Kampala, (UG): Police have warned parents, guardians and caretakers against letting their children, especially those under the age of 12, to go to school alone without company of an adult.
This was revealed by Mr Michael Kananura, the spokesperson of the Directorate of Traffic and Road Safety during a press briefing held yesterday at the Uganda Police Headquarters in Naguru, Kampala.
According to Mr Kananura, police issued the warning after obersving that with the schools now reopening, many motorcycles are carrying children without the company of an elder.
Kananura therefore called upon parents and guardians to act responsible for the safety of these children saying; “All children below the age of 12 years must be accompanied by elders on motorcycles. We call upon parents, caretakers or guardians of these children to be responsible for the safety of these children.”
“We recommend that helmets must be given to children who travel on boda boda because 80 percent of head and brain injuries arise from failure to use helmets while on motorcycles,” he added.
At the same press conference, police spokesperson, SCP Fred Enanga warned parents and guardians who transport children to school to observe safety and security measures.
“We have parents who have vehicles and while dropping children to schools, the parent stays inside the car and tells the child to run to school. Between the drop zone and the school gate, anything can happen; a reckless driver can run over the child, so it is important that you walk the child up to the classroom,” he said.
“For boarding schools, there are parents who leave their children to go to school by themselves. This is challenging, ensure you double check if your child has reached school because from the point of leaving home to school, something may happen,” he added.
School safety measures
The police spokesperson also urged school administrators to review their safety protocols such as procedures of receiving visitors and how to access school buildings.
“At the end of last term, we had a criminal gang targeting schools that were highly vulnerable with poor security mechanisms. You have a school with a lone security guard, guards who are advanced in age, they are using bows and arrows, no CCTV cameras, the school fences are weak, and so we had concerns where the criminal gangs that were targeting schools before we cracked it down had posed a threat,” he said.
Police also recommended that all children are examined upon their return to school for any signs of abuse during holidays.
“Because in school holidays, there are always perpetrators of child abuse and even among families, there are instances of child torture,” Mr Enanga said.
He also urged parents to teach children how to react when approached by strangers and never accept lifts from unknown persons.
“Ensure children memorise your contact information like full name, address, parent’s names, where they work, and phone numbers,” Mr Enanga said.
He also warned that parents who print names of children on their uniforms and school bags.
“You are giving out a lot of information that wrong persons may use to familiarise with the child and pretend that they know the child and get them abducted, so let’s conceal the names on these children’s properties,” he said.
Police further warned that drug dealers have penetrated some schools. “They use snacks that children take to school and make them inform of biscuits, ghee, sim sim paste and find that it is laced with narcotic related substances, so we call upon school administrators to be very thorough while inspecting the items that children are coming back with at school,” Mr Enanga said.