JIS: The Office of the Children’s Registry, through the Ananda Alert Unit, is advising parents and guardians that as they prepare their children for the new academic year, they should ensure that they are made aware of issues regarding their safety.

 

In an interview with JIS News, Head of the Ananda Alert Unit, Nathalee Ferguson, said that there are some key things that parents and guardians must consider when sending their children to school.

 

“Whether it is for the first time or it is back-to-school, it is very important that you don’t have these young children travelling alone,” she implored.

 

Miss Ferguson said even if older children are allowed to travel alone to and from school, it is important to warn them against taking vehicles that are not licensed to transport members of the public.

 

She also pointed out that it is imperative that parents/guardians have a recent photograph of their children.

 

“What we have experienced is that when a child goes missing, all that is available is a baby picture, so it is difficult to identify the child,” she added.

 

Miss Ferguson said parents should also take note of the clothes that the child is wearing when he or she leaves home, so they will be able to give a very descriptive account to the police if the child is missing. She is also encouraging them to get to know the parents of other children at their child’s school, and friends of their child.

 

They should know the full names and contact information.

 

Likewise, parents/guardians should also be in contact with their child’s school administration; attend parent-teacher association (PTA) meetings; and always keep abreast of school events, so they know where the child is at all times.

 

Miss Ferguson said parents ought to make an extra effort to get to know their neighbours and be familiar with other community members.

 

Meanwhile, she said children should know that they must not loiter or go to persons’ homes without the knowledge of their parents or guardians, because children may never know if these persons are trustworthy or have ulterior motives when they form relationships with them.

 

For the first quarter of this year, 449 children went missing, 382 returned, 65 are still missing and one is dead.

 

CAPTION: Head of the Ananda Alert Unit at the Office of the Children’s Registry (OCR), Nathalee Ferguson.