Schools are becoming vulnerable targets for criminals

As you know by now that I am never a fan of negativity and sharing bad news, but there have been a number of incidents recently and I felt the need to address them with you.

As I am sure you have heard on the news that the latest criminal trend in South Africa has been Shopping Malls.  Armed gangs have targeted The Pearls Mall, Musgrave Centre, The Atrium and Southway Mall, as well as Gateway, Scottburgh Mall, Galleria mall, Bluff Towers, Watercrest Mall, Pinecrest Shopping Centre, Kloof Village Mall, The Pavillion and Westwood Mall.  This pretty much covers all areas in Durban.  As if this is not alarming enough, this year they seem to have a new easy target.  Our Schools.  The very place where we feel relaxed and safe.

I am not addressing this to cause alarm but create awareness.  This gang of criminals has been labelled the Gadget Gang and it appears that they are targeting schools during events.  They have identified that during an event, everyone is gathered in a central area of the school, there are usually a lot of different vehicles traveling through the school, so it makes it far easier for them to go unnoticed.  They target admin areas and computer rooms where they help themselves to all available electronics.  Since October last year there have been over 16 cases of theft reported at schools as well as other crimes that have been reported.

The problem is that we have always viewed schools as a safe haven, so we are not on high alert.  Parents often sit in their cars waiting to collect their kids with the doors unlocked, windows open.  Playing on your cell phone to occupied the time.  We are not on high alert and this is what makes us an easy target.

It is time for us to readdress the topic of safety with our children.

Although we don’t want to instil fear in them, we need to make them aware of possible dangers that can occur anywhere at any time.

  1. Stay clear parked cars and talking to strangers.  These people use all sorts of ways to encourage your child to approach them.
  2. If your cell phone or tablet is visible, you are an easy target.
  3. There is security in numbers, stick with a group of friends and don’t wander off by yourself.
  4. If your children are ever suspicious or worried about something, they must follow their gut feel and tell a trusted adult.  Even if it turns out to be nothing, rather safe than sorry.
  5. We need to remind them not to take food, sweets, drinks or money from strangers. They need to understand why we are telling them this.
  6. Never leave the premises without the permission of an adult in charge.
  7. Rather don’t sit too close to the fence or gate.
  8. Let your children know who they are allowed to get a lift from.  It is also a good idea to ensure that they know who is going to fetch them, at what time and from where.  If you are not there, they need to go to the adult in charge.
  9. We need to help our children establish a game plan.
  10. What would they do in various situations?
  11. What is the best way to handle it?
  12. Do your children know how to contact you?

We are all aware of what our children need to know to be safe, but it is nice to have a reminder.  Readdress the topic every few months to ensure that they remember what you said.  So, no matter if you are at home, school or the shops, keep security top of mind as when we become comfortable and complacent we are most at risk.


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