There are many parents currently ‘reliving’ their party days through their teenagers who prefer going out to being home with mom and dad. In some ways, the world is a safer place today but in many aspects far more dangerous than it was 20 years ago.
Cellphones, in-contact apps and the quick sharing of information on social media are all helpful, but parents must remember there is no replacement for good old vigilance when it comes to the personal safety of teens who want to be independent.
Charnel Hattingh, Group Head of Marketing and Communications at Fidelity ADT, says parents must proactively talk to their teenagers about safety.
“This can be somewhat tricky because teens think they have all the answers and can suss out a dangerous situation a mile away. The truth is, teenagers are prone to risky behaviour and sometimes more likely than adults to make quick decisions without thinking through the consequences.
“This is why it is important for parents to talk to their children about how to protect themselves in a dangerous situation – and how to avoid those situations in the first place,” says Hattingh.
She provides 4 “safety-first” steps to take with your teen:
“This is not to say you condone drinking or your child lying to you, but guarantee your child a lecture-free ride home if they need it. Address the other issues later. The priority is that your child phoned you when they needed help,” Hattingh says.
“Ask enough questions to be able to assess the potential dangers in a situation. Go with your gut. If you feel it’s too risky, don’t let your child attend that particular event.”
“Teens out having a good time are absorbed in the moment with their friends and this is what criminals prey on. Encourage your children and their friends to always look out for each other by being vigilant.”
“Tell your teen that if any of the above happens, they should remain calm and phone the relevant emergency service to assist. They must also inform you.”
Hattingh concludes that there is no textbook guide for keeping teenagers safe, but they must know and be aware of potentially dangerous situations and how to manage these.
“Children will likely find themselves in an unsafe situation when they start going out. Unfortunately, the places teens socialise are also where criminals find easy pickings. It’s important to have conversations about potential risky situations and how your child can stay safe while having fun,” she says.
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