As our children grow we let them out to the world for them to navigate and explore the world to their understanding. However, the thought of letting your kids out to the world and letting society contribute in raising them can surely be daunting.

If it was up to some parents we are sure they would hold their precious ones’ hands always just to make sure that they are safe. As tempting as this can be to some this is not possible, what is possible though is that you can help your child stay safe and exercise caution at all times even when you are not with them. It’s a scary world out there and these precautions can help keep them from becoming victims.

Family emergency contacts 

Help your child memorise important family contacts of both parents or guardian and the home address. This should be the first and most important precaution any parent should take. For younger children, be careful not to over bear their brains by making them memorise too many contacts. Add other immediate family contacts to the emergency contact details but instead of making your child memorise all numbers clearly write them down and place them were your child will easily access them when in danger. For school, put labels on their school bags with their names, home address and contacts. If it so happens that they are lost and are overwhelmed with emotions a good stranger can help them.

Define and explain the concept of stranger

Often Times parents advise their children not to talk to strangers, but a child’s definition of a stranger is not the same as that of an adult. Children need to know that just because a stranger seems nice it doesn’t mean they are good. Explain the concept of a stranger to your child and suspicious stranger behaviour. Discourage them from talking to strangers, taking goodies, accepting rides and going anywhere with a stranger. If lost encourage your child to seek help from people in uniform like police or security guards and if authorities are not in sight a woman with children and in a public space would be another option. 

Internet safety

We live in the era of ICT and we cannot escape the fact that our children are a digital generation. Online social platforms that have been brought upon us by the advent of technology tremendously affect our children positively and negatively. It is therefore important to take precautions on their online activities. Internet has been dubbed a dopamine as it produces the happiness hormone in people and this has indirectly intensified depression, especially amongst the younger generation. This is because our children seek validation from cyber friends and this has left them vulnerable to cyberbullying, online predators and even cult initiations. Discourage behaviours like giving out contact details to strangers, responding to strangers that contact them online, accepting online gifts from strangers, clicking on suspicious links sent by strangers and  meeting a stranger they met online. Most importantly teach your children self love and have an open door policy to allow them to talk to you. It is difficult to keep your children entirely internet safe but talking can help prevent a greater damage.

Teach them to be Road and Water Safe

We all know children are taught the basics of road signs at school but as a parent or guardian, it is your responsibility to make sure that they understand these safety measures. A simple practical example with your child can help avoid an unintended consequence. Walk your child’s school route with them to help them familiarise themselves with the road. Water safety is one safety measure that people take for granted but an increasing number of children are drowning yearly. Teach your child how to swim and if you also cannot swim learning together can be an exciting and life saving experience for both parties. 

Educate them about sexual abuse

Sexual abuse is by far the hardest topic to discuss with your child for most parents and it should not be. If you are the kind of parent who vaguely discusses this topic with your child then it’s time to change. Discuss consent with your child and make them understand that a No is not a maybe or a yes. Give them practical examples of compromising situations that may be an indication of sexual abuse. As soon as your child can understand the basics teach them about a good touch and a bad touch. Teach children that they should never be comfortable with someone touching them inappropriately even if they are family. If one does so  they should report it to an adult they trust. The Zimbabwean helpline for child abuse is 116. If they feel embarrassed to talk to someone they know encourage them to dial this number if your child has been victimised.