With schools around the country set to reopen in January 2023 for the academic year, there is excitement among learners who look forward to new friends and new experiences.
Children need to be reminded about safety protocols when arriving and leaving school. With many parents working, school transfers, au pairs and lift shares are very common. It is not always easy for the school to keep track of how children are arriving or leaving so parents needs to reinforce some basic safety protocols.
This is particularly relevant following the spate of kidnappings which were reported last year.
Charnel Hattingh, Fidelity ADT’s Head: Group Marketing and Communications, has advice that can help increase peace of mind. She suggests the following tips are shared with the kids, and that they are encouraged to practise them every day:
- If your child is getting picked up at school, either by yourself or an au pair or lift scheme, always tell them to wait inside the grounds for their lift to arrive. They must never leave the premises to go and look for their ride in the street.
- Remind your children that you would not send someone they don’t know to fetch them. Children should never get into a stranger’s car even if that person claims that someone they love is hurt and that they were sent to pick them up. It is a good idea to consider using a password system. Your child will then know that the correct person is collecting them and who they can trust.
- Parents should always notify the school if there is a change in transport arrangements so they can manage the situation and alert the child.
- Tell your children if a stranger approaches them in the parking lot, they should not talk to them no matter how friendly they may seem. If someone tries to grab them, they need to fight, kick and scream to alert others of the danger.
- For those children who live close enough to school to walk home, they should ideally 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 kids from the area who do the same. Some areas have started “walking buses”, where local parents volunteer to walk to and from school with a group of school children, to assure their safety.
- Stick to streets you know and never take short cuts through unfamiliar or quiet areas.
In some cases, when parents are working all day, and domestic helpers may not be around full day, children must keep themselves occupied until mom and dad return home in the evening.
“It is extremely important that the kids 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 home,” says Hattingh.
She suggests drawing up a list of important telephone numbers. “This list must include emergency services and mom and dad’s work and cell phone numbers. Save it on your child’s cell phone and stick it on or near the landline. It’s also important to explain to them when these should be used.”
Hattingh adds that everyone in the household should also know how to use your home security system – children included – and when and how to use the panic buttons.