Keeping Our Kids Safe In "Today's" World
Keep Safe- Defend Yourself
Every generation tells tales about life as it was when they grew up. “When we were young, we used to ride to our friends houses in the afternoon”.
“We would play in the street until it got dark and only then would we return home for our dinner”.
“We would spend our weekends with our friends in the public park, fishing down by the local river or walking by ourselves to the shops to get bread and milk for mum”.
Some of us have the luxury of saying that we would never allow that in this day and age. We fetch and carry all day long. Hide behind our walls and electric fences and sleep with the panic button next to our beds. And we still worry. Imagine the parents who don’t have that luxury. I feel for them.
The reality is life has changed. The world is a dangerous place. Anything can happen at any time and any place and to anyone regardless of who you are. It is a money driven world and there are people out there prepared to do whatever it takes to get it. Money, sex, pornography and drugs. Billion dollar industries that are so intertwined with each other. Closest one can get to a “get rich quick scheme”.
And we are the ones paying the cost. With our lives. With the lives of our children. According to the Huffington Post, two million children worldwide are trafficked each year. (Article dated 17th November 2016) Let that sink in. 2 million. It’s a $32 billion dollar industry annually. The average age of a trafficked child is twelve years old. It’s horrifying. And we are hearing more and more stories of it happening here. In South Africa. In our communities. It’s not “someone else’s problem.”
Now this article is not intended to scare you. I apologize if it does. My intent is to highlight the severity of the problem. We may not be able to stop the global problem on our own. But we have a responsibility to our children to try to stop it from happening to us. And the whole “stranger danger” speech just doesn’t cut it. Our children (as are we) are in contact with strangers every single day of our lives. We actually interact with more strangers than we do people we know, actually. And the reality is, for some people, strangers aren’t the problem. It’s people in their “circle”.
Abduction of a child can take seconds. And it no longer just happens to a child walking the streets alone, at night. It’s happening in broad daylight. In public spaces. Abductors are using crowded places to their advantage. In many cases, CCTV cameras come to our aid, but not all. Many crimes these days have changed. Children are groomed online. It’s easy to make up a fake profile on a social media platform. Kids are interacting with strangers whilst playing video games. And it’s easy for us to judge people for being “naïve” or “ignorant” – yet we shouldn’t. Why? Because criminals and predators succeed at manipulating people all the time, that’s why they do it. They are clever. They know the system. They look for loopholes. They play on sensitivities. They lie. They offer “jobs”. We tell ourselves that our children will never fall into any traps. We have good children. Maybe we do. But children, teens and even us as adults sometimes can be mislead or taken advantage of. We need to educate ourselves and our children.
Human trafficking is an organized crime. It’s not just “one guy” here and there who sees an opportunity. It’s networks of many people working together. It’s structured. There are plans in place, make no mistake.
What do you do if it happens to you?
· Report the incident immediately. It is a common MISCONCEPTION that you have to wait 48 hours before you can report a person missing. You can report it as soon as you are aware. The first 12 - 24 hours are crucial in getting your loved one back.
· Likewise – report any suspicious activity that you may notice immediately.
· Get everyone in your family to download an app that has a GPS locator. It’s not by any means fool proof but it might just save you on the day. Make sure that you sit down with your family and explain the reason that you are doing it and how it could keep them safe.
· Make sure that family members let you know where they are going, when they are leaving and when they have arrived. Communication is key.
· Make sure that you as a parent are aware of who your child is interacting with, where they live, who their parents are and contact details.
· Get yourselves and your children trained in a reliable self defence program. You have no idea of the value of this. You may not think that your child will be able to do anything. The worst thing they can do is NOTHING. Don’t wait for it to be an after-the-fact. By then it’s too late.
National Human Trafficking Resource Line: 0800 222 777