201401-finance-self-defenseYou work so hard to provide the best for your family and must consider your personal security and that of your children as of utmost importance. You must invest in your own security and that of your family members to have peace of mind as you enjoy the fruits of your hard labour.

As we have stated on this column before, you need to take care of your own personal security before you can take care of your family’s security. You may want to take a self-defense class as this could become handy if attacked in the streets, or at home, or waylaid on your way home. A good self-defense class will help you spot criminals, move with confidence, and develop a greater awareness of situations that might be dangerous.

Although self-defense training can be effective, keep in mind that it needs to be updated on a regular basis. Therefore, you must make a decision to train regularly and learn new techniques. You should also know when to use self-defense and when not to. For example, confronted by an armed robber you will be stupid to throw a karate kick at him unless you are so good that the kick will disarm him.

You could also choose to be a licensed gun holder but this is a major personal and financial decision to make because owning a gun is expensive and involves many security checks to ensure you can carry a gun responsibly. You also need to learn how to shoot and ensure the gun’s safekeeping. Sometimes owning a gun can be a danger to yourself and your family if you don’t know how to use it and are not able to fully secure it.

Owning a gun also adds the risk that children could find it in your home, a discovery that could result in a tragic accident. Unless you are adequately well trained and you are prepared to shoot at an intruder or attacker, there’s really no good reason to be wielding a gun. Many people carry guns and yet they have no intention of ever using it. Considering that there are too many guns in the hands of the wrong people in our country, carrying a gun may not scare away attackers. So only carry one if you know how to use and are ready to use it when in danger.

Some people, especially women, think that carrying a knife or pepper spray is a good way to protect themselves, but these gadgets are unlikely to help you unless you are a highly skilled combatant, as the attacker can take the weapon away from you and then turn around and use it on you.

Security for your children…

From the time children are very young, they should be taught basic security procedures. Everyone should know how to get out of the house in case of a fire or another type of disaster. They should also know what to do incase they are involved in a vehicle accident. Your children should be taught to memorise your physical home address, including estate, street and house number, as well as your name and phone number at as young an age as possible. Some children only know their parents as ‘mum’ and ‘dad’ and where they live as ‘home.’ This information will not help a child who is lost or in some kind of trouble.

You also want to make sure that your children will not go off with anyone you have not sent to pick them up. Just to be extra careful, some parents may chose to have a family code word, so that no matter who comes to pick the children from school or anywhere else, they would wait for the code word, which you would have given to the person picking them in advance. You must teach your children to be very firm about this and never to accept to go with someone you have not authorised them to, even if it is someone they know.

You should also familiarise yourself with security procedures of places your children frequent outside your home, especially those of their school. Do your children know what to do incase of an emergency in their school building or in the school bus? Do they know a number they can call incase they need help? It may pay for you to engage a security company for your home whom you can also call incase of an emergency involving your children outside the house. Let your children memorise this number as one they can use to get help.

In addition when your children go to their friends homes for sleepovers, you should familiarise yourself with the environment there. Is there enough security in the home? Are children well supervised? Does the family have fierce dogs that could endanger your child’s life? Do they own a gun that could accidentally fall into the hands of the children? Do the parents drink excessively? Is there violence in the home? Do they allow their children to watch any programmes they wish on TV or violent video games that are forbidden in your home? It pays to ask lots of questions of other parents before you let your child stay over at their house. It best to be safe than sorry. If in doubt, you can always have your child’s friends come to your home where you control the security of the environment.

You should also be careful about what your children watch on TV and what they do online. You can control what your children watch on TV by using a child-control system. You should also discuss with your children what they should not post on Facebook, Tweeter and other social media. They must be aware of personal information about the family they should never disclose, such as physical address, where their parents work, items they have at home, or home security details.

Children may grumble about the ‘intrusion’ on their privacy when you discuss with them social media postings but make them aware that what they post now could come to haunt them in the future. An innocently posted nude picture or inappropriate language could seriously damage their chances of getting employment or gaining admission to college later in life. Children should be allowed to begin branding themselves in the media from the time they are old enough to go online, and protecting their online identity is a critical element of your job as a parent.

Parents should also think about how much information they place in the public domain about their children. There are parents who like to brag about their children and post their pictures, milestones, schools they attend and their performance on social media, and this could expose them in a dangerous way. Learn to protect your children by not exposing them to strangers. By accepting to share information with people you do not know well, you may be exposing your children unknowingly to predators or kidnappers.

You should also invest in an up-to-date identity kit for your children. The kit should be digital so it can be quite easily sent to law enforcement authorities or friends and relatives should anything happen to your child. The kit should include a recent digital photo, a copy of the child’s passport or any other identification papers, and a description of him or her.

Remember children are vulnerable and at great risk all the time. They can be kidnapped for a ransom, or sold to childless couples, or into the sex trafficking trade. A child does not need to be a runaway or part of a street family to be kidnapped. They can be taken away from school, on their way to school, while playing outside your home or when being driven home.

Parents should make their children aware of the dangers that face them, of course without scaring them. Teenage children are exposed to more danger as they move around much more independently than younger children and, therefore, can be targeted. You will need to teach them to be alert, trust their instincts, and avoid dangerous situations. If you can take your children to self-protection classes where they can be taught personal security measures and self-defense, it would be worth the price you pay.

Published in Jan 204