#BounceExclusive: How To Keep Your Kids Safe From Kidnappers
The schools are resuming and you are already shopping for the start of a new academic session.
The kids are excited about the new uniforms and shoes as well as the joy of reuniting with their friends but some parents aren’t so excited.
Since the last kidnap of six students at the Lagos State Model College in Epe, you have been more worried about the safety of your kids in school.
Stories about toddlers and kindergarten aged children going missing without a trace have also not helped your fears.
We know what you’re thinking. We feel your fears…we are worried too, but we cannot sit and leave things to chance.
Bounce News spoke to a policewoman who examines the safety of our children from the perspective of a mother and a security operative.
Mrs Esther Seidu of the Lagos State Police Command has worked on several kidnap cases. Some ended well while others are better left untold.
In all her experiences, she has learnt a lot of life lessons that she believes should guide many parents who are truly interested in keeping their children safe in school.
Here are some of her recommendations:
Know Your Children’s Friends
Children are quite unpredictable when it comes to loyalty to their friends.
When you don’t allow them make friends for fear of the unknown, they will seize any opportunity they have to do so.
“For example, when they are closed from school and the schoolbus is not ready, they tell their friends ‘let me go with you to your house’ and these could be friends you don’t even know,” she said.
Rather than leave them to make such decisions on their own, why not feature in such friendships and other companies they keep?
They will be free to tell you their movement and when you disapprove of some decisions, there are chances that they will understand that you must have a reason.
Have A Relationship With Their Teacher
This is simple. If the school or their staff are not accessible to you as the parent, withdraw your child.
“I’ve seen a situation whereby the parents are separated and the father goes behind to pick the child from school and before we found out, he had already killed her for a ritual.
“These children spend more time in school, so the next person to trust your kids with is their teacher. Let them be free to call you when they notice anything strange,” she said.
Give Your Kids Your Best
This is not about giving children all they want; we don’t want to spoil them but it is more like reducing the rate at which they wish they were someone else.
You don’t need to be rich to ensure that your kids don’t feel needy among their peers or older people.
Mrs Tunwase said: “If their friends go to school with juice and they never have it, they can easily be lured. So, make sure they are not prown to being lured.
“For example, I go to my daughter’s school periodically to find out what her mates take to school and make sure they are always ready for her.
“I buy in bulk so that I won’t run out of it in one or two months. Let them know you love them.”
Never Talk To Strangers
She also advises that parents make it a standing order for their kids never to talk to strangers but the issue is, how do you monitor all their activities when you have to earn a living too?
“Children are very easy to influence and that is why many of the younger ones are easily kidnapped but you can use this nature to your advantage too.
“Be the one influencing them. Always tell them never to talk to someone they do not know and they will gradually get used to it.
“Have a good relationship with your children. When they return from school, ask them how their day went, if they met any strange person or what happened in school.
“Trust me, a lot is happening in schools and you need your children giving you all the update.”
Discuss The Trends
We have reached a point where we should discuss the news with our children, not just their homework, television and religious topics.
You do not have to scare them or make them feel like a target but there is no harm in ensuring they read about kidnap cases and how they were hatched.
It’s not enough to stop them from talking to strangers, you need to discuss the reasons why. “They are children but they actually understand a lot.”
Make Friends With Neighbours But Draw The Line
Mrs Seidu warns that asides the high-profile armed kidnap operations as witnessed in the Epe school, “most of the time, kidnap of children come from familiar people”.
It is therefore better to draw the line, even for relatives and neighbours. Your kids should not be familiar with everybody.
“When they see the uncle next door, they will not resist. That is why I will advise that if there is a particular person you trust them with, let it be that person alone, don’t just change people.”
Make Your Kids Memorize Your Phone Number
Finally, experts say you can introduce the idea of numbers when your child is as young as 12 months by counting small sets of items.
When your child is two years old, she may learn to count up to 10 by memorization.
Although she may not really understand the concept of counting objects yet, the fact that she's reciting numbers means she's learning the correct names.
Dear parents, slot your phone number into the exercise. It is as simple as, “what is daddy’s phone number?” and she goes 0-8-0-2…etc. You will be surprised how this can help you.
They are our future, invest more time in them