There has been a rise in street crimes such as assaults, mugging and stealing directed at children. It’s important to protect your child from this sort of crime.
Children who are truanting or not in school are more likely to be the victims of street crime. They are also more likely to commit street crime. To minimise incidences of this form of crime, parents need to prevent their children from truancy or being out of school.
More than half of all street crimes in which the victim is a child occur during the afternoon, when children and young people are going home from school or socialising with friends. Incidents typically take place in streets, parks, alleyways, public transport or shopping complexes.
What you can do:
• Arrange for your child to travel with someone. Ensure your child travels to and from school with an adult or with friends. Lone children are more likely to be targeted than groups.
• Tell you child not to display their wallet, money, mobile phone, jewellery or other desirable items in public places. Young people are more likely to be attacked if they are seen carrying valuable items. If your child must use a mobile phone in public, tell him or her to use it discreetly.
• Be especially careful with boys. Point out to your son that boys are at greater risk from street crime than girls.
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Boys should not have a false sense of security, even if they feel strong and confident. Knowing the facts might make them more vigilant. Most crimes against boys are committed by two or more offenders acting together, whereas street crime against girls tend to be snatch-and-run incidents involving a single offender.
• Try to ensure that your child attends school every day. Do your best to stop your child trouncing or being out of school. Apart from the obvious educational disadvantages, exclusion and truanting increase a child’s chances of becoming a victim or a perpetrator of crime.
• Tell your child to put their personal safety first. One golden rule you should drum into your child is that their personal safety always takes priority over money and possessions.
If in any doubt about what to do in a confrontation, they should hand over their money, wallet or mobile phone rather than risk being injured. Boys, in particular, should be told to resist any macho instinct to fight. It is far better to run away than to end up being injured.
• Talk to your child about crime before it happens. Make it clear that if they ever were to become the victim of a crime, you would not blame or criticise them. A natural reaction of someone who has been a victim is to feel humiliated and not want to tell anyone. As a parent, you should aim to reduce the risk of not being told. The key lies in establishing good communication with your child. Keep a rough track of their possessions, as a sudden ‘loss’ of high value item might be a clue that something has happened.
• Don’t teach your child to fight. Martial arts such as karate and judo have many benefits, and they can make excellent hobbies if properly taught.
However, encouraging a child to regard a martial art purely as a weapon to use against would-be criminals could give them a false sense of security and might even encourage them to seek out conflict.
It is better for young people to avoid risky situations in the first place than to try fighting their way out.
Their assailant may be bigger, stronger, armed or part of a gang.
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