Western Cape Social Development MEC Albert Fritz on Wednesday urged parents and caregivers to take the necessary precautions to ensure children’s safety over the festive season.
The department said that over the December holidays, there were often cases of missing children and child abandonment reported to the provincial social development department, and that was often caused by children being left alone, and parents abusing substances, including alcohol and narcotics. In turn, they neglect their duty of care towards children.
Recent child protection statistics reveal that between April 2017 and March 2018, there were 38 cases of child abandonment in the Western Cape. The period with the highest number of missing children was between October and December 2017, with 13 cases of child abandonment.
“If your child has gone missing, please do not wait to report this to the police. The longer you wait, the less likely it is that you will find your child. The first 24 to 48 hours are crucial in finding a child,” said Fritz in a statement.
“As parents and guardians, the duty falls upon you to teach children about their personal safety. Your child must be taught to always keep all entrances and gates closed and locked, and that nobody should enter without permission from either parent. If you have a home security system installed, teach them how to activate and deactivate it, and to use other security devices like panic buttons,” he added.
Fritz said that children should also have a list of emergency contact numbers saved on their cellphones and available at home near the telephone.
“These numbers should include the local police station, emergency medical service, the emergency number for your neighbourhood watch, a trusted neighbour, and your private security company. Before visiting public spaces such as shopping malls, your children should know their vital information, including full names, home address and the contact details of one of their parents.”
African News Agency (ANA)