Safety, in and out of school

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Officials urge parents to never leave children unattended. PHOTO: Gypseenia Lion

Throughout the year, children spend more time at school than anywhere else. Given their age, primary school learners are exposed to more safety risks. Bloemfontein Courant spoke to local educators and a police official on how to safeguard children in and out of a school setting.

According to Eunice Primary Teacher, Saskia Plantagie, several of their learners have to walk to school or rely on public transport. “At such young ages, this raises the issue of safely getting to and from school. Once at school, I feel that our school provides sufficient safety, however, I am aware that this is not the case at all primary schools in our area,” said Plantagie.

Matters such as bullying and harassment are of concern in some schools but according to another teacher, Ann Franken, she stays vigilant to such, especially during break times. “We regularly remind the learners of their safety and to openly communicate about it, should they feel unsafe,” said Plantagie.

On a basic level, the teachers advised taking note of one’s surroundings at all times, with regards to the behaviour of the learners as well as whoever is in your vicinity.

“As a teacher, I have to ensure that I have sufficient knowledge on all security procedures and update my knowledge on aspects such as first aid,” said Plantagie.

According to police spokesperson, Peter Kareli, parents are urged to note the following:

  1. Map out a safe route for your child and avoid empty houses, open spaces, and areas with long grass and parks.
  2. Encourage children to walk with a friend or neighbour and to wait at a bus stop with other children, not alone.
  3. Teach children to follow traffic signals and rules. Advise them to cross only where school patrollers are situated.
  4. Teach children not to talk to strangers, go anywhere with them, or accept gifts. Tell them to inform an adult if they see a stranger hanging around near them.
  5. Teach the child to remember their proper names rather than pet names. Help them to also know their street address and phone numbers. Write down other telephone numbers on a card for the child to carry.
  6. Talk to children about their day every day after school. Inquire if they saw anyone being bullied or if they have been bullied themselves.

“Be a responsible parent and collect first-time learners from school every day until you see that they have memorised the route. This will help curb the problem of missing children who were last seen after school,” said Kareli.

Bonolo Moloi
bonolo@centralmediagroup.co.za