News headlines about heinous criminal acts against children such as kidnapping, abuse, assault, murder and rape are more than just disturbing. They are shocking. It is right that we condemn these despicable acts. While our hearts go out to the aggrieved parents who may never see their children again, we must realize that we live in a time and age where it is no longer safe for children to roam about freely. Protecting children from harm and violence is not just the duty of parents and the authorities concerned. Society has to play its part as well.
For starters, action needs to begin with parents and the family. Parents must be vigilant and know the whereabouts of their children all the time. They nee to watch out for their children especially when they are outside, be it in the playground or while shopping. Moreover, they need to chaperone their children constantly, even if the distance traveled is short.
Leaving a child unsupervised and assuming that a child will ultimately return home safely is unwise. Parents should set boundaries about places that children may go, people they may see and things they may do. Children should also be taught to say 'no' to strangers offering lifts and gifts.
The authorities, including the police, can ensure better protection for children by implementing several measures, for example increasing patrols in high-risk areas such as shopping malls and playgrounds. They can also carryout awareness campaigns on child safety. Installing CCTVs in areas frequented by children ill also go a long way towards ensuring child safety.
Schools should place special emphasis on child safety education. As young children are the most vulnerable, child safety education should start in primary schools so that children can learn how to be safe from strangers. Children should also be taught to trust their instincts and seek help whenever they feel threatened.
It is a harsh but true fact that the world is no longer a safe place for innocent children as sexual predators lurk in every nook and cranny. A safe environment for children to live and grow can only be realized when all parties, including parents, schools, communities and the authorities work together.
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