What to do if your child goes missing
Image reference on tums2totsonline

Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen headlines and reports of child kidnappings and/or attempted child abductions. Although some circulating facts have been labeled ‘fake news’ or exaggerations, it is important that we stay aware and alert to any threats to our children.

Our research for this article has taken us down some rabbit holes and let’s just say we’ve read and seen things that have rattled us to the core. This comes after a Johannesburg man was arrested for the alleged attempt to kidnap a child at a restaurant earlier this month. The incident was captured on tape and the footage went viral. Earlier, four people accused of kidnapping a six-year-old girl in Vanderbijlpark pleaded guilty and were sentenced. In Durban, a teenage girl was nearly snatched in Avoca earlier this month. The 15-year-old was walking from a shop to her house when two suspects in a car tried to pull her inside. The alleged kidnapping attempt was reportedly disturbed by a resident. In Johannesburg, Parkhurst Primary sent a letter to parents saying one of its Grade 7 girls reported an attempted abduction by a motorist. This allegedly happened in early September.

We also uncovered an article from March 2020, City Press, that spoke of ransom kidnappings stating:

“The police are pressing panic buttons over an exponential increase in high-profile kidnappings that saw local and international abduction rake in a fortune more than R1 billion last year.” This is what nightmares are made of.

Experts say a lack of centralised and clear data makes it difficult to estimate how many children are trafficked each year and that the data that does exist shows relatively few instances of child trafficking in South Africa. However, judging by some global reports on the subject, it would be naive of us to think that Africa would report any differently to the high percentages of reported child disappearances worldwide. A recent statement made by NGO, Missing Children SA, indicates that:

There is a year-on-year increase of children going missing or being kidnapped in South Africa.

This is disturbing. Similarly, a United Nations Report (2009) indicated that: Worldwide, almost 20% of all trafficking victims are children. However, in some parts of Africa and the Mekong region, children are the majority (up to 100% in parts of West Africa).

Further research on the topic led us back to Missing Children SA. Content on the website revealed the following:

  • A child goes missing every five hours in South Africa, according to figures released by the South African Police Service Missing Persons Bureau for 2013.
  • Missing Children South Africa’s statistic indicates that 77% of children are found. Sadly, this still leaves us with at least 23% of the children being either never found, trafficked, or found deceased.
  • Children are also the most vulnerable victims of gender-based violence. The reality is shocking and undeniable and we can no longer be innocent bystanders to this fact.

The website went on to offer some useful material on what to do if your child is kidnapped. Let’s face it, as parents, we don’t ever want to be in a position where we have to read information like this.  However, at Secure Rite, we believe in ‘proactive safety’ first and therefore encourage parents, families, neighbours and friends to read this and always be vigilant.

Missing children
Image reference from Parent24
  • Try not to panic.
  • Do not wait 24 hours to report your missing child.
  • Get a responsible person to stay at your house while you’re at the police station or searching for your child. This person can take messages if someone calls about the child’s disappearance or if the child returns home.
  • Go to your nearest police station and take a recent photograph of the child with you. Make sure that the photograph is of good quality so that your child will be easily identifiable.
  • Give a good description of what the child was wearing, their last whereabouts and any information that may help the police.
  • Complete a SAPS 55 (A) form which safeguards the police against false or hoax reports. This form also gives the police permission to distribute the photos and information of the missing child.
  • Make sure the police give you a reference number and a contact name and number of the SAPS officer(s) assigned to the investigation.
  • Click on the “Report Now” button found on the website and complete the form.
  • Remember that if your child returns home, you should go to the police station to report that the child is safe and let MSCA know that your child has returned home safely.

As the Secure Rite team and parents, ourselves, we advise the following:

  • Trust your gut when it comes to your children.
  • Ensure you know where your children are at all times and that your children know where you are.
  • Don’t hesitate to educate yourself and your children on the realities of human trafficking, what it means and how to stay alert.
  • Ensure your children know at least 3 important contact numbers by heart.
  • Use technology like tracking apps, Safety Apps and Alert Apps like the SecuRwatch App where possible to add another layer of caution.
  • Reinforce the message: Don’t listen or talk to any strangers. This also applies to online activity.
  • Have regular check-ins with your children on where they are if they’ve arrived or are leaving venues etc…
  • Openly explore and educate on the dangers of online predators.
  • Remember: Unfortunately, when children feel unsure of their situation, they tend to keep quiet and follow instructions of adults around them. Let your children know that it is OK to shout or scream for mom/dad if they are pulled/ forced anywhere or if they are told to do anything suspicious.
  • Moms and Dads, make sure you are not unknowingly advertising your children online. This sounds awful to say but it is a reality. With today’s social media showcasing images, locations and even where you are in a particular moment, we would be naive to think this information could never fall into the wrong hands. Ensure your social media profiles are not open to the public and make sure your children practice the same safety protocols online.

Secure Rite will be releasing a series of blogs on the topic of child safety online. Remember to comment below if you have any questions, add-ons, or interesting research to share on the matter. A big thank you to the team at Missing Children SA (MSCA). They are an NPO and welcome donations.

“MSCA’s service is free to the community but we naturally have various needs that have to be met in order to be able to operate efficiently. As a Non-Profit Organisation, we are dependent on your donations to keep on doing the work we do. To find out how you can support MSCA click on the button below to go to our donations page. Your generous support will assist us in bringing home all our children safely.”

 To donate to Missing Children SA, click here.

Contact Secure Rite for all your Home, Business and Personal Safety needs. Remember, we do security; you do life.

Call us for all your home and business security needs
0860 10 30 99.
Email address: info@securerite.co.za
Web address: www.securerite.co.za

Research References: