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Personal Safety

Safety tips for children
  • Know your full name(s), your parents’names, your address(es) and phone number(s).
  • Tell your parents about things that make you feel scared, uncomfortable or sad.
  • Know the difference between a good secret and a bad secret. A good secret is fun to keep, such as a surprise party. A bad secret feels bad to keep and makes you feel scared.
  • Strangers: Never tell strangers your name(s) or where you live.
  • Buddy system:  Use the buddy system and avoid walking or playing alone outside or in public places.
  • Scream:“No!” Run and tell. Screaming and running are better safety ideas than trying to hide. If a stranger approaches you, scream: “No!” Run to where there are safe adults and tell an adult what happened.
  • Safe distance: Keep a safe distance (approximately three arm lengths) from strangers and strangers’ cars, even if a stranger seems friendly. Run in the direction opposite to the direction in which the stranger’s car is travelling.
  • Fight back: It is okay to scream and fight. Do anything to get the stranger to let go. Screaming is the most important thing you can do, especially screaming: “No!” “Help!” or “Danger!” to get an adult’s attention.
  • Home safety: Keep all the doors and windows locked when you are at home alone. Go to a neighbour and call 10111 if a window is broken or if the door is open when you get home.
  • Doorbell safety: Answer the door by asking: “Who is it?” Never say that you are alone and never open the door when you are alone, unless it is someone your parents told you to expect and let him/her/them in.
  • Phone safety: Never say that you are alone when a stranger calls. You can say, “Mom/Dad cannot come to the phone now. Can I take a message?”
Parents should always take heed of the following
  • Children must know their full name(s), age(s), telephone number(s) and address(es).
  • Children must know how to contact you, the SAPS or another close relative in an emergency.
  • When children are alone at home, they should tell people who phone that you are there, but that you are busy and cannot come to the phone. The person who is phoning, can phone back later. Teach your child to end any telephone calls with strangers immediately and hang up the telephone if he/she continues to talk.
  • When children are at home alone, they should find out the identity of the person who comes to the door, without opening the door. If a stranger is at the door, teach your children to tell the stranger that you are busy and that he/she should go away and come back later. Teach your child not to engage in conversation with the visitor. If the child feels threatened, teach him/her to phone an emergency number. Emergency numbers could be your telephone number at work, that of the police or a trusted neighbour who will be at home.
  • If it is at all possible, children should play and walk with other children.
  • Children should always ask your permission before accepting gifts from strangers.
  • In order to avoid situations where strangers may approach him/her alone, such as an unsupervised play area, empty lots, abandoned buildings, bushy areas of parks or riverbeds, children should run home or to the nearest public place or a friend’s home if someone is following or frightening him/her/them.
  • Children must know that adults, especially strangers, rarely ask children for help in finding things or for directions. Explain to your child that men and women are strangers.
  • Children must know that if he/she/they become separated from you in a store or shopping mall, he/she/they must go to a store employee or cashier for help immediately.
  • You must know where your children are at all times. Know their friends and be clear with them about the places and homes they may visit.
  • Never leave children unattended in a vehicle, whether it is running or not.
  • Listen to your children. Pay attention if they tell you they do not want to be with someone or go somewhere.
  • Noticewhen anyone shows your child a great deal of attention or begins giving gifts. Ask your child about the person and find out why that person is behaving that way.
  • Teach your children thatthey have the right to refuse any unwelcome, uncomfortable or confusing touch or actions by others and get out of those situations as quickly as possible. If they cannot leave, children should be taught to kick, scream and resist by yelling loudly, "This person is not my father/mother/guardian" and then immediately tell you what happened.
  • Be sensitive to any changes in your children's behaviour or attitude. Encourage open communication and learn how to be an active listener. If your children tellyou about problems, try to stay calm, be reassuring, and non-judgemental. Work with them to get help to resolve the problem.
  • Practise basic safety skills with your children. Make an outing to a mall or park an educational experience in which your children practise checking with you, going to the bathroom with a friend and finding adults who may be able to help if they need assistance. Do not let your children wear clothing or carry items that bear their names in public. It makes it too easy for a stranger to approach them.
  • Develop code words for anyone you trust to fetch your children and teach your children the words. Tell them not to go with anyone who does not know the code words.