- April 5, 2021
The school holidays are here. Apart from the joy of having children at home, parents, especially those with girls, are now living in fear. Their constant thought is their daughters’ safety.
There are high chances that some parents have been thinking of a million ways to convince their bosses to allow them to bring their daughters to work. That way, they can keep watch and ensure they are safe. Others are contemplating locking their daughters up in the house until they come back in the evening. This way, their princesses can always be safe. Parents, I admire your protective instincts. Your fears are understandable.
In case anyone is telling you that you are blowing the situation out of proportion, let me assure you that you are not. These plans are concrete. However, they might not be feasible in the long term.
Perhaps an alternative approach where you teach your daughter about safety might hold more water. So, where do you start? Let’s find out.
1. Talk about general safety
We would all want to think that the world is a great place and nobody means any harm. However, that’s not the case. As much as there are good people, there are also sexual predators, scammers, and criminals.
It is only right that you enlighten your daughter about this reality. Have conversations around the good, the bad, and the ugly. Let them understand that no one can be trusted 100%.
Open communication creates a safe space for girls to speak about any experiences they might have encountered or any weird interactions with family members.
This generation doesn’t yield to threats or intimation. Creating a relationship with your daughter and ensuring a safe space where they can talk without judgment or fear is the key to helping your children. Be honest, sincere, and warm in your dialogues to create trust and rapport. Let your girls know that you trust them, and they can trust you.
With open communication, here are a few safety tips to share with your daughter.
i. Never talk to strangers
Yes! You’ve heard it before, and it’s time you hear it again. Strangers are strangers. You don’t know them or their motives. Avoid any interaction at all costs.
ii. When boarding a lift…
It will be best if you get into a lift with friends. If you are alone, press all the floors. You’ll look weird, but it will help when the elevator opens on every floor before you reach your destination. In case someone gets in, and you feel uncomfortable, never be afraid to get out.
iii. Take caution when taking a boda boda or taxi ride
Whether the boda boda is the only ride your family uses or it’s a new one, always make a call to your parents before boarding. Let them know you are boarding a boda to get home or to wherever you are going.
You can tell them the name of the boda boda rider if you know them by name.
If you don’t know them, give your parents the boda’s number plate. Be sure the boda or taxi ride can hear you giving their details to a second party.
iv. Be cautious when walking alone
Whenever you notice someone following you, cross the road and sprint to a public place. If they run after you, scream, yell or shout. Attract attention.
v. Memorise contacts
Learn your parent’s or a trusted family member’s contact by heart. This way, you can always reach out in case you need any help.
vi. Carry pepper spray
This may sound like going overboard, but I think it’s imperative. The good thing about pepper spray you don’t have to get any closer to the assailant. As they draw closer, you aim for the eyes.
If you can’t afford one, you can make it yourself. A friend tells me that crushed pepper socked in water and poured into a spraying bottle does a fantastic job.
2. Talk about internet safety
In this era of the internet, kids can be lured by predators online. From Facebook to Instagram, you’ll never know where threats are lying in wait. So, the best thing to do is create a safe space for mobile devices. Here are a few safety tips.
i. Have access to their mobile phones
It’s great respecting kids’ privacy, but even more important is keeping them safe. So, know your kid’s passwords. They’ll have fit at this, especially if they are teens. However, it is important that you know what’s happening in their online world and who they are interacting with. Occasionally you can ask for the phones and sieve through the conversations they are having with friends.
ii. Encourage the use of devices in shared places
Using mobile devices in shared places reduces the chances of having inappropriate conversations or sharing unwarranted photos and videos.
iii. Beware of evasive behaviours
If you see your teen hiding their screen when you pass by, talking in a hushed tone whenever you get closer or walking out with their phone whenever they pick a call, perhaps it would be best to talk to them. Know who their friends are and what they do.
3. Make it official
The only way this guideline will work is if the parent opens up a communication channel. Talk about what’s out there and the importance of taking these precautions, let your daughter agree to them. Don’t coerce them into submission. If you force it down their throat, they’ll simply rebel, and that’s the last thing you want.
Once they understand the why of the rules, write them down to reinforce the importance of following them. You can have them sign the guideline sheet as a bidding agreement between you.