Thursday May 15 2014

How to keep children safe from kidnapping

By By Gloria Haguma & Pauline Bangirana

Have you imagined getting a call telling you that your child is missing? Many parents prefer not to imagine that.
Yet, more than often, children are being kidnapped and their parents go through the agony of saving their children’s lives from their kidnappers, sometimes at a hefty cost.

Cases of kidnapped children and ransom demands have increased in the recent past.

The Daily Monitor this week reported the ordeal Mr George Ndiwalana and Ms Betty Byateesa of Wakiso District went through but they were lucky that police managed to rescue their three-year-old baby.
How should parents keep their children safe, especially those who don’t spend a day with them?

Ms Christine Alalo, the acting commissioner in charge of Child and Family Protection Department of Police, says some areas where children are in danger include swimming pools, party events, churches and beaches.
She advises parents to “keep monitoring the children and accompany them to public places. Even when a child wants to go to the toilet, a parent should go with them”.

Ms Alalo says parents should caution children against trusting strangers who claim to know them.
Similarly, she notes that house helps should be cautioned against trusting strangers.

“The house help should first find out from parents if they can entrust the person sent with the child before handing them over to them.”
The commissioner cautions parents against sending children (especially from the age of six to eight) to the market late because anything can happen to them along the way.

“If it is inevitable, send them early enough. This can help in ensuring and promoting the safety of the child,” she says.
Ms Zuena Kirema, a mother of three, says: “I have a very trustworthy maid. I have been with her for more than six years. I know her home and all her people. So I trust her to take good care of my children.”
She adds that talking to children about kidnap and rape in case of girls, is important.

“That way, they are able to protect themselves, and avoid going away with strangers,” Ms Kirema adds.
Ms Nikita Bachu, mother of one, says she finds time to check on children during the day.

“I always go back home to check on them during the day. No matter how busy I am, I always take time off. The maid is not allowed to move out of the gate when I am not home. There is a gateman to ensure this does not happen,” Ms Nikita says.

“I also don’t receive visitors when I am not home. For someone to get in, the gateman has to first call me,” she adds.
Ms Christine Asiimwe, a nanny at Nannies Nest Day Care in Namuwongo, says parents fill a registration form before enrolling the child into daycare to provide information that is used in identifying people responsible for the child.

“If they are not going to be able to pick the child, a parent is required to inform us prior and give us details of the person going to pick the child,” Ms Asiimwe adds.

When the person arrives, “we call the parent to speak to whoever has come to pick the child before handing them over”.she adds.

She adds that some parents abandon their children at the daycare. “When we fail to get in touch with the parent and arrange for the child’s pick up. We take them to the police station because we believe that they are safer there.”

advice to children
The Acting Commissioner in charge of Child and Family Protection Department of Police advice to children:
•Do not trust strangers and learn to appreciate the little your parents give you.
•Memorise the telephone contacts of your parents so that in case of anything, you can inform them and they will be able to help you.
•If you sense any kind of trouble, ask for help, raise an alarm run to a police personnel or any public place.