PLAYING IT SAFE: Teach children to stay out of trouble.
Stories of Cape Flats children being stolen are nothing new. They were making the rounds when I was in primary school.

One of the things that struck me when I visited my old primary school last week, was how many kids walk home alone.

You know kids have no sense of urgency, so there was a lot of playing happening on the way home.

There’s a chance many would be home alone, waiting for an adult to arrive from work.

I’ve heard criticism about parents allowing their kids to walk around and play by themselves. But the truth is many parents simply don’t have any other choice.

Besides, for as long as I can remember, this has always been how things worked on the Cape Flats.

It’s not strange at all to see six and seven-year-olds commuting to and from school by themselves and then playing outside in the afternoon until the parents get home.

I did it, and thousands of kids will continue doing it.

Luckily, it looks as if last week’s paranoia of children being abducted from schools and daycare centres was unfounded and may just be a hoax. I certainly hope so.

I remember a similar story when I was a kid in the 70s. I remember it being the talk of the playground and some of the kids took it very seriously.

It was supposedly a man in a black car who was going around stealing children by offering them sweets.

To this day, I still don’t take sweets from people driving black cars, and I suspect that story just fizzled out.

The point is, hoax or not, these things are worrisome for any parent.

So rather be safe than sorry. Let’s teach our children to be aware of their surroundings and to look out for one another.

Instead of letting them walk home alone, where they’re by themselves for the afternoon, we should offer our help as neighbours.

Those parents, oumas and oupas who collect their kids from school, can offer to walk a few other kids home as well, and neighbours who are home during the day can offer to keep a watchful eye on children who are home alone.

It doesn’t just take a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to keep them safe.