Simple habits and behaviours learned from a young age can make all the difference

Every five hours a child goes missing in South Africa, and while most children are found soon afterwards, the number of those who never come home is still too high. While safety training is a vital element of keeping your family – especially your children – safe, the most important way to protect them is to set a good example by being vigilant and mindful of security threats.

Jared Higgins, CEO of Altor International discusses how parents can teach their children about safety and security through their actions, without even saying a word.

‘Do what I say, and not as I do’ is the common last-ditch effort by frustrated parents struggling to fix their kids’ unpleasant behaviour. Unfortunately, while instructing your children might send the message, it’s only by demonstrating that the right behaviours are effectively taught – especially when it comes to crime safety.

Simple habits and behaviours learned from a young age can make all the difference, particularly from threats such as theft, robbery and assault.

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While information is key, communicating safety procedures and tips to children is only half the battle won. As a parent, it’s crucial that you demonstrate a lifestyle of vigilance and awareness about possible threats that could arise, even in relatively safe neighbourhoods, without becoming paranoid.

Safeguarding your home

Picking a good neighbourhood is important, but you should also make sure that you’ve assessed your home with security in mind. Take the time to know your property and its potential vulnerabilities, making upgrades where possible and alerting the entire family about these. It could be as simple as cutting down a bush along a wall along a street-facing wall.

Staying in the right area goes a long way in protecting your family, and this doesn’t necessarily mean living in the most expensive suburb. If possible, visit the nearest police station to speak to the local station commander for deeper insight into what crimes are commonly committed in that area. This could give you a better idea of what to protect yourself against, or if you should consider somewhere else to live.

Teach your children about awareness, but most of all, let them see you living your words, as you will be their first example in how to stay safe when it really counts

Houses in the very same neighbourhood and similar price range can have vastly different implications when it comes to security. For instance, common sense dictates that properties closer to main roads may be easier targets than those with limited public access and bordered by other properties on three sides. Visible security measures, such a lighting, high walls, electric fencing, and dogs can act as deterrents to opportunistic would be criminals – forcing them to look elsewhere for easier targets.

Self-awareness

While a good location is helpful in keeping you and your family safe, even more important is how you conduct yourself as you go about your daily life, including your driving habits and how you walk around. This is less about safety protocol and more about a way of thinking to avoid becoming the target of petty crime or something more serious.

Even in your most mundane daily routines, be conscious of your body language, from how often your head turns to examine your environment, your walking pace and how many things you tend to carry in your arms. For instance, free hands are less attractive to suspects than arms regularly piled with stuff, and an attentive fast walker is more of a hassle to predators than a slow walker engrossed in their smartphone.

Simple habits for safety

Habits that make you a less easy target include changing your normal route to work (school), going to the gym instead of jogging in the streets and withdrawing cash from inside the branch ATM rather than at the petrol station or mall.

While you practise and learn these habits, notice how your children watch you and absorb everything. Talk to them about safety and ask them questions as they come up – you might be surprised as they might see something you overlooked.

Even if your children have learned some form of self-defence, they will never match up to a full-grown adult. Teach your children about awareness, but most of all, let them see you living your words, as you will be their first example in how to stay safe when it really counts.

Altor International provides customised training and specialised security solutions to a number of clients requiring results driven programmes including situational awareness, Hi-jack prevention & rape prevention. Visit //altorint.com/ for more information on how specialised training can help you safeguard yourself and your family.