Saturday, April 24, 2010

Don't talk to Strangers

POLICE believe that there are windows of opportunity for abduction to happen when children are at school.

"Some schools are pretty safe -- they have a guardhouse and the security guard is always at attention. We also understand that their gates are usually closed during school hours. But there are some that are probably not as careful," said Deputy Superintendent Norisah Ab Hamid, who heads the children's investigation unit under the sexual and children's investigation division, or D11.

Police are also concerned that children are left largely to their own devices once the school bell rings. It doesn't help that most children today are "very friendly".

"They talk to strangers freely. Parents should tell them not to talk to strangers. Teach them to say 'no'. Teach your child to shout for help if a stranger approaches or touches him or her," she said.

Young children, especially those under 15, are more vulnerable and should never be left alone, she added.

However, current statistics show that cases of missing children usually occur around the child's home.

Some examples would be the abduction of Nurin Jazlin Jazimin and Sharlinie Mohd Nasar.

Nurin, 8, was reported missing while on her way to the night market near her house in Wangsa Maju on Aug 20, 2007. Her naked body was later found stuffed into a sports bag and left in the stairwell of a shoplot in Petaling Jaya a month later.

Five-year-old Sharlinie was reported missing while playing outside her house in Taman Medan on Jan 9, 2008.

"From the reports we've received, it seems that such incidents are happening closer to home," Norisah said.

She said when it comes to the safety of children, everyone has a responsibility, not just the parents or teachers.

"Be a busybody. If you see a child playing somewhere all alone, ask the child to go home or notify the parents. Each of us can help prevent a crime."

National Parent-Teacher Association president Associate Professor Datuk Mohd Ali Hasan pointed out that the culture of safety and security in schools was still lacking.

"We need more stringent security measures, especially in preschools. Strangers can easily enter some schools and preschools," said Ali.

A case in point would be the hammer attack on three 6-year-old pupils in Muar, Johor, by a man wearing a crash helmet who had rushed into their kindergarten.

The pupils from Tadika Sinario were hit on the head and had to be rushed to the Sultanah Fatimah Specialist Hospital.

The man had reportedly jumped over the fence and kicked open the grille door of the kindergarten before attacking the pupils.

Ali suggested random spot checks be conducted by the Inspectorate of Schools to check on the safety measures of all schools.

"Our safety system is not adequate. Children can easily be abducted. There should also be safety drills and safety committees in all schools. The committees should present monthly reports at parent-teacher association meetings," said Ali.


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