Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Strong Message to Parents - Tell Your Children NOT to Talk to Strangers!

This is a different kind of post. I feel a strong need to write about this and I believe that parents alike would find it useful (I hope!).

I shall not talk about securing an area for your babies/infants but the above image might be the best depiction of safety, don't you think?? --- well... the baby looks secure in the cot but the things around it is still within harm's reach. 

Recently, we've all been shocked by the tragic kidnapping of a child near his school. But the reason I am writing this post is because a few days before that incident, the daughter of a good friend of mine was almost made a victim, possibly by the same people. According to her daughter, an Indian man came into her school, asked her by her name, knew which class she was in and even mentioned the name of her class teacher! He then told her that her mommy is not able to make it to pick her up from school and had asked him to pick her up instead. 

Now, if this were to happen to your child, would your child believe this stranger and follow him because he knew her by name and all the necessary details that a perfect stranger could have not known?

She told him that she would take her bag from the classroom and he told her that he would wait for her outside the school in his car. Thankfully, she was smart enough to alert her teacher and managed to check out his car - he had 2 other accomplice, both Indian men and a green Waja.

It was horrifying to hear this from a close friend, knowing that her daughter could have made it on the main pages of the newspapers and so I feel compelled to write this note for parents. 

When I was 7, my mom had given up on maids. Hence, she had left me in the hands of the Almighty to be independent --- I had my own keys and as soon as I got down the school bus, I made sure to lock the gate and lock the doors too. But this is the best thing - every day, at around 2pm, my beloved granny would give me a call... she would call to make sure I was safe at home and every day, she would remind me without fail, to make sure I have the curtains drawn, and that I shouldn't ever answer the door bell or talk to strangers who would tell me my mom is sick and I'd need to follow them to the hospital, whatever the story may be.

I don't know about you but these days, I am not sure if parents tell their kids to not accept sweets or candies from strangers. In fact, if I would want to be hard on myself, I can count the number of times I told my eldest son to not speak to strangers when he is out of the school gates when he was younger. *guilty!*

In the case of my friend's daughter, she told her mom that she had remembered what her mother always told her - that no way in hell, would her mom ask anyone else to pick her up from school unless it was her grandparents or some close family friends that she recognises, which would still be very rare. And I believe that this is so important - to always communicate to your child and tell him/her to never trust strangers

Even the days when I send my daughter to school, I noticed many parents would just drop their little children and would not even talk to them... not tell them to play nice with their friends, not tell them to behave in school and hardly have I heard parents say 'I love you' to their kids or give them a hug before saying goodbye. Most of the time, parents are in a rush. To be fair to them, unlike me, they do need to beat the traffic jam to get to work but hey... it only takes less than a minute to hug your kids, tell them you love them and that daddy/mommy will pick them up later after school ends, right?

The children need to have that security and confidence to know that hey, I should trust what my parents told me and not some stranger. And for that to happen, I believe that parents need to constantly tell their kids repeatedly and have that bond strong enough for them to feel secure and confident.

Therefore, this note is a reminder to all parents that we should communicate with our kids and make them feel secure. This is a reminder to myself too.

I feel that those days when I was younger when society is more trusting of each other, parents would always remind their children and tell them what is right and wrong. But these days, in a changing climate where people are less trusting of each other, we are always too busy to talk to our kids. It is enough that we are all so bogged down with work and some of us even bringing work home with us and so I think we would easily forget how much guidance these kids need from us parents.

In the case of those men who dare commit such a crime, I believe that they must probably do it for a living. In other words, they are probably organised and have done enough homework to be good at what they do. I am not sure how they know the name of my friend's daughter or the class she is in or the name of her class teacher, apart from suspecting there could be inside information, I also think we all may have made it easier for them to google up information about our family. I think in my fb page alone, you can find my kids' names (although not their full name), the name of my husband and the places we always go to during the weekend, thanks to foursquare. Although my fb account is protected and people are unable to google up information from my fb page, we never know what these people are capable of doing. All these information can be used positively by friends but could also be used against us. So, as much as possible, be sure to keep information secure although it is not that easy to be 100% certain. After all, a lot of our followers on twitter or/and fb could be perfect strangers. You might never know who's lurking behind those computer screen and smartphones.

Mr Oosband thinks that the school and teachers need to be blamed as well in this tragedy. But let me share with you something - during the induction programme when my eldest was just 7 years old (and that was 8 years ago!) the school administrator bluntly told us parents that teachers are not responsible for the pupils' well-being once school ends because parents should pick up their kids on time and that the teachers are all busy with things to do in their life. Imagine that! As far as I know, as long as our kids are in the school compound, it IS the responsibility of the school but yeah... so blame them if anything happens... so what, right?

Safety and security should start from home. Be safe and let your children understand how to stay safe.


Puteri said...

The safety of school children is part of school's responsibilities. It is in the Sekolah Selamat policy. Of course parents must play their parts too. Oh my, reading this give me goosebumps!!

Sandokhan said...

I like your entri. *thumbs up!*

toughcookie said...

dear puteri,
gosh, you would know it better don't you? I didn't know about the Sekolah Selamat policy. nevertheless, i was furious with the hint to the parents. i did write to the education ministry but i guess they would rather sweep it under the rug. i just feel that if we want to ensure our kids to be safe, we have to work it out ourselves and never trust anyone else to do it.

i hope you have found this entry useful.

toughcookie said...

hi sandokhan,
please share it with other people around you and hope that it would help them realise how unsafe it can be for our kids out there.