File picture: Pixabay
File picture: Pixabay

What to do if your child has been kidnapped

By Yasmine Jacobs Time of article published Nov 28, 2021

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Kidnapping is every parent’s worst nightmare.

South Africans are increasingly becoming victims of kidnapping with 2 000 cases recorded from July to September. This is according to the second quarter crime statistics.

There were 93 more kidnapping cases in July, 175 more in August and 177 in September.

Police Minister Bheki Cele said the majority of kidnapping cases were hijacking related but a number of cases were for ransom.

But what should parents do if their child has been kidnapped? What are the steps to take if someone has been kidnapped? Where does social media fit into all of this?

You could even do two stories. All the kidnappings. What should parents do? What should I do if I witness a kidnapping. What do we teach our children? How should they behave?

What to do if your child has been kidnapped

The first 24 hours are crucial. Taking action as soon as possible drastically improves the chances of the authorities finding a missing child.

– Find a recent and clear photograph of the child. Also make sure that the face is visible.

– Once done, go to your nearest police station and open a case. Bring along the clear photograph.

– Provide a clear and detailed description of the child. This can include age, height and weight. Try to remember what the child was wearing when you last saw them. Also point out any distinctive features or marks. It could be a scar on the face or a visible birthmark.

– You will then be given a SAPS 55 (A) form to fill out and complete. Make sure you get the investigating officer’s contact details.

– When you have made a case and received the investigating officer’s contact details, reach out to other organisations or NGOs that can assist with finding missing children.

– Stay in contact with the investigating officer. If there is any useful information that can assist with the search, let them know immediately.

Child Safety Tips

There are steps that parents and children can take to ensure safety.

Children are advised to be vigilant in public spaces, especially in parks, restaurants and malls.

It is also useful to create tags or bracelets for children with their personal details and make them wear a whistle to use when they are lost or afraid.

A safety plan for various scenarios can help greatly and establish strict procedures for picking up children at school, after movies, at friends’ homes, etc.

Teach kids how to call 10111 for help and have them memorise other important numbers.

Speaking of numbers, make sure they know how to make local and long-distance telephone calls.

Teach your children to scream as loudly as possible, and that it is okay to do so when afraid.

Establish a family code word that only you, your child and a trusted relative or friend knows. Your child must ask for the code word when approached by someone offering them a ride.

Have your child fingerprinted and store the prints in a safe, easily accessible place in your home.

Kidnapping and social media

While we do want authorities to find missing or kidnapped people, we should be careful to not share misinformation. In some cases, these posts are unsubstantiated, or they are old cases that were reposted. Members of the public are urged to beware of the promotion and distribution of these posts.

IOL

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