There has been numerous reports, especially on social media of children going missing only to be discovered dead, raped or injured days after their disappearance.
With frequent incidents of human and child trafficking having been reported recently, parents can never be too safe, especially at this time of the year.
Shaheda Omar, the director of the Teddy Bear Foundation, an organisation that offers legal, counselling and social development support to children. says it is important for parents to ensure the safety of their children at all times.
She encourages parents to ensure that their children know at least one or phone numbers of their parents and their address off by heart to ensure they receive help no matter the situation.
“Teach your children to memorise your address and phone number. Talk to your children about Stranger Danger, including how to respond if they’re approached and also role Play the “No, Go, Yell, & Tell” method that they should employ if in danger. Also, Discuss safe public places where they can seek protection and help, she says.
This past week, saw the end of the 16 Days of No Violence to Women and Children. Omar encourages parents to make it a habit of communicating with their children in the likelihood that could pick up sings that their child could have been involved in a dangerous situation as well as other signs of abuse.
Last week, the Film and Publications Board - in partnership with the Government Communication and Information System, hosted a panel discussion exploring sexual exploitation of children in a bid to raise awareness about this scourge as part of the 16 Days campaign.
“Children won’t always tell you when they have been involved in a dangerous situation, ask questions daily and keep open dialogue with your children.Contact your local police station if you suspect your children might be in danger and avoid posting recent pictures of children on social media platforms. Keep recent photos of your children for purposes of identifying them,” Omar says.
The children’s rights activist warns parents against leaving children unattended in public spaces, including malls, parks and beaches and to ensure that the child’s medical information is up to date.
“Always keep the updated medical information and finger prints of your children as this helps in case where caregivers and children are separated or the child is lost. Avoid taking children to malls and restaurant if it is not necessary. Shopping centres are busy at this time of year. While you may be in a rush to complete your shopping, you must be vigilant at all times. If you take your children to a shopping centre, ensure you keep a close eye on them.
“Do not, under any circumstances, leave your child in the vehicle and always escort your kids to the public toilets,“ she adds.