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Opinions of Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Columnist: DSP Effia Tenge

EffiaTenge writes: '#BringBackOurGirls - the security notes'

May be,… I should lead this campaign… Yes! ... Why not!... Girls have been abducted, no trace of them, their present state, whether dead or alive for five good months and still counting and I can’t do anything?

I have to lead this campaign! But come to think of it, how can I demand answers from my own self?… Rather, why not channel this same energy towards the institution I belong to for an expeditious solution?

These were the thoughts running through my mind when the news first broke and pressure started mounting on the Police, particularly the Western Regional Command.

What do we know?

The general information is that three or more girls have been kidnapped in the Western Region for five months now, a member of the syndicate has been arrested and there are frantic efforts to rescue the girls to reunite with their families and also apprehend other accomplices.

As a mother, I cannot imagine my inability to account for my daughter within the age bracket we know even for a night, let alone, having to come to terms that she has been abducted.

This is because I expect to know the whereabouts of my ward and any suspicion of her total disappearance may even cause my insanity.

I am personally not surprised the police have come under heavy criticisms and heightened media reportage demanding for swift action. In any case, where do we expect anyone in this situation to run to? Of course the police!

However, let me chip in that the Police Service is equally worried and wants situations turned around speedily, which I am optimistic it will deliver.

What if we give them the benefit of the doubt and appreciate the fact that the police is a growing institution and since it has not attained perfection yet, it may have it though when dealing with some sophisticated crimes of international nature and magnitude.

Without attempts to jump to its defence, I think we cannot denigrate the service as though it is useless.

Did we also know that whenever there is a trend in crime, the police study, analyse, enhance capacity and adopt new combat strategies to champion it? Sometimes, constructive criticisms and public support should be enough to pat its back.

While we continue with search efforts in high anticipation for our girls, consider the following security tips.

Social media posting

It is undeniable that social media promotes socialisation. However, it is mind-boggling the amount and kind of detailed information people especially the youth delight in sharing on social media.

We must distinguish between discrete and overt information and protect personal information that pertains to safety.

Our attention should be drawn to the friendship requests we make without due diligence. Remember social media platforms have no limitations to its users; you must recognise this fact and filter your socialisation process.

Security consciousness

Security consciousness among Ghanaians for some reasons has not improved to meet contemporary crimes, to say the least.

This is why we are always taken unawares. It must be noted that our personal security first lies with us.

If we have not been doing this, I encourage the public to attach some degree of seriousness to security.

To start with, whenever you find yourself in hostile environments you must be mindful of where you are and look out for potential threats and people who approach you.

If you are not sure of your safety, you are advised to take a picture of your location or key landmarks and send them to a trusted person like a relative or friend. Doing this can help you to be located should the story become different.

Inform trusted people of errands

People must sometimes make their activities known to a trusted person if possible; speak to a parent, family or friend of your itinerary.

Let them know your whereabouts, the name and contact of the one you will be hanging out with, your expected time of return, possible delays etc.

This is quite rare in a domestic environment where lines of communication between parents and children are closed. However, we must learn to ask questions and give answers when they are due.

Avoid spontaneous schedules

Avoid unstructured plans that no one knows about since it will be difficult for you to be traced. Send pictures to trusted persons to be able to track you when something happens.

In your errands, listen to your instincts whenever you are boarding vehicles, take numbers, colour, specification and even pictures to trusted contacts. This could save you. Be careful when boarding taxis alone especially at odd times.

Alternate routes

People are sometimes robotic with specific routes. The public is advised to avoid using the same directions all the time and consider alternative routes if possible.

Doing this will be difficult for criminals to predict your movement, however, should you suspect anything fishy, try and draw the attention of others by shouting if that is your only strength left.

Decline odd job offers

Be careful of people who promise you work or money for favours. Don’t easily yield to promises of favour from people you hardly know.

Criminals take advantage of your vulnerability and exploit you. You need to crosscheck your facts of this job opportunity before you follow same.

Parental safety responsibilities

Last week, I was informed of a mother who stopped a commercial bus usually known in our local circles as trotro, pushed her seven-year-old pupil into the car, paid for the fare and asked the bus conductor to drop off the child at a certain junction.

My conclusion was that, from this bus stop, this poor child must walk all by himself and even manage to cross a road if there is any.
Some actions of parents are sometimes ridiculous.

Let’s note that protecting a child from violence, exploitation and abuse both in and out of home ultimately lies with the parent. As such, parents must make diligent efforts to safeguard the safety of their children and protect them from harm.

Once you assume a parental status, recognise that it comes with responsibilities and one of it is safety. Let’s prioritise the safety of our children and not shirk our responsibilities to others.

Remember your safety and that of your family and friends is paramount, stay safe.

Meanwhile, if you come across any information of police interest, kindly share with the nearest police station or call police hotlines 191 and 18555 for prompt police action.

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