Busy shopping centres give opportunity for many young people and children to fall victim to crime or perpetrate crime, the police said this week.
Police spokesperson Captain Colette Weilbach said it was vital that parents were always aware of their children’s whereabouts.
She said many parents saw shopping centres as an easy solution to keep bored teenagers and children busy during the holidays and at weekends.
“Incidents are being reported of teenage drinking, smoking and sometimes drug-abuse at shopping centres.
“Teenagers that are not supervised by an adult are more susceptible to get involved with the wrong group of young people.”
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She urged parents to limit their children’s group outings to the shopping centres and malls where they were on their on own and monitor the type of activities that the young people got involved in during these outings.
“Rather be a parent with rules and values than a parent that will end up with a child who has an alcohol or drug problem.
“The risk of rapes, human trafficking and robberies are also real and need proactive measurements from parents. Parents with younger children are advised to keep their children in their view at all times,” Weilbach said.
She said it was advisable for parents to write their cell phone numbers on their child’s arm to assist when children got lost.
SAPS gave parents tips about keeping their children safe this festive season:
· Young children must not be allowed to go to a shop without adult supervision, this also includes the small shop on the corner in the neighbourhood.
· It is important for parents to know their children’s friends and their parents.
· Teach children their address, telephone number and their parents’ work telephone numbers, as well as their cellphone numbers from a young age.
· It is not safe for children or young people to wait for their parents outside the mall or shopping centre on the pavement. Rather agree to collect the child inside or at an allocated “safe spot”.
· It is not sensible to provide children or young people with a large amount of money. Large allowances can lead to boredom and the involvement with unfavourable activities.
· Young children must never go to a public toilet alone.
· Advise children never to accept drinks or food from strangers.
· Young people and children must conceal their cell phones when they are in a public place.
· Cellphones must only be answered in a public place when it is safe to do so. Children must also not be tricked into lending their cellphones to someone who wants to make a call.
· Children must know not to talk to strangers. If someone troubles them, make them feel scared or uncomfortable they must report it to a uniformed security guard or a shop assistant.
Weilbach added that parents must also have conversations with their children about drugs, substance abuse and other illegal activities.
Report any suspicious persons, vehicles (especially ones without number plates) or circumstances to the police immediately by phoning the 10111 emergency number or the Brooklyn police’s 24-hour number at 012 366 1735/6. Information with regards to crime can be given to the police anonymously by phoning 08600 10111 or by sending an SMS to 32211
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