Child predators are everywhere. They can be those who abduct children, but an overwhelming majority of cases are nonviolent offenders who knew the child and family well.
As parents and guardians, we must ensure to safeguard our children from harm especially as a new term has started in earnest.
A professor of sociology and expert in criminology and security issues, John Gyong, stated that parents were expected to be protective of their children as they played a prominent role in the home.
He also said that when kids were taken to school, it was the responsibility of the school authority to ensure kids’ safety. He advised parents to be responsible for their kids’ safety at all times or ensure they are in safe hands when they are unavailable.
In his view, the national president, Association of Licensed Private Security Practitioners of Nigeria, Dr Wilson Esangbedo, opined that parents/guardians must ensure strict safety of their kids because no one could be trusted with them.
He noted that everyone was a potential predator/kidnapper, stating that parents should not be too busy to keep watch over their kids.
Esangbedo, who is also the executive secretary, Nigerian Institute for Industrial Security, highlighted some safety tips to keep kids secure from predators.
Educating kids on how to identify predators and kidnappers is important because if they are aware of the danger they will be able to protect themselves by fleeing from such persons or calling for help.
Gyong said that children should be educated on how to recognise certain traits of predators and kidnappers, stating that kids should not trust anyone outside the home, especially those who are not members of the family or anyone being unnecessarily friendly, caring, or generous to them.
He added that parents must ensure their children do not eat any food outside the home or take anything from strangers since the predators were known to use drugged food items to get children. The security expert noted that parents must create time to teach their children to trust them and not to respond to strangers.
Give them codes
The sociologist advised parents to give codes to their kids to prevent strangers and predators from gaining access to them anywhere and at any time. Esangbedo added that if parents assigned anyone to pick their kids from school, they should give the kids a code to allow the person to pick them up.
He stated that the code could also be used when the kids were left alone at home. He gave an example of a lady who wanted to kidnap her sister’s children but couldn’t succeed because she was unable to provide the code the parents gave to the kids when they demanded it.
Take them to school
“Parents need to ensure they take their kids to school themselves or have a reliable driver to do so while verifying they are handed over directly to the school authorities. Parents must find time to pick their kids up from school because if there is a delay, the kids might be tired and hungry and anyone could deceive them with food or some sort of assistance,” Gyong stated.
Furthermore, he said that children should not be allowed to hang around the school premises unguarded, adding that they must be within the confinement of the school until they were picked up by their parents or guardians. This, he said, would prevent them from being prone to kidnappers or predators.
Parents must be overly conscious and double-check those assigned to pick their children from school. Besides, the security expert stated that parents or guardians should not rely on the school bus but ensure to confirm the driver or that of the teacher on the bus before handing over their kids/wards to them.
“Some parents don’t check, once they see the name of the school bus they tell their kids to enter. They must double-check and verify their identities,” he added.
Teach kids security consciousness
Generally, kids pay more attention to their teachers, therefore apart from the lectures at home, schools must dedicate time to lecture kids on security consciousness and teach them using examples. Esangbedo added that kids should be told the truth about the dangers of security carelessness without mincing words.
The security expert advised parents to give instructions to their kids whenever they left them at home, school, or anywhere else. This, he said, would help the children see anyone who approached them as potential predators or kidnappers notwithstanding whether they were close relatives or friends.
Kids are vulnerable to predators and should be under watch at all times. Esangbedo advised parents to ensure their kids do not go to and fro school on their own.
“I see a lot of kids roaming the streets, crossing the expressway on their own. Some of them get killed by oncoming vehicles or get kidnapped. Parents should take responsibility for the safety of their kids,” he said.