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WEDNESDAY, 3 OCTOBER, 2018 I For immediate release
As South Africa’s week of awareness about human trafficking in the first week of October gathers pace, the Salvation Army has released a list of practical steps to take to keep children safe from this scourge.
PR Secretary of the Salvation Army, Major Carin Holmes, says: “Child traffickers take advantage of situations in which children are at their most vulnerable. It is essential for parents to be vigilant at all times about the dangers facing their children.
“Some children are stolen by parents in a custody argument after a divorce. Some are stolen for money – kidnapping, some are stolen for muti body parts and some are stolen for the purposes of human trafficking either into forced labour or into the sex industry,” she added.
Major Holmes said that child abductions take place in three main ways:
- When a stranger takes a child away for criminal purposes (such as sexual assault or ransom – the latter would be classified as a kidnapping in South Africa);
- When a child is stolen to be brought up by the abductor;
- When a parent removes a child from the other parent’s care.
The Salvation Army offers the following hints about how to keep children safe:
- Be present in your child’s life. Know where they are at all times. If they are playing in the front garden then take your work outside and be there or make sure someone is there.
- Have a family password known only to the family. Children are really great at this if you make it a game. Should you not be able to collect your child the person collecting them must have the password. If they don’t, the child will not go anywhere with them.
- Be interested in your child’s day. Ask a lot of questions. Children are naturally great story tellers – take the time to listen to them. Take photos of them when they are going to play with a friend or going to be out of your sight for a while. Should anything happen at least have an up to date photo for authorities.
- Believe your child when they tell you someone gives them the creeps or when someone has hurt them. Act immediately. Contact the Teddy Bear Clinic or your own GP but make sure the child knows you are taking this seriously.
- Don’t allow someone to convince your child that secret touching is ok. Have those conversations with your child from very young.
- Home has to be a safe place for a child. If your child is not safe in your home then put the child’s needs first. Mothers will be held accountable if an abuse is happening in the home and they have done nothing to help the child in their protection. The same applies to fathers if the mother is the abuser. You are the child’s first line of defence you have a moral, societal and ethical duty to protect that child.
- Be careful who you bring into your child’s life. Get to know her or his teacher, sports coach, friends and extended family.
- Should anything happen to your child you need to be the support they need. Walk that journey with them and love them through it. Playing the blame game will not help the situation.
- Form safe circles around your child. Friends you trust. If your child has to walk home alone from school – know the route well. Point out safe places the child can go to whilst walking home. Set up his world for safety. Take the time to make sure he or she is home safely. Change the route and change the entry points so that a perpetrator is not able to work out daily habits – but know the route your child will take daily. Make this part of your safety game.
- Love, family and great friends are your greatest allies. While stranger danger needs to be taught to your children it is often those in the close circles around your child that end up being the abusers. Listen to your child and understand they may not have the correct words to express what’s happening to them. Try to work out your life around their safety.
The Salvation Army has a human trafficking hotline to which suspected cases of human trafficking can be reported. These are given to the police for follow-up. The number is 0800 073 728.
ISSUED BY QUO VADIS COMMUNICATIONS ON BEHALF OF THE SALVATION ARMY
Media Contact: Ruth Coggin
Quo Vadis Communications
CLICK HERE to e-mail Ruth Coggin
Client Contact: Major Carin Holmes
Public Relations Secretary
CLICK HERE to e-mail Carin Holmes