NOW that all children are back in school, it has emerged that Covid-19 is not the major threat stalking them.
Cases of child murders and kidnappings have taken a worrisome trend.
The case of Tapiwa Makore (7) of Murewa, who was allegedly murdered at the instigation of his own uncle, made sad reading.
The re-opening of schools avails new chances for child traffickers and murderers to pounce on them as they take advantage of the school children’s movements.
Cases of children disappearing and their remains being found mutilated have been recorded of late in Zimbabwe, something that makes one wonder if we can ever trust anyone near our children.
While the police is always educating the nation on the need for children’s safety from predators who come in fatherly, motherly or friendly guises; parents, guardians and teachers who enjoy direct contact with the children should play a central role in teaching their children to keep them safe from the ever present threat of being raped, kidnapped or murdered.
School authorities and parents should remind children to walk to and from school in groups to discourage would be kidnappers.
Urban parents who cannot drive their children to and from school must make reliable transport arrangements, or simply ensure that their children travel by registered public transport.
Private transport exposes children to kidnapping, rape and murder.
Stories abound of children that have disappeared without a trace after being offered free rides by strangers. It has emerged that trusted people may also be the children’s potential abductors or killers. It may be painful to warn a child not to board a neighbour or relative’s car, but if such a warning becomes a necessity, parents should deliver it.
Children should always be discouraged from using shortcuts that cut through forests on their way to and from school, even if they walk in groups because a small thing like stopping to tie a shoelace, to adjust the handle of a satchel or to relieve oneself will give a child snatcher a chance.
Boarding schools should be applauded for making parental visits part of the school calendar and to ensure that the people who visit the juveniles get clearance to see the youngsters after correctly identifying themselves as the parents or guardians of the students being visited.
But danger does not only stalk children when they are away from home.
The home may also become a dangerous place for your child, despite the security associated with it.
Parents should exercise extreme caution when they employ domestic workers, as such workers may turn out to be agents of child traffickers. It is prudent to employ a worker with a known background.
Large gatherings are also potential hunting grounds for child thieves and traffickers.
While one is immersed in a religious sermon or public entertainment, a covetous eye lands on one’s child, who is then lured into a death trap while the unsuspecting parent’s attention is miles away from the potential victim.
At large gatherings, children can also get lost. Once that happens, the child can easily fall into the trap of a fake Samaritan.
In the widely publicized story of Ms Shani Charamanda, the young mother lost her one month old baby to a baby snatcher — Miriam Bwanali — at a shopping centre in Harare.
According to media reports, the culprit had approached her victim in a very friendly manner to win her trust.
The incipient friendship found the baby snatcher vanishing with the infant and leaving Ms Charamanda stranded.
Parents should never allow the comfort of a quick friendship to run you over. No matter how widespread child trafficking and kidnapping may be, we are never outnumbered by the perpetrators; and if we act in a way that does not give the evil doers a chance, our children will be safe.
Nhamo Muchagumisa is a trained secondary school teacher and specialises in English Language and Literature in English. He can be contacted on WhatsApp +263777460162 and Email: [email protected]