SOUTHERN CAPE NEWS - Following the spate of missing children being reported this year, the South African Police Service has implored parents and guardians to be more alert.
According to SAPS, parents and guardians should take an active interest in their children.
SAPS says the key to child safety is effective communication. It is said that children who do not feel that they are listened to or who do not think that their needs are met at home, are more vulnerable to abduction or exploitation.
Create an atmosphere in the home in which children feel truly comfortable in discussing sensitive matters and relating experiences in which someone may have approached them in an inappropriate manner or in a way that made them feel uncomfortable.
The following tips may prove useful should your child go missing.
Always keep a complete description of your child handy. This must include colour of hair and eyes, height, weight, date of birth, etc. Include identifiers such as glasses or contact lenses, braces on teeth, tattoos, scars, birthmarks or any other unique identification marks. It is important to have permanent scars, birthmarks and broken bones recorded.
Make sure you have a photograph handy. Medical records can be useful in helping to identify a recovered child.
If you believe your child is missing, it is critical that you act immediately. Go to your nearest police station, report your child missing and see to the completion of a SAPS 55 (a) form. Note when the disappearance could have happened and when last you saw your child. Any significant and unexplained deviation from your child's daily routine should be revealed to the police.
When to report
There is no waiting period for reporting a child missing to the SAPS. Immediate police response may be expedited if the child is younger than 12 years old, mentally incapacitated, or drug dependent, a potential victim of foul play, or with adults who could endanger the child's welfare. Communication with someone he/she has become acquainted with via the internet and where he/she has arranged to meet, in person, with the individual must be reported.
The three Ws
When you expect your child has gone missing, always ask these questions first:
- Who are your children's friends or with whom are they?
- Where do the friends live and where is your child at all times?
- When did your child leave home and when did he/she go missing?
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