Essential Tips for a Safe and Enjoyable Holiday Break

Most schools have concluded the third term, ushering in vacationers and holidaymakers, except for S6 students currently completing their final exams. As the highly anticipated holiday season begins, many have organized various activities. This period demands increased vigilance from parents, guardians, caretakers, and local leaders concerning the well-being of children. Whether at home, workplaces, neighborhoods, or during travel and visits, prioritizing children’s safety is imperative. Here are some suggestions for parents, guardians, and concerned citizens to ensure a secure and enjoyable break.

  1. Establish boundaries. During the holidays, more friends and family members may be present, and some might express affection through hugging, playing, tickling, or having your child sit on their lap. Empower your children to confidently decline any unwanted touches, pictures, favors, etc., whether from adults or other children. Ensure your child understands that certain actions from other children may be inappropriate or unsafe. If your child (or any other child) says “NO” or “STOP,” their decision and boundaries must be respected by everyone.
  1. Pay attention to indicators of Child Abuse. Adults often overlook children’s feelings, especially when the accused is a family member, trusted friend, or someone considered incapable of harming a child. Shockingly, 90% of child victims are sexually abused by familiar individuals, with 70% being family members. Be aware that abuse can also occur between children, necessitating vigilance regarding their relationships and activities. Pay attention to minor details, such as a child’s reluctance to greet elders, and foster open communication through your language.
  1. Encourage your children to avoid keeping secrets. Abusers often use secrets to silence children, labeling it as their “little secret.” Educate children that secrets usually involve unsafe or negative things. Teach your child that if anyone, be it an adult or another child, asks them to keep a secret, they should immediately inform you or a trusted adult. Communicate with domestic workers about the importance of reporting any concerns involving relationships with the children.
  2. Minimize one-on-one situations. Reduce alone-time between your child and other adults whenever possible. Seek opportunities for interruptible and observable interactions, drop by unannounced, and interview your children upon your return. About 80% of sexual abuse occurs in one adult-one child situations, so decreasing these scenarios is crucial for your child’s protection.
  3. Manage your stress as parents. Sometimes, increased commitments and financial demands impact families during holidays, leading to short tempers and potentially the physical abuse of a child. It is advisable to take a breather (some sort of time out for adults) to de-stress and calm down. When you feel out of control, call a friend and ask for support, etc.
  4. Discuss age-appropriate safety issues with your child in a calm, non-fearful manner. Let your child know that it is not what people look like that makes them unsafe but what they ask a child to do.
  5. Ensure your child knows your cell phone number.
  6. Guide our children to be morally upright by incorporating family joint prayers, encouraging self-reliance, and teaching them to seek God’s guidance for problem-solving. Spiritual upliftment plays a vital role in their moral upbringing.

Parents, consistently monitor the content your children consume on TV, phones, tablets, etc. It greatly influences their development. Additionally, instill a sense of responsibility by teaching them household chores like mopping, sweeping, and animal care. The Joint Security Agencies extend best wishes to the children and their families for a safe and joyful school holiday.