Durban - Schools around the country reopened for the new year two weeks ago.
For children it can be a very exciting time - making new friends and learning new things. For parents, however, it can be the cause of some anxiety, especially for those whose children travel to and from school alone.
Ivan Govender, district manager of Fidelity ADT (KwaZulu-Natal), has some advice that can help increase parents’ peace of mind.
He suggests the following tips be shared with children and that they be 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 children 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 the vehicle 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.
In some cases children have to get themselves to and from school and keep occupied until mom and dad return home in the evening, says Govender.
“It is extremely important that the children know not to let anyone into the house without your permission. If you are going to be late, let your children know as soon as possible and give them an idea of when they can expect you to be back at home.”
Govender suggests drawing up a list of important telephone numbers.
“This list must include emergency services and mom and dad’s work and cellphone numbers. Save it on your child’s cellphone and stick it on or near the landline. It’s also important to explain to them when these should be used.”
Govender adds that if you have a home alarm system, everyone in the household, children included, should know how to use it and when and how to use the panic buttons.