“The best way to maintain their safety is to teach them to be savvy and street-wise; prepare them for how to respond in a threatening situation; and avoid unnecessary risks. At the very least‚ don’t trust [cab hailing services] as a transport service for children on their own‚ vet the security measures at your child’s school‚ ensure you know your children’s friend’s parents before allowing unsupervised playdates or sleepovers‚ and don’t send them on solo errands without adult supervision‚” said Condon.
A gut feeling should never be ignored.
“If it smells fishy‚ it probably is. Avoid situations and people that make you feel uncomfortable – you may be wrong‚ but if you’re right and you ignore your suspicions‚ the results could be devastating‚” Condon added.
The company’s risk assessments revealed that children from more relaxed communities‚ such as informal settlements‚ who are often sent on errands alone‚ face more risk. This lack of supervision provides the perfect opportunity for criminals to strike.
“Sadly‚ many of the cases we see relate to children who are being raised in informal settlements or very poor areas. These children are often seen as a soft target‚ with perpetrators knowing that there will be little to no media coverage. These cases are often (grossly) seen as a ‘squatter camp problem’. This is a mindset that must change if any progress is to be made in combating these types of crimes‚” said Condon.
While much focus has been placed on suspected human and child trafficking carrying people across the border‚ experts believe murder and crimes of a sexual nature pose a far more imminent threat.