As Hira walked down the street to her home back from school, a car screeched to a stop near her.
The well-dressed lady in the car threw open the passenger seat door and called out, “Hira! Your father is in the hospital and your mother is with him. She sent me to pick you up. Come inside, let me take you!”
Hira panicked and asked, “Is he okay?” as she sat in the car.
The woman locked the car doors without answering and soon Hira realised she had been kidnapped, but it was too late.
Being cautious goes a long way in staying safe these days. Here are a few simple tips to be mindful about, to avoid unpleasant situations
A similar video has been going viral on social media, teaching us that appearances can be deceptive and we need to be very careful with strangers.
PASSWORD PLEASE: You can decide upon a “password” or “code word” with your parents. In case your parents are unable to pick you and they send someone, you can verify if the person is genuine by asking the password that your parents would have told him or her. Later the password can be changed.
KNOW THE NUMBERS: You can play your part by learning your parents’ office and mobile numbers, as well as other emergency numbers, like the ambulance service, police and fire brigade. God forbid if someone faints or is too weak to make a call, they can rely on you to call for help.
PRIVACY IS PREMIUM: Never post personal information on social media and keep the settings “Friends only” or “Private” for any pictures that you might chose to post. Even your picture in your school uniform can give out a lot of information about your school and it becomes easy for anyone to approach you.
Some of you might recall an incident that took place in Karachi some time back. A boy befriended a stranger on Facebook who was posing as a teenager but actually was an adult. The boy innocently shared personal information. One day the “friend” told him to spend a day with him and that his father would pick him from school. The boy told his parents that he would be spending the day with a friend, but was actually kidnapped by that “friend”.
PARENTS NEED TO KNOW: Also never share your passwords of social media but do let your parents know all your passwords. This is extremely important as your parents, being much more experienced than you, can point out any mischief that you might not be able to detect.
It is important for young kids to hold their parents hand when they go out and they should not wander off without their permission, no matter how much they are tempted to look close at some toy in a nearby shop. However, in case anyone is lost, try to stay where you last saw your parents. Stay away from deserted places and approach uniformed people for help.
A very good idea is to decide upon a convenient meeting place with your parents just in case you get lost. In case a stranger offers you help or something to eat, politely refuse and shout for help if you sense foul play.
Last, but certainly not the least, never ever run away from home or leave home without telling anyone, no matter how mad and angry you are. Runaway children are the easiest prey for evil people who abuse them, turn them into beggars and use them ruthlessly and heartlessly for their selfish reasons.
Stay safe and happy!
Published in Dawn, Young World, March 10th, 2018