A child goes missing every five hours in South Africa, according police statistics.
That's roughly 1 700 missing children a year, says social worker and Childline manager Faiza Khota.
While 80% of missing children are recovered, she says there are still many cases where children become victims of crime and trafficking.
Khota has urged parents to be more vigilant of their children, particularly in public spaces.
She shared practical tips to help parents keep their children safe.
According to Khota and listeners, parents must:
- create tags or bracelets for kids with their personal details
- teach them to memorise important contact numbers
- make kids wear a whistle to use when they are lost or afraid
- practice a safety plan using various scenarios with kids
- teach them to be wary of strangers and potential predators (without scaring them)
- share age-appropriate information about safety with children
- always carry a very recent photo of your child
Khota suggests that child safety officers and support groups should be more visible at public events.
She says that play areas in pubic places, such as malls and restaurants, often have unsupervised entrances or aren't equipped with enough, qualified childminders.
Everyone has the civic duty to protect children and she has encouraged communities to be more proactive about ensuring the safety of unaccompanied children.
Predators are everywhere and they seem to gravitate to the areas where children are.— Faiza Khota, social worker and Contact Centre Manager at Childline Gauteng
Ultimately the responsibility does lie with parents. Wherever you take your children, you do need to be watching them all the time.— Faiza Khota, social worker and Contact Centre Manager at Childline Gauteng
Parents must report a missing child at their nearest police station immediately, Khota advises.
Take a listen to the important discussion around child safety and parents share their personal stories:
This article first appeared on CapeTalk : 7 tips on how to keep your child safe in public