the benefit of doubt.
Monitor your child’s devices
Teach your child how to stay safe online and monitor their conversations and the sites they visit online
Have a code word that your child can use when they need help
Most parents will teach their children a safe word that they can use when they need help. Your child can yell that if you are in the vicinity and someone is trying to take them.
Your child can also use the safe word if you are in the company of others and their friend is in danger. Encourage your kids to seek help even when they sense their friends are in danger.
Also, teach them how to interrupt adults when they need to ask for help.