The national marketing and communications manager of Fidelity ADT, Charnel Hattingh, says South Africa needs 365 days of activism awareness.

Hattingh said the safety of our women and children is an important issue which needs all year long focus, and not just for 16 days at the end of the year.

Speaking ahead of the start of the annual 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign which is from 25 November to 10 December, she said crimes against women and children must stop.

” The 16 Days Campaign gets attention. However, our focus should extend to every month of the year. We can do this by following basic safety tips and making sure we share these tips with our loved ones, and talk about safe personal habits throughout the year,” said Hattingh.

According to Hattingh, criminals view women and children as soft targets.
“This means that being aware of your surroundings and potential threats is perhaps one of the most valuable lines of defence,” explained Hattingh.

Hattingh offers the following pointers for women, which she recommends should be discussed and shared far and wide; to trust your instincts. Women have great intuition and should listen to their instincts. If someone or something makes you feel uneasy, avoid the individual and leave the area. Make contact with your private security service provider and ask them if they offer a mobile panic alarm service, which could be downloaded to your mobile phone.

Hattingh said that you must tell someone where you are going and the time you expect to return. Save to your mobile phone or memorise the details of the person to be contacted in the event of an emergency. Also be aware of people around you when heading to your vehicle, especially at places such as shopping centres, petrol stations, and the like. Ensure that you take a moment to check the street before pulling into a driveway, be it your own or a friend’s.

For those who are are driving, the first thing to do once you are inside your vehicle is to ensure that all the doors are locked. Never drive with a handbag or any other valuable items on a seat or in the view of anyone looking into your vehicle from the outside. Try and make your car a mobile-free zone so you can concentrate on your surrounds and keeping you and your family safe.

“There are also safety tips which we should share with our children, to help keep them safe from harm,” said Hattingh.

“They must always walk to or from school with a friend or friends. Stick to streets they know and never take short cuts through quiet areas or empty parking lots and never walk with cell phones and iPads in full view.

“If they get picked up at school, they should never leave the premises but always wait inside the school grounds for their lift to arrive. They must never get into a stranger’s car; even if the stranger claims that someone they love is hurt and that they have been sent to pick them up. Remind them that you would never send someone they don’t know to fetch them,” added Hattingh.

She said that we should consider using a password system. If the person coming to collect you from school cannot repeat the password you and your child agreed on, they should not get into the car but immediately ask for help.

Again, if a stranger approaches them, they should not talk to them no matter how friendly they may seem. If someone tries to grab them, they need to fight, kick and shout out that the person is not their mother or father.

“Make sure your children memorise their full names, address and phone number. Using a play phone, teach them when and how to dial 10111. Find out from your security company if they offer a mobile tracking app which can be downloaded on your child’s cell phone. This is an effective way of alerting emergency service providers when you need them while also giving them your accurate location,” concluded Hattingh.