Are teens safe on foot?
When teenagers need to get from A to B, what can be done to keep them safer?

Walking from school to the shops, to a friend’s house, and home again was a daily occurrence for me as a teenager. I loved the freedom of walking with a friend, chatting, singing and exploring the mysteries of why boys thought and acted as they did.

But exactly that kind of commonplace walk from one friend’s house to another at 10 in the morning turned into a ghastly experience for two Pretoria schoolgirls this week, with one ending up dead and the other raped by an abductor, according to a report on News24.

In another widely publicised incident earlier this year, four boys walking in a group on the way to school were killed when speeding drivers left the road and hit the group.

It should be safe for teenagers to be walking around in broad daylight with a friend or in a group. But sadly, it seems it isn’t.

Perhaps nothing would have protected the two girls who found themselves confronted by an attacker with a gun. Or the boys killed on the side of the road by out-of-control vehicles.   
But for other pedestrian teens, observing basic safety rules could help them to get where they’re going, safe and in one piece.

An expert advises

Parent24’s safety expert Ally Cohen recommends that parents discuss issues of safety in public places with children from a young age.

Among her tips that might assist walking teens:

• Teach your children that safety is more important than manners. It is more important for children to get themselves out of a dangerous situation than it is to be polite.
• Teach your child to draw attention if someone grabs them, by punching, screaming and biting.
• If you get separated from the group, don’t go with anyone. Make a phone call to a parent as soon as possible.

Additional teen pedestrian safety tips

Advise teens to be discreet with valuable items like cellphones, ipods or cash in public. Muggers may observe teens using expensive items in a shopping mall, for example, and follow them to a more secluded area.

Teens walking in a group can sometimes get careless about staying on the pavement. Advise yours to keep aware of traffic safety at all times.

While you may not expect your teen to be drinking, do make sure they aware of the statistics: alcohol is a factor in 58% of pedestrian deaths, according to a Unisa study.

It’s important for teens to keep parents advised of their movements, so that you know when they’re leaving one place and where they are headed, even within the small familiar territory of their home suburb. A simple SMS gives this information. This knowledge of their movements enables you to start the search for them effectively if the unthinkable happens and they ever go missing.

At what age should children be walking without adult supervision?

Read more by Adele Hamilton

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

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