Ab­duc­tion scare

EL schools on high alert

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The East Lon­don com­mu­nity has been left reel­ing fol­low­ing al­le­ga­tions of at­tempted child ab­duc­tions last week. On Thurs­day, the SAPS is­sued a warn­ing to com­mu­nity mem­bers to be vig­i­lant af­ter two re­ported cases of at­tempted kid­nap­ping in Vin­cent and Cam­bridge.

One of the moth­ers tar­geted, Teoda Mar­cus, from Gonu­bie, said she was walk­ing to her car af­ter fetch­ing her son from school when she was ap­proached by a man look­ing for di­rec­tions.

Mar­cus said she gave the man the di­rec­tions and when she went to the side of the car, the man tried to open the pas­sen­ger side where her son was. When she asked him what he was do­ing, the man pushed her and walked away.

“When I got to the po­lice sta­tion to re­port what had hap­pened, there was another mother who was also open­ing a case be­cause a man had walked into her son’s school in Cam­bridge and acted as if he was look­ing for his child. When she de­scribed him to me, it sounded like the same guy.”

Fol­low­ing the re­ports, schools is­sued warn­ings to pupils and par­ents.

Bel­lafides Pri­vate School prin­ci­pal Clarissa Ma­sola said vig­i­lance and talk­ing to your chil­dren about how to re­act around strangers was the key to be safe in these sit­u­a­tions.

Ma­sola said they were for­tu­nate that no one could get into their

school grounds un­less per­mit­ted en­try by the of­fice. How­ever, not all schools have such a sys­tem in place.

“Par­ents need to make sure their chil­dren are ed­u­cated about ‘Stranger Dan­ger’. Don’t think it can’t hap­pen to your child. I hear par­ents say my child will never go off with some­one and then we see those chil­dren hap­pily talk­ing to another par­ent they

do not know on the play­ground. Chil­dren can be very trust­ing when some­one is sweet-talk­ing and of­fers them a treat or toy,” she said.

AW Barnes Pri­mary School’s prin­ci­pal Ge­of­frey Gamiet said they had in­formed par­ents and chil­dren in their school about the in­ci­dences.

Sel­borne Pri­mary School, as well as Cam­bridge Pri­mary School, also is­sued a state­ment about safety for chil­dren.

Red Alert shared safety tips for chil­dren and par­ents:

Young chil­dren should:

Never say they are alone if they an­swer the phone. They can of­fer to take a mes­sage or say their par­ents will phone back;

Never an­swer the door if they are alone;

Do not in­vite anyone into the house with­out the per­mis­sion of a par­ent or babysit­ter;

Do not go into peo­ple’s houses with­out let­ting anyone know;

Never play in de­serted build­ings or iso­lated ar­eas.

Par­ents should:

Avoid cloth­ing and toys with your child’s name on it. A child is less likely to fear some­one that knows their name.

Check all po­ten­tial babysit­ters and older friends of your child;

Never leave a child alone in a pub­lic place, a pram or car, not even for a minute;

Al­ways ac­com­pany young chil­dren to the bath­room in a pub­lic place and ad­vise them never to play in or around the area;

Keep an up-to-date colour pho­to­graph of your child, a med­i­cal and den­tal his­tory, and have your child fin­ger­printed.

Red Alert re­gional man­ager Brett Har­vey said they had about 10 ve­hi­cles sta­tioned out­side a num­ber of pri­mary schools in East Lon­don.

Pic­ture: SUP­PLIED

SAFETY FIRST: Red Alert have sta­tioned about 10 armed re­sponse ve­hi­cles out­side var­i­ous pri­mary schools in East Lon­don

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